Archive for BLURB

The Reluctant Bride, Groom & Photographer

Posted in FLICKR, photographers, PHOTOGRAPHY with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2011 by cliffmichaels


Back in June of 2008 I shot the wedding of a long time client. He and his bride were both in their eighties. It was a lot of hard work. Between the shoot itself, the post processing and putting together a wedding album,  I spent over twenty-five hours on the project.

While I enjoyed much of the experience, I vowed to never do another wedding. The requirement of shooting on a fixed schedule (which I could not control), and the necessity of taking the typical classic photos which held little artistic potential (cake cutting, groups shots, etc.) left me feeling the reward was not worth the effort. So, never again…

Last weekend we travelled to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to attend my nephew David’s wedding. Well, it wasn’t really a wedding. He and his bride Mary had eloped several months ago. When the bride’s family found out they went ballistic and insisted David and Mary have a properl wedding ceremony. For the sake of family tranquility, the couple reluctantly agreed (the groom’s mother, while less insistent than the bride’s, welcomed the chance to arrange the wedding).

“David and Mary would really like you to be their wedding photographer,” my brother Pat told me a couple of weeks ago. “they really can’t afford to pay anyone.” I knew that was true; the bridal couple had little money to spare. “They saw the book you did for me of photos of David playing water polo and thought it was really great.” Several years ago David’s Michigan State club team had come to Knoxville for a meet and I’d used it as an opportunity to play with my new 300mm lens. As a gift for Pat I’d created a Blurb book of the best photos.

What could I say?  While doubting his sincerity, I was swayed by my brother’s flattery and I agreed. I arrived in Michigan with two camera bags crammed with stuff, including my Nikon d50 and the newer d5000, but with only the vaguest plan of what I was going to do.

The d50 was in my bag because my only fast lens, the f/1.8 50mm, has no focus motor and on the d5000 it must be manually focused since the camera has no focus motor either. The d50 does. The same was true for my cheap 300mm (although I doubted there’d be much call for that long a lens).

The wedding was held in a lakeside park about twenty-five or so miles outside Grand Rapids. We got horribly lost. Both our Garmin GPS and Map Quest directions turned out to be wrong and took us to the wrong side of the lake (what does it say about us that we believed the computer rather than my brother who has lived in Michigan for thirty years?) We didn’t arrive till ten fifteen; the wedding was scheduled for eleven. Everyone of consequence was already present and the bride and groom were too involved in preparation and there was no chance to shoot any candid shots.

Of course the building was dimly lit inside, with dark, wood paneled walls and glaring large window. This left me with the choice of using flash during the ceremony or using the 50mm on the d50. My attempts to use the relatively slow kit 18-55mm lens on the d5000 with a tripod proved comically inept when my flimsy and cheap Walmart tripod suddenly collapsed without warning a few minutes into the proceedings. I shot everything after that with the d50.

After the ceremony I had planned to switch back to the D5000. I didn’t. The 50mm lens is so incredibly sharp I stuck with it – and the six megapixel d50 – for all of the family and group shots. I did switch back to the d5000, with a Nikon slow 55-200mm zoom for the relatively handful of candids I shot outdoors of the bride and groom (in hideous high noon sun).

In any event, I guess I can now claim to be an experienced wedding photographer with two weddings to my credit. You can be the judge of my most recent efforts.

The most delightful part of the experience was shooting the bride. As you can tell from the set, I was more than captivated by her athletic beauty. Here’s my (so far) favorite photo of her…

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I Think That I Shall Never See…

Posted in FLICKR, PHOTOGRAPHY with tags , , , , on November 13, 2009 by cliffmichaels

I love trees. Especially those proud and solitary sentinels standing apart from the green forest’s  blur of leaves and limbs.  Such majesty, such grace. Towers of lush green, then vivid red, orange and gold, and finally starkly bare.

Here is my Flickr set of trees. Here is my book about trees (A steal at $17.95).

