Thoughts and Commentary
I I We are excited to share a link to a Q&A I just completed with Smarty founder Amy Swift. To read the full Q&A, click HERE. Smarty is a community for women entrepreneurs. The company gives small businesses tools for learning, growth and connection and allows members to share resources and support one another. Headquartered in Los Angeles, SMARTY is expanding to cities across the country.
I had been watching Smarty on the sidelines since it’s inception, and I finally joined this fall and have been so thankful to find a network of business owners who understand my world – I can bounce questions off them, learn about resources and stay involved.
The Q&A goes over a bevy of questions including what sets Docuvitae photographers apart as wedding photographers, inspirations, how we deal with seasonal ups and downs, and how I balance motherhood with work. It’s a fun read, especially if you want to gain a personal perspective on how we do business.
July 29, 2010
Chelsea and Marc
Posted by Rebecca Mead in the New Yorker. Click here for original link.
Just over two million couples will get married in the United States this year, and most of them are not Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky, whose very private, much discussed nuptials will—short of the best-laid false trail ever—take place this weekend in Rhinebeck, New York. Estimates for the cost of the event range from two to five million dollars, so at least the Clinton and Mezvinsky families are doing their part to boost the revenues of the wedding industry, which has suffered a dropping-off of fortunes since the financial crisis hit. In 2007, the last of the flush years, the average American wedding cost twenty-nine thousand dollars; by last year, couples were spending just under twenty thousand dollars per celebration. At the most conservative estimate, Chelsea and Marc’s celebration will compensate the economy on behalf of a hundred less lavish couples, which might be thought of as one way of spreading the wealth around. (I examined the American wedding industry in this magazine and in my book, “One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding.”)
According to a recent survey of wedding planners, wedding photographers, and others in the industry, frugality is the new fabulous: “Everyone wants to ‘negotiate’ pricing,” one wedding vendor complained to theweddingreport.com, which conducted the survey. “Very cheap brides, fake flowers, and ugly décor,” another said. Other vendors report an increase in D.I.Y. weddings—couples using kits to make invitations, shopping on Etsy.com, and compiling an iPod playlist instead of hiring a d.j. or a band. The D.I.Y. trend, understandably, is one that wedding professionals frown upon—although even there, and even in this economy, a smart operator can find a market. One respondent to the survey reported that “wedding coordinators [are] being used to facilitate Do It Yourself projects where it looks like the bride did DIY and made it personal, but didn’t do any of the work.”
No such ruse is likely at the Clinton/Mezvinsky nuptials, for which Bryan Rafanelli, a Boston-based event coördinator, has reportedly been hired; but in other respects Chelsea’s wedding is in keeping with current fashions. “Natural settings, botanic gardens, and farms” are popular—Chelsea is marrying at Astor Courts, which is set amid fifty acres of grounds—and so is “the Vintage trend.” (What could be more perfectly vintage than a mansion designed by Stanford White in 1908?) Whether Chelsea will opt for today’s most popular color scheme (“Purple, purple, and more purple!”) remains to be seen. But in one other respect, at least, she and Marc, who met in their teens and are now in their thirties, are conforming to trends. “Couples are waiting longer to make commitments, doing more research,” one vendor wrote. The vendor was talking about committing to a wedding planner, but Chelsea and Marc—rumors of whose wedding, it will be remembered, were the talk of Martha’s Vineyard last summer—apparently have the good sense to keep in mind that a wedding day, even the most talked-about one of the year, is rather less important than what comes after.
Read more http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2010/07/chelsea-and-marc.html#ixzz0v7UGeLcD
About a month ago, Docuvitae was invited to test Alien Skin Software’s new Exposure 3 plugin for Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop. The newly-updated, revolutionary software will finally be available this week through Alien Skin or download a trial version here. Updates to the software include the ability to use Exposure directly through Adobe Lightroom, many added film and effects presets, greater ability to custom-refine any present, and greater speed and preview capabilities. This is a bit of a technical mouthful for our non-photographer readers. In a nutshell, this software update is SUPER cool and we were thrilled to offer our professional opinions to the manufacturer.
Exposure, released in 2006, transforms bland, digital images into rich photographs that mimic film negatives. It can mimic film types ranging from Kodak to Ilford to Fuji. It even offers long outdated film types like vintage Kodachrome slide film and vintage Polaroid film. For photographers like us who love the look of film but also shoot digitally, Exposure is an invaluable tool to give that extra “umph” to otherwise relatively lackluster digital images. It is in no way a replacement for film, however, as the process of shooting film itself tends to result in more considerate photos. And, film camera technology and mechanics are often far more resilient and reliable than digital cameras. My personal opinion is that film can capture the spirit of a person or place in a way no digital image can. Go ahead and challenge me on that, if you want; but I’d like to see some examples!
