Masthead header
  • Welcome to Birdsong Photography

courtney & eric ~ we’re on a boat ~ key west florida wedding photographer

I bought a bicycle once. 

 

Call it pre-midlife crisis. Call it impulse. Call it needing a reason to wear padded spandex shorts in public. 

 

And since I drive everywhere for weddings, I realized I could take the Shiny New Overpriced Bike with me on road trips and still ride and get exercise and all of that sounded like a great idea. It was a great idea, mostly. I skipped riding through the Everglades on this trip, because all I could envision was someone finding my bike on the side of the road somewhere and an alligator in the bushes choking on an expensive bike helmet. 

So I get to Key West. I meet Courtney and Eric, and all of the awesome wedding party.  We bond over excessive amounts of mimosas, and then hop on a trolley and ride around Key West. Here’s where I pause to say that Courtney, Eric, and most of the wedding party are cops. From Virginia, Jersey, New York, Southern Florida. Hilarious, loud, inappropriate, no filter. And then you add me into that group, stir in some rum and Key Lime pie, and then stick us all on a trolley and drive us around Key West. That’ll end well. 

I don’t remember why it was exactly that the guy in the little sports car flipped us all off, but it happened. And my only regret is not having my camera hanging outside of the trolley when the barrage of hands flew out of the trolley windows, and the cranky gentleman in his little car got a warm and hearty response from us. I’m fairly sure the trolley driver was going to choke from laughter, but I wasn’t worried about it. We had cops on board. Surely someone could taze him back to breathing again or some such. 

I digress. 

So the next day after the wedding, still wondering what exactly happened the night before on Duval Street, I thought it would be a great idea to bike around the island. Sun, salt air, exercise. Ahhhh. 

And it really was a great ride, until there was a traffic jam. I decided to be cool and ride up onto the sidewalk instead of  waiting behind all of the traffic which, in theory, was a good idea. Only my back tire thought it was a stupid idea, so it decided to stay on on the street, while the front tire, the bicycle, and the large dude in spandex and a nifty helmet was now on the sidewalk going faster than necessary in that situation. 

I’m not sure how it happened, but all I remember is the bike just stopped. That whole “Once an object is in motion, it stays in motion” thing came into play here. The bike stopped, I was shot over the handlebars Superman style into some lovely tropical vegetation, all about 5 feet from a long line of cars I was in a hurry to get around. There was no cool way out of this. I could actually hear people laughing from their cars, all while I was still hanging out in the shrubs checking out the different kinds of landscaping mulch they use in the Keys. 

I got up, bleeding from my elbow and a huge gash in my leg, straightened the handlebars, then turned around and with all of the grandeur I could muster, I bowed to the entire line of cars. Which in turn honked, waved, clapped, and took cell phone shots of the guy that just pulled an epic fail while wearing padded spandex shorts. 

 

Of course Courtney and Eric got photos of it and the entire story the same day, and I promised her I’d tell the story on their blog. 

 

 

To Courtney, Eric, the entire awesome wedding party, the trolley driver, everyone at  Fury catamaran in Key West, and even to you, gentleman with anger issues in the little, tiny car, sincere thanks for an absolutely wonderful and most memorable trip to the Keys. 

 

Much love, 

 

B

 

 

Collage 1
Collage 3
Collage 4
Collage 5
Collage 6
Collage 7

one fake wedding, one crazy bald guy ~ the unwedding workshop

UnWeddingBlog

 

I’m doing something that I never imagined myself doing. 

 

No. It’s not naked yoga, but it’s close. Real close. 

 

I’m hosting a workshop for photographers that are wanting to get into shooting weddings, but are still a little bit freaked out by the entire process of it. Basically I’ve taken every crazy story, every screw up, every tip and trick I’ve figured out for the last 8 years, mixed it with some champagne, and this workshop was born. 

It’s a fake wedding, from start to finish, that other photographers can follow me around and ask as many questions as they want to about everything I do throughout the day. 

I never set out to be a workshop guy. Actually, aside from a select few, I loathe workshops. At least the ones in the ” Hey, give me a lot of money and you can be a rockstar just like me!” category. There is no get rich quick. There is no easy way out. There are no rockstars. Period. 

 

I shot my first wedding for $60.00. I was broke and working retail, and someone handed me a camera and said hey, we need someone to push that button on the front. Don’t worry if it sucks.