This gallery, not by me, is excellent (and contains one of my tree captures). And below are a few of the Flickr groups of photos of trees around the world:

Trees Die Standing Up Field Guide to Trees of the World

The Beauty of Trees Champion Trees

Trees in Mist Gnarly Trees

And, repeat after me, “one of my own”:

Family Fun

Posted in photographers, PHOTOGRAPHY with tags , , , , on July 21, 2009 by cliffmichaels

This week’s paid photo shoot was glorious. The weather cooperated. The husband and wife cooperated. And six of the seven children cooperated. The smallest child, a blond headed toddler about three, wanted nothing to do with me or my cameras.

This made group shots of the entire blended family tough. I must have twenty plus photos of the entire family with the toddler acting out, or with one of the other family members looking at him instead of the camera. So I cheated. I blended two shots by removing a head from one and pasting it into the other. No one will ever know!! All Hail Photoshop!!

This shoot will result in a Blurb book for the couple: One American Family. The group was well “blended” with five kids of  the husband, one of the wife and one of  the two of them.

As much as I enjoyed this shoot, I was even happier with the shots. The Flickr set is here; two samples:

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Finally Finished & Published…

Posted in photographers with tags , , on January 21, 2009 by cliffmichaels


bbookfShots of the book we just got back from the publisher we put together for the Loudon County Bar Association depicting scenes from their Christmas Breakfast on December 20, 2008. We added a selection of lawyer jokes and stories, famous quotations about the law, a bit of history of Loudon county and some gorgeous shots of the lake…  Anyone can purchase a hard or softback copy of the book HERE.

Photoshopping Lawyers’ Heads….

Posted in photographers, PHOTOGRAPHY with tags , , , , on January 4, 2009 by cliffmichaels

man00201I’m a little more than halfway through creating the book for the Loudon County (TN) bar association. Of course, its proving to be more work than I expected it to be. I spent most of yesterday afternoon photoshopping lawyers’ heads.


If I divided what I was paid by the hours I have already toiled I reckon I’m down to about five bucks per. For what its worth, if you hire me in my day job you pay $250 per hour. But I admit it:  the few dollars I pocket for photography are sweeter and more dear than those I earn Monday through Friday. Those just pay for food; the weekend ones pay for fantasy. At least for now.

Getting Paid…!!?

Posted in FLICKR, photographers with tags , , on December 20, 2008 by cliffmichaels

My first paid photography gig. I was hired to do a photoshoot of the Loudon County (TN) Bar Association Christmas Breakfast. Sexy work, huh!? You betcha! Up at six thirty, get to the venue, a church fellowship hall, just before eight. Shoot from eight thirty till eleven something. Three gigs of NEF’s. Second shooter (my model) shot another two gigs with her Canon Rebel. Nearly seven hundred shots of lawyers… Hmmm, that sounds like the start of a really bad lawyer joke…

I’ll be making the bar a 10×8 book. Please God, let at lest a dozen or so of the lawyers there this morning buy a copy of my opus from me or from Blurb. 

Now, I’d tell you how much I collected for this thrilling assignment, but I don’t want to make you any more envious of me than you already are. Anyway, here’s a couple of shots from this morning’s work. You can see more images from the shoot on Flickr


Do You Blurb?

Posted in photographers with tags , on December 5, 2008 by cliffmichaels
My book Visions

My book Visions

Do you Blurb? If you don’t you should.

Blurb! I love Blurb!

Blurb is a company which gives you the ability to make your own bound books at very reasonable prices. How reasonable? How about a 7″x 7″softcover, forty page book for less than thirteen dollars? They give your the software free. You make the book. You can stay real basic and use templates, or you can design each page of your book in PS or other such software and load your pages into the Blurb software. You upload the book, Blurb transfers it to a printer; they print the book and then ship it to you. Blurb isn’t perfect. No one proofs your book. You misspell grandma’s name in the photo caption and it shows up in the book and the old day takes you out of her will. Blurb sometimes has quality issues, but they are generally good about replacing books their printers mangled.

You don’t pay Blurb anything until you order your book. You can keep your book private or list it for sale in Blurb’s bookstore (just don’t expect to sell many copies…)

What Blurb allows you to do at low cost is almost magical. Twenty years ago it would have cost me thousands to self-publish a book like Visions. Now a single 120 page, hardback book with dust jacket cost me $41.95. Elsewhere on this site you may order from Blurb copies of my marvelous, wonderful, amazing books, including Visions!

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