Southern Bride Magazine often features our professional wedding photography, not only because we the lead fashion photographer for the magazine, but because they love our work! Michael's style is romantic, modern, and beautiful. Michael shoots hundreds of weddings and loves every couple. Some photographers have just started their careers, and tend to practice on new clients. Michael's vast professional experience offers his clients the best photography in the business, giving the client confidence that Michael has the best eye for whatever conditions he is shooting in. Michael's eye of fashion gives him an edge, shooting both weddings and commercial catalogs. Next time you pick up a copy of Southern Bride Magazine, look at Michaels work, it's art that everyone loves. For this couple shoot I wanted to get them having fun, embracing and unaware of the camera, the last two shots I asked them to do some silly things that they would not normally do, and I loved the results! Some of these are in the Magazine on newsstands this month!
One of my passions in photography is capturing people at the their best! Photographing professional headshots is an art. Most don't realize that for some photographers shooting people is frightening. Photographing someone up close and personal is a rush, exciting and it takes self confidence, I'm talking about the photographer in this sentence. I've meet hundreds of photographers over the years, there are a handful that I'd recommend to shoot headshot, all the others would be scared to death to take on this challenge.
Capturing people is an masterful art. Getting them comfortable in front of the camera takes a special skill. It's almost like being a therapist. How do you get your client to let go and show who they are? Most clients are scared to death of being photographed, unless they have done it a few times, it can be a little intimidating.
If you are a photographer that enjoys people, that's half the battle. You as a photographer have to have total self confidence in your photography skills, lighting skills, and posing skills. If you let them see you sweat, then you've lost them. Trying to win them back over may not happen. You also have to be interesting enough that the client will take instruction from you, and you have to tell them what you want out of the session. For me it's capturing their emotions. Sometimes I tell my clients during the shoot, "think happy thoughts" or "think of a moment when you were sad" or "a moment when you were very serious". Most of the time they laugh at me, and that's when I get something real from them, even if it's not what I suggested for them. There's definitely power of words that can make a session go well.
When I worked with country music superstar Dierks Bentley at The Ryman, he only had about 15 minutes to shoot, his rehearsal ran behind, and that ate into my already short half hour schedule. I was on the hot seat to pick the locations, and have my gear ready to shoot. When I first shook his hand, I immediately went into professional mode, I positioned him in the spot that I wanted, and gave him cues for every pose. Now he'd been in lots of photo sessions, but I wanted to make sure I got what I wanted out of him, so here I am telling Dierks Bentley how to look, how to pose and get him in the zone to think positive thoughts. After the first segment, I was confident that I had nailed the shots. Especially when his wife and kids crossed the auditorium and his face lit up with joy. Now I was ready to take him to my second location, and it was pretty much me and him. The entourage had moved on, so we got some one on one time. And once again, I knew what I wanted to do, got him into the light, and nailed the second segment. Later on that night he walks up to me randomly and says, which shirt should I wear for the video shoot? So I bonded with him somewhere during the day and he took them time to ask me what I thought. That made my day! Some of my favorite shots of him made the cut, and now the images reside on the Walmart Soundcheck website today.
I pretty much have the same mindset no matter if I'm shooting Dierks Bentley, or the Doctor at the local clinic that wants good headshots. I know my clients want to look their best, and they are counting on me to do just that with the camera. They are in business and want their clients to like them just from their photos. The same goes for a new actor or model starting out, they want to get just the right photo in front of an agent and get hired for the job. I've had dozens of new actors and models make it to the big screen, and it makes me very happy to have played a role in getting them the job!
Most of the people that hire me are willing to pay good money to get great headshot, if it's just a quick hour session in my studio, or a day rate on location. I do run into some that don't want to spend a much on their headshots, and I have to send them away. I hate to do that, because I've seen what rookie photographers deliver, and it's usually pretty weak. I know that when I shoot someone, they will walk away with some headshots that will win them a great job. I've become a master of light from all my studies with the best photographers in the world. I've learned from the best photographers in the country and know what it takes to get the shot. I bend the rules just enough to give my shots something unique. I also use the correct lights, not every flash will do the job, so having the right studio lights is a key to successful headshots. The days of stiff, over posed portraits are gone, I capture a real look that's believable. I also know what format is needed for the web, not every headshot is vertical. Web banners need horizontal, so I always include a mix of both formats.
A rookie doesn't have the experience to know how to handle different lighting situations, and there is a art to painting with light with a camera. A lot of clients don't get that concept, they think that if a photographer has a camera, then they must know what they are doing. The other thing that I run into with clients is that they want to dictate where you shoot their photo. Let me tell you, if you want to look your best, let your photographer chose the location. It may not be at your desk at your office, unless you are the CEO of a mega-corporation and have a million dollar office suite with a sky rise view of Manhattan. Great locations require great light. That's why magazines spend tens of thousands shooting their magazine covers. Now you may not have a budget like that, but keep that in mind when you decide to get headshots, think big, and find a creative photographer that can make you look like a million bucks. You may want to keep it simple with a white or grey background, or let us find just the right spot for a great lifestyle shot.