In testing the various beta versions of Exposure 3, and now using the final product, I have been pleasantly surprised with the new software. It’s ability to transform flat, digital images into dynamic, sumptuous photographs is even more powerful than before and, simply-put, pretty darn amazing (see below for some examples). The interface is easier to use, and without getting over-technical, one can get really nitty-gritty and personal about customizing the presets. Want to create an image with 2.4 size grain, reds desaturated -10 but an overall warming of 25%, a soft vignette with size 67 lumps, and blurred as if it was shot through a Diana lens?– go for it. The new vignetting options result in images very similar to those from vintage Holga film cameras and look far more natural than what Photoshop or Lightroom can create. Next time you see a “Holga” photo, you may have to question whether it’s just a digital image with an Exposure vignette. There are also new Cinema effects, Vintage and Low-Fi presets.
Just like any new-generation technology (ahem, the iphone), there is always room for improvement. One of the main features we were excited about was the ability to use Exposure 3 within Adobe Lightroom. In this new version of Exposure, this has proved to be an ‘almost’ convenience. Yes, Exposure 3 can be used without ever leaving Adobe Lightroom. Yes, a particular Exposure setting can be applied in a batch action over thousands of images with a few clicks of the mouse. Unfortunately, these new functions are not as fluid as I had hoped. In order to apply an Exposure setting to a RAW Mark II digital image, Lightroom must first make a duplicate copy of it, adding to our already-pretty-massive image database and thus increasing the need for more storage space. The batch action, especially with this file duplication, is S-L-O-W and thus needs to be run overnight. Before the plug-in, Photoshop could do nearly the same batch action overnight, so this really doesn’t prove to be a time saver the way Adobe Lightroom is on most other levels.
For our super-techie readers, one of my biggest criticisms is that Exposure settings must be immediately embedded in the file instead of being added to the metadata. This inhibits Adobe Lightroom from being able to “sync” Exposure settings to hundreds of other images (one of Adobe Lightroom’s major attractions), and therefore prevents the user from easily switching from one Exposure preset to another later on down the road. Having the ability to easily revert back to the original settings if necessary is a nice feature of Adobe Lightroom, so this is a bit of a let down. Luckily, the plug-in’s new interface makes testing different settings very quick and easy with fast and accurate previews so, if you test your options and have a specific vision from the get-go, this workflow hiccup won’t be too much of a problem. If nothing else, one can always make multiple versions of the same image file, but be sure to purchase extra digital storage space.
Despite some of the logistical frustrations, Exposure 3’s incredibly-improved ability to revamp digital images make this update a worthwhile investment for image makers who love film, but want to save on cost by shooting digitally.
Note: it doesn’t seem like Adobe will be making any changes within Lightroom to better accommodate the plug-in, unfortunately, but I can’t be sure.
And now for a little fun trivia about Alien Skin software:
Why the name Alien Skin?
The name of the company came about when creators George Browning and Jeff Butterworth’s developed a code for some artificial texturing (see samples below), which created results that resembled alien skin. Visit Alien Skin’s site here for more examples, where you can also easily download them and make a cool (or disgusting, depending on how you feel about it) computer desktop background. Check out the last image for my new background!
How do you feel about the new Exposure 3 plug-in for Adobe Lightroom? Anyone have any personal experiences or advice to share? Thinking about changing your desktop wallpaper?
Download the trial version of the software here– we highly recommend it.
All sample photos shown below taken by Laura Kleinhenz on assignment for the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in China, 2009.
Some of my favorite shots from Greg and Jessica’s wedding were made by Rebecca at the classic Sunset Tower Hotel penthouse on the Sunset Strip, where Greg and his groomsmen get ready.
A little Gary Winnogrand-esque, I asked Rebecca what work she had been looking at recently. She automatically responded, “Just some 60s french cinematography stills.” I mentioned Gary Winnogrand, however, and her face brightened up. She was amazed I could see the resemblance. She had, in fact, thought of the New York street photographer at the time, as something about the hotel room and the everyone’s suits and mannerisms reminded her of his work.
It’s an example of what interesting shots Docuvitae photographers create with a rich knowledge and experience in fine art and photojournalism. I have a lot of fun seeing connections between our work and artists I admire, and I am always eager to see how my colleagues expand upon that which has already been done.
On the way to the MoMA from my hotel, I stumbled upon a park that has lived in its spot on E. 53rd Street since 1967, Paley Park. It had rained that morning and the sun was just beginning to come out again. I stopped to finish my coffee in the park before continuing on to the museum, something a little out of character for me these days as I’m always rushing somewhere or another. Something about Paley Park, though, was so inviting and so surprising, a little sanctuary in the middle of a bustling city. I struck up a conversation with the groundskeeper who gave me a little info about the history of the park and some of its more noteworthy visitors and patrons. Nice guy, great smile. It wasn’t until I was about to leave that I was inspired to take a few pictures to document that experience. Normally I would take a photograph of a person associated with a particular space to remember it. People tend to exhibit more character and aura than inanimate objects for me and I always call myself more of a portraitist. This time, it was totally the place, its longevity, its ‘old soul’, the ‘sun after rain’ lighting and its incredible design and symmetry that I am always so drawn to. I often take photos of inanimate objects, but rarely show them, sometimes never even look at them again. While I took these ‘portraits’ of this little moment in time and this incredible park and a few more grab shots on the way to the museum, before seeing Cartier Bresson’s exhibit, it was absolutely the Cartier Bresson exhibit that taught and reminded me to revisit and take pride in the simpler things.
