I love cool net ideas and I just stumbled across this crazy website that is selling words defined by the link they go to. So, I thought I would buy a few. Of course "photographer" was gone, so I picked up both COOL!

Engagement Shoot at Seaport Village

Maureen Bram and I found ourselves at Seaport Village as a back up plan; it ended up being the perfect spot. Picking a location for engagement photos is over-rated. No matter where we are, there is always good lighting to be found and goofing around is pretty easy. I encourage my clients to think about places that might be special to them or have some significance in their relationship. I like to treat the afternoon more like they are on a date... and I'm the third wheel; following them around while they just have a good time together. Beaches are great, but think how cool an engagement shoot might be at the drive-in movie theater, or a concert or dance club! Anyway, the most important part is to capture a little bit of what makes these couples tick, no matter where they are. So here are a few fun moments with Marueen & Bram.

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Wedding photography at the Point Loma Naval Sub-base

"P.S. Please try not to interact with the photographer -he specializes in candid photos." Read the back page of the reception card. I wasn't surprised. Gabriel and Kathy appreciate the images that come from the unaware subject and did everything they could to provide that opportunity for me. In fact, we shot their "formals" in about 10 minutes and took another 5 for some romantics... and that was it. I was free to do my thing. On the other hand, I photographed a wedding yesterday where the formals were the focus of the photography for the day and any time left over was available for some "candids". More than anything, this highlights the range of expectations of the "coverage" of a wedding and makes those pre-wedding (and pre-booking) conversations critical to making sure they are getting the kind of coverage they expect. I don't mind spending time on formals, however, my clients pay a premium for my work, and I'll tell you right now, it's not because of the formal photos.... So, with my pure journalist hat on, here are a few of my favorites:

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La Jolla Engagement Photos with Sara and Joe

When I got married way back in 2002, the engagements consisted of a 10 minute photo shoot in the back yard. Wedding photography has come a long way and so has the "e" session. For many, it has become the time to do a dry run for the wedding, learn the good angles and the couple learns to ignore the photographer. But for me, it is truly more than that. I have found, the more "my clients" become "my friends" the less the wedding day feels like a job, and more like a unique and special event. Sound cheesy? Well, it can be, but now that Joe, Sarah and I have had a few drinks together and spent the evening walking around the La Jolla beaches, this exchanging of vows in front of me isn't just another ceremony...it's Sarah and Joe!

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My first bridal show!.... and my last

Ok.  So I decided it would be a good idea to boost my San Diego wedding booking by participating in a local bridal show.  Honestly, I'm happy I went through the process, however, it didn't quite have the same result that I was expecting.  There are so many opportunities to advertise as a photographer, it is hard to decide what will be worth investment.  The only way to decide is to sit down and calculate how many weddings you must book to pay for the marketing investment.  This is actually pretty tricky.  If I were selling a product with a $5 profit right off the shelf, with unlimited supply, I would probably pay up to $4 to get the sale.  But my product is me!  Limited and valuable.  If it costs me the income of one wedding to purchase a listing that gives me one wedding... we'll I'm working for free!  If I book two weddings, I'm working for half price!  I may as well just cut my rates in half... I'll probably fill my calendar.  So where do we draw the line?  All you need to do is take your most popular rate, minus the least your willing to work for and divide that into your marketing investment.  That will be the number of weddings you need to book from that marketing campaign.  That studio booking 30+ weddings a year might not be making much more than me, they have a much bigger overhead... and working much harder.  Just a few thoughts for the photographers out there.  Here's me.  For sale.




WPJA Contest Winners!

I'm very excited to announce, after the latest WPJA contest, I am now ranked #1 for Southern Cali. Contests are a funny thing. So what is a winner? For the judges, I suppose they are looking for something different, a new angle, a new idea. But I've got to think about it...when I'm shooting a wedding, I'm not really shooting for them. I'm shooting for the bride, the groom's dad and people who are in the photos. The question really is, what is a "winner" for them? I have a feeling it may be the shots that tell the story, show the feelings and emotion from the day. Not necessarily the amazing, earth shattering genius image... just photos that show something special. So, if I end up not placing a single photo in a contest, I sort through the photos and don't feel so bad... I mean, they are winners to the people that matter the most, right? Here are the ones the placed in the last contest:


A brand spankin' new SHOW...

