Karl Verkade Photography: Blog https://www.karlverkadephotography.com/blog en-us (C) Karl Verkade Photography (Karl Verkade Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:10:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:10:00 GMT https://www.karlverkadephotography.com/img/s/v-12/u466713823-o24143157-50.jpg Karl Verkade Photography: Blog https://www.karlverkadephotography.com/blog 120 90 True Emotion https://www.karlverkadephotography.com/blog/2017/7/true-emotion One of my favorite things as a wedding photographer is when a couple just enjoys being together. I didn't have to tell Clay and Amanda one thing about facial expressions...their emotion was real. So real that it even upstaged Dana Point, which is tough to do.

The Ocean Institute boasts full views of one of the most picturesque coves along the Southern California coast...and these guys were brave enough to venture down into the rocks, in heels, at high tide. Adventurous couples who really like each other, on a rocky ocean cove all day? My job doesn't get much better than that.

(Karl Verkade Photography) beach wedding best deals wedding photographer southern california best kept secret socal best photo locations southern california dana point dana point wedding photographer ocean institute dana point ocean institute wedding photos ocean wedding orange county wedding photographer real emotion real moments secret beaches secret coves southern california socal beaches wedding planning https://www.karlverkadephotography.com/blog/2017/7/true-emotion Tue, 18 Jul 2017 17:03:50 GMT
When Love is the Most Important Detail https://www.karlverkadephotography.com/blog/2017/4/when-love-is-the-most-important-detail From the second I walked into the bridal suite, and the second I walked into the groomsmen's room, I knew that Jessica and Shawn weren't there for the mason jars. They could not have cared less about the centerpieces, the aisle runners, or even the dress (all beautiful, by the way); they were only there for each other. You could see it in how they looked at each other, and as someone who photographs an incredible amount of weddings per year, this was just so refreshing and gorgeous to see. I ended up just staying hours past my leave time to make sure I captured every beautiful moment of these two.

(Karl Verkade Photography) Orange County wedding photographer San Clemente San Clemente wedding photographer Wedgewood San Clemente wedding affordable wedding photography Los Angeles artistic wedding photographer Newport Beach best wedding photographer Southern California gorgeous couples must have wedding photos wedding planning https://www.karlverkadephotography.com/blog/2017/4/when-love-is-the-most-important-detail Wed, 19 Apr 2017 17:57:46 GMT
The Couple That Made Even Beautiful Balboa Park Take a Backseat https://www.karlverkadephotography.com/blog/2017/4/the-couple-that-made-even-beautiful-balboa-park-take-a-backseat I absolutely love photographing weddings where the couple steals the spotlight. And with these two, even though they had their wedding in the most gorgeous location ever complete with blooming cherry trees, you got the feeling that they could've gotten married on the side of the road and they wouldn't have cared.

Plus, I swear in these photos, he just couldn't keep his eyes off of her all night. Congratulations to the beautiful Sean and Monique.

(Karl Verkade Photography) Balboa Park Balboa Park Wedding Photos Balboa Park wedding photographer Cherry Blossom wedding Cherry Blossoms Gaslamp District Gaslamp Inn wedding Japanese Friendship Garden San Diego wedding San Diego wedding photographer https://www.karlverkadephotography.com/blog/2017/4/the-couple-that-made-even-beautiful-balboa-park-take-a-backseat Thu, 06 Apr 2017 20:28:17 GMT
Review Spotlight: Gabe & Leighanna https://www.karlverkadephotography.com/blog/2015/9/review-spotlight-gabe-leighanna Couple - Gabe & Leighanna

Venue - Oviatt Penthouse, Los Angeles, CA

Karl's Note - The Coolest Couple in LA

Full Featured Gallery - Gabe & Leighanna

All Reviews (Click Here to Read or Review)

"OK... I'm going to try to keep this brief, but there are so many wonderful, splendid things to say about Karl it is going to make this tough! I found Karl originally via Craigslist because my husband and I were having a tiny wedding ceremony (us, our two witnesses, and our officiant)and wanted some photos, but it was difficult for us to afford a photographer (I support both of us on a teacher's salary lol). We also knew we were going to have our "big wedding" in June after the school year was over, so we were hoping to try someone out who would hopefully work out for our wedding in June as well. Karl was everything a bride and groom could ask for in a photographer.

