Tag Archives: wedding photography

AsukaBook: Building the Perfect Wedding Book

AsukaBook I

I am not a wedding photographer. I do not enjoy weddings, funerals or birthday parties featuring magicians and clowns. However, in my line of work one needs to try anything one, so when my brother requested that we shoot his wedding last July as their gift, I decided to bite the bullet. Personal goal: make my family happy by capturing a key event in their lives, especially after the loss of my father the previous week. Professional goal: produce a perfect wedding book with neither cost nor profit being the object.

Since I began working as a photographer, AsukaBook, a publisher who prints in Japan but is based out of Oregon, has appealed to me as an option for my first big portfolio book. They have a special opening offer to all professional photographers (you need a website, I think), to print the first book for 50% of regular cost. Fifty percent is significant when you consider that the cost of this book was going to be $525 for 40 pages originally; this is not small peanuts for a book, but fair when one considers that a quality, single print edition of anything has to be expensive to make it worth the time spent in production. In the end, after shipping, taxes and currency exchange, I will have spent a bit over $400 for the book. Worth it?


I chose a large format of 12×12 inches for the book. I feel that this is a perfect print size for archival prints, and when you consider that this book lays flat for a full spread of 24×12 inches, it is quite impressive. I also went with matte finish, even though I prefer glossy metallics for my personal work. I was aiming for a Martha Stewart wedding look and her books from the 1990s often featured a matte finish to bring out an emotional feeling of polish.

As you can see from these few simple shots of the book, the colours are rich and the package is about as high quality as could be conceived. I would caution any would be professionals to be aware that their small point and shoot or Unlce Louis’ dslr are not going to cut it, at least not straight from the camera. A large portion of what I do relates to post-production of the images, colour syncing to a particular palette, retouching and layout. I was unable to use AsukaBook’s proprietary software, so I had to lay out the book in Adobe’s InDesign CS6. If you are not regularly working on large publications, which I do for my school, then this might kill you. For me, it worked fairly smoothly and I was happy to have tech support question a few of my bleed choices in final production.


The pages a almost a foam core style of thickness, and this makes for a seriously heavy book that feels akin to a Bible of coffee table masterpiece. I have seen nothing like this in small print production before, and it screams of quality in design. The wraparound cover and hard case allow for custom design – I went for two different photos on the actual book, and a full wrap of the case that shows a field shot: unique and compelling.

So it only took me 6 months to scan the Kodak Porta film, process the photos, lay the book out and get it back in the post. Would I do it again? Nope. Never. Doubt it. The book was gorgeous and flawless, but I would never make any money unless I charged about $5000 to shoot a wedding, and the only take away would be the digital negatives and this book. The time it took, and the behind the scenes work make weddings tough to work for profit unless you are constantly working through the exact same workflow, and you outsource the tedious work to others, which I just refuse to do.


The real question will be whether the couple like it, love it or hate it. I just put the dvds and the book into the shipping box to be mailed tomorrow back to Prince Edward Island. If you want to see this masterpiece for yourself, then I am certain they will be inviting friends and family over to relive their happiest of happy days.


A Tale of Two Islands: Scanning the West Coast Trail and Weddings



I have been missing in action. Since Thanksgiving the influenza has had me in a deadly grip. Four weeks is too long to be sick with anything when your body is in the best shape it has ever been in, but this year’s flu turned to walking pneumonia and then a sinus infection. Many of my favourite activities, such as writing, ┬áhad to be forsaken so that I could manage my daily work while still managing to spend quality time with my family and friends. I never underestimate how valuable my good health is, but it always shakes me a bit when a simple virus lays me on the floor for so long. But I digress…where was I? The West Coast Trail and my brother’s wedding photography is finally entering the scanning process, and the film negatives appear to be co-operating.


The West Coast Trail will forever be an achievement for me. No boys scouts for me; I lasted four hours at the Army Cadet’s winter camp. Hiking 78km with a full pack of fifty pounds over a landscape that only hobbits and elves would find easy to cross, I found my feet and confirmed that this country has much to offer the brave and crazy. For this adventure I decide to shoot only Kodak 160 film in the back of my Hasselblad SWC camera. I knew that batteries and electronics would easily become corrupted by wet, damp weather, and that 7 days is a long time to be unable to charge a camera battery. I am not a landscape photographer, but I felt that with the 38mm medium format perspective that the Hasselbad offers I could certainly capture the memories that I wanted to keep safe when the aches and pains of hiking were long past.


My brother’s wedding is a different beast on the opposite side of the country, Prince Edward Island. Why shoot with a Hasselblad 501CM there? Well…I forgot my battery charger for the Canon 1DmkIII, and that is not a situation any wedding photographer wants to find himself. Fortunately for us, my permanent partner was expertly wielding a second camera [a Canon 7D with a 50mm f.1.2 L lens], and I had two other cameras with me to capture as much as I could. The main photographs had to be shot on film, however, and these are the first two scans I have been able to complete since my health began to slowly return this week.


What do I see in these photographs? The intangible mood and perspective that digital accuracy simply cannot reproduce. Four photographs taken with technology that will soon become lost as film dies a slow death with the demise of Kodak. Ironically, these four photographs will probably last far beyond the quickie selfies and iPhone captures that we all use to publicize our daily lives. I hold no qualms with the technology, but I know we seldom print or back-up our digital captures, but that I will be able to store these negatives safely for my own lifetime at least. Perhaps the standard by which I judge all of my personal work now is whether I would want to print my photographs for a funeral, an anniversary or an exhibition. On both of these islands hundreds, if not thousands of photographs were taking on the trail and at the wedding, but how many of them capture the actual spaces and moments as well as these? This is my work. I am proud of it.


Breaking Bad to Be Making Better

20130915-145820.jpgMoving is a traumatic experience. Humans move because we need to to find a better space, because our partners have died/left us, because of financial loss or gain and because something calls our name out from the hobbit hole. For the past two weeks I have been slowly moving my possessions from one life to another. I am moving for more space, a new space, and because I fell in love with the most wonderful woman. Moving is still traumatic.

20130915-150533.jpgI have moved my stuff and things a total of 14 times in the past 40 years. In the early days I felt like I had too little, and I was sad to ask a shipper to move a mattress, 36 books and a hard case full of clothing. Yesterday, I had two young men hired to move 22 boxes of books, a granite table, three coffee table, a bed, and enough music equipment to start my own Motown recording studio. Now I am embarrassed about having too much; about owning too much of the same thing (4 keyboards, 6 guitars, 3 computers, 8 cameras). Balance seems impossible to find.

20130915-151215.jpgStill, as I sit in reflection after yesterday’s onslaught and personal temper tantrum when items were lost and a ladder would not fold, I cannot help but be thankful that I am not alone, that I made friends such as Marcos and Derek at the building who were genuinely sad to see us leave, and am thankful to be in such a great place to begin the next step in my crazy life.
Photography has come to a standstill as I have had to pack my gear into a hundred boxes. The film negatives from the summer are still to be scanned and transformed into a wedding book and entries to photo contests this Fall. Paderno is sending along forty items to be shot this week, and I am looking forward to photographing Darren Eedens soon. Now…time to leave the safety of the bar at Canyon Creek and enter the cacophony awaiting me at The Brock Lofts. Time to level up, again. Game on.