Category: Photo Tips

The Big Comfy Couch Feb 11th | Photo Tips

It’s retro, it’s comfy, and it’s the best shade of green. It’s the prop brides love to use and can really make a photo pop. I absolutely love the use of indoor props in outdoor shoots, especially when the aesthetics and colors are in high contrast. For example, bringing a retro green couch to a dirty, dark, urban setting (alley, fire escape, etc…) and plopping that couch right in the middle. It is impossible to not focus on the bride in all her glory! Just like the above photo from Karli’s bridal set.

We get a lot of requests to use this prop in both our wedding and bridal shoots, and we never get tired of it. Try it yourself and bring an outside element/prop to your shoot, it’ll give those photo’s a little pizazz (yep, that’s right I used the word pizazz!).

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Jared Platt Lightroom3 Workshop Oct 12th | Photo Tips

We want everyone to know about a workshop Whitney and I are hosting. Are you like most photographers and find yourself spending your time editing photographs way more than you would like? Jared Platt will be conducting a full day Lightroom 3 Workflow Workshop on Friday, November 5 at StudioWed in Nashville.

Cut your workflow time in half and use that time effectively to increase the quality of your work, strengthen the impact of your portfolio and ultimately to push your skills as a photographer to a higher level. The Lightroom Workflow Workshop is a full day workshop on post production in Adobe’s Lightroom 3.0. At the workshop you will learn how to maximize your post production workflow experience and increase the quality of your work.

The night before the workshop (Thursday, November 4) you can see Jared for free at the Nashville PUG.

Space for the full day event is limited. For more information on the workshop and to reserve your seat, visit:

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Lightroom 3: A Review Jun 23rd | Photo Tips

I had a field day a few weeks ago with the announcement of the new iPhone, and the release of Lightroom 3! I was so excited for all this new technology and how it is going to help our workflow and business. I upgraded to Lightroom 3 right away for several reasons, and I wanted to share some of my favorite new features with you. They have changed a lot in the upgraded Lightroom, which you can read about here, but I am just going to share with you 3 of my favorite changes with the upgrade. I am not sponsored by Lightroom in any way, it has just completely changed how our business is run and I love it!
1. Backup- Before, lightroom catalogs were set to back up when it was first opened, and it was easy to forget to back it up when you were finished using it for the day. The new Lightroom asks if you want to back it up when you exit Lightroom, which is a lot more efficient and intuitive.
2. Noise reduction- The new noise reduction feature goes way beyond what Lightroom 2 had. I rarely used the noise reduction feature in Lightroom 2 because it would produce a very plastic and fake look to it. Lightroom 3′s noise reduction is stellar, and I think even looks better than stand alone noise reduction software. The upgrade price is worth the cost for this feature alone.
3. Print module- The print module is now set up to make templates for collages, which I use for putting a lot of images together for my blog. In Lightroom, you can use the templates to easily drag and drop images for a collage right in Lightroom. This saves a lot of steps for our workflow, and keeps us from opening everything in photoshop.
These are just a few of the new features and they are already helping us become more efficient. The image above was edited completely in Lightroom! There is a free 30 day available so that you can try these features and more before you purchase, here.
Peter Carlson: Glad it has. We recently found it to move slower than LR2 but has way better features and looks way better in the end. So, we are actually using both LR2 and LR3 on each event. (Sep 07th - 03:22 pm) Mark and Rebecca Koenig: Love Lightroom 3! It speeds everything up quite a bit! Mark and Rebecca (Sep 06th - 10:32 am)
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Spring Photography Classes Feb 26th | Photo Tips

We wanted to share a couple of the images taken by students at our fall photo class. It always amazes us how much our students learn in just a few short days.

