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.
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.
This is one of my very first “professional” photo shoots from way back in the day. The file metadata said it was created in 2008. These shots are recent edits but they are not far from the original JPEG files. I shot this with my first camera the Canon Rebel XTi. I think back then I aspired to be some type of fashion photographer. Yvonne was the cousin of my best friend Eddie who setup the photo shoot for us at Yvonne’s mom’s backyard. Wow, memories! If you wish to see the unedited JPEGs PLEASE let me know and I will add them to this blog for comparison. Look how are you have come young Ben Briones.
Last week Sara and I got the opportunity to spend thanksgiving week in Dallas, Texas cat/dog sitting for a friend. Naturally as a photographer, I had to document the trip, so I took my Nikon D600 with a 50mm lens and theses are my favorite shots that I captured.
Photo Credit: Sara Yanez, Imanol Miranda, Ben Briones
Spontaneous portraits of Mrs. Dimitra Trejo during a campus photo shoot scouting walk-through. Dimitra is the Public Relations Coordinator for South Texas College.
Public Relations Coordinator
South Texas College
Her eyes see beyond what is now but what could be.
Portrait of a Dreamer
Yesterday Sara Yanez strutted into our photo studio we have at Grindstone Coworking and demanded a portrait because she was wearing a new black dress she recently bought! She was lucky I had my camera ready to go because I had just finished documenting some events at Games of Texas in the morning. Okay maybe even if I didn’t have my camera ready I think I still would of prepared the gear. I mean just look at this portrait… isn’t she just gorgeous? When Sara and I first met I would always take portraits of her and I think its time I start that backup again!
There is something beautiful about photographing your significant other. There are so many photographers who actually never show their girlfriend or wife off and that’s a little strange to me. I try my best to show Sara off when the opportunity arises. It also helps that she is drop-dead gorgeous and has amazing style. Men I say you bring your girl to our studio and have Sara and I conduct a beauty portrait session for y’all.
Men if you are looking for a unique photo session for your girlfriend or wife with us please fill the contact form below.
When you think about life there will always be those milestones that you are extremely proud of and will forever be stored in your memory. For me that’s my time at The University of Texas at Austin. The four years I spent there were some of my happiest moment but of my toughest days. To be honest the range of emotions range from the the worst to the best.
A weekend ago I took a trip up to Austin, Texas to take some furniture to my youngest sister Veronica because she is now attending UT-Austin now. Her and I have visited together before she was an actual student but this time around we took a two-hour tour of the places I use to have class and the routes I use to take back when I was a student.
I spent the majority of the time at the Moody College of Communication building
This spring break I will spend a whole week in Austin!
DON’T DO IT!
If you’re a professional photographer who’s been thinking about leaving the industry, don’t! There are so many opportunities for growth and income. I understand it can get tough. Especially if you are the only one doing everything in your business. You loose your free time, your weekends and sometimes you family. But don’t give up! There are plenty of ways you can still be an active photographer but with much less stress.
- Second Shoot: reach out to the local photographer’s who are super active and always booked and offer your skill and time to assist them. Mostly likely you are already friends with these people and so it won’t be awkward or difficult to try to get hired as a second shooter. Second shooting is less stressful and at times allows you to be more creative than when you are the head photographer.
- Photo Editor: become a photo editor for local photographers. I would advice you to reach out to some photographers and let them know you are offering this service. If you are already a pro and people know your work, you wont have to prove anything to them. The most work would be learning how to edit in their style. Trust me, if you are an active professional photographer, you do not want to be sitting behind a computer editing photos for hours. Most professionals I know outsource their edits to online companies but I think hiring someone local will give them better peace of mind. Figure out a price point that you like and offer editing services to replace the income earned from one photo shoot each month.
- Photography Classes: since you are a seasoned pro, I think it would be valid to offer photography classes. I offer some to a few people and it’s a good little side hustle. Find a group of beginners and start a collective class or give individual courses in all things photography. Start with basics all the way up to complicated outdoor lighting. Put out an add on the paper, yes the newspaper! Or on craigslist or Facebook.
- Photo Booth Rentals: this side hustle idea has been one of my best ideas ever! I own a photo booth and rent it out frequently. It cost me a little over two grand to build, in which I built it in 2010, and since then it has returned my investment 10x. You can add this service to your existing packages to earn more from one sale or client or you can offer it as a separate business. It doesn’t really take much to operate one. You can setup and operate yourself or hire someone to do it for you. If you would like to find out how you can do this, message me!
