How to keep the passion

On reading the title you may have thought I changed my career and went into doing wedding counselling, well I haven’t, but since I’m here the best advice I may give you about this is : Don’t get married!!! and if you do, please hire me 🙂

Anyways, what I would like to entertain you here is of course about wedding photography, and how can we keep the passion going after the years.
Not easy I agree as we may be doing weddings day in day out, or rather Saturday in Saturday out…
One can quickly become tired of it, especially at the lower end of the market. I have a few suggestions:

First: you don’t charge enough!!! If you undercut your price just to get the deal, then you get a client who doesn’t specially care about your photos but rather about the price, in clear someone who does not appreciate your work, and you’re in for a tough job.
As your price goes up, so does the level of your clientele, customers who appreciate quality and are ready to pay the right price for it.

Second: Be creative, try something different, what about cross-processing? what about traditional black&white hand print, what about using medium format (say an old rolleiflex for instance)? what about trying a fish eye (the lens not the animal…)? what about a Lomo camera? etc. Don’t go into a routine, keep innovating.

Third: Do personal project, if you only pick up your gear to go to work then you become just like Pavlov’s dog: camera=work !!! you must get out of this, work on your own project, it will help make sure that taking pictures remains a pleasure and not just a duty.

Good luck, hey I never said it was going to be easy…


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An expensive “D”

So yes, I made the jump (unwillingly) and got myself an EOS 5D, so here comes the review. I will keep it short and personal: it’s the best camera in the world!

Hey! What did you expect? Honestly, after spending so much money, of course I’m going to tell you it’s the best, I could I do otherwise? Imagine: “well I’m so stupid that I bought a camera that’s so so….”

It is indeed an excellent camera, feels and holds the same as my other EOS (3 and 5), and as you can see in the pix, about the same bulk as the eos 5, just a “D” more, and what a “D”!

But in case you’re wondering whether you should buy one or not, I would say: DON’T! Because I expect Canon to announce its replacement soon (maybe an eos 3D, that would be nice), especially needed is the anti-dust system introduced on the 400D.

But I will still keep using my film cameras whenever I can, I’m old school you know…

Go out! Take pictures!


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Disposable camera

On following the previous post, I would like here to share my views with you (after all this is why I created this blog in the first place!) regarding digital cameras.

As the wedding season is approaching in Europe, I will be on my way back to England and France to shoot some weddings. Living in Taipei, and having access to very high quality lab for a portion of the price I would have to pay (or you have to pay :- )) for a professional lab in Europe. I have never felt the urge of buying a DSLR, having my negs scan gives me the quality and flexibility I need, so why am I about to buy an EOS 5D?

Well, It may just be because I just won the lotto! But no, this time “logistic” is the reason ( Sounds good as an excuse: “Yes darling, it is due to logistic requirement!” wow impressive isn’t it, you might try with your partner…)
Indeed travelling halfway around the world, shooting quite a few weddings and coming back to Taiwan would require an awful lot of rolls, not mentioning X-ray issues. So yes I am going to get a new toy, I mean a professional tool….

If not for this season weddings, I would have waited. Why? Well patience is a virtue for a start, but virtue is just like the English coast: it’s beautiful but it’s sad…
And mainly because I feel like I’m about to buy a disposable camera, yes I know, a 2000 euros disposable camera (yes it’s damn cheaper here!), but still a disposable camera. Let’s be realistic here: how much is worth your 3 mega pixels camera today! You might get more money just selling the case it came with!
Cameras have become just like computers, by the time you get used to it, it’s already outdated, outperformed etc welcome to consumer society….

I could face this dilemma just like a friend of mine considering the fact that if it’s good enough to perform the job for which you bought it then stick to it. Yes I wish! But can you imagine yourself showing up at a wedding with a 3 mega pixels DSLR (because yes a few years ago they sold those as “professional quality”) while Auntie Jenny has a better one? No, of course not, we strive to give our customer the best possible quality, and so we have to keep updating. Those are the times we live in.

My Uncle has spent most of his career shooting weddings with a trusted FE, a camera he bought more than 25 years ago, and will keep on working for years to come. Now do you really think you will still be using this DSLR of yours in even only 5 years? I bet not.

