Congratulations Erik and Kristin!
Your story was incredible and full of love and beautiful imagery. I’m excited to create a unique photography session just for you to celebrate your love for one another.
Of course, we will have a photography giveaway next year at the same time and I may even have a ‘secret’ giveaway sometime before then if I have time.
Thanks to all who entered. Your stories are very inspiring.
Erik Johnson’s winning entry:
It’s hard to write a short paragraph about Kristin. She was the girl next door, we went to high school together, and we shared the same friends, the same mountains, and the same lakes for ten years. We used to backpack together, bantering like siblings, and then we learned to swing dance.
Kristin’s an incredible dancer. She’s agile, quick and light, and just a little mischievous, which is perfect for swing. When you spin her, she smiles, and if you lift her, she lands on the balls of her feet and never breaks form. It’s fun. For the first half of our twenties we’d spin each other around the dance floor on New Years, or on the beach by an Independence Day bonfire. We dance well together.
Then my old middle school called me and asked me to chaperon their Valentine’s Day dance. They knew I knew swing, and thought a simple lesson would encourage the boys to dance. I needed a partner, and I called Kristin–promised her dinner if she’d help me out. And it was odd day. I cut my hair, spent 20 minutes picking a tie, and arrived early with sweating hands to pick up a girl I’d known since I was 16. She didn’t tell me until later, but she was doing much the same thing–bought a new top, brought 3 changes of clothes in case she changed her mind. At the dance, I couldn’t banter with her anymore. I brought her punch instead–watched myself do it. And it was different dancing with her that night. I can’t quite explain it. Something had sparked, and we weren’t just friends from high school or former almost-neighbors–we were a team, we knew how to move together.
We got the middle school boys to dance with the middle school girls, and when their night was over, Kristin and I kept dancing, barefoot, beside my car under the moon. At my house we started talking about everything we never could when all we could do is banter, until she fell asleep on my shoulder.
That was last Valentine’s Day. By next Valentine’s Day, if everything goes well, we’ll be engaged. Over the last year, I’ve been able to meet her like she was someone new. I love her.
Mastin Studio Seattle Wedding Photography Best of 2010
2010 was a fantastic year. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I don’t only shoot wedding photography in Seattle. I get to shoot everywhere.
I shot beautiful couples on riverbeds deep in the forest…
…in rowboats in hidden lagoons…
…and on top of skyscrapers in New York…
…I had a red deer pass before me and sniff my hand as the waves crashed on the shore on Orcas Island…
…I became a regular at a two different country clubs…
…and last but not least, I started a family.
A big year indeed.
Here’s to more wedding photography in Seattle and worldwide!
Above is the video I made for my wife after a trip to Oregon to go wine tasting. It was a few months into our dating and that weekend is the first time that I told Robin I loved her. It was right around Valentine’s day.
I want to give YOU a unique and romantic photo session. All I ask in return is inspiration from my readers.
Win a free photography session by Mastin Studio
Are you engaged? Already married? Maybe you are on the brink of getting engaged! In any case, we’d love to hear your story. Is it funny? Romantic? Maybe it’s downright crazy! Share it with us. I want to hear YOUR Valentine’s Day Story.
- Tweet this post.
- ‘Like’ this blog post. (both buttons are at the end of this post. It’s super easy!)
- Leave a comment with your Valentine’s Day Story. It can be from this year or from the past.
Small print: The deadline to enter is February 28th, 2011. The winner will be announced
February 30th March 2nd. In order to qualify you need to live in the Greater Seattle Area or be willing to travel here for your session.
Life goes fast, don’t forget to capture your important moments on film. These will be the memories that you will cherish forever.
Now we are married and have a baby. This is how things started, a love letter in film.
I can’t wait to shoot YOUR story and it can start with the photo shoot of your dreams.
It was really nice to get out of the house and feel brave enough to bring our new baby to a public place. It seems that walking with Maeve in a baby carrier or pushing her in the stroller, makes her really really happy. And to top it off, it also makes her tired enough to sleep at night. A perfect combo.
This is the one time of the year that I’m not jetting about or shooting wedding photos in Seattle. I’m so happy that Maeve was born at THIS time of the year so that we can take her to places like the Frye Art Museum (with its amazing ‘Tete-a-Tete’ Frye personal painting collection as seen above) without feeling stressed by work yet to be finished at the studio.
Wedding photography season is just around the corner, but for now Robin and I are having a great time in our new life together as parents.
I get questions nearly everyday in my inbox asking for photography advice. The questions range from how to use a tilt-shift lens, to how to approach and work with people to get genuine and emotional photographs. For the most part, I am able to respond to each email and help in any way I can. I believe that sharing my knowledge is the best way for me to grow as a photographer.
The only problem is when I am asked to give feedback on the portfolio and vision of a fellow photographer. There is no efficient and organized way to do so. Until now that is. That’s why I’m happy to announce my partnership with Photosynesi.
Photosynesi is a website devoted to connecting mentors with photographers of all levels looking for honest-to-goodness real feedback. Not the kind of feedback you see on Flickr (always positive and never constructive nor thoughtful), but more of the kind of the feedback that will transform the way you shoot and help propel you to the next stage of your photography, whether it be as a professional or an enthusiast.
I hope you enjoy it. I’m excited to be a pioneer with this new platform.
Congratulations to Tara and Bret! Your wedding is featured in Eco-Beautiful Weddings Magazine.
It was so cool to see the story and layout. Again an honor.
Click here to see Tara and Bret’s Mt. Rainier wedding on this blog.
In the second part of Behind the Scenes: Row Boat Engagement, I want to talk about the power of shooting with film and directing.
Why film? Why is it special?