Being 2010 is such a busy year for us, our class dates will be very limited this year. The next classes are on the following dates:

March 20 – Intro to Photography 01 – Camera Basics (Sold Out)
March 27 & 28 – Intro to Photography 02 – Lighting, Composition, and Posing
March 31 – Editing Photographs using Adobe Lightroom 2

For more information on these classes visit our Photography Class Page or email Audrey at:

Be sure to sign up as soon as possible as seats to the Intro to Photography classes are limited to 10 and are filling fast.

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Mike Larson speaks to Nashville Jan 27th | Photo Tips

Yesterday we had an incredible afternoon with the Nashville PUG and the fabulous Mike Larson. Mike, is on a twenty city speaking tour of Pictage User Groups (AKA: PUGs). He is sharing his story, posing techniques, and business insights to all portrait and wedding photographers.

This has been my fourth time seeing Mike speak and has by far been my favorite. The first thing you will notice about Mike is his intense passion. He strives for complete excellence in relationships with his clients, in his quality of photography, in his business operations, and in his ability to be a leader to his staff as well as the photography community.

Hearing Mike speak always inspires me to be a better leader in both the Nashville photography community and the community of photographers we are a part of throughout the country. Whitney captured this photo of me looking very studios.

My good friends Chris & Tosha Barber we’re gracious enough to model for the afternoon. Due to the blistery cold weather we spent most of the time indoors as Mike shared his techniques of having the models come up with fictitious scenarios to talk about. Of course Chris had his wife and the rest of us in stitches while Mike captured their reactions.

We eventually all braved the evening weather and headed outdoors as Mike continued to share some posing and lighting techniques.

If you are a photographer and have not heard Mike speak, I encourage you to do so. You will leave with greater insight and inspiration. If you have never been to a PUG come join us in Nashville each month or find one in your local area. You will not be disappointed with this amazing gathering of photographers.

I hope to see you soon!

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Photography Tips: ISO Part 1 Aug 19th | Photo Tips

When I am teaching my photography class, one of the first things I like to start with is understanding what ISO is. ISO is the same as Film Speed, but alas film is not around the way it used to be. However, the principles that were used on film cameras are the same as what is used in digital cameras. The difference is that you can change the ISO in camera with digital, but with film you have to buy a specific type of film and the whole roll would be that particular film speed. When understanding ISO, the first thing you should know is what exactly it does.

Film speed (or ISO) is a number given to film that tells how sensitive it is to light. A low number (ex. 100 ISO) means that the film is not very sensitive to light. A high number (ex. 1600 ISO) means that it is very sensitive to light. This is the same for digital, but instead you have the ability to change ISO directly in camera without purchasing different types of film. You are telling your camera how sensitive you want it to be to light.

When purchasing film at a camera store I remember people always telling me, use 200 for outdoor, 800 for indoor, and 400 for either. This was decent advice but it is not always that simple. What if it is night time, but you are outdoors? What if you are indoors, but there is a lot of light coming in? This is where knowing the ins and outs of what your camera can do can help you make a good decision with what ISO to use. I will be going over other factors in the next few months to help you make that decision and to also go into more detail of what different ISO’s mean. For now, remember this: The higher ISO you have, the more sensitive to light it will be, and the lower ISO you have, the less sensitive to light it will be.

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Wedding Photography Styles Jul 24th | Photo Tips

This last weekend my family and I went down to Florida to visit my parents. While we were there we had lunch with a dear friend of mine from high school that is getting married next year. Naturally the conversation turned to her wedding plans. She told me that she had recently gone to her first bridal show and was so overwhelmed with all of the questions that the vendors asked her about what she was looking for. One of the most confusing questions was about the style of photography she was looking for. Did she want a photojournalistic type photographer or a more traditional photographer? She had no idea what all of this meant.

So I thought it would be a good topic for today’s blog to talk about the different styles and where Dove falls in regards to this question.

There are two main styles of wedding photography that are referred to the most: Traditional and Photojournalistic. The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia that I feel explains them both in a short and simple paragraph.

Traditional wedding photography provides for more classically posed images and a great deal of photographer control and interaction on the day of the wedding. Photojournalistic wedding photography takes its cue from editorial reporting styles and focuses more on candid and unposed images with little photographer interaction.