So alongside my new digital toy, I will continue using my film cameras, my medium format cameras and other pinhole cameras until the day the digital revolution exterminates the last standing roll of film, and on that day you will hear the long complaint of a desperate photographer, in love with technology but who has an antic mistress…


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Digital wedding and Black and white photography…

Or how can a mixture of technologies fulfill both creative and work flow requirements?

In the early days of wedding photography, there was just no issue, no Cornelian choice to be made (ha good old days…), it was B&W and that was it, OK sepia toning maybe…
The couple’s picture was posed, most of time in a studio, then printed. Given the quality and stability of both chemistry and paper, those are the pictures we can still admire today.

Things later changed as colour film was introduced, B&W went out of fashion in an instant as color film became readily available, providing customers with colour prints was a Must.
Question is: How many of you remember seeing a color print more than 40 years old and still in good condition?

Fortunately, things improved quickly and the mid 80’s saw the emergence of “reportage style” wedding photography. A more natural way to take picture and “capture the moment” (wish I could copyright this one! been used a million times already). B&W became fashionable again (at least in Europe and the US), as the style changed, so did the equipment, exit the bulky medium format camera and welcome fast 35mm SLR. Yes it had an effect on pure quality, a 35mm negative just cannot compare to the quality of a 6*6 (I just love my Rolleiflex), but what a change: no more static shots, at last some emotion into the pictures.

The late 90′ saw the appearance of the first “professionally usable” DSLR (please do note the brackets…), an arm and a leg for a 3 million pixel DSLR! but still, some did wedding photography with those (no I won’t give you names!!!).

Nowadays, most wedding photographers use DSLR, shooting as many as 2000 shots in a wedding. They later edit the whole lot and and convert some in B&W, thinking they got the best of both worlds. I couldn’t disagree more (unless they told me my president is a good one!).
Traditional B&W film and print just cannot be reproduced using a digital camera. Yes, I will admit (under torture…) that the customer might not see the difference, but so what? Why sacrifice the quality for the sake of convenience? Aren’t we passionate anymore? Do you remember the first time you hold a B&W print in your hand? Where is this pleasure of taking and hand-printing B&W? Gone because your customers don’t appreciate the difference, why not showing them then?

B&W negs can easily be scanned to integrate any work flow need you may have, while still offering the possibility of having a hand print made out of it. Yes, it will take more time, a little bit. But at the end of the day you have to make a choice: what do you value most? Quality or convenience? I have made my choice.

There is a niche here, for traditional B&W wedding photography services to be offered alongside colour pictures, but more than this, it is because I love what I do and the sheer quality of a hand-print that I still to that day carry a second camera, loaded with Tri-X when shooting at a wedding, and my customers love it.

Give it a try!


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On being a foreigner, wedding photography and facing the challenge.

Finally, here comes the blog!

Lost in translation might have been a better title, summarizing pretty much the whole situation I’m facing here.

Life in Taiwan for a foreigner is a strange mixture of different feelings, requiring a good sense of humor. I could go on and explain it but I doubt I can, so I invite you to come around and have a look for yourself.

As I’m trying to develop my studio, doing mainly wedding photographs, I realised how different both cultures are.

Traditionally, in Taiwan, couples who are about to marry would have their pictures taken in a studio, and maybe on location, those wedding pictures would normally be taken a few months BEFORE the wedding and then turned into a big fat wedding album to display for all to see on your wedding day.

The style is usually “kitch” or cheesy (whichever one you prefer!), if not VERY “kitch” or VERY cheesy, but it suits the market, the customer is king after all; and the job they do, if not to my taste is, in most cases, very professional.

To sum up : they do Cheesy and they do it well!

So in order to do business one must adapt, at least that’s what I was told, and being stubborn it is exactly the opposite I’m doing, persisting in taking natural, relaxed pictures. Let’s face it: I cannot compete with Taiwanese cheesy studios, they are too good at being cheesy, one might say they have reached some kind of cheesy heaven (might sound appealing to a Frenchman though…), so I go the other way, and keep taking the pictures that I love, because after all this is why I got in the business in the first place: making a living out of my passion.

I will build a niche market for people who enjoy natural, modern and relaxed wedding photography.

Do what you love!


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