Featuring: Brian Harrington from Legrand Wolf

Name: Brian Harrington

Company Name: Legrand Wolf

Style: Fine Art

Website: www.legrandwolf.com

 

Yes, you read it right. I am talking about the same Brian Harrington, photographer and owner of BHP Imaging. During the last six years his company has established itself as an approachable, professional wedding studio, capturing the spirit of many organic, western weddings. But Brian, the adventurous creature that he is, has recently started exploring another side of his creative self. Enter Legrand Wolf, a combination of his middle name and his wife’s last name, as the perfect name for his new fine art photography company.

Against the Grain

Against the Grain

After he started BHP Imaging, as he was figuring out his way into the wedding business, the Wyoming Technology Business Center (AKA The UW Business Incubator) offered him a spot as one of the entrepreneurs they coach and guide through becoming successful Laramie artists. Brian didn’t know if his vision of success would match theirs, but he did know that The Incubator could help his company move forward. They wanted him to produce fine art photographs, and as part of the deal they would help him learn all of those “side skills” that you need when you are running a successful business on your own: bookkeeping, taxes, marketing... Brian’s end of the deal was to develop a fine art business, and with that objective in mind he has been exploring and refining his fine art photography vision as his wedding company grows.

Laramie #1

Laramie #1

In the beginning it was an arduous journey. Brian was trying to photograph abstract art that would fit his BHP brand and fall within the boundaries of his established vision. But it wasn’t until he started to add his work to a fine-art-selling website, which prompted to think of categories and labels for the work, that he realized that Legrand Wolf wad to become a thing of its own. BHP Imaging is about people and moments. His fine art brand, on the other hand, is about inanimate objects, lines, colors, and textures. He gave himself permission to step outside the box, and then the magic happened.

Forbidden City

Forbidden City

Legrand Wolf features older images that Brian shot during some of his trips and as a part of his everyday life, some of which nobody has seen, and also newer, more colorful work that is defining the direction he is going in. Inspired by classic abstract expressionists like Mark Rothko and Richard Diebenkorn, he wants to follow his intuition and create images that he would like to have hanging on the walls of his own house. For now his fine art work is available on his website, which features five galleries: China, Western Landscape (my favorite!), Abstract, Water, and Snow. Curating and uploading the images helped him clear the mental road block that didn’t allow him to see himself as a fine art photographer, and encouraged him to shoot from that place. He envisions his work being slowly discovered by people in other parts of the country, reaching the walls of art lovers who share it with their friends and, as a long term goal, art collectors who will help bring in big sales. In the short term he is looking into printing the images in a large format that will allow the viewer to interact with the work from within, and he is considering finding a gallery space where to show it and sell it locally.

Falling

Falling

To appease all those freshly engaged couples out there who had their eye on BHP to shoot their wedding, let me assure you that Brian is not planning on abandoning the wedding business any time soon. He is a people’s person and enjoys connecting with clients and making them feel heard. Colorful doors and water ripples don’t do that. He gets a different kind of enjoyment in walking around scouting for buildings and lines to photograph, especially now that the shine and newness of people “allowing [him] to photograph their wedding” has worn out. I asked him what he would choose between photographing fine art or weddings, if money wasn’t an issue. He said: “Probably fine art. That way I’d get some more days off and I could have a life again”. And he smiled. He shot 15 weddings in 2016, and did a huge load of commercial work, which means he took just six days off in the entire year. I know what you are thinking: why start another company if he is already so busy with BHP? Because that’s who Brian is. He couldn’t have a desk job and work for somebody else, under somebody else’s rules. He has never done it and he is not interested in it. He has started a second business every year for the last five years, with various degrees of success, and he has learned something from every one of them. This year he is actually going for a new business that won’t require a lot of extra time and attention, since he can shoot while out fishing or exploring the world during his much needed time off, but that will encourage him to confront his own idea of the kind of images he can produce.