He happily drove up to DTLA (where we live) to meet us, and we instantly loved him. He is laid back and relaxed, and yet is professional and makes you feel confident in choosing him as your photographer. He and his wife shot our small wedding that was on the bluffs over-looking Santa Monica beach, and then followed us down to the beach to take more pictures. They were so happy to do anything we wanted, and they also had a lot of great suggestions. When we were done we invited them to have dinner with us and then they informed us Karl's wife was pregnant and they had just found out that day due to the morning sickness she had! We were so happy for them and also asked them why the heck they still came lol! When we got our pictures from Karl we were blown away. He and his wife captured our marriage so perfectly, and we came away from the day with many, many beautiful pictures to print and send along to our family. We obviously immediately booked Karl for our "big wedding" in June, and of course our wedding was almost exactly 9 months later, but Karl was still happy to book it (although his wife was obviously going to have to sit it out :P).

Karl came to the wedding with a different second shooter, and also brought another photographer in case his wife went into labor, because at the point of our wedding she was 2 weeks overdue! I could not believe how dedicated Karl was to fulfilling his promises, and I told him that while I loved having him there, I hoped he had to leave in the middle of the wedding to go see his son's birth! Karl ended up being there the whole night, but he was so amazing at blending into the background and just shooting away. I barely noticed he was there until he came up to me at the end of the night when everything was over to say goodbye. Karl is just absolutely splendid and you will be overjoyed that you booked him! He sent us a sneak peek of our wedding night about a week after to help hold us over until everything was done and I was already tearing up at the moments he captured. Karl and his wife have since had their baby come along, so I'll obviously be waiting a little longer to get my photos (which is completely understandable!), but I cannot wait. Karl is wonderful, his wife was wonderful, and they were not just photographers for us, but an important and wonderful part of our special days. Karl is hands down the best choice for your wedding day!"

(Karl Verkade Photography) 1920's wedding Best of The Knot Los Angeles wedding photographer Oviatt Penthouse city wedding photos downtown LA downtown LA wedding downtown Los Angeles wedding downtown wedding rooftop wedding skyline wedding photos urban wedding https://www.karlverkadephotography.com/blog/2015/9/review-spotlight-gabe-leighanna Mon, 28 Sep 2015 19:09:09 GMT
Story Behind The Photo(s): A Blending of Families https://www.karlverkadephotography.com/blog/2015/8/story-behind-the-photo-s-a-blending-of-families

Sometimes the emotion in weddings can come from the places I least expect. I photographed this gorgeous wedding at El Adobe in San Juan Capistrano. It was one of five weddings that week (yes, I know, I need to raise my prices...but I'm just too nice), and I was expecting it to be a normal, beautiful wedding.

Both the bride and groom had children, and when families blend it can sometimes be especially beautiful, and sometimes tearful; although the last place I expected the tears to come from, was from the groom. He was a very nice man, very pleasant, and incredibly straight-forward and professional. His vows to the bride started very normally, and then about halfway through I started noticing that not only was the bride crying, but so was just about everyone in the place. Except for him. He seemed completely calm, and professional, when in an instant his eyes darted behind the bride to his daughter and the bride's daughters as they were all crying, and he lost it immediately. He turned away, and then turned back laughing out loud, pointing and saying it was all their fault. The break in the ceremony from heartfelt tears to the release of heartfelt laughter, stemming from the one man you did not expect to get emotional, was one of the most special and moving things I have ever witnessed at a wedding.

Sincere congratulations to Shawn and Melissa and your family, and thank you for letting me be a small part of the background at your perfect moment.


(Karl Verkade Photography) Capo Beach wedding El Adobe El Adobe San Juan Capistrano El Adobe weddings San Juan Capistrano wedding photographer capo beach real moments real weddings https://www.karlverkadephotography.com/blog/2015/8/story-behind-the-photo-s-a-blending-of-families Tue, 25 Aug 2015 23:02:38 GMT
Wedding Photography Free Giveaway for a Deserving Couple https://www.karlverkadephotography.com/blog/2015/5/wedding-photography-free-giveaway-for-a-deserving-couple

It doesn't really matter what you're doing in your life; there is always a way to give something back.

