Darkroom Adventures – Austin, Texas

TBT 2010

Back in my college days at The University of Texas at Austin I spent most of my days in the darkroom with my classmates. For those who have shot 35mm film and had to go through the whole process of processing film; you can also vouch that it’s frustrating as hell but extremely rewarding.

UT-Austin classmates Thomas Allison and Callie Hernandez

UT-Austin classmates Thomas Allison and Callie Hernandez

I took these photos during our finals. Everyone was frustrated and annoyed of having to spend our whole day developing and printing our film photos. I wanted to capture the ambience of the day since it was going to be the last days of class. Seen in the photo was my UT-Austin classmates Thomas Allison and Callie Hernandez. Both classmates have gone out to do great thing with their lives. Thomas is a great independent photographer for various companies and Callie is now a Hollywood star. UT-austin was filled with such talented people.

Honestly I enjoyed being stuck in there. I never felt more of a photographer until I shoot 35mm film, developed it and printed it. So for me being in the darkroom was kind of like a escape from the rest of academic responsibilities. I hated the smell of the chemicals but loved what they did. It was definitely an experience I will never forget.

UT-Austin Student waiting for film to dry.

UT-Austin Student waiting for film to dry.

Sometimes I miss UT-Austin, most times I don’t and just live the great memories I had looking over photos from that era of my life. This was a random blog but I just wanted to share some random shit about my experience at UT-Austin and include some cool visuals.

Harlingen, Texas Adventures

A few Sunday’s back Sara and I were invited to an event in Harlingen, Texas but we had a lot of time to kill and decided to explore and test out our new Fujifilm XT-3 along with shooting some 35mm film pictures, which can be viewed here. Since we got the new Fujifilm’s we have been exploring all its functions and figuring out the best way to edit the images as well because it’s sensor is produced differently from our previous Canon and Nikon cameras. I have even explored shooting only in JPEG but still debating that one. Check out these fun shots taken with the Fujifilm XT-3 and edited in a different styles. Enjoy! 01.19.20_High Res_Harlingen Hangout with Sara-396701.19.20_High Res_Harlingen Hangout with Sara-399201.19.20_High Res_Harlingen Hangout with Sara-401201.19.20_High Res_Harlingen Hangout with Sara-404101.19.20_High Res_Harlingen Hangout with Sara-420701.19.20_High Res_Harlingen Hangout with Sara-422401.19.20_High Res_Harlingen Hangout with Sara-423601.19.20_High Res_Harlingen Hangout with Sara-425101.19.20_High Res_Harlingen Hangout with Sara-427801.19.20_High Res_Harlingen Hangout with Sara-430101.19.20_High Res_Harlingen Hangout with Sara-4351Snapseed

There’s a first time for everything – UT Volleyball – Austin, Texas

While at The University of Texas at Austin I shot the sport of Volleyball for the first time. I really didn’t know what to expect, where I was allowed to stand, or what to shoot exactly.

I had photographed collegiate basketball, track, soccer and baseball. Volleyball was going to a new challenge but I was up for it. Around this time I was shooting with a Canon 5D, 70-200mm 2.8 lens, 50mm lens, and 20-35mm 3.5 lens. I did my best with what I had and I took it as a learning experience. I don’t think the college newspaper or yearbook ever sent me out to another volleyball game after this but that’s okay, I learned.

The game was enjoyable because; One, it was UT athletics and two the crowd of fired up students as amazingly supportive. This shot is one of my best from this first time experience.

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Neil Young at UT-Austin

In 2010 I had the opportunity to photograph Neil Young for a publication known as The Horn’s, He called me up around 5pm and asked if I was free to shoot something. I said, “Yeah sure, what is it?” Neil Young, he is playing at the performing center at The University of Texas at Austin.

This was one of my first major photography jobs while living in Austin, Texas. Their were restrictions that I was not prepared for but I toggled on my knowledge of my gear and did my best. The stage was way further from where I was allowed to rome and shoot from.

After leaving performing center, I mentally kicked myself. Why? I didn’t take photos of concert goers, excited fans, and the staff at the center.

The lady in the photo below traveled 13-hours to see Neil Young perform, those are the kind of things that make a story pop. I hope next time I am sent on a assignment I will remember to shoot the whole story. For now this is what I could produce from this event.

[THROWBACK 2010] 

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2019 Reflection – Ben Briones Studios

Ben Briones 2019 Thank You

[Reflections of 2019]

There are so many people I could think of right now that I should be listing to give my most humble appreciation for their assistance in the success of Ben Briones Studios in 2019. To be transparent it wasn’t our most profitable year but it was a major year of growth, partnership, lessons, and love and understanding for business. I went from renting an office / studio at Grindstone in Edinburg, Texas to purchasing a home in north McAllen and dedicating two rooms of the four to the business. There were some great losses as well in personnel, time and tons of money but I truly grew from the losses.

