I’ve known the Tinker Clan for about 10 years now, and many of you will recognize them as I have shot either them or their children many times. Jay and Mary, the couple with the 3 beautiful children, were my very first wedding which was a DVD video. I really had no idea what I was doing, but had purchased a Canon XL1s and shot their wedding for free. Poured my heart and soul into that DVD, it was a nightmare to figure it all out, but I learned so much from doing it. Jay and Mary were happy with my work, and that encouraged me to continue to learn explore my options of doing this as a business and eventually go for it. I owe them a lot for letting me have that chance.

Sarah and Doug, on the far left, I shot their wedding just as I was getting into photography, built a lot of confidence with them in terms of the photography side. We even printed off some of their images at Kinko’s just after the Ceremony and had them posted at their Reception. That was a lot of fun (but too much stress to offer regularly! lol).

Many of you will recognize Leah as she helped us with the bridal modeling in Nashville last year. She did a lot of the footwork too, from finding a dress, location, flowers, etc. She really was my right hand at the Nashville workshop.

I think I have shot the entire Tinker family on 3 different occasions, so in a way I am sort of like their family photographer, but I felt like my hands were a little tied this time because I didn’t have much of my gear. Just the 7D, Tamron 18-270 and Canon 50mm 1.8. No reflectors or Speedlites either, so it had to be all natural light and it had to be very fast.

This entire shoot too place over a period of 15 minutes. I went for a few safe family shots in complete shade using the live view focus technique I show on the Advanced Photography Techniques DVD.

While the 7D focusing system is superior to the 5Dii’s, I typically can nail focus using that method when dealing with non-moving subjects. It’s faster when you are pressed for time. Canon’s focusing systems struggle in low-light, and this was one of those times as the sun was going down behind them.

Another thing is that some people have asked me about the sharpness of the 7D, which I have no clue what they are talking about, its fine assuming you are correctly focusing. When you know you are hitting your focus with a very wide aperture (like f1.8), its easy to move on to the next shot. I only took 2-3 images of Jay’s children and each of the Tinker girls. Compositionally, I didn’t want to get too crazy. There is an interesting relationship between creativity and time. Sometimes when you are pressed for time, it is easy to choose (because it is do or die) the few things in your surroundings, a barn, a fence and a horse. If you ever have to do a complete shoot in 10-15 minutes, go for the shots you know you can pull off quickly.

Save the high risk shots until after the safe ones are finished. One of the things I am learning about giving the gift of photography is that it really doesn’t take much time and it has a lot of potential to have a positive influence on others.

I spent 8 years working in Genetics labs studying things that maybe 10 people in the world (all scientists) might care about. I know that there are two lab books I kept, one took 2.5 years of my life, the other 5 years, to fill with data from countless experiments. I also know they are both sitting on some shelf somewhere at the University of Alabama gathering dust. I am grateful for that learning experience (which I still use today), but it was totally unfulfilling to work on something so hard, for so long, on something that no one would really cares about. One of my greatest regrets on that whole situation was that I didn’t quit sooner. I think that was the lesson I was supposed to learn- knowing when to walk away….

Do a quick shoot as a gift for Christmas or for whatever reason, and it will generally be treasured by that family or individual for the rest of their lives. That shoot we did with Mark before he left was one of these times, more of a “hey, lets do a photo shoot for fun” kind of thing. I am so extremely thankful we took the time to do it, and to have a hand in it. It is really humbling.

This is what I really want in life, to leave a lasting, positive impression on others for good, even if it is something small like a photo shoot.