Portraits: Erika B.

On Sunday I had the esteemed pleasure to photograph Erika. Erika was referred to me by Ariel who I've photographed several times. Both Erika and Ariel are Ms. Virginia pageant contestants with impressive educational and professional resumes. Erika came to me because she was looking to do something outside of the pageant photography world to start building her portfolio. She pitched a few ideas my way and we set a date.

Among her various accomplishments Erika is a recent law graduate from UVA who is passionate about public defense. She's originally from South Carolina. Also a transitioner from the pageant world she was Miss Montana United States 2014, Miss Delaware US international 2014, and Dominion State Miss 2014, also Miss Charlottesville USA 2013, Miss Southern Virginia USA 2014. Currently she's prepping to compete for Miss Virginia 2015.

From the moment Erika arrived she was pleasant, easy to talk to and had a reassuring confidence that had me looking forward to photographing her. As we began to shoot the communication was great, we tossed ideas and back and forth and she easily took direction while putting in her own creativity. I was so pleased with the images I wish we had more time to shoot more. Enjoy them below after my little rant.

Hair & Makeup by my good friend and client Tamara Montgomery.

On another note: I'm looking forward to watching Erikas future accomplishments as she'll soon be interviewing at MMG Models. I recently found out that Erika shot with another photographer [who shall not be named] a few days after our shoot. He came highly recommended and while his work is decent his personality leaves me to question why he even bothers photographing people. I spoke to Erika about what happened and it sounded like a nightmare. He criticized her body from the beginning and tried to dissuade her from pursuing her dream. He went as far as to tell her not to go to New York for her upcoming interview. What makes it worse is that she hired him for his photography services, not to be belittled and made to cry. It really angers me that someone can be so callous towards an individual in her situation. I just dont get the mentality. This industry and media is already extremely tough on young girls and women. Instead of continuing the trend, why not support and use constructive criticism if you to help instead of knock down?

It scary to think that this guy claims to be passionate about photographing people and an expert with pageants contestants, models and high school seniors. I can only imagine how many people he has done this to. I can only hope that karma will makes it way back to him.

End rant.

Images with Anna

I met Anna in the fall of 2014 when Kristiaan and I photographed the team at Taylor & Hov. Recently we teamed up for a fun, sexy free spirited shoot. The goal was put together a few outfits and see what happens. Clearly we improvised but the results were stunning nonetheless.  We even had the chance to try the levitation technique, I think it came out amazing! 

I was so impressed by how fierce, fun and fearless she was!


Why we switched to Nikon...

I'm going to talk more about my experience vs anything technical here. If you're looking for technical and validation, check out Hoffer Photography's or Tyler Wirken's post about their reasons for changing. 

Kristiaan and I have been using Canon since before we started our business. She was film and I just got a Canon because of her and my dad who used Canon most of his life (film).

Over the years we upgraded cameras and lenses and drooled over the red rings and the latest bells and whistles. Canon was good to us so we never entertained switching until some of the recent mirrorless cameras. Even then it wasn't a real consideration, just that our eyes were opened to possibilities.

If we had any gripes about Canon, specifically the 5D series (i, ii and iii) it was that not all the focus points were as accurate and sharp as the center one. Not a big deal, focus and recompose and boom. We were fine. And every once it a while, images we were certain should have been in focus weren't...sadly we assumed it was user error. So we kept at it.

Then we started to hear about the Nikon D750 and all the wonderful things it could do - dynamic range, focusing, cost etc. It took me a few months but I eventually rented it (Nov 2014), after renting the Nikon Df. Within the first 30 minutes of shooting getting ready images at a wedding I was sold. I felt as if I was in focus before I even had to think about it. The responsiveness in low light as well as the accuracy and speed of focusing blew me away. To the point where I was almost sick to my stomach at how inferior Canons focusing felt afterwards.

Then I started to pixel peep (zoom in at 100%) and edit files, WOW! I had more room to be creative with dodging and burning, colors and recovery if anything was over or underexposed. Overall my image just looked, and actually were, sharper. 

We priced out what it would cost us to change and what we could potentially make selling our Canon gear. Surprisingly we would come out making more by buying all new Nikon and selling our Canon. One huge saving point though was that we went with Godox V860n's instead of Nikon SB-900s. We owe a huge thanks to Joseph Victor Stefanchik for the recommendation - although he really did recommend Cheetah flashes. We just went with something a few $$ cheaper.

As far as lens recommendations we followed our wedding photographers advice on ShotKit. Our setup (see below) gives us lighter/smaller lenses at a lower cost which is a huge win.

The Nikon D750 has not disappointed so far. Its also lighter which makes a 12 hour wedding feel a little better on the hands at the end of the day. Well there is that sometimes flare issue... We have experienced it with one of our four cameras and have not sent it in yet.

So final thoughts? More responsive and accurate focusing, better focusing in low light, cost less, lighter on the hands.

What we own:
4 x Nikon D750
2 x 35mm f/2.0D
2 x 85mm f/1.8G
1 x 60mm f/2.8
1 x 105mm f/2.8
1 x 50mm f/1.8
1 x 24mm f/2.8
8 x Godox V860n