Question: How will we know each other at a meeting?
DH: Study this picture carefully. I'm the one in the glasses. If you meet at my house, I'm the one who's not a dog or a cat.
Question: How do you describe your shooting style?
DH: In a word, documentary. I'm also going for timeless, because I believe a well done documentary image is the one that doesn't go out of style. If 20 years from now your pictures scream "2011," it should be on account of your parents' wardrobe, and not because of all the odd trendy little things photographers are doing in Photoshop this year! Basically, I don't do cheese. Rather, I focus on top notch photography. You could call me a purist.
I want to tell your story as it unfolds, and I shoot action as it happens. I won't ask a bride to stop and pose for me while she cuts the cake. She can just cut the cake. However, I will do groups and portraits upon Your request. I successfully adapt this style to corporate and non-profit events as well.
My photography awards include numerous placments in Wedding Photojournalist Association (WPJA) quarterly contests as well as a Best of the Knot pick. I've also been selected as a Top Photographer, based quality and value, by the Wedding Photography Directory.
Question: Are you a brilliant artist with a flair for romance who greets the morning dew with an eclectic medley of flower petals?
DH: If you ever have to express the thought "I have a great sense of humor" to another person, it's probably because you weren't making it self evident.
Question: What is that supposed to mean?
DH: I'm not sure. Sometimes I speak in riddles. Maybe I've just been reading too many other photographer sites.
Question: What sets you apart from others I could hire?
DH: First, I'm refreshingly uncrapful. Rather than load my website up with cliched sentimentality, I'll just respect your intellect. And your ears -- some of that stock music is pretty rough isn't it?
OK, more seriously... I'll start in with experience. I'm classically trained in darkroom arts, but was also "half digital" by 1995. I have been taking pictures professionally since 1996, with digital weddings and events continuously since March 2003, which is the month I went fully digital--an exciting transition. I'm a "wedding photojournalist" who has been an actual newspaper photojournalist, and I'm fond of pointing out that Journalism is a way of thinking, not just an empty buzzword. This is my full-time and only job, which matters to some clients and not to others. As you tread the waters of the photography market, keep in mind that low price part-time or "semi-pro" photographers are that way for some reason or another. But if nothing else, being full time means I can meet you for coffee at 2 PM on Tuesday, just because we all hate rush hour.
Since this question is my "white paper" so to speak, I will address one of the more dark, taboo, vexing aspects of the photographer industry. Right now, the biggest trend I see in this industry is the adoption of cookie-cutter business practices. If you look at 30 or 40 different photographer websites, and you're observant, you'll know exactly what I mean... Rather than rant against any one trend specifically, I'll just say I'm against the disease of sameness in the photo industry, which has been around forever, but lately exacerbated by various factors. I'm always trying to do things my own way, and I count among my friends other photographers who are also a bit off the beaten path. Regardless of whether you hire me, I would encourage you to choose a photographer who's clearly doing his or her own thing.
A point about the way I shoot: I constantly emphasize real camera skill in my images over Photoshop manipulations. Even my "special effects" shots are produced in camera, the same way you could do with film, rather than faking it later. My feeling is that anyone can learn Photoshop tricks, but not everyone can take a good picture. Mind you that Photoshop is an essential tool, and I'm very skilled at using it to ensure the quality of my work. But I won't give you the cheesy alternate reality shots that some photographers make a hallmark of their style. In my opinion, the best Photoshop manipulators are the ones creating images that you cannot tell were manipulated.
Commitment to quality photo editing: I set my cameras to shoot everything in RAW, which is a camera-specific lossless compression format. It's not a print-ready format, so it must be converted to JPEG for photo lab usage. I do each conversion myself. Shooting RAW means more work, but it guards the quality of the final image. The reason is simple math, which I can explain to you more in person if you're curious. But in short, if you set the camera to save directly to JPEG, it will forever discard significant information that could have otherwise been used to make best possible edits to the image. Back in the film days, this quality was known as "exposure latitude," meaning how much correction a particular film stock would allow. It's my opinion that shooting to RAW is the right choice in most professional situations. I will concede that some great photographers go direct to JPEG. I just can't possibly agree with them! But what really makes me cautious is someone who doesn't understand the issue enough to be able to explain his or her opinion.
Alright, enough of this "white paper" type stuff. Back to some simpler questions.
Question: Can I see some more work?
DH: Yes, I usually have some new work floating around that's not represented on this site. But please review what's here before you ask. I intentionally provide way more work online than most photographers I know, so there's enough here already to form a pretty good opinion.
Question: Do you accept credit cards?
DH: Yes. I gladly take payment via PayPal. I still love old fashioned checks, too, and of course cash.
Question: What song is stuck in your head right now?
DH: At the moment, that would be this song. Yes, I went to middle school during the 80s.
Question: What's your photography history?