- Rent Your Gear: Another risky but lucrative side hustle that will help you supplement some income. Many of you reading this will most likely never rent out your Canon 5d Mk3 or Nikon D810 and now the popular Sony AR III, but I would! Why you ask, because money bro! Money and culture! I have all the right legal documentation in place to protect my gear and sue your ass if you break it or steal it. And I also enjoy helping people who are barely starting and want to know if a certain lens or camera is worth buying, so they rent it first to test it out. I don’t have the best gear but I do have quality items and instead of them just sitting in my office Monday – Friday collecting dust, I rent them.
If you need help finding ways to make extra income as a photographer, hit me up by filling out this contact form below.
ADVICE FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS
In 2016 I had a major hard drive failure with a 1TB Seagate and a 4TB Lacie, which were both regular Hard Drives. I lost client wedding photos but months later was able to recover them!
After that incident I went from HHDs to SSDs because they are much more reliable, faster and portable. Today I’ve officially gone back to HDDs and let me tell you why.
In the photography industry there is always innovation. Things get smaller, faster, better built, more intelligent and easier to access. In 2017 I had issues with the amount of space I had to backup my files. 1TB was not enough for the pace my studio was growing plus the amount of video production gigs we are booking. So quickly my 1TB SSDs ran out of space and we had to turn to the cloud to backup storage space. Files where spread everywhere and that was not safe. I was using both Dropbox Pro and Amazon Drive, plus a combo of different SSD and regular HD drives.
The issue is not that HHD are not reliable it’s how safe you keep them. Safety means not moving them, good enclosures and having enough space that you won’t have to be saving files anywhere else.
In 2018 we are working with 4TB of local HHD space for the year on RAID 1. We are also using Adobe Lightroom to backup and archive files because dragging and dropping files or folders from a mounted memory card to a hard drive is faulty. I advice all photographers to setup their Lightroom, Photo Mechanic’s or even iPhoto app to backup your files when you mount your memory card.
I can’t dictate how you should backup your files but I would give you this advice. Always back them up right after your shoot or event and double that backup because those pictures are one in a lifetime memories that you might not be able to replace. Ready my personal story on that here: https://benbriones.com/2017/04/23/mistakes-of-a-photographer-ben-briones-studios/
Sara has been my lighting stand in ever since I starting doing more studio photography and I love the looks and photos we produce of her. This one was from a light sit in from a photo shoot we did with a local Christian Rapper Efrain Salinas.
Then there was this one taken in between a photo shoot. When our client Sara Montoya went to go change we took a few shots to readjust the lighting and this was the result.
This last one was from a Sunday when Sara came to the studio after church to help me and demanded to be photographed because she loved what she was wearing.
Honestly I just wanted to show these off because Sara looks gorgeous in the photos!
If you’re looking to get professional portraits please fill the contact form below.
Back in 2008 I was contracted by The Texas Observer to photograph Mr. Ken Meritt, who managed the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refugee in Alamo, Texas. Merritt was trying to save to protect the refugee from plans of a border-wall and as of recent the national park faces that same thread again.
I am sharing this blog for two reasons. One, to show that in 2008 I was just as passionate about photography and story telling as I am today in 2017. Secondly, to bring awareness to this issue through the power of photography. Here stands a man doing right and fighting for a cause and still ended up losing his job. This portrait of Mr. Ken Meritt will forever represent the fight he put up to protect something very important to our community.
Stay informed because these are issues happening right in our backyard. If you are a photograph try to capture it as much as you can. Story tell!
If you are a publication and looking for a freelance photographer in the Rio Grande Valley please contact me for rates.
This summer Sara and Lourdes have been a tremendous help at the photo studio. Lourdes is a seasoned photographer who has managed a studio before and has a lot of experience being a professional photographer. Sara, on the other hand, is not a seasoned photographer but truly believes in me and my business and has invested her time into learning how it works and basically managing the office and even shooting and filming at events. I couldn’t be more proud of the both and extremely thankful for everything they do for the business.
These two girls have more in common then they know. Both work for a school district outside of Ben Briones Studios. They both are into strange fashion. They both are artist in their own right. Sara is a musician and learning photographer and Lourdes a painter, graphic designer, drawer, and photographer. I am extremely fortunate to have them on the team and truthfully without them Ben Briones Studios wouldn’t be where it’s at. If you search their name in our blog you will find the work they do for the studio.
You can follow their artist page by clicking the photo below!
FOLLOW SARA YANEZ
FOLLOW LOURDES PAZ
Two days before I filmed this wedding I sat in the waiting room of a hospital with my family at the left of crying and praying for my dad to come out okay from his operation. It was Christmas morning 2014 and my dad had a heart attack and my mom had secretly rushed him to Doctor’s Hospital at Renaissance. In the mist of all the emotions I remained calm. I knew that whatever was going on was out of my control and I was okay with that. Thankfully my Dad came out of his stint operation successfully and lived to tell the story of his Christmas miracle.
