Justin Muir Photography | Blog

Here you'll find the adventures of my photography career, topic related ramblings, and more.  Hopefully I can make it entertaining enough for you to check back every so often :-)

Tales of a 2nd Shooter

November 04, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Many of you know that I've started taking on more and more wedding work in the last year.  With some very kind referrals, I've shot 4 weddings in the past year as the primary shooter.  They have been amazing!  I've learned so much just by shooting those 4 events.  Mostly, I learned (the hard way) how to manage the flow of a couples wedding day and ensure they get the photos they deserve so they can look back and remember their magical day 10+ years later.

With that being said, I would be arrogant if I had thought I knew everything about wedding photography.  Recently, I've been 2nd shooting for a number of AMAZING local wedding photographers.  The first to take a chance on me was Brian Minson.  He's been in the business for over 20 years and has been rated Top 5 wedding photographer in Arizona and has been the recipient of the Brides Choice Awards in 2011, 2012, and 2013.  Needless to say, I had my work cut out for me.  To ease the pain of meeting Brian on the day of a Brides wedding, we decided to meet on my way home from Albuquerque's BlackLight Run in Lakeside for some Ice Cream.  Meeting before hand was great.  We got to feel each other out and I think we both understood what the other could offer.  This made shooting the event at Heritage Square easy!  He knew my abilities and turned me loose assigning me to take care of the Groom and Groomsmen portraits for the day.  From there, he allowed me to shoot the entire ceremony from a more creative point of view.  Without the pressure of needing to nail the ring and kiss shot, I did things I would've never had the chance to do as a primary.  I took an artistic approach to capturing candid/in the moment type photos.  I really feel like I got some great shots and learned a ton from Brian.  Mostly about how to keep your Bride relaxed.  It's all about making her and the groom feel like the photos are fun.  It keeps them engaged which makes for MUCH better photos.

My next 2nd shooter adventure would be for Chadwick Fowler.  Chadwick needed a skilled 2nd shooter to help his new primary photographer Cassandra Tomei with a wedding at The Pointe Hilton.  The event was great!  We had the pleasure of working with a very laid back couple.  The timeline was a bit tighter than the previous event with Brian so there was a little more sense of urgency, but overall, the bride and groom were very easy to work with.  During this wedding, I got my first experience using a studio strobe and softbox for formals.  Looking at the industry standards, it's something I'll need to incorporate into my future wedding work.  It's something that really sets some photographers apart from others.  Another thing I noticed was the use of an ultra wide angle Canon 16-35 f2.8L lens during formals and portraits.  As a fairly traditionally styled wedding photographer, I would've never thought to use the wide angle lens with people.  As it turns out, the results are amazing.  The lighting and lens distortion create VERY dramatic images.  Something I'll surely be blending into my wedding work.

My most recent shoot was easily the most challenging. Nearly last minute,  I was asked to help Bradford Jones with a wedding at The Scottsdale Resort.  At first sight the venue looks amazing.  You walk through a vine/bush covered walkway into a very beautiful lobby.  Unfortunately, everything else is very neutral with classic styling.  Most walls have been painted a mute tan and dark brown paint has been applied to all wood accents.  While you may thing this is a bad thing, it really wasn't.  it was a blessing is disguise! It forced Mike (Bradford's lighting assistant) and I to think outside the box.  We were tasked with the ever important ring shot and were drawing a blank for an abnormally long time.  Finally, we decided to shoot the rings on the ledge of a fountain.  The shot just was not working!  It didn't look bad, but both Mike and I knew that it could be better!  Mike began looking for things to help liven up the shot.  In a stroke of brilliance, he picked 3 flowers from what I think was the only plant on the property in bloom.  One white with a purple center, one yellow with a purple center, and one blue with a yellow center.  We set the rings on the flower arrangement and voila! it was done!  The actual site of the ceremony also presented what I would consider difficult shooting conditions.  The bridal arch was only a few feet away from a beautiful pool.  That meant that I had to shoot with a long 70-200mm 2.8L from all the way across the pool!  On top of that, there was immobile pool equipment that was just begging to be a distraction in most photos.  These obstacles made me creatively compose shots to limit their intrusion.  Overall, the night was a great success and Bradford paid me a very welcome compliment.  He said that I was "the best 2nd shooter he has ever worked with" and that he has an event on December 14th that he would like my assistance with.

Overall, I'm very pleased with all of the photographers I've recently worked with.  I appreciate all of their art and recognize the benefits of being able to experience working with each of them even though all of their styles are worlds apart.  I also love knowing that I can be tossed into any situation and create images aligned with such different styles.  It really makes me feel like I can shoot in any condition presented to me and I love having that confidence.  Thanks again to all of the primary photographers who have employed me recently and let me learn through their events.

Heritage Square Mini-Sessions: Nov 16th, 2013

October 29, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

The holidays are fast upon us!  Be sure to secure your spot for our holiday mini session.  This event is a fantastic way for families on a budget and in a hurry to get their holiday photos taken.  