 So I shot my first wedding. And the pictures sucked.

 I thought the actions in Photoshop that smoothed skin and brightened teeth to a glowing radiant white were the coolest things in the world.

 I sucked, basically.

Some days, I still suck.  I still have my “What the crap am I doing with a camera in my hand?” moments. I’m still learning. Holy cow, am I ever still learning. If you would’ve asked me back in 2006 if I thought this is what I’d be doing 8 years later, I would’ve laughed at you. I’m blessed like crazy to be able to do this full time. I’m still broke, but I love what I do and get to have a lot of time with my kids that I wouldn’t have if I had a regular 9-5 job.

 You’re going to go through really crappy down times as a photographer. You’re going to look at everything you shoot and wonder if you’d better off flipping burgers.  But with all of my heart, I promise you that if you stick with it, it’s worth it. You grow, you get better. You’ll still suck occasionally, but you’ll kick ass a lot more than you used to as well. And the first time you have a bride hug you in tears and thank you for giving them amazing photos, or you get your first incredibly heartfelt thank you letter from a bride whose wedding you shot over a year ago and she’s so incredibly thankful for the memories you were able to give her family, it’ll start to sink in that yeah, this is a crazy job with ups and downs and cake and dancing and long hours, but it’s also incredibly important. We document love stories. We put the photos in the book of someone’s love story for them to look at, for their kids to look at, for their grandkids to look at. It can feel like an insane amount of pressure at times, but once you get the basics and pound them into your brain and practice them, you’ll be far and away more prepared for it than I was when I first started.

 

And as cliché’ as it sounds, if I can do this, you absolutely can do it, too.

 

Sincere thanks to all of the fantastic companies that I work with for coming on board as sponsors for this.  Red Tree Albums, White House Custom Color, Zenfolio, Borrowlenses, Priscilla Foster Albums, CG Pro Prints, and The Factory Press. Ten thousand points for being willing to associate with me in public. 

 

To all the photographers that are coming to this first class, thanks for your support. This entire shindig is completely your fault. 

 

B

ashley, corey, & baby ellery ~ the newborn files ~ tulsa oklahoma wedding photographer

8
I have a confession. 

 

And to the 5 of you that just reached for the phone to call your lawyers and book your flights to a non-extradition country, have no fear. It’s not that confession. 

 

I’m not a newborn photographer. Not a baby photographer, not a family photographer, not a kid photographer, not a capturing moments photographer. Heck, according to what’s hip and trendy and cool, I’m probably not even a wedding photographer. 
I think that leaves me in the odd category of just….photographer. The relationship aspect of whomever I’m shooting does it for me. Sure, I know the ins and outs and such of weddings, but the relationship between the two dorks in love is what pulls me in.  I can shoot that. Give me two dorks laughing together and loving on each other, and yep. I’m good. But if you want that anorexic bride in a trendy dress made from the ass-feathers of hummingbirds and the tears of vegans while looking depressed and forlorn staring off into an emo oblivion look, I honestly can’t help you with that. 

 

Side thought – if that’s how weddings and marriage make you feel, maybe you ought to get that looked at. Just sayin. 

 
So maybe that makes me a relationship photographer. Who knows. I do know that when Ashley wrote me several months ago and asked if I would shoot a newborn session right after their daughter was born, I remember letting out this weird Spongebob kind of laugh and immediately started looking for newborn photographers in the area to recommend that she call. The last time I saw Ashley and Corey was at the Destin Bay House in Destin, Florida a couple of years ago for their wedding. Absolutely awesome couple, super fun wedding, good times were had by all. But then evidently something happened, I’m not even going to guess what, and now they were about to be new parents. And after a day of staring at her email, I wrote her back. 

 

“I don’t do newborns.”

 

But somewhere through the vodka addled annals (hahahaha I said annals) of my mind, it hit me eventually that while I didn’t do newborn sessions, I did do relationships. I can shoot people in crazy stupid love all day long. And these were just people that I knew were in crazy stupid love with each other. Then you just add in another tiny person that they’re in crazy stupid love with, and boom. Hey. I can shoot that. 

 

And so I did. And this is the result. 

 

To Ashley and Corey, huge thanks for allowing me in your lives for yet another amazing day. I sincerely hope you guys love these forever. To baby Ellery, holding you for a few moments was all kinds of awesome. Thanks for the unnecessary dose of baby fever.

