Brandon Michael Lee Photography Blog
Mon, 28 Apr 2014 01:35:00 +0000Spring Portraits (A Thank You.)So, this is my second year doing Kids 'R' Kids Spring Portraits. I'm completely amped for it! It's been about a month's worth of planning and work to get ready for this moment. I'm miles better at photography and running a business and can't wait to see the hard work pay off!
A few things of note. I've got to be the luckiest guy in the World. I have two jobs that I absolutely love, I have great friends and support, and I'm just happy. I don't think I had that last year. A lot of this is brought on from my business. It's my dream job and there were many, many times last year when I had doubts whether it would pan out. You just got to ignore the negative voices in your head and these past few weeks I've really been witnessing it all come together. It no longer seems like this is what I want to do, but what I'm supposed to do. I see the light at the end of tunnel. It still hits me at an emotional level to see how far I've progressed this past year as not only a photographer, but a person.
Last year, this was my first major opportunity. This year's version of Spring Portraits is far and beyond last year's. I'm not saying I did a bad job with last year's (absolutely not,) but this year's is going to blow it out of the water. I'm beyond excited and can't wait for the morning to get here! I do set ridiculously high standards and expectations for myself, but this year, they are within reach and not just a dream.
So, I'm not sure if anybody reads these, don't care, but I enjoy writing and treat this as more of letters to myself. But, if you are reading this, than this portion is directed towards you. First and foremost, thank you. Thank you for the opportunities, encouragement, and support. You have no idea, but there are times when it has come at the perfect time when I'm down on myself. Last year's Spring Portraits I blew out my calf midway through and was out of commission for a few weeks. It was painful, I couldn't walk, but what got to me the worst was not being able to complete the job on time. Yeah, injuries have always made me depressed, but this one was different. The days would pass, the pressure would build and after a couple weeks I just wanted to stop. I got so much support during that time and it really meant a lot. You kept pushing me on, encouraging me, and it was unreal how compassionate some people are. That was the start to my future career.
I've really enjoyed every second of every shoot. It's an adventure. My first shoot I dropped a flash down two flights of stairs. That same flash is still in use today and works like new. Two of my first three Fall shoots we've set off security alarms and met the cops by leaning on doors, message received. I've had disgustingly bad food on some shoots, its now a tradition. I've had to learn how to shoot photos in every condition imaginable from the great outdoors, to the great indoors, to on the road, to a 15x15 storage unit filled with instruments and a bad with really crappy light and to inside bouncy castles (that one.) It's forced me to think on my feet and I've had to figure out how to shoot it. Thanks for the opportunity. I've been forced to work under extreme time restraints. 100 degree days, and high pressure. I love the challenge and work best that way. I've had some shoots that last couple of hours to some that last the entire day. And when everyone goes their separate ways I get to spend hours upon hours sorting through and editing photographs of people that have become more than just clients, but people that I hold dear in my heart. I'm the first to view the memories of the day and it's special. I've had times where nothing happens and times where I'm putting in 100 hour weeks between my two jobs. I've had to learn how to design a website, work social media, and do paperwork and financial spread sheets. Stuff that I didn't want to do, nor have any desire to doing, but am better off for it. It's all worth it. Every time I've handed someone an image and see a smile and the eyes brighten, it reminds me of why I do this. I can't explain that feeling, but it's got to be one of the greatest feelings in the World. It's not to become famous and certainly not for the money, but to give you something to look back on.
I'm thankful for the ups and the downs. So to you. Thank you for this opportunity to capture the moments in your life. It's more than I could ask for.
At 7:00 AM, I'll be up and ready. I've got 3-1/2 hours with each classroom instead of 45 minutes, or more than enough time to try different things. I'm starting out with the infant room, which is still pretty new to me. I'm ready.
Mon, 14 Apr 2014 02:05:00 +0000ImpactThis is a side benefit from photography. During most of any photo shoot you fail recognize this. At least, maybe I'm not to that point. Yeah, I'm happy when I look on the back of the camera and see a photo I happen to love and know that your clients will absolutely love. You don't need to hear it, you may not even need to see it. You just feel it. Emotion. Impact. It's knowing in your heart that you did something meaningful to someone. And in a million ways, it's worth more than they could ever pay you.
Photography, its not all about the quality of the image. Some of the greatest images in history were taken with a card board box. Photography is about grabbing moments, capturing them, and preserving them. It's amazing the amount of emotion you can provoke by simply freezing a split second in time. And when you look back on that moment, the same feeling and emotions are brought back to life. That's photography. That's something I completely failed to recognize when I first started. And to date, it's the greatest benefit I've received.