This session will include:

  • 1/2 hour photo session
  • 3 - 8"x10" prints
  • Corresponding low resolution (for online sharing/holiday card printing)
  • $55.00 Upgrade includes 11"x14" Canvas Print
  • Additional prints and downloads will be available  a la carte.

Event Location: Heritage Square - Downtown Phoenix

Event Date: November 16th, 2013

Event Cost: $75.00


Contact us at any of the below:

  • info@justinmuirphotography.com
  • (480)221-6830
  • www.facebook.com/justinmuirphotography


How I became a Wedding Photographer.

October 26, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

 As many of you know, I became a photographer to document my love of cars.  And, for a very long period of time, I exclusively shot automotive photography.  Wedding photography had always been something that I shy'ed away from.  Mostly due to the pressure associated with being a primary photographer for a wedding.  While I would've loved to slowly slip into wedding photography by 2nd shooting, the option didn't exist.  I didn't know anyone that was currently a wedding photographer who I could 2nd shoot for and had no wedding experience.  2nd shooting is a great way to learn, but at the end of the day you still need some experience to approach a primary photographer when requesting a 2nd shooter position.  

So into the fire we go!  A friend of mine called me on a Thursday afternoon.  

   "Justin!  Hi, It's Gabe Ortega.  So, I know this is last minute, but I'm the best man for a wedding on Saturday.  Unfortunately the photographer just canceled!  Are you available?  Don't worry, there's no pressure because we have no one at this point."

I want to go on the record and say that Gabe lied.  Of course it was unintentional, but he was 100% incorrect when he said it was "no pressure".  I've never been more nervous in my entire life. Right before the wedding started, my palms were sweating, my heart was racing, and my stomach was in my throat.  I was the only person there on that day to document this couples wedding (both of which were complete strangers to me).  

As soon as I lifted the camera to look through the view finder, all of that pressure turned to adrenaline.  I went into a sort of idiot savant state and simply did my job.  Quietly walking around the ceremony taking photos of absolutely everything!  I had a mental checklist of what I wanted to capture and regardless of how quickly the ceremony started and was over, I didn't miss a thing.  After the reception, I walked out holding my head high.  I knew that I did a great job and that I wanted to shoot more weddings moving forward.  It turns out that someone else also thought I did a great job because I received an inquiry and booked another wedding just a few short months later!

 Looking back, I'm so glad I took a chance and accepted the job. Without it, I would probably still be shooting cars/motorsports (exclusively) and "shying away" from wedding work.  I will always love shooting cars but weddings fill a void that automotive photography doesn't.  Instead of simply making art, I'm documenting memories and I love every minute of it!

4 Months Old!

March 04, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Today was more of a family day.  We had a Lambda Pi Eta picnic to attend and Stacie (Elizabeth's mother and my girlfriend) was hoping I could also take some 4 month pics.

As always, things never work out like they're supposed to.  We picked out a cute collared polo dress for Elizabeth thinking it would serve dual duty.  She was a hit at the picnic and everyone was commenting on how cute she looked in her little dress.  Well, one feeding later and the dress was bound for the washing machine and Elizabeth was onto outfit number two for the afternoon.  I was hoping to be able to shoot some pics at the picnic but the park we went to had nothing but dead grass, and I got "voluntold" to man the grill anyways.  After some mediocre food and chit chatting with old friends, we decided to head home.

At this point, we were ready to call it a day.  Elizabeth was starting to get cranky and I had been standing in front of a charcoal grill for the past 2 hours.  We talked about stopping and taking some pictures when leaving the park but kind of glossed over the subject.  It wasn't until I had my right turn signal on to turn into our neighborhood when I said "lets do this" and headed for the church across the street from my house.  They have a phenominal landscape.  With bent palm trees, lush grass, faux rocks, and some very nice fountains, this is a perfect backdrop for some natural light shots.  I'm glad we stopped.  It was nearly golden hour and Elizabeth had gotten just enough of a nap in the car to be in a good mood.  We had her smiling in no time.  I've only edited two shots, but I'll update more when I have a break in the baby action.

Formula Drift - Right Around the Corner!

February 29, 2012  •  Leave a Comment


Well, The Streets of Long Beach is upon us again.  Kicking off another season of Fomula Drift on April 6th and 7th.  Being a media rookie last year, I think it goes without saying how excited I am. 

There are so many things to look forward to this year. The new Scion FR-S will be driven by Ken Gushi while Tony Angelo fills his former seat in the RS-R Scion TC. With new comers Corey Hosford, George Marstanovic, and Chelsea DeNofa, the Rookie of the year battle should certainly be a hard fought one!   

This year I'll be covering multiple FD events throughout the season for the UK based Driftworks.com. I plan on bringing my audience the very best of Formula Drift. I'm super stoked for the opprotunity and can't wait to literally show the world what I'm capable of.

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