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In addition to being a model, muse, business partner, confidant, best friend, mother of my two beautiful children, virtual single parent on summer weekends, and of course, full time healthcare consultant extraordinaire, you might assume my wife has no time to venture into the world of photography.  That would be, well, my world.

And you would be wrong.  We just returned from a blissful 7 days in Arizona at The Boulders Resort, plus a day trip to Sedona.  No kids, no schedule.  It was an opportunity to rejuvenate, revitalize, reconnect and rediscover.  Yes, an opportunity to learn more about one another.

What did I learn?  I discovered that my wife who has has never taken a class in photography, never read a book on photography, and to my knowledge never taken more than an iPhone picture in the past 8 years, has some serious skills as a shutterbug.

All these images were taken with a consumer level compact Sony NEX set to automatic exposure.  I give you the work of Jaimie Hammerling Bern.

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If you missed the blog that shook my social media universe this past May please take a moment to visit this link for a quick visual.

Then in June I headed back to Long Island to shoot the insanely beautiful wedding of Katie and Greg at Oheka Castle….and I HAD to drop in on the boys at Martino Auto Concepts just to see what was cookin’.  Oh, just a normal boring day at the shop surrounded by every flavor of Lambo, Ferrari, BMW and Benz…it was pretty sick.

I’m NOT a car shooter but for fairly obvious reasons we took some shots of NY artist Rashaad Newsome’s interpretation of the Lambo.  This car is part of his exhibit in New Orleans’ NOMA.  Wow is all I have.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

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When did my interest in taking pictures somehow magically transform from a “thing” that I enjoyed doing, to an actual business that I ran?  What does it even mean to be a professional photographer?  I’m not sure how to answer any of those questions except to say I’m really glad I have a portrait studio where delightful little kids come and visit me.  Little Maeve was no exception.  She is extraordinary.

 

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Pretty sure 2013 is the official Year of The Executive Headshot as I’ve never had so many requests in my life!  CEO’s, CFO’s, COO’s, models, actors, the unemployed, the underemployed, the entrepreneur…it’s been insane at the studio.  But today was different.  The shoot went smoothly and ended around 11:30.  I edited and delivered her high resolution jpegs via Dropbox at 1:30.  Everything was done – another happy client – I could move on to the next thing on my long list of things to do today.

Then it happened.  I got the email at 2:45 and I was not prepared.  It read:

Thank you SO much!!!  I LOVE the pics!!!  I am amazed at your skills, even with a challenging subject having a bad hair day… LOL.  So I have a quick favor to ask.  Right after our session this morning I had another headshot lined up at the mall as a fallback.  I’m attaching the best photo from that shoot.  Could you please redo it the same way you did for the one you took of me?  That way I would have two versions to use!  Thank you!!!

After my wife resuscitated me I took a private moment to reflect.

I gathered myself and thought: Exactly WHO goes to the mall right from my studio?  Doesn’t she know “WHO I AM”?!!!

Followed directly by my neurotic dialogue:

What if the other image is better and she was just being polite?  I bet she’s trying to make a point that the mall is a fraction of the cost and it was even better!  Perhaps my time has come?  Maybe I really do suck?  Maybe I should start a petting zoo in my backyard.  I have a dog, two cute kids – it’s a start.  I could dress them up as a camel and some sheep and start a whole new career.

OK so I had my moment and was done with it.  Then I took another long deep breath and opened the attachment with the photos.  “All will be fine”, I kept repeating to myself, ALL WILL BE FINE.

The image I delivered is on the left, the photo the mall delivered is on the right.  Both shots were taken within an hour of one other and to my eye it almost looks like two different people.  Yes they are both in high resolution, and yes both are the exact product each of us gave to our client today.  Please tell me you see a difference.

Contrary to popular belief, I have nothing against mall photography and absolutely nothing against this particular shooter – whomever he/she is.  My motivation was less to expose “bad” photography (of which I’ve had my share) and more about the client not knowing the difference.  I reacted to the homogenization of it all – that a headshot from this or that photographer is all the same.  A headshot is a headshot is a headshot.  Or is it?

 

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I’m here in NY at Doug Gordon’s studio for the week learning again directly from The Master himself.  If you don’t know who Doug Gordon is (and you are a photographer) then it’s perhaps time you did.

Doug is one of those guys devoted to teaching what he does and is driven to share all that he has built.  And built he has.  He gained notariaty as recipient of the Professional Photographer Leadership Award from the United Nations, then gained a level of infamy by becoming the personal photography instructor to The King of All Media, Howard Stern.  But anyone who has met or worked with Doug knows, he is the most grounded guy you’ll ever meet.  A self proclaimed failed baseball great who lives with daily regret for not fulfilling his potential due to injury, who today vows to inspire others not to make the same mistake.

So there have been many highlights over the past 4 days, but one in particular yesterday motivated me to start writing.  As photographers many of us make excuses for not getting a perfect shot because of the harsh sunlight, or the background, or this or that.  Excuses.  Picking up on that theme, Doug hand picked a setting to shoot a (mock) bride and groom to prove his point.  We as photographers need to stop making excuses and start tapping our creative artist within.

Behind his studio is a nasty, smelly, quite awful dumpster.  There was no lighting added, no reflector, nothing but camera and Doug’s determination to make a point.  The amount of photoshop time was under 20 seconds, so that was not the “secret”.

The bigger issue I interpreted from this exercise is that photography is no different than life.  We all overcomplicate at one time or another, and we all could benefit from a return to a level of simplicity to find our way forward.  You have to slow down to see where you want to go.  Translation for photographers: Stop and see the light.  Brazenly posing against a stinky dumpster yesterday, for me, was a path back to reality.

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