Let that story show you that even in the chaos of life I took upon my responsibility and the promise I made to Keirsten and Bobby to document their wedding day. With the help of my best friend Imanol Miranda we took care of business. Thankfully Bobby, the groom, had gone through a similar situation and he shared empathy for my situation.
I almost didn’t do it. I was already looking for substitute photographers but my Dad, with the little strength he had, he told me to go and do it. My Mom too also assured me it would be okay.
Passion is what moves you forward. Passion is what keeps you strong. Passion is what builds reputation. Passion is what builds you up. Dad, you have always allowed me to do what I love and it’s because of you I can serve beautiful couples like Kirsten and Bobby.
If you’d like to know more about video production for your special event by Ben Briones Studios please fill out the contact form below.
As a business owner without any formal education you tend to learn things the hard way. In my career as a professional photographer I have made many mistakes. This blog post is to share my experiences and how I was able to overcome those mistakes.
There are four important things as a business owner you must stay on top of to succeed, your finances, your products and services, the care of customer and yourself. Those components are what spins the wheels to move your business forward. Unfortunately, if one is off balance it can bring you to a complete halt.
In the commercial photography industry the care for your customer ranks number one and the care taking of their data follows. As photographers we capture and archive precious one in a lifetime moments. We photograph valued objects and subjects. Then after all the photos have been taken we archive them and protect them because the y are images our clients value. You too should value them just as much as your client. You are the caretaker of that data.
This leads me to my first mistake.
LOSING DATA | HARD DRIVE CRASHES | MISPLACEMENT OF ASSETS
I waited nervously at a corner table of a busy Starbucks on a Wednesday night. I was missing church but I had to because what I was about to do was extremely important.
I kept looking out the window for my clients to arrive. Finally, I saw their call pull up and park. They walked in together looking a little worried but still greeted me with a smile. By this time my heart was pounding out of my chest. I first presented to them their large canvas prints that they loved. I wanted to bring them joy before I brought them sadness. Then the moment came.
“Mr. & Mrs. XZY I have very bad news.”, I said in a low tone. I turned my MacBook to them I had setup prior to them arriving and I showed them the very small collection of video and photos I had left from their wedding. A few months before the hard drive I had their images stored in crashed leaving no chances of a full recovery. A company named $300 Data Recovery sent me back all he could restore from the disk. Most images and videos were currpot and unusable.
Tears rolled down the newly wed couples eyes. Gloom and disbelief filled that little corner table of Starbucks. I felt dead to be honest. The god of electronic data storage should of taken me with that hard drive too. They asked if nothing else could he done. If we could send the drive to another company. Nearly 70% of their wedding night memories in photo and video were gone!
Then the bride asked the right that nailed my coffin shut… “Why didn’t you back our files up on another drive?” [insert internet troll insults here] She was right. How could I be so stupid?
I thought all hope was lost until my friend Mike Garcia texted me one day asking me if some files off his CF card were mine. I asked him to send me a photo of them and low-and-behold…they were the “lost” files. Mike had allowed me to borrow his camera and memory cards for that specific wedding and I guess since the event he hadn’t shot or formatted his card because many images and video clips that were missing or not recovered were still stored in that CF card. I quick rushed over to his home to get the files and triple back them up because I now had good news for my clients.
The first thing I did while driving to Mike’s was text the bride about the good news! Not all the files were able to be saved but thanks to Mike, we had at least 80% of her wedding files back! Act of God! But though we had found the majority of their wedding files I still took responsibility and refunded the bride and groom completely for the wedding video services. I owned up to my failure with my wallet.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY
Photographers: Always backup your files immediately after a shoot or event or even during the actual shoot. If you do manage to fall into this predicament always own up to it and do not be afraid to talk to your client. Never avoid them and be as transparent about any issues that will affect their data or files. Try your hardest to fix the issue or create solutions that will balance out the issue at hand. If any issue requires you to refund the client be ready to do so and talk to the client about a re-payment plan.
Clients / Future Clients: Technology is not trustworthy and is always changing. Be aware that there will always be some type of hardware failure when dealing with computers, cameras, and memory storage media. I assure you that it’s very rare and can be avoided by proper storage data archiving practices. Know that I will always do my best to resolve the issue and will pay top dollar to restore, revive or recover any lost or corrupt data or files that belong to you. I understand that as your photographer you are entrusting me with the most beautiful and special moments in your life and I am beyond honored to be a part of. I will do my best to communicate with you in all aspects of our business relationship and outside of our business relationship. I, most importantly, want you to know that you can trust me.
If you have gone through a similar situation as a photographer or a client and would like to talk in detail about the issue please fill the contact form below.