 

Well played, kid. Well played. 

 

B

 

1
2
3
4
5
6
7

 

shoot what matters ~ deep thoughts for the photographers in the crowd

 

I had a moment over the weekend. 

And before visions of Barry White singing and me in a Snuggie holding a glass of champagne start dancing in your heads, it was actually a much different kind of a moment. 

 

I showed up to shoot a wedding and had made it past the initial greetings, the chest bumps, the high fives, and the three mimosas that I usually begin wedding days with and had wandered off to play with the bride’s dress, which sounds way more scandalous than it actually was. It was a gorgeous dress, in a gorgeous bedroom, with gorgeous light. I was happy. I was really happy, actually. And then I noticed a little blue cloth anchor sewn into the fabric of the dress. At that exact moment the bride had walked in, either looking for something or checking to make sure I wasn’t actually trying the dress on, and I asked her about it.

 

And that’s when everything went all serious and emotional on me.

blog

 

 

Her father had passed away two years ago. She was every bit a daddy’s girl, and she’d spent her childhood growing up at the lake they lived on with him. He loved the water, and her something blue was an anchor made from one of his dress shirts so she could have him close her entire day. And as she told me this story, the tears started coming. Now, I have zero problems crying with brides. I do it on a fairly regular occasion, in fact. First looks, father daughter dances, when the booze runs out, any number of reasons. But this time hit me a little harder than most. Call it a combination of my dad not being in the greatest of health mixed with having a daughter and knowing full well how badly I want to be present for her wedding day, and also trying to wrap my head around being a bride and not having your dad present for something like that.

And so for ten minutes I stayed in the room by myself, tears flowing at the rate of thank God for autofocus, and it all started to sink in. This was the one thing she’d asked me specifically to get a photo of. Beyond all of the elaborate flowers and the beautiful décor and everything else that made up an absolutely wonderful wedding, a piece of dad’s shirt was what was important. 15 minutes earlier it was a piece of blue fabric on a dress. 15 minutes later, it was her daddy with his arms wrapped around his daughter on her wedding day. 

 

 
If you’re a new photographer, especially a new wedding photographer, you’re going to be inundated with the “shoot to get published” mantra that prances around gleefully in our industry. Thousands of photographers, shooting to hopefully impress the elite few that perch themselves on top of the massive dung heap of vintage, lace, burlap, and faded yellow broken dreams that so many try to climb. 

Always remember this one thing – shoot from your heart. Turn off the background noise, turn off the blogs, the wedding websites, the magazines you want to be in (PS, no one reads those anymore), and remember why you’re a photographer in the first place. If you shoot for you, and create from your heart what it is that you see, not what some intoxicated intern behind a desk at a wedding blog tells you that you should see, you’ll be light years ahead of everyone else trying to get noticed. If you create good, solid work, blogs and websites will contact you and ask for your work. This I promise.

There’s a whole entire industry begging you to be fabulous. Shoot vintage. Shoot flowers. Shoot details. Shoot this. Shoot that. And there’s a place for those things, really. But when a bride calls you around midnight a few days after her wedding crying and asking for any photos you have of a family member that was at the wedding that unexpectedly passed away that day, or you get letters of thanks for the random photo you took of the groom and his dad laughing because that was the last photo they had together, or the crazy reception photos you have of the bride and her sister were some of the last ones they had together, all of the lace, burlap, vintage, and details you took photos of don’t mean jack. 

 

People.

 

Relationships.

 

Love.

 

Those things are why we do what we do. 20 years from now, no one will stare longingly at an artistic sun flare shot of the table setting you took in hopes to impress a wedding blog or magazine. People will look at the laughter, the smiles, the memories of loved ones no longer around. 
I’m not saying don’t take pretty details shots. I’m not even saying don’t submit your work. I’m just saying always remember that grandpa kissing the bride on the cheek, even if it’s a poorly lit, nasty background, no sun flare to be found, no chance in hell of ever being published shot, will be way more important to the bride than that pretty picture you took of the bouquet on the table. 

Shoot for your clients. Happy clients are so much cooler than a happy wedding blog.

  • Erin - Love this so much…crying while I read it (should be getting ready for work). I’m a new photographer and it is so easy to get cought up in everything you think you “should” be doing. This is a great reminder to go back to why I started taking pics in the first place…to stop time and capture a memory.ReplyCancel