What are some of my techniques? First, I get my clients to laugh. They have to be comfortable and unaware of the camera. I want their happy face, the one that they show their best friends. Next I want them to look comfortable, sitting in a position that they may be in when they are sitting around on their couch at home. Even if they are standing for the shot, I'll have them shift their weight and change their stance until I see that they have settled in. I want their body language to come across in the shot, so they have to look confident, and at ease at the same time. I've learned from Peter Hurley how to get them to "squench" their eyes, and get their chin out in just the right position so that their neck has that power pose that makes them look their best. For lifestyle shots, I use natural light, with a little kicker over their shoulder to add just a little rim light to their hair. For studio shots, I use a huge 60" moon light softbox. I want their key light to look as soft as butter, and I do want some shadows to add drama, so I play with my lighting angle from my key light to highlight my clients best side. Headshots to me don't always mean just the head, I may want the entire body. Maybe not head to toe shots, but if they are sitting, then why not have them criss cross their legs and look relaxed. And my final tip, I run all my images through some of my favorite toning presets. I like my images to have depth, sharp eyes, and nice skin tones. I study catchlight in my subjects eyes and want that sharp, crisp look that makes their eyes sparkle. When my clients send in their headshots for a potential job or casting call, I want their headshots to stand out from the others on the table. I've gotten great feedback from agencies on my headshots, so I know that my clients are going to get attention. If the headshot is for a CEO of a big corporation, I know that they will love what I do for them. I want them to have a powerful, confident look that will attract customers to their door. I also stay away from traditional "master of photography" poses that are highly technical. Todays headshots are natural, realistic and are designed to show the public who you are in a personal way.
Here are a few of my favorites shots from the past several years. I want to show you some pretty amazing people that have graced my camera lens. Here's a collection of studio and lifestyle headshot portraits from my clients from all walks of life. If you would like to book an individual professional headshot session, our prices range from $250 to $500 to $750. We have openings weekly in our studio or we can travel to your location. We also offer corporate sessions.
Here's a quick 15 second video clip we created to accompany our shoot with Southern Bride Magazine. We captured some beautiful film footage the we edited into a promotional video of the behind the scenes shoot at Annesdale Mansion in Memphis Tennessee. We use clips like this on our Instagram feeds, Pinterest, Tumblr and our websites. Enjoy!
Editorial Wedding Photographer - Tennessee - South Carolina - North Carolina
We've had an incredible success in our photography career over the years, one of the most rewarding things we do is shoot weddings. Our award winning photography style caught the eye of one of the editors of Southern Bride Magazine several years ago. One thing that makes a photographers career is getting magazines to track you down and ask you to shoot for them. We've been published in many magazines over the years, from Town & Country, to ELLE, Inspire, and were always excited to be published. When we got the call to shoot for Southern Bride, we were so excited. Getting asked to shoot for a magazine like this is very special to us, as we love shooting weddings for real brides. The most exciting part about shooting for Southern Bride Magazine, is that they keep calling us year after year after year.
The shoot we are featuring today was from one of our favorite shoots in a location that we'd never been to before. We've shot in Charleston South Carolina, but one thing about Pawleys Island South Carolina is the beach! This shoot was scouted for the back bay areas, so it had so much charm and such a unique feel. We'd just shot last year on the beach in Florida for the magazine, and we wanted to give this shoot that back bay feel, a little more high end looking, and we wanted to capture the quaint beauty of Pawleys Island.
For this shoot the magazine brought in over 30 dresses from the top fashion designers across the globe. If you ever get excited when Fed Ex delivers a package to your front door, imagine getting 50 large boxes delivered to your door. It's overwhelming, but the Southern Bride team carefully rips open every box, tags each item, stages them on 6 large garment racks, and sets up a behind the scenes dressing room that most bride to be's would die for! From hairstylists, makeup artists, seamstresses, set designers, florists, catering crews, photography assistants, communications offices, snack table full of fresh fruit and incredible gourmet snacks, to 20 pair of dazzling high heel shoes, the shoot location is buzzing with excitement! Most of our shoots include about 20 crew members, and at least 4 models. From our 7 am call time each morning, our days are like rolling thunder, its non stop action, cameras and gear moving like an orchestra from scene to scene, location to location, we shoot somewhere in the neighborhood of 5000 photos in 4 days.
All this to narrow down our top 20 photos to create these beautiful fashion spreads. If you look a few blog posts back you'll also see the cover of this issue. We were not only excited to be featured on the cover, but we are so excited to share this post with you, here's the latest fashion spread from the winter / spring 2015 issue of Southern Bride Magazine.
An award winning professional photographer offering cutting edge photography for individuals and businesses. Michael has worked with grammy award winning recording artists, high end brides, celebrities, and everyday people. His style is unique, offering natural light photojournalistic styles to high end studio looks. His work appears in magazines and books, and he was recently named one of the Top 25 wedding photographers in Tennessee. Michael is a member of WPPI, PPA and more.
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Michael Uses Canon EOS Professional Cameras
Our principal photographer is Michael Allen. Michael is available for assignments year round at locations across the globe.
Michael's associate photographer is Tracy Leigh Welch. Tracy is an incredible photographer who has helped Michael on shoots across the South, and is available for assignments in the local Memphis area.
Our studio hairstylist and associate photographer is Janice Allen who owns Eston Salon based in Memphis. Janice offers editorial styling for our corporate shoots, editorial and modeling shoots, and is available for assignments in the local Memphis area.
Our makeup artist is Melissa Jadhav who offers several photographers her professional makeup services for photo shoots.
Our set designer is Morgan Armstrong, who owns MemphisModern.com and she helps Michael on shoots for food styling, wardrobe selection, hair and makeup and set design. She's well respected in the IDS interior design community in Memphis and helps facilitate the organization.