Film is the opposite of digital. It is grainy, often imperfect, and organic in feel. It is the equivalent of a vinyl record (as opposed to an MP3.)
Over the last few years, many photographers have turned towards ever more megapixels, sharper and sharper images (unnaturally sharp if you ask me) and crazy over-saturation and contrast. Digital photography made people excited because you could tweak the image SO MUCH in Photoshop.
Eventually, images were being tweaked with unnatural textures, crazy toning, and more. I have nothing against it, but it is not something that I like to do. I want my images to have an emotional impact as a result of the natural chemistry of the subjects, the lighting, and the imperfection of the natural image itself when captured. I don’t want to manufacture that emotion.
So how can you get something to naturally look ‘vintage’? Well, try shooting film.
Each type of film has its own look built into it. You don’t even have to spend hours behind the computer trying to make a digital image look like it was pulled from an old shoebox.
In this case, I shot Fuji 400H, underexposed 2 stops and pushed 1 stop in developing. Why? Because I knew that this combination of intentional under-exposure and then pushing the development, would produce a very moody, grainy look.
Like something from a French film (at least that was the thought going through my head when I shot this).
If I expose the same film correctly for the exposure, the mood changes and you get a nice airy and clean photo with muted colors:
Now that I had the look I wanted, I had to create the right mood. It is all about directing, which is the real reason a professional photographer should shoot your wedding photos.
What is directing?
Think of it as directing a film. You have your subjects, you have the light, and you have a great setting. The last thing that will make or break a great photo is how you direct your subjects.
I’ve never had professional models as clients. With most wedding or engagements, I’m working with people who are camera-shy. By carefully directing people and making them feel comfortable, you can achieve amazing things. Through directing, you can amplify the emotion of an image, making something uniquely beautiful for a couple.
For this particular picture, I waded into the water with my Contax 645 and a 80mm f2 lens (equivalent to a 50mm lens on a 35mm camera.) Shooting wide open at f2, I directed the couple into position, and then talked to them about this moment and their upcoming wedding to get them to relax, open up to each other, and create a beautifully moody photo.
Almost anyone can learn how to operate a camera. And, anyone with enough patience and money can learn to confidently shoot film.
‘Directing’ on the other hand, is something that takes a lifetime to master. I feel like a beginner with directing, but I understand the importance of it. I think it is ultimately the vision and the ability of a photographer to direct people that justifies hiring a wedding photographer at all. As digital cameras continue to improve and it gets harder to ‘take a bad picture,’ personal vision and directing will become the most important factor in choosing a photographer.
This was one of my favorite engagement shoots of the year.
Adrienne and Mark met at Berkeley while in graduate school. When they came out to Washington for the Summer, we set up an engagement shoot at one of my favorite places, the Washington Park Arboretum.
We rented an aluminum rowboat and rowed across lake Washington into the arboretum at the golden hour. I think it was about 2 hours from sunset.
My idea for this shoot was to capture the magic of a warm summer day, with the classic romanticism associated with riverboats, rowboats, and old French movies. Climbing to the very end of the bow, I was far enough away to create environmental portraits of Adrienne and Mark, while not being so far away that the portrait would lack intimacy (like standing on the river bank and shooting with a long lens.)
As we maneuvered the boat to a specific area of the arboretum, I made sure to keep the setting sun behind Adrienne and Mark allowing for a golden rim-light. I exposed for the shadows and the result was exactly what I was hoping for: Beautiful skin tones, great rim-light, gorgeous background colors, and most importantly a directed but natural moment of real romance.
For the pixel peepers out there:
Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 50mm 1.4 lens, shot at f2
No flash or reflectors. I prefer natural light.
In the next part I will show a different photo from the engagement shot on medium format film with my Contax 645. It has a completely different feel.
To see the rest of the photos from this set click here.
How do I explain how it feels? I guess nothing can really prepare you for being a parent, much less the feelings you will have for your baby.
When I look at baby Maeve, I’m hypnotized.
I look at her eyelashes, the little wrinkles on her arms and legs, her soft red hair, and her perfect smooth skin. I can’t believe it is possible that Robin and I created such a beautiful and perfect being.
I am totally in love with her, think about her to the exclusion of everything else, and have a constant warm calming joy in my heart.
Born at 10:30pm on December 26th, 2010, Maeve narrowly escaped the fate of those born on Christmas day: having your birthday the same day as Jesus. I know. Tough act to follow.
Of course it won’t be entirely easy to round up all of Maeve’s friends the day after Christmas for her birthday party, but I can tell you for sure – it would be IMPOSSIBLE if she had been born on Christmas.
Robin and I spent two days at the hospital where I quickly learned some basics of being a father: how to swaddle and soothe my baby, how to take care of my lovely wife after almost 24 hours of labor, and how to hold a new being, my own baby girl, through the night, trying to help her sleep as she experienced her first few hours in the real world. It must have been terrifying for her.
Now we are at home and adjusting to an entirely new life. Robin and I spend each day revolving around baby Maeve’s needs. It’s almost as if the outside world did not exist at all. I will try to sneak out a blog post soon, but don’t expect much until the pieces of my new life have settled into a more regular pattern.
My advice to new parents? Watch the Happiest Baby on the Block DVD and do EXACTLY what it tells you to do. It’s like magic. I feel like a ‘baby whisperer’ already.
Second thing – get an Ergo Baby Carrier so you can put your newborn to sleep and keep her asleep with the movement of your body. It will allow you to do basic things such as use a remote control, pour a glass of orange juice, and yes, even write a blog entry.
Without a baby carrier it is impossible. Trust me.
As my friend Frank Huster wrote to me recently: ‘Welcome to fatherhood and the beginning of the second part of your life.’
It is so true. And completely wonderful.