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Better Preparation=Better Pictures, Period.

James Bruce Photography
This is not my beautiful Car, this is not my beautiful house.

Lately I have gotten some fantastic photographic opportunities.  I walked into a real estate office today and one of the agents said to me, “You are everywhere!”  Well of course not really, but it has been a great couple of months with several super homes that warranted some very out there marketing.  Thanks to The Reserve at Lake Travis for trusting us to shoot the home for the cover story in Luxury Home Magazine this month and Dara Allen for the cover of Southeby’s Magazine in August.  The only reason that we get that kind of exposure is that someone has a home that needs that exposure.  I am just glad to have gotten to be the one to make the clicks.

A big part of both of those sessions was some prep in advance.  In both cases, we were invited to preview the property in advance, make notes, give input and finally take the snaps.  I cannot begin to explain what a difference it made to the final product.  The cover shot really stands out to me in that way.

First we had the chance to do the walk-through with the designer and plan the shoot.  During that walk-through the subject of the cover with the car came up.  We were able to plan that part of the shoot, so that we could execute it when the time came.  That turned out to be very important because the car was only available for a short time, on short notice.

Second, we shot the house for the magazine, in the RAIN!  Yep, how scary was that, but it turned out great, and again we got one more opportunity to capture photons in the space we would be shooting the car.  From those two experiences I was able to plan the shoot in my mind so I would be ready when the time came.

Third, on the day of the shoot, we got the car with very short notice, (the time was not known until the morning of) and for a very short time (about 40 mins if I could get there early), and I still had to get there from across Austin, yea Austin.  So of course, traffic, and 20 mins late, so now only about 22 mins for the shoot.  I arrive, hop out, grabbed my trusty Profoto lights, reflector and battery,  stuck em on stands where we had pre planned, and took about 12 clicks, showed them to the mag, got a selfie with the car, got the peeps in a pic, and heard the engine rev and out in just over 22 mins.

So me, giddy schoolgirl that I am, doing the happy dance all the way to the computer, knowing we got the shot we wanted because of preparation.

Better Preparation=Better Pictures, Period.


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Motion is how we see the world. Often we need to stop the world and have a good look at it.  Sometimes we don’t want to stop it, but need to slow it down, or focus on a certain area of it, or just watch how it moves over and over again.  So we have two kinds of imagery, still and motion.

The last couple of years have seen so many new avenues for images particularly motion that we had to start to think of a way to use it to help our clients to tell their story, or their product’s story.  We could have, and maybe should have jumped into video delivery sooner, but we wanted to develop motion imagery that is similar in quality to our still images.  After some additions to our video equipment and some real tough hours slogging it out with software and stability platforms including our quadcopters we think we have something of which we can be proud and will help our clients to stand out.

Motion vs Video

I suppose it is really splitting hairs to call what we are doing “motion”.  Almost everyone talks about moving pictures as being video, so why the “motion” term?  The reason to use the term motion is that for a while we have been delivering a version of our virtual tours as video.  Really what has been happening is that the slideshow tour is being converted to a video format and put out for use on platforms like You-Tube.  The virtual tours have a “Ken Burns” style panning applied to them, but there is not a sense that they are true motion video.  In many ways I think that these videos are superior to real motion images in that the still photographs they are created from have higher resolution and greater color and light balancing that cannot be done with motion.  Motion though has some clear advantages, we can include the ambient sound, blazing fires, pool splashes and movement through a space that cannot be done with a two dimensional photo.  In order to distinguish between the two types of images, we will be using the term motion or motion video to label our true video products.

One of the issues that we are working on is pricing.  Motion takes more time on site and a lot more time to edit than stills do.  That being said we also know that bottom line cost has to be considered when talking about marketing and no one has an unlimited budget.  Look for pricing to follow our stills pricing but with a higher base price.  We should get a pricelist done very soon.

We have some examples of the Motion that have already been in circulation.  We would love some feedback.

Karen Kelly, whom we have worked with for almost 9 years has a really great new listing in the Four Seasons Residences.

A few weeks ago we delivered a project for Greg Walling at Moreland Properties that we think is a good example of the style we are going for.  




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Giddy Up

The Giddy Up Gala is an auction and fundraiser put on by the Hill Country Education Foundation to raise money for schools in the Four Points area of Austin.  It has been going on for a while, and has been quite successful at raising and more importantly using money to directly benefit students and teachers.

This year, I was asked to do a donation for their auction, and thought it would be good to increase the awareness of our little shop if I donated a print, and what better print than the River by Moonlight image that was taken off of the Steiner Ranch boat dock.

Austin Photo Imaging did the print on Aluminum, and it came out great.  If you have not been to this shop for printing, you should go.  They do fantastic work.

Anyway so Stephanie Johnson was kind enough to take a shot of me with the print, so that I could show it.  Thanks Stephanie!

The print that we donated is the first fine art print I have place for sale by auction.  It is approx. 30×20, and is a 1 of 1 at that size on Aluminum.  We will never print this image at that size on that material again.  After the print is sold, I will meet with the new owners to discuss how it will hang in their home, and give them the certificate.



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He’s got One of Those Good Cameras…

He's a Nikon Guy Too
Kevin Nealon

Event photography is one of the best outlets I have.  It is sort of like street photography sometimes.  I get to photograph people who are relaxed and generally having a good time, and they usually volunteer.  The most pressure is the complete lack of light or someone who has had a few too many, or the occasional oversight of a good pair of earplugs near the stage.  Usually, I get the job done, stay out of the way, make sure I fill the shot list and down the road I go.  When I get it right, no one really thinks about me or what I am doing, and if the client is happy with the images it is all good.

So I do have a bit of sage advise for people who want to do event photography, “comedians are tricky.”  I mean, Sixpence None the Richer did not invite me to sing Kiss Me with Leigh Nash, and Jack Nicklaus did not ask me advice on his putt, but what you cannot tell from this frame is that I had somehow become part of the act.

Now, I know what you are thinking, this should make me happy, I am always cracking jokes, especially about myself, and I love to give a chuckle to someone at any time, but at this point, not so much.  At this moment I am trying to be like a kid in 1940, seen but not heard.  The set up works like this, I had taken shots of the crowd and some couples and the warm up act, and so it came time for Kevin Nealon to take the stage.  I got up close to take a few shots and then get away from the stage so the paying guests could enjoy the show, and I guess due to the fact that I am not the smallest event photographer to ever live, or the fact that I have two amazing Nikon bodies thrown over my shoulders, or just that he was blinded by my bald head… any way he noticed that I was there and began to mug for the camera.  Thankfully, I was not really a bother to him, but it did make me lose my ability to blend in so to speak.

After I sort of got out of the line of fire, he saw me again off to the side, and he points at me and says the best line about a photographer anyone said all evening.

He’s got one of those good cameras, a Black One!


Kevin Nealon everybody.


One other thing, Kevin is a Nikon guy, so that makes up for everything.  After the show he has figured out that it is faster and better for everyone, if he has someone take photos of him at the autograph table with his fans, and then post them on his website, so that everyone gets to shake hands, and no one has to figure out someone else’s camera.  What a brilliant guy.


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