[The Thank You List] 

Sara Yanez, Luis Reyes, Maria Dolores Alvarado, Roland Hernandez, Emiliano Peña, Xiomara Denisse Anzaldua, Jennifer Trevino, Jessica Musick, Joe Martinez, Ray Pedraza,

[New Job, Less Time]

I took on a major role at my 8-5 job, which really affected my business. As the chief photographer of South Texas College, I have become more involved than before and I am on salary as well so basically I am always on duty. There are some benefits of it though. You can see the work I produce for STC on RGVison Magzine, at our website and on billboards across the Rio Grande Valley. With this newly upgraded position at the college it has taken a big chunk of my attention away from the business and to my clients who have been affected I am truly sorry. In 2020 I will be better at balancing both jobs for sure.

[Things I Am Proud Of]

Here are few things I am proud of that I did or did not do in 2019. For the longest time I have been a huge advocate for Apple products when it comes to photography, but in mid-2019 I bought myself a powerful gaming PC to replace my iMac and Macbook Pro. I never thought I’d see the day where I would be using PC to run my photography business. In 2019 I also increased my studio photography work, which I am very proud of and really enjoy. 35mm film became a new thing in my arsenal as well, I even dedicated a page on my blog for my scans. Lastly, I resisted the whole Sony / Mirrorless crazy everyone and their mother was buying into, literally. I am happy to say I am still shooting and creating beautiful work with my Canon 6D of which I purchased in 2012. I did not need a mirrorless camera to “to take better photos”. I formed a great new partnership with Terry The Wedding Gal and that has been a long relationship way before 2019 but this year it really flourished.

[New Things I Learned]

New things I learned about running a photography business in 2019 were as follows; always pay your quarterly taxes on time, if not you will get fined big time. Lesson learned. Always backup your files three-fold because losing someones photos is emotionally and financially costly. I bought a Synology and stacked it with 16TBs and use Amazon Drive as well. Buying digital ads is the new and probably the only way to get new eyes on your brand, which lead to new prospects and clients. I thought I didn’t have to buy ads but I was wrong. Stop giving discounts! In 2020 I hope to give less discounts, unless you paying cash… Last thing I am going to say I learned was to take breaks or vacations. I tried my best to take Sunday’s off but as a workaholic it was very hard but I managed to have some free fun Sunday’s with no work. Hence the “Studio Closed” messages on my business Facebook timeline.

[2020, What’s New and What to Expect]

Price increases across the board for sure and no more discounts, unless you are paying cash. We can talk about that more in person. New gear for sure, although I love my beat up 6D, I am really wanting to minimize my gear list, so I am looking at some mirrorless camera like the Fujifilm XT-3, which I rented in 2019 to test out for various shoot types like portraits and architecture. Better communication and time management for the studio utilizing a CRM or business system. More days off and vacation. Been working my ass off since 2007 as a photographer, about time I take some vacations and go explore the world and photograph it.

With all that said I leave you with a SEE NEXT YEAR!

Looking for Light – Austin, Texas

When I lived in Austin, Texas while attending the University of Texas at Austin I would take walks and search for light. I loved exposing to the available light really capturing true contrast in real life. None of these photos are edited, they are JPEGs straight from my classic Canon 5D. I recently found these photos while backing up file online and I thought it would nice to share them! Enjoy!  IMG_3606IMG_3608IMG_3621IMG_3635IMG_3643IMG_3646

Nature Photography – Austin, Texas

Traditionally my photography leans toward portraiture and photographing people. I’ve noticed that the majority of photographers start off their photography careers photographing nature and I don’t blame them because photographing people is very intimidating, especially as a beginner.

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There was a time when I would photograph butterflies on my college campus in between classes but that was as far as my nature photography would go when I was first starting my photography career.

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I find it kind of hard to photograph nature and I have learned it’s because I don’t have any patience and because nature doesn’t respond to you. Recently I have had a want to shoot more nature but I just don’t feel like I have the time to do so. Hopefully that can change soon. In the mean time here are some of older “nature” photography I captured when I was living in Austin, Texas attending the University of Texas at Austin.

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Austin has beautiful sceneries in every corner so a lot of my “nature” photography was done when I would need to walk / commute somewhere. The majority was also taken on the UT campus because it’s such a beautiful mix of landscape, nature and architecture. _MG_9887

Hopefully I will be sharing more of my nature photography after this post. I feel excited to go out there and shoot, hopefully I find the patience and make the time. Thanks for reading!