Brian and The UW Business Incubator have occasionally differed on what success means as an artist, but they both share a common appreciation for our city, our great community, and the entrepreneurial spirit of Laramie. As he grows as an artist and explores this new path, he knows there is something out there, in the mountains around Laramie, that once he photographs it will feel like his best work. He doesn’t know what it is yet, but he can feel it is there. And he is set out to find it, like he has found a treasure within every one of his yearly adventures.

Spring

Spring

Rise

Rise

Sea

Sea

How to: stop fearing your DSLR

So, you have a DSLR. Awesome. Mostly everybody does nowadays, but don’t feel down just yet: you will rise above the masses if you can actually stop using your DSLR as a point-and-shoot, and venture into the manual modes. I mean, nothing wrong with letting a computer make the decisions for you, but wouldn’t it feel good to be able to put that investment to work, and take your photos one step further? The automatic modes will still be there for a challenging environment or a day when you would rather just click, without thinking too much.

There is no way I can teach you all your camera can do for you: I would have to summarize your manual’s 100+ pages in one post. So I will make this super easy, yet useful: even if you have no idea how a camera works, once you read this post you will be able to try at least one of the manual modes that most intermediate cameras have to offer.

I will tell you about the 4 most common manual modes; think of these as baby steps toward full manual control:

Program Mode (P)

Shutter Priority Mode (S in Nikon/Olympus/Sony or Tv in Canon)

Aperture Priority Mode (A in Nikon/Olympus/Sony or Av in Canon)

Full Manual Mode (M)

Start with P and move in this order as you become familiar with the different settings and what they do. This way, you don't have to become a master photographer as soon as you turn the dial.

There are three main pillars that will affect your final image: ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. What are these things, you wonder? These are settings that will control different characteristics of your images. Let’s start with:

ISO: how sensitive your camera is to the light available. If there is a lot of light, you don’t need a lot of sensitivity. When you don’t need a lot of sensitivity, the ISO number you’ll read is low. If the number is low, the sensor in your camera doesn’t need to struggle and you’ll get a sharp image. As you go up in ISO, the image will get grainier and grainier as the camera struggles to sense with the little light available. Always choose the lowest ISO you can get away with.

At a higher ISO, the nail looks grainy when zoomed in, which makes it look less defined and out of focus. (ISO 1600,  f /3.5, 1/250 seconds)

At a higher ISO, the nail looks grainy when zoomed in, which makes it look less defined and out of focus. (ISO 1600, f/3.5, 1/250 seconds)

At a lower ISO the nail looks crisp, although darker because the camera is less sensitive. (ISO 200,  f /3.5, 1/50 seconds)

At a lower ISO the nail looks crisp, although darker because the camera is less sensitive. (ISO 200, f/3.5, 1/50 seconds)

If you got that, you are ready to try the first manual mode, Program. This is almost like using the AUTO mode, but you will be able to control the ISO, which is helpful when you don’t want to use flash. In a low-light situation, the AUTO mode will simply pop-up the flash, but what if you don’t want to take a photo with flash and your subject is moving? Try Program, and choose a higher ISO.

Go give it a try and come back.

Ready to keep going? For the next mode you’ll need to understand:

Shutter speed: how quickly the “camera” opens and closes again. If it opens and closes slowly, a lot of light goes in. If it opens and closes slowly, the number you will read will be large, as it is measured in seconds: it takes longer for the “camera” to open and close again. If the shutter speed is large, your camera will record any motion (of the subject or the camera) as motion blur, since it will be recording during all that time that it takes the “camera” to open and close. So, a shutter speed of 5 is good to photograph a waterfall, keeping the camera on a tripod (the water will look as it is moving and the rest will be still), while you may want to choose a shutter speed of 1/250 to “freeze” a child running in the sun.

