Opened opportunity.

Over the years as photographer, I have looked at many outlets to get my work seen and to be noticed in hopes to pick up clients and more paid gigs. Photography alone rocketed very quickly for me after about a year of owning a camera. It took a little bit to figure out exactly where the local need was. We all know, there is many senior portrait photographers, wedding photographers and family photographers and with that said I am not one for posing people.

Posing is not a strong suit of mine unless I know you and I am comfortable with said person. So, jumping into weddings or portraits have not been on my mind as a future for me. Over time, things changed and I have done some portrait shoots and really would love to do more but just have not fully jumped into it. Sports is really where things changed for me. The athletes do their thing and I do my thing to capture the moments, i love it. No posing this way and a more documentary style of shooting. You get the emotion, the anger, the joy, whatever it may be you got it!

Sports photography took me and shaped me into who I am today with a camera. I went from high school sports, to d1 and d2 college sports. Working for multiple newspapers and a couple magazines along the way, one magazine giving me the cover photoshoot. It’s a local magazine to Kansas but hey, it was a start in the direction I was working towards. To get to the big leagues, professional sports that is. I know I had what it took to capture the images, I had the gear and I had the motivation. I was reaching out to colleges, media houses, just trying to get passes to whatever I could to shoot. My location was my downfall though. Being in SE Kansas, there isn’t much here for pro or high end college sports but a few D2’s in the region(Go Pitt State!). Slowing over time I worked out of that drive to make it somewhere in sports. You see photographers of lesser skill, in my opinion given the opportunity to shoot pro and college sports simply because of the people they know. I say that, but that is how it is in all areas of work. If you know the right people, you can fake it till you make it. This is when I started looking in different areas to progress and NO I didn’t stop shooting sports, I just found where it worked best for me and that was sticking to local high school sports and local college sports. I shoot freelance for parents and also for some news outlets. Though I do want more and I still dream to shoot an NFL and NBA game, that has to wait for the right time and I mean, with Covid, it’s not coming soon. Now to the new moves.

Lets fast forward a bit and try to make this simple. I thought, maybe wedding is what I want to shoot. It’s good money, grow as a photographer and build something for yourself. Right… Well, though I love taking photos there is still that fact that I am not good as posing people, or at least nervous too to be honest. I went to a wedding with a photographer to learn and see how things go on a wedding day. It was overwhelming but I know I didn’t have to give up any images from that day so if they all were bad, I could just destroy that idea. Then, he asked if I wanted to work for him as a second photographer and I said yes, because all I would have to do is catch a second angle with a different lens than he is using and I didn’t have to pose. Easy right? I did that a few times but then I went on a portrait shoot to get to know a couple that I would be shooting their wedding. He threw me into the ring to pose them and I froze. Having a photographer so good like he is watch me, caused me to freeze and he took over shortly and we moved on. I never shot that wedding as a solo and I went as a second again with another photographer that he had. Then, came the change I needed, as change where I can strive. It’s an area I didn’t know I wanted or could do and that was video.

I have shot wedding videos for 3-4 years now for him. I simply shot the footage of the day and he took if from there. Everything was his to stay on brand and consistent with his style, I was just the guy behind the camera. I have gone to Kansas City, Detroit, Tennessee, Tulsa and our area of Joplin for wedding videos. I never really thought of doing it myself in my way and style until I work with one photographer who mentioned, “why don’t you do this yourself?” , “Why not work for yourself and build something?”. I seriously never thought I could do it myself even though I owned the gear and have the skill in video editing to do so. Then comes 2020…

2020 is a different animal of sorts. Right before 2020, I started a new job. Same job title, different location. Videographer for a education business and now, came 2020 a month later. Things were looking up, job was awesome, people were awesome, creativity at an all time high! Then came Covid and the world stopped. Prior to the pandemic, I had a couple reach out wanting someone to video their wedding day, I jumped on it with hesitation because I didn’t put out any promotion or post about doing wedding videos. I mean, I did share videos I shot for the other photographer but that wasn’t my editing or style. In short, they hired me and then another hired me and I kept an empty book so moving dates was easy and we fit them in as things opened back up and both videos were and are loved by both couples. You can see them in previous posts or on my youtube and on my video tab on this site here.

The point of this post was to simply share some video stills from my two wedding films and I went on a long back story. So, now I am shooting weddings under my name, in my style of shooting and editing. I try to by a fly on the wall with my videos. Using a 24mm and 85mm lens and keep it simple with just my camera in hand. I ask what the couple wants in the video, not tell them “I need this and that”. I try to cater to them, while keeping it my style of work. It’s worked out well with my first two and I have another wedding confirmed in September in central Kansas and possibly another one in KC before that. 2020 might be crazy but for me to get possibly 4 weddings under my name without promoting in any way has been awesome and I am excited for the future.