Diana Atilano – Edinburg, Texas – Ben Briones Studios

This blog post is a major throwback to some of my first work! My good friend Diana is the subject in these photos and she did an amazing job even though I was a noob at the time. I think I shot these photos with my Canon Rebel XTi, which was my first DSLR. These photos date back to 2008 and it’s always exciting to look at my old work because it shows me two things; growth and passion. Tell me what you think of these in the comments. 08.23.08_High Res_Diana Atilano_BBP-6217_WEB08.23.08_High Res_Diana Atilano_BBP-6249_WEB08.23.08_High Res_Diana Atilano_BBP-6268_WEB08.23.08_High Res_Diana Atilano_BBP-6283_WEB08.23.08_High Res_Diana Atilano_BBP-6350_WEB08.23.08_High Res_Diana Atilano_BBP-6353_WEB08.23.08_High Res_Diana Atilano_BBP-6458_WEBIMG_6230_WEBIMG_6413 copy_WEBIMG_6528_WEB

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Eat, Live, and Breath Photography

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EAT

For those who have been a career photographer for three years or more can probably relate. When on a gig or assignment you literally eat on your drive to the next gig, while editing photos at a coffee shop or in your office and sometimes your clients feed you too. If you are like me, I charge all my meals to my business account because for the most part I am always eating while working and for that I am thankful. Through photography I have been able to feed myself, my family and loved ones because I have followed my passion through and through, as if it was my next meal.

LIVE

Photography has been my passion since 2007 and we have just entered into 2019 and I am still going strong. I am more than sure I have done something photography related on the daily since 2007. When I graduated high school I went straight to the University of Texas Pan-American where I quickly got involved with the college newspaper and magazine as a photographer. When I transferred to the University of Texas at Austin it was to be admitted into their photojournalism program. When I was absent at parties and school events it was because I was either working on my photography business or shooting something for the college yearbook. Today I work at South Texas College from 8am to 5pm as their PR & Marketing Photographer and when I leave at 5pm I go straight to my home office to work on my photography business from 5pm – 2am in the morning. I live photography daily because it is my passion. It’s all I know and it’s all I love to do.

BREATH

When you become a business owner, especially a photography business owner, sometimes it’s hard to catch your breath because you are constantly working and bettering yourself. It’s important to sit back and take a breath of fresh air….SIKE! It’s actually really hard. To those photographers who find time to travel and put down the camera and remove yourself from the editing computer, kudos to you, I envy you. To those who are workaholics like me and have a camera within arms reach, hell yeah, let’s get this cheddar. (Sara, “But you’re lactose in tolerant.) Fuck it, I will still get the cheddar. If you love photography, breath it daily. If you find yourself gasping for air because you’re not working, start working and work hard.

PSJA Elementary School Choir Festival – Pharr, Texas – Ben Briones Studios

Very proud of my Sara for the performance her kids put on at the annual Elementary Choir Holiday Festival for PSJA ISD. She’s such an amazing music teacher and great choir instructor! Here are some fun memories from this event.

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Sara Yanez – Waco, Texas – Ben Briones Studios

Last photo shoot of 2018 with my number one model, my Sara Pie! Sara and I have been vacationing in Waco, Texas for a few days but it has been cold and rainy but today the weather was nice so we took advantage and had a photo shoot with our Nikon D600 and 50mm 1.8 lens. We shot all natural light at this beautiful historic bridge in Waco, Texas. These are some of my favorite shots. Enjoy and happy new year!

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Self Portraits – Ben Briones – 2008

Every photographer at one point takes a self portrait. I think this must of been my first self portrait since I purchased my first semi-pro DSLR camera in 2008 with my college fin aid money. After checking the metadata I saw that I shot this with my Canon EOS 20D. That stripe shirt use to be one of my all time favorite shirts to wear around that time. Memories! I think I am due for another self portrait session soon with another stripped shirt. 11.02.08_Ben Briones Self Portrait_MG_594411.02.08_Ben Briones Self Portrait_MG_595911.02.08_Ben Briones Self Portrait_MG_596011.02.08_Ben Briones Self Portrait_MG_5966

Butterfly Photography – An Old Obsession

Between 2008 and 2010 I use to have this obsession with photographing butterflies. I would take my camera to school at UTPA and hang around the small butterfly park next to the chapel and just wait around for butterflies to land on plants and flowers. Once I transferred to UT-Austin I would continue my obsession capturing pictures of butterflies on my spare time or when I needed to have a chill moment. I remember walking around with my headphones full blast playing Sigur Rós and just getting lost in the moment looking for butterflies to photograph. Here are some shots I found in my old hard drive. Butterfly2Butterfly3Butterfly4