Thu, 10 Apr 2014 06:47:00 +0000Hard Word Defeats Talent When Talent Fails To Work HardTonight, as I was watching my Oklahoma City Thunder square off against the L.A. Clippers, I couldn't help but think of this quote. "Hard work defeats talent when talent fails to work hard." It's by my favorite player, Kevin Durant. It's significant that a guy like him would say that because when it come to basketball, that man has all the God given talent and ability anyone could ask for.
I enjoy quotes. Quotes taken from history are the usually the significant portion of the speech. If they were a song, they would be the hook or the chorus. Quotes can inspire, give hope, and motivate. Quotes are easily memorized and when you find ones that you like, they usually stick with you. This particular quote, "Hard work defeats talent when talent fails to work hard," has been one of many that has really stuck with me.
Not to get a big head or anything, but I find myself pretty talented at just about everything I do, usually better than a majority of most people. I like to think of this talent level as my base talent level. It's how good I am at something without any real practice. When you practice at something you raise those talents. I don't believe there's a ceiling for your potential, but there's definitely a floor. Those that immensely good at something are usually naturally talented and work to push their talents even further.
Now, when I got my first DSLR camera, I was off and making some pretty good images within the first week. I did this day to day and by the end of the month they just kept getting better. If you were to compare my first few images to that of what I had accomplished by the end of the month, you'd have to say the first few were pretty amateurish. A year goes by, and it's really like night and day, no comparison whatsoever. Photography is interesting as you can always look back and easily see how far you've came. I can look back now on what I shot a few weeks ago and see progress. And, when I look back on those early images, the ones I thought those images were incredible and awesome, all I can think was, "What was I doing!?"
About last April or so I kept waiting to plateau and hit my ceiling, it just never happened. There is no definitive talent one can achieve. It was about this time that I said, "I wonder how good I'll be in a year?" Well, I think I'm OK with where I stand and if you ask me or tell me that I'm great at anything that will always be my answer. I'm OK with being just OK, because there is always that next level up that I can work towards. There's always one skill that you have that isn't as good as the rest, and most people would never notice that in you. But, in all honesty, if I was perfect, I would be bored. I would have nothing to work towards, no reason to set goals, and nothing to look forward to.
If you aren't uncomfortable doing something than you're not progressing, you're just going through the motions. When I played football in high school I got by on speed and quickness alone. I had no desire to learn the proper techniques or fundamentals and was therefore a mediocre player who could only do a few things well. If I could go back in time, I would like to smack myself upside the head for having that kind of lackadaisical attitude towards not just that, but everything. That's what you call being ten years older and having ten year's more worth of life experiences. You see the error of your ways and you try as best you can to fix them. You care more about who you are, what you can become, and what lies ahead in your future. You make those preparations for what lies ahead by hard work, not talent.
We all have potential to be great. So don't just practice, don't cheat yourself on what you can truly become. Work hard, work hard at every single aspect of you life. Don't ever settle. When life throws you a curve ball (another thing I was terrible at and didn't work towards,) be thankful for the opportunity and the challenge. When you lose and fail, learn from it and practice where you messed up. Push yourself to your limitless potentials. Looking back on what you've accomplished is one of the greatest feeling in life, so don't miss out on what could be. And, remember, when you're sitting in wait, there is somebody somewhere working their butt off to take your spot. "Hard work defeats talent when talent fails to work hard."
Wed, 09 Apr 2014 06:33:00 +0000My 9 Goals With PhotographyWhen I started off my photography career I saw it as a way to own my own business, do something I absolutely love, and become financially independent. A professional photography career involves way more than snapping photos and I won't even get into the hidden business portion, but I'm about a year away from achieving part one of my goals, provided everything run its course.
In early October, I saw something completely new with this business. It was the chance to give back. I was in a spot financially to donate money to various people and it felt good. But, then you get to meet the people and get to sort of know them and their story and it's life changing. It's way more than any one person could donate and it's just special. It's powerful and every time is different, but at the same time the same emotion pops up that calls me to do it again. Over time, and the more I think about it, giving back has become one of the, if not most important goals with running this business.
I run a business where I'm supposed to make people look good. However, I've been running it like a business where I intend to make people feel good. I really have no idea where this business is going to take me, but I hope and pray that it becomes something much larger than photography. Here are my goals with photography.
#2. Maintain a high work ethic and be as interested in learning and experimenting as if I was just learning the trade, even when I feel I've mastered everything. There is always something new to learn.