I spend way to much time making these things.  I brought my little Olympus audio recorder down to Mexico to capture a few of the sounds to tie into the show.  (listen for the ocean and a rockin' speach by Ryan's brother). I think it really brings you into the visual world and is a nice touch with their isn't a videographer around.  What do you think?

Steph & Ryan's Destination Wedding Ixtapa Zihuatanejo, Mexico

Planning and organizing a wedding in Mexico can be a crazy fiasco, but Steph and Ryan pulled it off. As usual, I felt like part of the crew after only a few hours and by the end of the reception, they had insisted I put my cameras down and help tear up the dance floor. I usually maintain my "professionalism", however, it was already 1am and the DJ was playing some killer salsa music. Obviously, being a wedding photographer requires an outgoing personality that will jive with anyone anytime, but at some point, my job is to disappear and let the events unfold. I'm finding that to be more and more difficult to decipher as my personal connection with my "clients" grows to the point of a true friendship. Maybe that is why I can capture some very intimate moments, but there is a trade off. Once the camera comes down, photos get missed and all of a sudden, I am part of the story I am trying to tell. I'm sure this is the first thing they teach you in journalism. But at the same time, I almost have to become part of the story in order to tell it in such an intimate manner. I suppose it's a balance. Here are a few of my favorites, from Troncones, Mexico; captured between the balance of "clients" and friendship that I found with Ryan and Steph:

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What I learned in Vegas

I flew over to Las Vegas Monday afternoon to catch a few hours of the WPPI (Wedding Photo) convention. I cruised around the hundreds of trade show floor products and services and listened to some of the industry big wigs talk about how to be a successful wedding photographer. I flew home Tuesday night, but it must have been my lucky day 'cause I won a 4 day workshop with Jose Villa in Mexico and $20 on slots on my way out the door! So. Most of the stuff I heard was crap, however, I did learn a few things:

1) I have a lot to learn.

2) No matter what he says... the salesman doesn't know my business. Only I know what products will improve my bottom line. Period.

3) Fear. It is an obstacle between where I am now and where I want to be.

4) The Vegas casino ATM's charge $4.95!!!!

5) Stuff won't make me a better photographer. Friends, photographers, and practice will.

6) Allow myself to be the artist. Forget the money. To connect with my clients and show them more than pretty pictures. Recount the love stories that have inspired me; show them how I will find ways to explore and capture that special connection between two people.

7) Allow myself to be the business man. Forget the art. This business supports me and my family so treat it that way. Work hard on pricing, marketing, selling, and organization. It's my job to put a dollar value on my time and passion so don't sell short.

8) Learn the "rules"... then break them.

Posted on March 19, 2008 by Registered CommenterAaron Willcox in | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail

Encinitas Engagement Photography

Rambo definitely hammed it up for the camera at Yelena & Michael's engagements. I love having dogs come along they are a great distractor and keeps everyone's mind off the camera. Perfect for getting a few genuine moments. Here are a few of my favs:





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My new business cards are IN!

Ok, I have to announce (after a many revisions), my new business cards are in. I must credit David Honl for the idea to put a "Notes" section on the back of my card. It makes great sense to be able to customize the card, gives that little piece of paper a little more meaning. The toughest part is picking a single image that you feel represents your work. Here they are in all their glory:

UCSD Engagement Photography

Photographers secretly hope for overcast, as least I do, and I suppose I got what I hopped for with Charielou and Gabriel's engagements. In fact, it was pretty cold and rainy. What is the best weather for engagements? That really just depends on the look you are going for. These came out to be quite dramatic. Here are a few of my favs:

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My first post

This is my new blog.  Honestly, I don't really like sitting down and writing blogs just not my style, however, I think there is a lot to be said about wedding photography today...so here goes.  I'm going to warn you though, this isn't going to be pretty.  That's me, the one with the camera.



Posted on January 1, 2008 by Registered CommenterAaron Willcox in | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail