Jac & Zed - Hawksbill Crag Engagement Photography

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Jac & Zed - Hawksbill Crag Engagement Photography

Hawksbill Crag Engagement Photography

I've been dreaming about this session for months. Hawksbill Crag, or Whitaker Point, is one of the most beautiful places in Arkansas. It's nestled deep in the Ozarks, six miles up a dirt road, and a nice little hike from the trailhead. It's not the easiest place to get to, but after seeing work by photographers like Colby Moore and Jeff Rose, I was dying to get out there.

Needless to say, I've been trying to convince clients to let me bring them on this hike for quite a while. My opportunity finally came with Jac & Zed. They're old band friends who love hiking, are down for anything, and are perfect models!

We had the spot almost completely to ourselves by the time the sun started to set.

 

Hawksbill Craig Arkansas

Hawksbill Craig
Arkansas

Backlit sunset couples in the Ozark Mountains make me happy.

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Jac & Zed will be married this November 25th, and if this session is any indication, it's going to be beautiful!

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Kristin & Taylor - Bella Vista Engagement

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Kristin & Taylor - Bella Vista Engagement

Kristin and Taylor are great friends of mine. We both attended Arkansas Tech University at the same time and were part of the Arkansas Tech Band of Distinction. The marching band really became a close-knit family for me during school I remain close friends with many members even now. 

Kristin plays saxophone, and Taylor is a percussionist! If you have to know, I played tuba.

Bella Vista Adventure Photographer
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Kristin & Taylor will be married November 19th. I had a lot of fun with this session and can't wait for the wedding!

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Pillar Of Fire - Adventures in Commercial Photography

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Pillar Of Fire - Adventures in Commercial Photography

Pillar Of Fire Creations is a Bella Vista, Arkansas company that produces these beautiful concrete fire pits. They're powered via propane and burn clean, without smoke. They're also hand casted by the Walters family, which I thought was especially cool. 

We took one of these fire pits down to the local creek to take some sunset product shots. The key was in balancing the light from the flame with the ambient light at dusk. I'm in love with the result.

Pillar Of Flame Fire Pit
Pillar Of Flame Bella Vista
Bella Vista Commercial Photography
Pillar of Fire Creations Bella Vista
Sugar Creek Bella Vista

The Pillar Of Fire shop is here: https://pillaroffirecreations.com

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Traci & Nick - Tanyard Creek Engagement

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Traci & Nick - Tanyard Creek Engagement

Tanyard Creek Arkansas

I'm not sure exactly how Traci & Nick found me, since they live and will be married near Springfield, Missouri, but I'm glad they did! They checked all the boxes I look for in a bride and groom: Fun-loving, not afraid to get the dress dirty, and adventurous. As a bonus, they brought their daughter, Bella!

Bella was a little camera shy. Okay, maybe a lot camera shy. She liked to burst into tears whenever I aimed a camera at her.

We quickly solved the crying issue. I took a quick picture of her and her mom with my trusty Polaroid. She was very entertained watching the photo develop!

Tanyard Creek Trails

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Jess & Andrew - Country Engagement at The Hitchin' Barn

Ratcliff Arkansas Wedding Photographer

Jess & Andrew are a beautifully in love couple. They're young, happy, and pure. Andrew's hands tell me he's no stranger to hard work, and neither is Jess. When they asked me to shoot their wedding later this year, I jumped at the chance! As part of their package, I included an engagement shoot. They chose The Hitchin' Barn in Ratcliff, Arkansas as their location for both the engagement and wedding! It's a pretty new venue, but they've got some pretty creative options going on! The barn itself is beautiful, with nice views of the Ouachita Mountains out back. What really stood out to me was the converted chicken house that now serves as a reception venue. Very creative.

I'd never consider myself a Ratcliff, Arkansas wedding photographer, but with this new venue, things might change.

Isn't Ratcliff a hilarious name for a town? Rat-cliff. Boy, I hope nobody from there actually reads these blogs.

Anyway, on to the images:

Hitchin' Barn Wedding Photographer

Jess & Andrew will be married October 14th of this year. I can't wait!

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Juli - Lularoe Photoshoot

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Juli - Lularoe Photoshoot

Fashion Shoot Fayetteville Arkansas

While I don't usually shoot fashion, I jumped at the opportunity to work with Juli Fitchue as she builds her Lularoe franchise. I had lots of creative opportunities on this one, and Juli was a wonderful model to work with! I think that freedom really comes through in the photos.