This pendulum was swinging in front of the camera. It looks blurry when attempting to capture it at a shutter speed that was not fast enough. (ISO 400,  f /32, 1/40 seconds)

This pendulum was swinging in front of the camera. It looks blurry when attempting to capture it at a shutter speed that was not fast enough. (ISO 400, f/32, 1/40 seconds)

Choosing a faster shutter speed takes care of the problem. Notice that a faster shutter speed allows less light in, so the image is darker. (ISO 400,  f /32, 1/125 seconds)

Choosing a faster shutter speed takes care of the problem. Notice that a faster shutter speed allows less light in, so the image is darker. (ISO 400, f/32, 1/125 seconds)

Do you think you can try Shutter Priority Mode now? Of course you can. In this mode, you decide how long the shutter is open for, all else is automatic. Now is where you want to start to pay attention, since your camera will adjust the ISO automatically: if you choose a very fast shutter speed but you are in low light conditions (and if a very small aperture (which you’ll learn about next) is not an option because of your lens), the camera will have to choose a high ISO, and you risk having grainy images.

So, go practice. I suggest you choose a couple of different situations (motion vs still) at different light levels, and see what changing the shutter speed does to your images. I’ll be here when you come back.

Not too bad, huh? Now, remember I mentioned aperture up there? And how some lenses cannot go to very low apertures? Read along to find out why this is important.

Aperture: how much your “camera” opens, which depends on the lens. If it opens a lot, a lot of light goes in. If it opens a lot, the number that you’ll read (called f-stop) will be small and written under an “f”. If the f-stop is small, you will have a sharp image at the point where you are focusing, and the rest will be blurry (called narrow "depth of field” or "DoF"). So, an f-stop of f/3 is good for portraits where the subject jumps out of a blurry background, while if you are taking a landscape you may want to choose an f/32 to have it all be in focus.

Although the background is busy, you can blur it and have your subject pop by choosing a low f-stop (ISO 400,  f /2.8, 1/125 seconds)

Although the background is busy, you can blur it and have your subject pop by choosing a low f-stop (ISO 400, f/2.8, 1/125 seconds)

When the f-stop value is increased (the aperture is closed), the background becomes more defined. Notice that there is less light going in if the aperture is smaller, so the image is darker. (ISO 400,  f /7.1, 1/30 seconds)

When the f-stop value is increased (the aperture is closed), the background becomes more defined. Notice that there is less light going in if the aperture is smaller, so the image is darker. (ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/30 seconds)

Aperture Priority Mode is not that different from Shutter Priority Mode. You just control a different setting (the size of the lens opening, instead of the speed at which it opens), and let the camera adjust the rest. Modify your f-stop to get different depth of fields, keeping an eye on what ISO and shutter speeds the camera is choosing, so you avoid images that are blurry or grainy.

One more practice session; you are almost done.

Back? Great. So now you are ready for Full Manual Mode. You guessed it: this mode allows you to control it all. It shows a scale of exposure on your viewfinder, and you will want to be in the middle for “correct” exposure: if you are to the right of your scale, your photo will be overexposed (bright) and if you are to the left, it will be underexposed (dark). Sometimes these results are desired, depending on how bright or dark the “correctly exposed” photo looks. Play with the settings and see what happens. Overwhelmed? Try what I do; I set my setting in the following order:

1) Choose the lowest ISO

2) Select the f-stop I want for my desired depth of field

3) Adjust the shutter speed for correct exposure

If my shutter speed goes below 1/30 (the lowest number at which I can hold the camera steady):

4) Increase the ISO (or in counted occasions, decrease the f-stop)

I tend to shoot at low f-stops, since I love narrow depth of fields, so I can rarely increase the aperture if what I am looking for is more light.

And you are done! Up your game a little or a lot, and get your camera to give you back what you payed for it. Now go shoot some killer images!

Interview: Sue Bryce

***Disclosure: this post is mostly for other photographers. But if you are a client and are wondering where my passion comes from, and how is it possible to turn such passion into a successful business for a single woman with circumstances against the odds, read on.***

Sue Bryce. I met this incredible woman last March at WPPI (Wedding and Portrait Photographers International), in Las Vegas. Of course I got the must-have selfie with her, the one from the “after session meet-and-greet” where people wait in line to tell photographers how much their admire them or their work, and then smile in front of a phone screen that make all photographers look like amateurs. Of course, Sue looked amazing and I looked like her ugly sister that has been living on the streets for the last week. Which is why I hadn’t shared it until now…

I actually met her (and a couple of her mentors) right before a short segment at the Canon stage. She was waiting to go on stage and I was right there, sitting on the floor at a distance from which I could almost touch her. She turned to me and smiled so I approached her and introduced myself, and I bit my tongue to not repeat any of the cliché phrases that kept landing on it, which I am sure she has heard hundreds of times. I don’t know what I said but she smiled the whole time with that Sue-Bryce smile, an almost-like-Julia’s smile, and I was almost in hypnosis.