So for the rest of the month of May, I will be giving away one free, six-hour, "Romantic" wedding photography package. The couple who wins will be a very deserving couple. I don't know if that means a military couple who haven't seen each other in years, or a couple who constantly gives back to the community themselves, or just someone who could really use a win right now. Completely free, no strings attached, and I can't wait to give this away! However, there are a couple catches. Here are the catches (rules):

1. You can't nominate yourself. ;) This is for friends and family of the deserving couple to nominate them.

2. Of course I have to be still available and unbooked on the wedding date. The wedding date can be any time within the next two years, all weekends included; however, the submission date for the nominations is May 31st, 2015. Of qualified nominations, the winner will be chosen at random. By my wife, so there's no bias. :)

3. The couple has to like my work. Don't gift someone photography they hate. ;)

4. To nominate a couple, simply email me at the link below, stating why you feel this couple deserves free wedding photography. Every couple nominated on a day that I am still available will receive 25% off the package of their choice if they are not the couple chosen for the free "Romantic" package.

5. This is for the Southern California area. 

[email protected]

Thanks so very much!


(Karl Verkade Photography) Best of The Knot 2015 Orange County wedding photographer affordable wedding photography Los Angeles artistic wedding photographer Newport Beach best wedding photos cheap wedding photos free wedding photography inexpensive wedding photography Orange County https://www.karlverkadephotography.com/blog/2015/5/wedding-photography-free-giveaway-for-a-deserving-couple Thu, 14 May 2015 19:25:01 GMT
Story Behind the Photo: A Moment https://www.karlverkadephotography.com/blog/2015/4/story-behind-the-photo-a-moment

As photographers, we all say that we're there to 'capture the moment.' In fact, a quick wedding photographer search will turn up about 90% of us listing that phrase somewhere on our website. I don't know who started it, but we probably all owe you a percentage of our profits. (That's a joke, not a legal statement.) The hard part though, is not capturing the moments, but making sure those moments happen even though the couple has a camera in their face.

It's human nature to act differently when a camera is on. Not to get too technical, but there is even a documented phenomenon known as the Observer's Paradox, which says that the mere knowledge of being observed or recorded changes your behavior. I know this to be true because I cringe every time my wife plays a phone video of me playing with our newborn, because I'm just so awkward when I know the camera's there! (Or maybe I'm just awkward all the time. I choose to believe it's the camera.) So as a photographer, how do you get the moments to happen as if you weren't there, but still capture them?

Well, very simply, go eat dinner in another room. That's exactly what happened in this shot. I was eating dinner with my crew while the bride and groom and their guests ate dinner as well. And as we sat down, I saw this open window that perfectly framed the Sweetheart's table. And I thought to myself, man it'd be cool if they weren't chewing on food right now. And sure enough, the glasses start clinking (that means a kiss), and I jump up and grab my camera, and snap this pure moment...a moment when everyone thought the photographer had left. That's why this is one of my favorite photos, because it's possibly the purest moment I've ever captured. Not to mention, every once in a while you get a bride and groom who seem they were made specifically with each other in mind. This was one of those couples.


(Karl Verkade Photography) Best of The Knot 2015 affordable wedding photography Los Angeles best wedding photographer Southern California classic wedding photography Huntington Beach https://www.karlverkadephotography.com/blog/2015/4/story-behind-the-photo-a-moment Thu, 16 Apr 2015 23:45:39 GMT
Story Behind the Photo: The Toss https://www.karlverkadephotography.com/blog/2015/3/story-behind-the-photo-the-toss

This is my latest favorite photo. Not necessarily because it's perfect, but because of the story behind it.

The bride and groom had just cut the cake on the other end of the reception hall. I, of course, was right there in the thick of it, with a wide lens, because as you know if you don't get close to the bride and groom as they cut the cake, you'll literally get boxed out by the guests. People like cake. So they cut the cake, and as I step in to get a shot of the cake with a slice taken out of it, I hear Beyonce's voice: "All the single ladies! All the single ladies. All the single ladies!" I go to rush back to the dance floor, and realize that between me and all the single ladies is a sea of about 100 non-single lady guests who have yet to turn towards the dance floor. They're still facing the cake. People like cake.

I make my way like a parent with a stroller through Disneyland, but realize to my horror as I'm only about halfway through that the DJ has already begun to countdown the toss from ten. I double my efforts, now like a parent with a super rad double-kid stroller through Disneyland. At this point I realize that there will be no time to do anything with my camera once I arrive at the dance floor. So as I'm wading my way through people, I take a quick look at the distance from the already-ready bride and all the single ladies behind her. About 15 feet. I want to pull focus to the bride just a bit, and I'll be by the looks of it about 2 meters away from the bride. So 5.6 on the aperture for about a 12 foot depth of field. Everyone's moving fast so I don't dare go below 1/125 on the shutter speed. I'll do 1/160 just in case. That means flash needs to go up to 1/2, pointed almost directly above me and a little behind. No time to let the camera focus or to manually focus through the viewfinder, so I'll blind focus as I run to about 2 meters. Nope, videographers have already taken the good spots. 1.5 meters. Bump the aperture to 6.3 to compensate. 

