Saturday, July 4, 2015

Southern Bride Magazine - On Location at Annesdale in Memphis Tennessee

Every year for the past 9 years our team has been shooting for Southern Bride Magazine's bridal fashion spread. When we meet with the editorial team to discuss the locations that would be a great backdrop, we get to pick from destinations across the South. We've shot in Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and more. This time we told the editors about this magical place we found right in our own backyard, Annesdale Mansion. They agreed and we began preparing for the shoot by scouting the location many months ahead. Their team flew in dresses from the top fashion designers, and even a few up and coming designers. Southern Bride has a reputation for shooting some of the best fashion layouts in the world, so this shoot was no different. I used inspiration from Anthropologie and some of the style from their catalogs to give this shoot a beautiful style that brides will love. With the help of an amazing crew of 15, including the editors, hairstylists, makeup artists, fashion designers, interior designers, florists and my photography assistants, we are happy to show you this new section of the magazine. We shoot two sections for this issue, here is the "Inspirational" spread. The 2015 summer issue is on newsstands across the South.

Advertising Specialty Institute - Commercial Photographer Memphis Tennessee

Our commercial photography attracts high end  clients from across the globe. ASI is one of those clients that sought us out for our award winning professional style. Here's an inspirational poster for Nicole McNamee, one of the leading distributors for ASI. Her story inspires thousands of business leaders across the globe, and her work with professional corporations reaches thousands more. I love inspirational stories, it reminds me that my role in telling her story in itself is inspiring. Nicole and I spent a couple of days out shooting in various locations and shot several hundred photos, this one was selected by the magazine editors as their favorite. Let me know if I can help you tell your story!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

At Home Tennessee - April 2015 Fashion Feature

We shoot for fashion magazines and catalogs across the country, when we are at home in Tennessee, we get to shoot for some of our home town magazines. Here is the latest release of At Home Memphis Magazine - One of our favorite writers for the magazine is designer Angela Mazanti, she always has us out to shoot her favorite articles, and we highly recommend Angela to all of our amazing clients. Here are just a few our of favorite photos from the recent shoot at the historic Hunt Phelan Mansion located in Memphis on Beale Street. To read more click this link At Home Tennessee Magazine Fashion Feature Blog

Destin Florida Feature - Northwest Florida Weddings

Every year we travel across the country, one of our favorite locations in Florida besides the Florida Keys, is Destin Florida. We've shot weddings there, magazine features, fashion catalog shoots, architectural and nature shoots. It's always a pleasure to spend our summers on the beach on 30A and Perdido Key. Here's a latest press feature in NWFL Weddings where we did the feature shoot for The Sandestin Hilton Beach Resort. If you've never stayed there, we highly recommend it. The beach is amazing, the resort is beautiful, and the Village of Baytown Warf is located on the resort property featuring amazing food, live entertainment, and access to the gulf marina. Here's the feature article and I included the photographer contributor section, just in case we are booked and you need a reference for other great photographers in Florida, we recommend all of these photographers.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Watch Our New Featured Inspirational Film for Southern Bride Magazine

Watch Our New Featured Inspirational Film for Southern Bride Magazine! We had a blast shooting this beautiful film on location in South Carolina on Pawleys Island between Myrtle Beach and Charleston. We also shot the new cover for the January 2015 edition of the magazine, and we have a full feature bridal fashion spread that we are so excited to see in the magazine! The soundtrack is from one of our favorite artists, Holley Mayer from Nashville licensed through The Music Bed. Congratulations to Holley for snagging the branding song for IKEA! That's a big deal!

Featured in Woodsy Weddings

Featured in Woodsy Weddings- one of the top wedding blogs in the country featuring high country weddings from California and the west! featured our beautiful wedding for their lead article for the New Year 2015, and we are so honored! This is Stacie and Ben's wedding shot at the beautiful Davies Plantation, one of the Souths most historic sites. Be sure to look at the entire featured post here.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Featured on Southern Bride Magazines Blog for 2015

Featured on Southern Bride Magazines Blog the first week of 2015, Michael's compelling photography style keeps showing up in the best of places. This new collection features fashion designer Ellen Hunter, NYC. Ellen's headpieces have adorned celebrities in just about every major magazine in the world, and Michael has worked with Ellen on several occasions over the past 6 years. Pictured here is one beautiful designer dress by lian carlo and some of Ellen's favorite pieces.