FB_IMG_1468706276404.jpg

I am not a groupie, I don’t pay attention to popular people anymore. I pay attention to happy people. Some of them happen to be famous, which tends to give more access to their public lives and to how they got to where they are. This means I can strive to learn something from them that helps me along the way towards stability, in a joyous way. And that is why I admire Sue and get giddy in her presence. Because she has built a business from zero to a weekly 5-figure average studio income, but most importantly, she has built herself, she has built up her self-esteem and drive to overcome a boss who called her on her flaws and her own blocks that kept undermining her ability to succeed.

WPPI interviewed her in April of 2012, as member of the month, right after she won the title of Australian Photographer of the Year in 2011. Since then she has moved to Los Angeles where she opened a new studio, her education program has exploded, and she has acquired an adorable pug named Cookie, who has her own Instagram feed. You can read the interview here.

As for me, I dream with one day have half her confidence when it comes to the direction of my business. As she teaches, it can’t be done without first mastering confidence in oneself. I guess my battle is almost half way won.

 

Featuring: Megan Johnson, from Megan Lee Photography

MeganLee from internet.jpg

Company Name: Megan Lee Photography

Photographer’s Name: Megan Lee Johnson

Specialty: Weddings

Style: Bright and airy

Website: www.meganleephoto.com

In the winter months, it can be hard to find inspiration when its stormy and bleak. After a skiing trip to Tie City off Happy Jack I just knew I had to shoot there!  Matt and Reilly asked for wintery mountain engagements - so I knew it was the perfect opportunity!   https://www.wyomingweddingphotographer.com/megan-lee-photography/reilly-matt-medicine-bow-wyoming-engagement-session

In the winter months, it can be hard to find inspiration when its stormy and bleak. After a skiing trip to Tie City off Happy Jack I just knew I had to shoot there!  Matt and Reilly asked for wintery mountain engagements - so I knew it was the perfect opportunity!  https://www.wyomingweddingphotographer.com/megan-lee-photography/reilly-matt-medicine-bow-wyoming-engagement-session

Sean and Annastasia were the absolute perfect models for this styled inspirational shoot last winter.... and were officially engaged soon after!  This was the same styled shoot listed above at the Vee Bar Ranch and featured in Rocky Mountain Bride.   https://www.wyomingweddingphotographer.com/megan-lee-photography/featured-rocky-mountain-bride-magazine

Sean and Annastasia were the absolute perfect models for this styled inspirational shoot last winter.... and were officially engaged soon after!  This was the same styled shoot listed above at the Vee Bar Ranch and featured in Rocky Mountain Bride.  https://www.wyomingweddingphotographer.com/megan-lee-photography/featured-rocky-mountain-bride-magazine

Megan moved to Laramie two years ago, and in that time she has built a photography business that continues to refine its vision. Committed to her clients 100%, she will drive in a blizzard to get to your wedding in Jackson, or get up before dawn to meet you and your fiancé in the woods and photograph your engagement session when the Wyoming light is the prettiest.