There is also a third style that is becoming more and more popular and that is the Editorial/Fashion-based approach. Again, I think Wikipedia says it best:

In contemporary/fashion-based wedding photography, photojournalistic images of the events of the day are combined with posed images that are inspired by editorial fashion photography as would be found in magazines like Vogue or Vanity Fair.”

There are different benefits to all of these styles, and some people like one more than the other.

So where does Dove land when it comes to our style? I would say that we are somewhere in the middle of the Photojournalistic and Editorial/Fashion styles. The traditional style is what we shoot the least of, but we understand that sometimes these shots are necessary. As we state on our website: “We want your photographs to capture the essence of the day… the funny moments, the happy moments, the moments when people cry. We also want your photographs to be creative, to be modern, elegant, romantic, fun – but more importantly, we want each photograph to reflect your style and personality.”

Below are examples of all three styles from Allison & Mark’s beautiful wedding.

Photojournalistic: Editorial:Traditional:

I hope that you all have a fun and safe weekend.


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Photography Tips: Lenses 02 Jul 16th | Photo Tips

So you have your 50mm. You’ve practiced moving around and shooting at different angles. You are ready for a lens that is a little more flexible, something that will give you some more variety. What should you purchase next? There are several ways you can go for your next lens, and it really depends on the type of photography you are doing, and the budget you have. Since I am a wedding photographer, I will give you my recommendation for a wedding photographer!

If you have the budget for it, my next lens of choice would be the Canon 24-70, 2.8. This is a great lens that can give you a wider angle than the 50, but also zoom in tighter for more close up portraits. Since the aperture goes down to 2.8, it will also let in more light compared to the the Canon 24-104 f4. I think that letting in more light, for a wedding, is more important than a greater zoom. The Canon 24-70 2.8 runs around $1300-$1400. You can buy the lens from B&H here.

If you don’t have the budget for that, you can purchase the Tamron version, a 28-75 2.8 for around $400. The glass isn’t as sharp as the Canon, and it is not built as strong, but it is still a great lens. I shot my first two years of weddings with that lens and loved the results I got. You can buy the lens from B&H here.

Here are a couple of images taken with the Canon 24-70, 2.8. The first one is zoomed in to 70mm, the 2nd is shot at 24mm.

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Photography Tips: RAW vs. JPG Jul 01st | Photo Tips

Today I am going to try to briefly explain the difference between RAW files vs. JPG files and help you decide what is best for you! Again, this is another heavily debated area, and there are great photographers that shoot RAW, and great photographers that shoot Jpg.

So, what is a RAW file? If you look this up on the internet, you will get some very good, very technical definitions that include phrases such as “wide-gamut internal color space” and “16 bit workspace” But what does this all mean for you as a photographer? Do you need to know all these details? I would say no, you really don’t unless you just want to know. The easiest way to explain a RAW file is that it includes ALL the data that you photographed. There is nothing missing, and nothing compressed. By shooting RAW, you get everything the camera sees, and even a little more. What this means for you is that the files are a lot bigger than jpg, and they contain a lot more information to work with. So, if you overexpose an image, you have more info in the photograph to make the exposure correct. You can pull out more detail and can easily fix photographs that are not exposed correctly.

What is a jpg? It is basically a compressed version of the photograph that you are taking. It does not contain as much information as the RAW file does, thus making the file size smaller. However, to the naked eye, an unedited RAW and JPG file will not look much different. The biggest problem with shooting jpg is that if you mess up an exposure on a JPG, it will be harder to fix after the fact.

Now, which one should you use? It depends on a lot of factors. If you are consistent in getting exposures correct while shooting, then there may not be much reason for you to shoot RAW. JPG processes faster in the camera, and takes a lot less space on your card. For the most part, if you are shooting manual, you will be more likely to get correct exposures. If you are still not consistent in your exposures, I suggest you use RAW. Also, it is good to use RAW if you are in a very difficult lighting situation. But remember, depending on your camera, if you are shooting a lot, really fast, sometimes RAW can bog down the camera.