This isn't your typical, high-fashioned photoshoot, but a more natural take on the genre. I use lots of shallow depth of field, and moody, desaturated colors. I suppose you could call this lifestyle photography.

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Fayetteville Fashion Photography
Dickson Street Train Depot
Dickson Street Bookstore
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Fayetteville Arkansas Lifestyle Photography

The full set is avalible at https://thenikonkidd.pixieset.com/juli-lularoe/

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 Caitlin Smith - Graphic Designer

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Caitlin Smith - Graphic Designer

caitlinsmith

I always sort of looked up to Caitlin while we were in school together for her awesome graphic design at Caitlin Smith Designs, LLC. That's probably why I was so stoked when she asked me to shoot some photos for her website! It's really great how the creatives I know from Arkansas Tech have been spread to the wind, yet still come together to help each other out.

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caitlinsmithgraphicdesigner
caitlinsmithblackandwhite
caitlinsmithdesignsllc
EvergreenDreamPumpkinAle
SmirkingWhoreAmericanImperialStout

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Steven & Shelby at Tanyard Creek

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Steven & Shelby at Tanyard Creek

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You wouldn't believe how happy I was when longtime friends of mine, Steven & Shelby, asked me to take some beautiful couple's photos together in Tanyard Creek Park, Bella Vista. The park has a great variety of attractions for a young photographer; walking trails, golden fields, a waterfall, and even a cave! 

Needless to say, we had a lot of fun!

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Bella Vista Engagement Photography
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Tanyard Creek
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In addition to these beautiful couple's photos, we came across a guy enjoying his day to the fullest. I couldn't help but snap a photo!

 

Tanyard Creek Hippie

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 Amanda and Michael - Eureka Springs, Arkansas Elopement

Amanda and Michael - Eureka Springs, Arkansas Elopement

Eureka Springs Elopement - Basin Park

Eureka Springs, Arkansas is one of my dream cities to photograph in. The town, nested deep in the Ozark Mountains, was founded in the late 1800's as work of it's miraculous, healing waters spread. It quickly became renowned for its beautiful architecture, parks, and winding mountain roads. The entire city is built along steep mountainsides full of beautiful views. 

I've always wanted to be a Eureka Springs wedding photographers, so let me say that I'm incredibly excited to show off this beautiful elopement wedding that I shot a couple months ago. This was one of my very first weddings since I went full time with the camera, and I couldn't have imagined a more beautiful day. Amanda and Michael had an intimate elopement at the Eureka Springs Treehouses and then we had fun riding around in the van between locations and shooting photos!
 

Even though I've learned a lot since then, I'm still more than happy with these images.

Eureka Springs Elopement - Spring Street
Eureka Springs Wedding Photographer
Eureka Springs Treehouses Caves Castles and Hobbits Wedding
Eureka Springs Wedding Photography - Basin Park
Eureka Springs Treehouses, Hobbit Caves & Castles Wedding Photographer
Eureka Springs Rainbow Stairs

To sum the day up, Mike left me the following review:

“Snazzy dresser with a neat camera. Took time from his travels to take some sweet wedding photos of me and my hunny. Cool guy and a great photographer. I’d definitely recommend him!”

Lake Avalon Spillway After A Thunderstorm

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Lake Avalon Spillway After A Thunderstorm

Lake Avalon Spillway

After the heavy rains yesterday I decided to go take a photo of another waterfall. This time I drove over to the Lake Avalon Spillway. It was really flowing! The scene was very chaotic, with water flowing in every direction, but I did my best to arrange it in a manner pleasing to the eye.
 

Lake Avalon Spillway 2

As always, prints are available at www.thenikonkidd.com/prints

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Lake Ann Falls - Bella Vista, Arkansas

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Lake Ann Falls - Bella Vista, Arkansas

Bella Vista, Arkansas is a town with lots of lovely waterfalls that are an absolute joy to photograph after a good rainstorm. I had to scramble down an embankment, camera gear in tow, but the end result was so worth that extra effort. This photo was taken late afternoon with overcast skies and a one second exposure. 

Lake Ann Waterfall

As always, prints of this image and more are avalible at www.thenikonkidd.com/prints

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Tanyard Creek Falls - Bella Vista, Arkansas

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Tanyard Creek Falls - Bella Vista, Arkansas

Tanyard Creek Waterfall

Last night in Bella Vista we had a bit of a freak thunderstorm with heavy, heavy rain. Thunder was clapping directly overhead and we had a flash flood watch. I saw that the light looked just right, so I loaded up the van and drove over to Tanyard Creek Nature Trail to take waterfall photos.
 