Amanda & Devin's summer garden wedding was nothing short of magical!  The Ivinson Mansion provided the perfect venue for their wedding, the girls were barefoot, the gents all in tans and cream colors... I could have sworn I was transported to the shire!  https://www.wyomingweddingphotographer.com/megan-lee-photography/amanda-devin-ivinson-mansion-wedding-in-laramie-wy

Amanda & Devin's summer garden wedding was nothing short of magical!  The Ivinson Mansion provided the perfect venue for their wedding, the girls were barefoot, the gents all in tans and cream colors... I could have sworn I was transported to the shire! https://www.wyomingweddingphotographer.com/megan-lee-photography/amanda-devin-ivinson-mansion-wedding-in-laramie-wy

Megan spent her childhood summers on the beaches and wilderness preserves of Southern California, and school years in the Rocky Mountains of Central Utah, hiking barefoot up creeks and tending horses and chickens on the family homestead. Traveling with her canon A-1 film camera through Bryce Canyon, Arches, and Zion National Parks, Megan developed a deep passion for exploring and photographing the west.  Together with her husband, the love of her life, she traveled, explored, and worked under the northern lights in Alaska. As a Laramie-based wedding photographer she gets to incorporate her experience in photographing the outdoors into her passion for documenting human connectedness.

Stories and images in National Geographic magazines and the landscapes of the west are Megan’s source of inspiration. The images she creates pulling from those sources tell a story and capture the beauty in natural spaces and real feelings.

There are many wedding photographers to choose from, who are working in Laramie and Southeastern Wyoming. Are you wondering how to decide which one is the right one to photograph your special day? If you are looking for a congenial, easy going gal that will have you wanting to be her best friend, Megan is that gal. She says of her reason for photographing weddings: “I feel so honored to be at every wedding I photograph. L O V E is the best dang thing in the world! To get to witness two people joining their lives together with love, sharing the laughs and tears as I document their day, means the world to me. I am being trusted to tell their story, and I get to create art as I do it. I was born to do this and I’m thankful every day I get to do what I love”.

I met Jemimah & Simon the day after their destination wedding in Jackson Hole and together we drove to the Teton National Forest for a romantic wintry session this last December.  More on the blog here:  https://www.wyomingweddingphotographer.com/megan-lee-photography/love-the-tetons-jemimah-simon-in-jackson  

I met Jemimah & Simon the day after their destination wedding in Jackson Hole and together we drove to the Teton National Forest for a romantic wintry session this last December.  More on the blog here: https://www.wyomingweddingphotographer.com/megan-lee-photography/love-the-tetons-jemimah-simon-in-jackson 

The most spectacular sunset was the perfect end to Charla and Dalton's wedding day in Lagrage, Wyoming last summer. Their entire wedding day was the picture of western romance see more here:  https://www.wyomingweddingphotographer.com/megan-lee-photography/charla-dalton-wyoming-ranch-wedding

The most spectacular sunset was the perfect end to Charla and Dalton's wedding day in Lagrage, Wyoming last summer. Their entire wedding day was the picture of western romance see more here: https://www.wyomingweddingphotographer.com/megan-lee-photography/charla-dalton-wyoming-ranch-wedding

The thing I love about fall is that I get to re-visit with clients and friends for their holiday photos. Jessica, John, and George met with me in The Snowies just after the first snowfall of the year for their holiday cards. I just love how happy they are in this shot - and always!  https://www.wyomingweddingphotographer.com/megan-lee-photography/lake-marie-snowy-range-mountains-couples-session

The thing I love about fall is that I get to re-visit with clients and friends for their holiday photos. Jessica, John, and George met with me in The Snowies just after the first snowfall of the year for their holiday cards. I just love how happy they are in this shot - and always! https://www.wyomingweddingphotographer.com/megan-lee-photography/lake-marie-snowy-range-mountains-couples-session

Booking season is right around the corner! Contact Megan for a consultation or let a freshly engaged friend know about her.

This beautiful cabin is located at the Vee Bar Guest ranch in Centennial.  I loved every minute of this styled winter inspirational shoot, and it was featured in Rocky Mountain Bride this summer.   https://www.wyomingweddingphotographer.com/megan-lee-photography/featured-rocky-mountain-bride-magazine

This beautiful cabin is located at the Vee Bar Guest ranch in Centennial.  I loved every minute of this styled winter inspirational shoot, and it was featured in Rocky Mountain Bride this summer.  https://www.wyomingweddingphotographer.com/megan-lee-photography/featured-rocky-mountain-bride-magazine