Click on over to see the full story on Southern Bride Magazine's blog today.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

On the cover of Southern Bride Magazine for the new year 2015

One of my favorite magazines to shoot for is Southern Bride. About 8 years ago I met the editors at a party, and since then I've shot dozens of inspirational photo shoots for them, traveled across the country, flown to Mexico to shoot for them, created photo workshops for them, and write articles for the magazine. Getting picked to be on the cover is a competition among thousands of photographers around the country, and I'm always excited to get selected from such a large group of professional photographers. It's an honor to be featured on the cover of Southern Bride Magazine for 2015! Southern Bride is across the Southeast in Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina!

This cover shot was taken on the coast of South Carolina on Pawleys Island, a short drive from Charleston. We had a team of 15 creative people on this shoot, with my wife Janice as the hairstylist. If you look closely, you'll see raindrops in the shot, we managed to grab this shot right before a downpour. The lighting in this spot was simply perfect, and our models had just the right amount of charisma and talent to make this shot magical! Be sure to pick up a copy of the new issue and see the entire fashion shoot from our 2 week trip to South Carolina!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas in Memphis!

Here's our featured cover shot for At Home Tennessee Magazine! What an honor to have been asked to shoot the cover, the location was at Annesdale Mansion, perhaps the most elegant location in the Southern USA. Special thanks to the designer, Angela Mazanti for having me out to shoot this on a cold, winter day right before the holidays! Be sure to pick up a copy and see the editorial photo shoots featuring Annesdale, and a special holiday cookie shoot with some amazing kids!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Michael Allen is the Guest Photo Judge on ViewBug International Photographers Contest this Summer!

I'm so excited to the the guest photography judge in an international photo contest on this summer. The contest is all about weddings, and me and the team at Viewbug are excited to present this amazing contest. It's for novice, semi pro & pro photographers from around the globe, and we are already seeing some amazing entries just in the first day of the competition. The prizes in this contest include free copies of my latest photography books, Modern Wedding Photography and Photography Lighting Secrets.

There are over 300 contests running on, some range from winning free books, to prize bundles of over $3000 pro cameras from Canon. The resident judges include names like Jerry Gihionis,
Tamara Lackey and Peter Hurley just to name a few!

Here's the direct link to see the contests!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Featured on Southern Bride Magazines Blog Today

We are always thrilled to be featured by the leading bridal magazine in the South!
Here's one of our many favorite photos from the latest shoot for the magazine on the amazing beaches at the San Destin Hilton. To top it all off, our own Janice Allen did the amazing hairstyles for the shoot!
We were so happy to work once again with the beautiful models at IZON agency.

Read the full story here -

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Featured in Southern Wedding News - Tennessee - Georgia - Florida - Alabama - Mississippi

Here's one of our weddings featured today on Southern Wedding News!
Stacie and Ben had an amazing wedding at Davies Plantation that was full of beauty, charm and simple details. Here's a few of my favorite photographs from their wedding, be sure to select the link to see all the photos from the feature story on Southern Wedding News.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Behind the scenes on a professional shoot - Southern Bride Magazine Florida - Michael Allen Photography

Behind the scenes on a professional shoot - Southern Bride Magazine Florida - Michael Allen Photography

Here's is an iPhone photo of Michael and the Team working on a new photo shoot for Southern Bride Magazine.

Southern Bride Magazine has a 20+ year history of bringing inspiration to brides across the Southern US. This past year the magazine announced its expansion to encompass the the entire Southern area of the United States and beyond. The wedding industry has a global reach, and with social media outlets such as Pinterest and Facebook, Southern Brides have changed the way weddings are viewed, and have inspired the strongest new trend in weddings, sometimes nicknamed the "barn wedding" or southern style backyard wedding.

I've been shooting for Southern Bride Magazine for over 6 years now, and love every minute of it. The magazine inspires not only brides and grooms, but photographers. I've had the opportunity to meet and shoot with many of the Souths best wedding photographers, I've traveled across the country shooting or learning with some of the top photographers in the world. I've met and become friends with many of the photographers, which in turn inspires me to stretch and reach further in my quest for beautiful photography. I shoot a lot of projects for my own studio, and get hired for a wide variety of shoots outside of the wedding industry, from shooting for other magazines, the music industry, the indie film world, to shooting for many fortune 500 businesses across the country. I love it when I get the call from the editors of Southern Bride, its refreshing, beautiful and exciting.