What do we use? Right now, we are mostly shooting JPG. However, this was a switch we made just a few months ago when we purchased new cameras. We used to shoot all RAW. I am consistent in my exposures and I love being able to shoot quickly. I also do not want to worry about switching out cards as much as I do when I shoot RAW. However, when I get into a difficult lighting situation, I will switch to RAW. We still debate if we want to switch back to RAW. I will let you know if we do! Does shooting jpg diminish the quality of your photographs? When you shoot correctly, absolutely not! The gigantic canvases in our studio were printed from JPG files, and they are beautiful. Here are details from similar photos, one shot in RAW, and one in JPG. Can tell the difference? If you are still unsure how you should shoot, I encourage you to do some research and talk with some other photographers to make the right decision for you. Whitney Carlson

Nurully: This article make me easy to understand about RAW vs JPG..thanks! (Oct 09th - 08:16 am) junpins: simple and straightforward, very helpful thanks (Oct 05th - 06:21 pm) donna good: thanks for this.... (Jun 30th - 10:36 am)
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Photography Tips: Cameras Jun 17th | Photo Tips

Even before someone asks “the lens question”, I get asked “the camera question”. As in, what SLR camera should I buy? There are so many things I could comment on about cameras, but I am going to try to keep this as simple as possible, without too many confusing specs and comparisons.

My very first SLR camera was a completely manual Pentax film camera. I LOVED this camera, and brought it everywhere with me. Everywhere just happened to include Madrid, Spain and on my flight home someone stole my camera and all the film I had shot over there. I cried. A lot. Thankfully, I have never had a camera stolen since then, and with digital, I always back up my cards right away! After my Pentax, I found a film Nikon that I enjoyed, and also took great photographs.

Soon it became time to purchase a digital camera, which is where I had to make a choice. Would I stick with Nikon, which was my film camera, or would I go Canon? In the end, I decided to go Canon and have never looked back. The main reasons for my choice was that I had used both a Canon and Nikon digital camera and I simply just liked the Canon better.

So, what does this mean for you? It means that whether you choose Canon or Nikon, you will be able to make quality photographs if you know how to use your camera. It also means that even though I like Canon, you may decide you like Nikon better! So try out both, and see what feels better to you. However, remember that once you choose what brand you are going with, it will be hard to switch later.

With that said, here are my suggestions. These are all Canon cameras, but most of them have a Nikon counterpart that is similar.

When you are choosing a camera, don’t worry about all the extra features. The Pentax that I loved had zero automatic, zero extra features, and it served me very well. People have asked me what is better, the Canon Rebel XS or the Canon Rebel XSi which is about $100 more. The main difference is that the XSi has more features which you don’t necessarily need, so save that $100 and put it towards a lens!

If you are really serious about sticking with photography, I would suggest skipping the newest Canon Rebel and purchasing one of the prosumer x0D lines. These are a great line of cameras that are built to last longer than the Rebels and are so high quality that many, many professional photographers use them. You can also purchase the older models for the same price or less than the Rebels, and take home a much better camera. If you have $1200, you can purchase the newest in the line, the 50d. If you don’t want to spend as much you can purchase the 40d for under $800 on ebay, the 30d for under $500 on ebay, and the 20d for around $300 on ebay.

I hope this helps you not only decide on a camera to use, but also helps you see that you don’t need a fancy camera to take good photographs! Here is one of my favorite images from when I first started out using the Canon 20d. This image is straight from the camera. No editing was done to it.

-Whitney Carlson

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Nashville Wedding Photographers, Whitney & Peter Carlson are Dove Wedding Photography.
Our wedding photography portfolio and information can be viewed on our portfolio site.

Dove Wedding Photography
2827 Azalea Place
Nashville, TN 37204
(615) 730-7716

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