Shots are from a 5d Mark Iv with C-Log. Color graded with a Matti Haapoja lut. Lenses used are Sigma 24mm f1.4 Art w/ black pro-mist 1/4 filter and a Canon 85mm f1.8.

Another one done and another signed.

Without promoting wedding videography as a service I have now done two weddings and have another one in September under my name of Derek Livingston Media. Beyond thankful for these opportunities and the growth that has come from it. In my last post you will see my first wedding video under Derek Livingston Media. I say that because I have shot them for 3-4 years now but never under my name and I never had the sticks at the editing bay. Now I do the shooting and editing and its been a blast!

Being able to grow as a videographer in new ways like weddings is awesome. Capturing someones big day and giving them something to remember their day by has been an amazing experience thus far and I can’t wait to see what the rest of 2020 has in store and even more excited for 2021.

I think it’s time to promote myself but I have been holding back to allow my self time to process on how to do it all with a full time job and a freelance sports job that occasionally pops up. Only time will tell and I will assume I will be promoting soon enough.

Until then, I would love for you all to see my recent video I shot in Girard, Kansas. I shoot with a 5d Mark Iv with a 24mm f1.4 and a 85mm f1.8.

Hope you enjoyed at least some of it, as I know it’s a lengthy video to watch. That is another thing I am not sure of, should I go shorter with the edit, or is length good as it’s a big day in ones life. Only time will tell and I know I will be going through both of my recent weddings and picking out some of my favorite shots in a shorter video to showcase them.

Hope all is well with all of you and see you next time!

My first wedding film.

This past weekend I shot my first wedding film. Well, not really my first. I have shot 20-30 over the past 3-4 years of doing them. This past weekend was my first wedding film under my name. What I mean by that is, before this weekend, I had been shooting them for another photographer and all I would do is simply shoot the footage and then he would do his magic in the editing bay. Well, I was approached by a few couples that had seen my work online or instagram or through word and asked if I would shoot their weddings.

Now, I had been thinking of maybe getting into wedding films of my own. Where I can shoot my way and edit them the way I see fit to my style. Working for someone else, you have guidelines to stick to and that is so you keep consistency and style all in tact. My style doesn’t differ but I shoot things more freely and edit differently. Plus, I want something that is mine and something I can grow in. Videography is my full time job as well but that comes with company guidelines and branding you have to stick to. I shoot sports and events and the occasional portrait shoot but video is where I want to move into doing more of.

With that said, I seen these couple of weddings I have booked to really see if this is something I want to do. Do I want to do the shooting and the editing all on my own and build something of my own. Or do I want to stick to the comfort of shooting and leaving the editing to the other guy. I think I am ready and for what I am charging I am going at this from a bare bones perspective. I don’t have too many rules I am trying to stick to. I go with the flow of the day and capture the pure moments, the tears, the laughs and jokes. I capture the audio with a mic on the camera and keep it to a minimal use of putting a mic on someone. You will hear in this video the occasional sound clip to add atmospheric sounds over the music and when it comes to the speeches, I grab some loving or funny moments that keep the spirit high but not overly done.

There are things I would change about this in the future. Maybe less clips of the same moments, Work on being steadier with the 85mm lens when shooting close ups. I shot most of this with my Sigma 24mm f1.4 art lens with a Tiffen pro-mist 1/4 filter. The whole video is shot handheld at 60fps. The 60fps will and did allow me to slow down some clips to capture moments in slow motion and help with stability. Warp Stabilizer is used on some of the clips as well to add the smoothness to them. I used a LUT from Matti Haapoja’s Cine Lut pack. I tried to keep it very basic and very minimal use of transitions. Occasionally I would cut to the beat or tone of the song or just have a hard cut. I thought of adding overlays and adding this or that to help with transitions but I went back on that and kept it pretty raw. I am not one for flashing transitions and what not.

I hope you took the time to watch the video. It is pretty long but it’s their big day and I wanted them to have all the great moments. All in all, they loved it. Which was a great moment for me. I never had a story line or shot list. I just went and let it flow and when putting the video together it all kind of comes together in my head and it worked out and I was personally happy with it as well.

Hope all is well and I will be doing a highlight video on this where I put together all of my favorite clips but that will come in a few weeks. Solo wedding #2 is this coming weekend!

Until next time, stay safe, smile and love those around you.

My new go-to FILM – Kodak Ektar 100

So, I finally got to finish up my Ektar 100 film. A film best known for portraits if I remember right. I tried to focus on portraits with this film but I did take a couple landscape photos and I loved how they came out!

I shot these with my Nikon f4 + Nikkor 20mm f2.8d. With it being a 100 film it had to be used in the day time but I would love to try some long exposures with this film to see how they would turn out. You will notice that this film has a red/magenta look to the skin tones.

Check out this video to see my favorite images from the roll!

Thanks for checking it out and soon I will have a decent blog post about my first wedding video shoot. I am in the process of editing it now and I am in love really.

See you all next time!

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