The other weekend, I was in New York photographing the wedding of Anna and Michael (will post a few favorites when the film comes back from the lab) and had a chance to visit the Henri Cartier Bresson exhibit currently up at the Museum of Modern Art. For our readers who are unfamiliar with his work, he is absolutely one of the greatest photographers in the history of photography and I beg you to visit any museum or gallery that has his work up and get an up close look at his prints. If you can get to NYC before June 22nd when the exhibit ends, block out a minimum of two hours to make your way though the exhibit.
The thing about Cartier Bresson that I find to be so impressive is that his unique perspective, his ‘eye’, is clearly present in every single photograph. There is an artist communicating in each shot, no matter what the subject. In a modern world that tends to be so wrapped up in visual tricks and gimmicks, Cartier Bresson’s work proves that simpler is indeed, and more often than not, just better. Below are a few of my favorite Cartier Bresson photos. This display is merely a drop in the pond from Cartier Bresson’s highly prolific career.
We are often lucky to work with exceptional creative talents. One in particular had a really big week. Congratulations to Marc Salomon for screening his documentary film, Camp Chuck, this week as part of the official selection at the Newport Beach Film Festival. . Marc is a Principal Filmmaker and Founder of Play Pictures Media.
To our readers, keep an eye out for work from Marc. We’re sure to be seeing great things ahead from this remarkable talent.
Over the course of my photographic studies I’ve written many comparative essays, but never envisioned writing about German Expressionism and wedding photography at the same time. It turns out that the aesthetics of the 1920’s movement lends itself well to many situations — including weddings.
I have been an editor for Laura Kleinhenz (the owner of Docuvitae) for five years now, and recently noted that many of my favorite images of Laura’s share the same aesthetic present in German Expressionism. Typically, German Expressionism is associated with dark themes, however, Laura often uses high-speed, black and white film and abstract compositions in dramatically-lit scenarios to make striking wedding images. Some of her recent work in this vein is reminiscent of films such as Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) and FW Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922). It is a refreshing difference from the explosion of color, airy and often digital photography that currently dominates the wedding photography industry.
Laura’s raw and edgy photographs also bring to mind Igor Posner’s photos of St. Petersburg recently featured in Burn Magazine.
I wonder how many other artists are currently exploring this style, either apart from or within the wedding photography industry? Could there be a resurgence of the aesthetic? Considering our current economic and cultural situation, I wouldn’t be surprised. What do you think?
Feel free to comment with other relevant artists, links, films, photos or thoughts!
Some examples of Nosferatu & The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Unfortunately, there aren’t many great stills online, but you can always Neflix them to see for yourself!
The New York Times has a relatively new blog called Lens that is worth a look if you enjoy good photography and keeping up with current affairs. A recent post shared a lighthearted story about New York Times staff photographer Todd Heisler’s experiment with a new Polaroid iPhone app on his recent trip to Russia.
The story resonated with me. I often run out of the house with my family, without a professional camera, and I end up taking photos of my daughter, husband or whatever unfolds in front of us, on my iPhone. But I don’t love the quality of the images created and up until now, I have not been intrigued by the many iPhone photo apps in existence, but after seeing Todd Heisler’s photos in Russia, I was inspired to shake things up, so to speak.
The app is called ShakeItPhoto. It turns any existing pictures in your iPhone ‘camera roll’ into a polaroid, sound included. ShakeItPhoto does deliver – your photos will have the ever familiar Polaroid color palette and the classic white border. And suddenly, you’ve made a little gem.
On a side note, shooting important family photos with a camera phone is something I often advise clients and family against. The files are too small (the quality really falls apart on any print above 4×6) and the lens is not great, so if this is your only means of documenting your kids, you may regret it later. However, if you are sans camera, and a great moment unfolds, go for it, it’s better to have a picture than no picture, no?
Click here to see the NYT blog post. May you also be inspired to make art this Easter weekend — on your phone!
Here are a few photos taken over the past few weeks of Willa, my daughter, on my iPhone.
Here are some photos I made after stumbling upon the Venice Penguin Swim Club New Year’s dive. It looked so exhilarating I almost considered trying it next year. Almost.
Last Thursday and Friday, Laura and I took a drive up the coast to visit with some of our favorite people in the wedding industry. We visited at a winery, we visited at a bakery, we visited over coffee, we visited by a fireplace and we visited over some of the most delicious shrimp tacos I’ve ever had. All in all, a delightful thirty-six hours away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles.
It reminded me how important it is to take a break every so often, get out of town, treat your eyes to a new landscape and, this time of year especially, welcome the Spring! Below is a snapshot taken from our gorgeous drive into the Santa Ynez Valley just North of Santa Barbara. Hello, Springtime! So glad to see you again!