DH: I started by working two years on Baylor University's daily newspaper, The Lariat, while studying photojournalism. I won awards including the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association's 1995 1st place news photo and the Southwestern Journalism Conference's 1st place photo essay. Next I staffed at the Waco Tribune-Herald for two years as both a writer and photographer. After that, my freelance work appeared in Sport Compact Car and Turbo magazines for a while. My event photography for the International Collegiate Programming Contest has appeared most recently in Business Week, but also in the New York Times, The St. Petersburg Times, foreign language publications, and on many websites. I have shot all digital intensely since early 2003, with extensive experience in both weddings and deadline-oriented events for corporations, small businesses, and non-profits. My corporate clients include (in no particular order) Mazda, Ingram Micro, Kinetic Concepts Inc (KCI), Sundance Channel, Stryker Orthopaedic, Porter Novelli, the Chlorine Institute, and Pinerock Productions.
Given my history with writing, I still like to pick up a relevant project. So for fun and portfolio, I invite you to check out my latest magazine piece, which I wrote and photographed (Magazine Cover, Story, Contributors page).
Question: What's your specialty?
DH: I focus on weddings and events (corporate, non-profit, political), but I started my career in newspaper, so I've done a bit of everything. I've shot news, rodeo, food, local fashion, and midnight bowling. This type of versatility is what makes a journalistically trained photographer a great choice for your wedding or event -- we're used to watching people, to observing rather than directing, and to walking into whatever environment and knowing that we'll get a shot. Because I enjoy the Austin music scene, I post some music images here, too, and I welcome inquiries from musicians.
Question: When did you start shooting weddings?
DH: I shot my first wedding for a fellow newspaper staffer in 1997. After that, I shot weddings sporadically on 35mm film up through early 2003, at which point I transitioned to digital and went after weddings feet first.
Question: What camera gear do you use specifically? Do you have spare equipment?
DH: I think it's really nerdy to dwell on equipment in public, but since you asked... I use the same pro-grade Nikon SLR cameras and lenses used by A-list news publications. My two primary cameras are the Nikon D3s, with a D300s as backup. Both primary cameras shoot at "full frame" and 12 Megapixels, though a 24 megapixel camera may be arranged by special request if required for the job (the Nikon D3x is identical to the D3 with exception that the resulting file is 24 MP). Note that the 12 megapixel size is more than adequate for wedding, event, and general journalism purposes and even allows some room for cropping. Secondly, note that there is a tradeoff between megapixel count and low-light quality; the current generation of Nikon 12 megapixel cameras have better low-light performance than any of the 21-plus megapixel cameras from Canon, Nikon, or Sony.
I have a huge commitment to using only the best equipment. I'd be more profitable if I didn't, but hey, I actually care... It's a popular cliche to say that "it's the photographer, and not the camera, which makes the picture." The cliche is certainly true, but only by half. The whole truth is that the same photographer will capture fewer good pictures if you decrease the quality of her equipment, all other things being equal--it's undeniable probability and physics we're dealing with. A responsible photographer understands this balance between the aesthetic and technical sides of the art form. I use a wide range of Nikon's professional-grade lenses. Your camera can only see what your lenses allow, so it's essential to know which lenses to avoid and why, and how to bring out the strengths of the good ones. I keep fully redundant, first-quality spare lenses in my inventory, and I always maintain a adequate amount of redundancy while on the job. In the event of rain, all of my Nikon cameras are weather sealed, as well as several of the lenses that I carry. Yes, I have shot in the rain, at both weddings and corporate events. I think rain is fun, but I will only do so when it's safe.
Question: Where do you work?
DH: Where do you want me to go? Some cities I have worked in: Seattle, Orange (SoCal), Jacksonville, Buffalo, Padre Island, Prague, Shanghai, and Tokyo. All over Texas, including Amarillo, Eagle Pass, Houston, Dallas-Forth Worth, and San Antonio. For multi-day onsite corporate jobs, I can often bid competitively against local photographers or provide you with a good option where there may be no local options.
Question: Do you have a studio?
DH: I provide studio lighting on location. I don't maintain a fixed location studio, as a fixed location just doesn't fit the type of work I do. It is necessary for certain types of work which I don't do at all. The notion that a photographer must have a fixed location studio is a falsehood promoted by those heavily invested in fixed location studios and a few pundits who don't know what they're talking about.
Question: Who are your favorite photographers?
DH: I've always singled out Alfred Eisenstaedt for his career at LIFE, and for being a great early practitioner of 35mm photojournalism. Halsman's "Dali Atomicus" is a favorite image. I'm a fan of Doisneau and "street photography" in general. I like shooting color in dark places, so I admire Birney Imes' juke joint work. And for black and white in dark places, I think of Brassai. I claim inspiration for some of my "blurrier" images from William Albert Allard of National Geographic fame. The greatest living photog I've met would have to be David Leeson of the Dallas Morning News. I studied for three years with Clark Baker and admire his work as a photographer and educator.
Question: Do you remember the first time you wanted to be a photographer?
DH: I was 9, on vacation in Mississippi with my dad in 1983. In the fading dusk light, he used my head in lieu of a tripod, to photograph the burned out ruins of a plantation house. I figured I could find a three-legged child, or at least a better solution. But I think the first time I wanted to enter journalism, generally speaking, was years earlier -- when I saw Father Guido Sarducci.