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
Understanding exposure is important when learning photography. A few weekends ago Sara and I went to the McAllen Convention Center so that she could practice photography. So that the lessons could be as accurate as possible we had the same camera setup; Canon 60D with the Canon EF28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens. We also used a Sekonic L-308s Lightmeter to try to get realistic exposures.
The lesson was to understand how Shutter Speed, f-Stop and ISO work together to take a picture. We went through how each one works and what it’s used for and then we began practicing in different areas around the Convention Center. On the photos below you can see the settings and a small description of what we were trying to achieve.
I have been giving photography lessons for over 4-years now but don’t really advertise it. I like to think that some of photographer’s I have hired and worked with learned from me but who knows haha. Currently I have 3 students this year who I meet with to give lessons to. Each student is a different level in their photography so I always try to provide unique lessons for what they seek to learn or improve on.
If you are interested in photography lessons please fill out the contact form below.
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/
A little throwback from this fun parade and small performance by the one and only Sara Yanez. Sara and her dance studio had a float and she sang as they passed by crowds of people lined up on highway 107 in Edinburg, Texas. If you didn’t have a chance to catch the Edinburg Night of Lights Parade this year make sure to catch it next year!
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
Local Graphic Designer, Social Media Strategist, Photographer and creative Calligrapher, Maripili Menchaca was my go to person for this special project. When my client asked if I could provide photos from our Quinceañera session to create ninety plus unique party favors on 3-inch round wood pieces for their actual event to give away to their guests, I turned to Maripili. I had seen her work previously in her Instagram account and her Etsy shop “Charmingly Created“, and her style of work was perfect for this project.
The photography part for this project was easy for me to complete, but adding the message to the pieces was where I knew I needed help. Maripili was kind enough to make several samples for my client to see and choose from. The finished project turned out to be great and my client loved it! I highly recommend Maripili for any creative services. You can find her work at the links below:
If you are looking for a unique fusion of photography and specialized handcrafted party favors for your special event and would like a quote for our photography services please fill the contact form below.
I always see a lot of people post about their “grind” or their “hustle” but their behavior doesn’t reflect that…they are just bullshitting. For those who know me, know my work ethic, and for those who don’t–maybe in their eyes I’m just a bullshitter too. I know how hard I work and my day-to-day reflects it. There are very few people I know who truly work as hard as me or even harder and I respect them for it.
When it’s true “grind” and “hustle” your portraying it disrupts your whole being, it disrupts your family, it disrupts your love life, it disrupts your friendships, and definitely disrupts your peace. You’re always “on” constantly thinking, planning, executing and producing. Problem solving becomes your superpower. Execution of ideas go from goals to reality. Every opportunity you get you try to build business.