#3. Show a genuine love towards those that are/become my clients and those that are/do not. Life is infinitely greater than myself, business is more than about making money, and photography is way more than skill and creativity. It's OK to show emotion. Don't be afraid of it. Build and maintain those friendships and exercise step four as often as your can for them..
#4. Give freely to those in need and to those that are not; every ounce of energy, through blood, sweat, and tears. Expect nothing in return, but be thankful for the times when you are repaid. Make this a habit.
#5. Turn Brandon Michael Lee Photography into something far greater than just providing photographic services and products. You may not know what it is yet, but follow your heart.
#6. Remain patient, have faith. You'll get to where you need (not want) to be, you'll become who you need (not want) to become, and you'll eventually get what you need (not want.) Stay on the straight and narrow, follow the path your meant to follow, and you'll accomplish everything you need (not want) in due time.
#7. Along the way, inspire others. Do this enthusiastically with nothing held back. Be open and sincere with people. Again, do this without expecting anything in return and be thankful for when you are repaid.
#8. Do not ever be fearful with where this business/life takes me. Remain strong and confident and know that I won't be put into any situation that God knows I can't handle. You are here for a reason and yes, you most certainly have all the talent and ability to accomplish what is before you.
Again, I'm not sure where this business takes me. So far, its shown me more about myself than any thing I've ever experienced. This is just the tip of the iceberg and I have this feeling that I'm on this path for a reason.
Wed, 09 Apr 2014 05:22:00 +0000Introducing the Brandon Michael Lee Photography website 3.0Over the course of a year and some change, I've changed the look of the website three times. The first was just to get something out there. The second was to make it look good.. This new and improved version is to make a statement. Now it's been tradition that when I finish my website that I attempt to get a blog going. I've failed at that twice. But, now since I've gotten the business off the floor and into something respectable, I should now have something to write about. Website 3.0 has taken me about 2.5 weeks to complete (or about a couple hours for anyone with knowledge on how to build a website.) Let me begin.
I'll start by saying beyond Adobe Photo Shop, Light Room, Premiere Pro, and Audition (photo, video, and audio editing programs,) I'm clueless in how to use a computer. While I find myself to be naturally talented at most things and can easily pickup most any skill I put my mind to, web design is not one. Luckily for myself, my web server Smugmug is pretty simple and easy to use. So simple in fact, that if I didn't have to learn how to use it, it would've taken only a couple days to make. I guess my saving grace is that there was no overwhelming internet code to deal with (all drag and drop,) and there were plenty of tutorials out there to help guide me. The nice thing with it is Smugmug offers all the features I desired to have on my website plus some. The 3.0 website is based off a template, so someone somewhere will have something similar looking, but I don't really care anymore as I have no desire to learn how encode the internet. It gave me a headache every time I've attempted to do so. So let me spill my thoughts.
Website 3.0 is sharp looking! This may be that my skill for photography continues to grow at a pace that continues to surprise me. I'll remain humble. The layout is sleek and compliments my newly redesigned logo and photography style nicely!
Website 3.0 is packed with features! It's what I've toyed around with till I got it perfectly how I wanted it. Some of the features are:
* I've updated my portfolio (narrowing down your images to your top ones makes me insanely indecisive!) The new format is sharp looking too!
* I've updated the about and services sections to include more information about what I do. I am still working on this, but I'm so burnt out from working on the website that I plan to get to finish this when I feel like it. However, it is very new..
* I've added a Prints and Products page to showcase the print and products I offer. Yes, I've been wanting to do this since I started, but never could find a way how to make it look good. Here you go!
* New Online Order Form. While I prefer to do my orders face to face, ordering online is now an option. I'm very proud of this part as it took me forever to figure out!
* Updated look to the client galleries! Hire me and you'll fully appreciate this.
* New Search page. Type in what your looking for and it leads you right to it!
* Blog link. This took me forever to figure out how to integrate this to the website, but here it is! I fully intend using the blog to give clients updates on events, photo shoots, etc.
* Social links. I finally got around to completing my Facebook page (I completely forgot I had it until one of my clients liked the page, it was basically nothing for about a year.) Instagram is linked, I've had one for two years but never used it until I was persuaded by some friends to use it, I now Instagram all the time! Thanks guys! And Twitter, which I never use except to share Instagram photos, which is pretty much just Instagram.
Website 3.0 is likely going to stay as is for a long time as I now think I have it perfect! I'll leave on this note. I hate building websites and absolutely do not look forward to going through this process again!