For our last shoot just a few weeks back, we traveled to Miramar Beach in Florida to shoot at the newly designed Hilton Resort in San Destin. Hilton Resorts are world renown for their amazing properties, and this location has received accolades as being one of the Top 10 locations in the world by Conde Naste Magazine.  Last year we flew to Puerta Vallarta Mexico on a big shoot for the magazine, and weather conditions presented some challenges, and once again, this last shoot presented even more challenging weather conditions. We'd stick our heads out the door and scramble to shoot until the rains hit in the next hour, then moved quickly indoors scrambling to set up a new scene for the next photo segment. I don't mind shooting in the rain, but when you are shooting a $10,000 bridal gown, the editors get a bit nervous about the gown getting wet. As a professional courtesy, you don't want to send an expensive designer gown back to New York with water stains and spots.

Working with a team of professionals on a magazine shoot is such an inspiration for me, and it's pretty amazing to work on a shoot with a team of people that offer their own amazing creative talents. Without them, I'd have a difficult time producing some of the beautiful images that I get to capture on my camera.

Let me paint a picture for you of a typical photo shoot with the magazine. When you walk onto the location with the team at Southern Bride, they usually have 4 large rooms set up for behind the scenes management of the shoot. First, theres the dressing room, usually full of the most stunning wedding fashions of the season, about 30 or 40 gowns from designers like Claire Pettibone and Vera Wang and more. The magazine team consists of about 15 people working behind the scenes to make these shoots happen, then 3 to 4 models are used, and our photography team can consist of 3 or 4 people. As you can see, we have a large team working very hard to create some beautiful magazine spreads to inspire brides around the world.

The next room is the hair and makeup room, and for many of the shoots that I do with Southern Bride, my lovely wife Janice is the lead hair fashion designer, creating her incredible works of art for the models. Next to her is the makeup artist and her team, with makeup lights, mirrors and a non stop palette of color work. In the next room is the fashion accessory room, with jewelry, shoes, hair accessories, props, and furniture pieces for the scenes we shoot. The next room is the back office and then next to that is the break room, which is stocked with plenty of food, drinks and snacks for the crew to nibble on all day long.

Last but not least, is the camera equipment room, I usually bring most of my studio gear with me, just in case I need a scrim set, flags, studio flash, gels, reflectors or anything else.
I have my own computer table where I can back up all the photo files from each scene, and plenty of backup drives to clone the master files. Most shoots I have a photo team working with me, and on occasion I'll work by myself with some assistance from the magazine staff. I can say that it's a very fast pace, and takes a strong passion for work this hard. It's challenging, exciting, hard work, and takes some patience, as each day can offer challenges.

For the shoots with Southern Bride, I generally shoot untethered, as we shoot in a very fast pace. I'll do a series of test shots, then after a quick review with the editors, I get to work shooting the scenes that we've preselected during our scouting day earlier in the week. Remember, shooting on location usually involves outdoor shooting, so when we have our shot plan ready to go, the weather can quickly change the plan. For this last shoot at the Hilton, the winds got the best of us on many locations. I remember one scene was all set, I barely got a test shot off, then the winds literally blew us away. Fortunately, one of the first shots was simply amazing, and we were able to break for lunch early with a successful morning segment behind us.

Gaining inspiration for me on shoots like this do require some pre planning. I work with the editors in the model selection process, choosing my favorites from the agency. We go over dozens of headshots, and check their measurements to match the dresses that have been picked, and review the hair color for the styles that we want to create with my hairstylists. Getting to work with season models is a big plus for a photographer, but from time to time we get to work with a few new models on the team, so I have to work a bit harder to coach the new models and find their comfort zone in front of the camera. Some photographers use tear sheets from other magazine shoots to inspire them, some pull a few Pinterest favorites, and others just work on the fly. I personally tend to scan some of my favorite fashion magazines, and look toward some of my favorite photographers to see what they are doing. At the end of the day though, you can't rely on copying others works, you have to use your own creativity, dig in to the moment, push the models to new levels and shoot using your professional instincts. I like to work with the fashion stylist and hairstylist for each scene, getting their feedback, and working as a team to capture the final image for that scene.

We generally spend 4 days on a typical magazine shoot. The first day is spent unloading gear, setting up the production rooms, and scouting locations. Depending on the style design of the shoot, I pick locations that I know will fit the editors criteria. The next day is shooting, with model calls at 7 am, breakfast is usually a quick buffet and the first shot is at 8 am depending on the location. Sometimes shoots start at daybreak, but with our all day long pace, 8 am is good for our goals. From the morning shoot we go non stop till lunch, then on till last light of the day. We usually take a break and the entire team meets for a nice well deserved dinner. The same plan goes for each day, which is an incredible pace, non stop shooting, where I end up with over 4000 images and hundreds of video clips. For Southern Bride, I try to keep my lighting setups simple, with a plan for quick changes as needed. If I can shoot in available light, I will, but I'll supplement the light to fit my personal standards and style. I also back up the photo files every hour or two, and at night after the shoot, I may stay up until 1 a.m. until I see that the backups are complete, with mirror backups of each image.

It's amazing how quickly the team bonds, and to this day I try to keep in touch with every model and support them in their careers. Each shoot involves 15 to 20 people on the team, and we all really enjoy what we do. Over the years I've enjoyed shooting for Southern Bride and their team. I've had the opportunity to shoot for many magazines over the years, working with agencies from coast to coast, and working with Southern Bride is always exciting and rewarding for me.

Back in the studio, I spend about a week culling through the images, carefully selecting the very best shots for the editors to review. I run a batch process with my personal presets, then upload the photos for the editors to review. Once they narrow down their favorites, I begin retouching, color balancing and delivery to their layout artist. The whole process can take weeks and months to finalize.

Once the magazine goes on the newsstands, I'll post my favorite images from the shoot. It's very hard for me to wait for several months to shot my work, because I'm so excited about what I shoot, I immediately want to share the images. But I'll have to sign off of this post for now, so please check back in a few months to see the results of this shoot with Southern Bride Magazine.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

2013 Year in Review - Best of Wedding Highlights

Every year I get to shoot some very beautiful weddings, getting a chance to meet and work with some amazing couples is something I really enjoy, I count it as a blessing to get to know so many wonderful people, their families and friends. From everyone on our team at Michael Allen Photography, we wish you the very best! Thanks so much for choosing us as your personal photographers & filmmakers. I also want to thank all of my friends in the wedding industry here in Memphis, you all work so hard to help bring every brides dreams to come true with absolutely stunning weddings! This past year took us to The Crescent Club, The Madison Hotel, Heartwood Hall, The Pink Palace, The Hardrock Resort in Mexico,  Overton Park, Wyndyke Country Club, and Davies Plantation.  Here are some of my favorite highlights from the 2013 wedding year!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

GQ Magazine Shoot in Memphis Tennessee

The photo below is Sebastian Kim, one of the top fashion photographers in the world. He flew in from New York in the fall to shoot the December 2013 cover shot for GQ Magazine in Memphis, and our studio was called in to be the assistant photographer for the shoot. 

Michael Allen Photography got a call from the magazine to be an assistant photographer for Sebastian and his team on a shoot with Justin Timberlake and Kendrick Lamar. I considered it quite an honor to get to assist Sebastian and his team, it was a fast paced 2 day shoot with a crew of about 15 people, from the editors of GQ, to all the PR staff, hairstylists, wardrobe team and set designers.

The photography team help set the lighting for each scene, as well as help aid Sebastian in his creative process, keeping the computers tethered to his Nikon camera, and getting each scene ready and tested for each part of the photo shoot. Just about every photographer in the world would give just about anything to assist Sebastian on a high profile shoot like this. I wasn’t afraid to roll up my sleeves and assist on this shoot, working with a group of professionals takes willingness to help at any level, from cutting foam board for bounce light, to rigging a 20 x 20 scrim to diffuse the light from the sun. I’ve worked on a lot of professional sets over the years, and this team was simply amazing to work with! 

Working with both Justin Timberlake and Kendrick Lamar was also about as good as it gets, they were both fun and very professional. I've photographed a lot of high profile people over the years, they both were down to earth and nice to work with, it is a little surreal when someone like this walks on the set, but after a few hours of work, the room is focused on helping them look and feel their very best during the course of the day.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Indie Memphis Official Film Selection - Avarice Team Scores the Opening Slot for the Film Festival!

For many Memphians we enjoy our city with all it's history and fame, quaint neighborhoods, great music scenes on Beale Street, and for the past several years, our Indie Memphis world has slowly become quite impressive. This year the Indie Memphis Festival was named one of the Top 25 in the Country, and we are catching the attention of filmmakers everywhere.

That's only part of the news that we are announcing today. The Avarice film team has scored the number one spot for the gala opening of Indie Memphis 2013, accompanied by the new cult classic "Day After Tomorrow". We are all quite honored for this, and the cast and crew were on hand for the premier of Avarice at the gala, and after a few photos on the red carpet, we answered some Q&A from a large audience at the Playhouse on the Square, the cities new multimillion dollar facility.

As the cinematographer for Avarice, I was so excited to stand alongside our producers and directors for this event. We began filming Avarice several years ago, and after months and months of pickups and edits, our little short film has taken on legs and is beginning to pick up awards in festivals across the country. Last month it picked up "best fantasy film" at the Nashville Wizard World that was attended by such industry leaders as Henry Winkler. With all the hard work, shooting in crazy hot weather, and weeks & months of shooting, it's very rewarding to see the excitement about the film. Visit the website to find out more about the film and the film company at

The producer Dan Baker, director Rachel Taylor and I have worked together on several projects over the past 5 years, and we seem to keep getting more work that keeps the team busy. Their company has grown and evolved into the "Timid Monster" name, and they are actively screening Avarice in indie festivals across the country. I also need to mention our wonderful leading actress, Hayley Parker, whom I truly adore. She has done several short films, and is getting more and more roles every year. We started filming Avarice when she was 11 years old, and she was just a happy little girl with an incredible work ethic, today at 14 she has a passion for success, and is humble, caring and happy. Her parents are very proud of her, just as I am. Our time together on set has always been fun and I hope to work with her again on future projects.

As we hope to win more accolades with the film, I want to offer thanks to the entire crew that worked on Avarice, Dan Baker produced and edited the film and did an amazing job with all the special effects. This film has been Dan's baby, and he has finely crafted every detail in the editing room.  The sound designers, Kent Smith and Kerry Kernan created an amazing cinematic film score, and the 20 or more cast and crew members did an amazing job with wardrobe and set design. I enjoyed working alongside our DP Paul Skidmore, and so many of the crew members on this project, and know that they all are very excited to have been a part of this film. I really enjoy working alongside Rachel Taylor, the director. She's easy to work with, patient with the camera setups, and has a good communication philosophy with the talent and the camera crew. She knows what she wants from a scene, and instead of getting tense she just smiles and says lets try it again. Working with a director like her makes the day fun, and thats why we like making films together.

From a cinematographers view of this project, I loved the artistic nature of the film. It really fit into my style of shooting. Working on a film crew takes special teamwork, and willingness to work hard on each take until its right. I loved shooting on the Canon 5dII camera system, compared to shoots I've done with cameras like the Red One, I think it performed extremely well. The 5d was a relatively new camera when we began shooting Avarice, and we had to innovate on the fly to make some of the scenes work, yet almost every other scene was a breeze to shoot. The way the 5d captures light and color is it's strong suit, and the sharpness of it's lenses helps the HD camera sing for the detail shots.

Keep checking back as Avarice continues to tour film festivals across the country, keep your fingers crossed for it to get mainstream attention from the Memphis indie film vibe that it now has under its belt.

Here's our team on the red carpet at the opening gala for Indie Memphis and we accepted Q&A from a large audience in the screening theater. Thanks Memphis for all your support!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

At Home Tennessee Magazine

Here's a recent shoot we did for "At Home Tennessee Magazine" that's on newsstands for the September 2013 issue. Some of my favorite photography is architectural work, my next passion is food photography, and especially detail photography. I get the chance to shoot hundreds of details in high end weddings, so shooting an architectural and editorial food icing on the cake. I love incredible interiors, so when I got the call to shoot this spread, I was very happy to photograph this project, this is probably one of the most beautiful homes in Tennessee. I've photographed homes for NBA celebrities, movie stars and more, but this home was simply amazing. I'll let enjoy just a few of the highlight photos from the shoot. Special thanks to Angela Mazanti for her amazing tablescapes, attention to detail and her help with the food styling.