I spent about 30 minutes down there in the pouring rain, practicing my long exposures and giving my new "weather sealed" camera a run for it's money. Actually, it's more like a run for my money.
 

Either way, the camera survived and I got some cool flash flood waterfall pictures out of the ordeal. Enjoy!

Tanyard Creek Falls
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As always, prints are available at www.thenikonkidd.com/prints

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John & Misha - Fayetteville, Arkansas Wedding

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John & Misha - Fayetteville, Arkansas Wedding

Garden Room Wedding

On September 3rd, 2016, these two beautiful souls were married at The Garden Room on Dixon Street in downtown Fayetteville. This was one of my first weddings and still one of my favorites.

I shot this wedding alongside Bryan Striegler as his second shooter. I really can't thank him enough for the opportunity. 

The Chancellor Hotel Wedding
The Garden Room
The Garden Room Wedding
The Garden Room
Wedding Cake
Wedding Cake Ninja Turtle Topper
Misha's Bridesmaids
John And Misha Wedding
DJ Greg Hodges at The Garden Room
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Sparkler Exit

All in all this wedding was a great learning experience, and a great way to build up my portfolio. Josh & Misha love their photos and couldn't be happier!

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Is A Full Frame Upgrade Worth The Extra Money

After playing around with the D610 for a few days, here are my thoughts on upgrading to a full frame:

The Nikon D610, a full frame camera

The Nikon D610, a full frame camera

You hear photographers talk about the benefits of a full frame constantly: better low light performance, better lenses, better autofocus, and higher image quality. While I've found these things to be true, I haven't seen as big of an improvement as I thought I would see.

The new controls on my D610 are less intuitive. I typically shoot in manual mode and I expect easy to access controls for shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. With the Nikon D3300, an entry level camera, I had all of this. You could make every adjustment while looking through the viewfinder.

The D610 requires me to take the camera away from my face and hit an ISO button to adjust sensitivity. It's a mild inconvenience, but important when you're in fast-paced situations. Maybe there's an easier way to do things? Let me know.

There's also a really convenient LCD screen on top, but it lacks the one thing it should have, an exposure meter. There's no setting to have the info screen come on after partially pressing the shutter either. That's how I metered with my D3300. Now I have to press a button on the body or look through the viewfinder to do it. I even feel like the auto white balance is worse on this camera than on the D3300. It's no big deal and I can fix the images after the shoot, but why should I? The screen is more contrasty, which took some getting used to.

I know the controls feel a little clunky now, but I'm sure I'll learn them soon. The real reason you buy a full-frame camera is for the image quality and depth of field. It is true that I can take better pictures now, yet the differences are hardly noticeable and you'd never see them looking at a facebook compressed image. Can you tell a difference between my newer pictures and the older ones?

On the plus side, the autofocus is faster and the viewfinder is bigger and clearer. It's wonderful to handle and shoot with. I won't be going back to my D3300 except as a backup. It's the photographer that makes the image, not the camera.

As you can see, high quality images can come out of either camera:

Shot with the D610

Shot with the D610

Shot with the D3300

Shot with the D3300

It would be hard to tell which camera took which shot, in that situation. For daytime landscape photography, there's almost no difference. That isn't to say I wasted my money. During heat of the moment shooting, the D610 performs better and has far greater flexibility in post. Full frame also has a certain "look" to it that crop sensors can't match.

In conclusion, if you're new to photography and lack funds, don't assume a bigger camera will make you a better photographer. Finding the right light, the right subjects, and learning a photo editor will do that. Spend your money on lenses and lighting first.

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Summer Storms

Rolling through the hills in Kentucky. These storms have been peaceful and constant. It's nice listening to the rain tap on the windows at night and hear the distant thunder on the hills. We've learned to love them (and plug all the leaks in our van).

Kentucky Foothills

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Cripple Creek

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Cripple Creek

Cripple Creek. Lots of songs have been written about this old creek, deep in the Appalachian Mountains. Supposedly those muddy waters have healing powers, not that we would know.

Kelsey and I drove alongside it, going towards the headwaters, for about 20 miles. Not once did we see anything even close to public access. I took this picture on some poor farmer's land. It's more impressive in legend.

Cripple Creek, Virginia

Cripple Creek, Virginia

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