I get there right at "2! 1!", duck beneath a videographer, around a speaker pole, make sure my flash can bounce off the ceiling, and snap. 

I'm pretty proud of this photo.

Cameras and focus systems and fast lenses these days can do an incredible amount of work that you no longer have to do...provided you're in control of your environment. And remember that in the wedding business, you are quite often not in control of your environment. At all. Never underestimate the importance of learning old-school photography techniques like distance focusing and depth of field calculations/estimations. A wedding is so much more than the half hour of portraits.


(Karl Verkade Photography) https://www.karlverkadephotography.com/blog/2015/3/story-behind-the-photo-the-toss Fri, 27 Mar 2015 17:48:03 GMT
What's in My Bag https://www.karlverkadephotography.com/blog/2015/3/whats-in-my-bag I get asked a lot what's in my bag, or what equipment I shoot with...or by very intuitive brides...do you have any backup equipment. ;)

I've shied away from this topic for a while now, at least on the old blog, because I believe that gear doesn't make the photographer; the photographer makes the photographer. An iPhone in the hands of a creative mind can sometimes be a better thing than someone who went out and bought a 25K medium format Leica. But at the same time, even though I like to think of myself as a somewhat creative mind, my iPhone might not quite capture that first dance photo in the way a bride and groom might prefer.

So below is a list of my current equipment, as of March 2015 (things are always changing), and a quick summary of why I made that choice. If you're not a photographer, you may want to skip my gear-geek-out descriptions and just jump from bold point to bold point. :)

Main Equipment:

Canon 5D Mark III camera body

(Backup: Canon 7D)
(Backup to my backup: Canon 450D)

This is Canon's flagship wedding/event/low-light camera. It's really everything you would expect in a camera of this quality. I used the 5D Mark II for a while before upgrading, as just because Canon comes out of with a new camera, doesn't suddenly make your current camera incapable of taking good photos. But what finally sold me on upgrading was the huge jump in the focusing system from the Mark II to the Mark III. The Mark II only has one cross-type focus point, as compared to 41 on the Mark III. Ya. With the Mark II, there is a lot of center focus, re-composing, and often times quick distance estimations and split second depth of field calculations. The Mark III relaxes you a bit. haha! However, that being said, I'm extremely grateful for the years of practice with on the fly depth of field calculations, as there is still rarely a wedding that goes by where I do not need that skill at some point, particularly in low-lighting.

One question I get asked a lot: why did you choose Canon over Nikon? Is the image quality better? Faster focusing? Better longevity? Honestly...I think both Canon and Nikon are fine camera companies. I chose Canon because I live like, two miles from their repair facility. Yep. That's the only reason. Super boring, practical, business owner type decision.

(Low-light focusing with the 5DMkIII. Click for full previews.)

Canon EF 50 1.2 L lens

I really can't say enough good about this lens. It's kind of pricey, so I understand why some are reluctant to make the leap, and opt for less expensive choices like the 1.4 non-L version, and the Sigma ART offering. And if everything you're doing is outdoors in bright light, you might only ever see just a subtle difference in the quality of this lens over the others. But if you shoot lots of weddings and low-light situations, this lens really becomes worth its price. It's not just fast to focus in low-light, but sharp, even at 1.2. I found the 1.4 version to really be a 2.2 in practical application in low lighting. Anything below that, and even when in focus, the sharpness was not passable enough to hand over to a client. With the 1.2, as long as you know your depth of field/distance ratios, you can shoot all night at 1.2 and be in the same ballpark as the sharpness you'd get at 5.6. I'm sort of in love with this lens...it's the first in my trifecta of 72mm lens opening diameter lenses. I'm sort of in love with those, too.

The 50 1.2 at 1.2 (Click for full preview)  
(The 50 1.2 at 1.2. Click for full preview.)

Canon EF 135 2.0 L lens

Alright guys, this is the second best kept secret in Canon's history. (The first best is a little further below...yep, I know all the secrets. ;) ) This is an L lens, and for some reason, not priced like an L lens. And it is possibly their fastest focusing one, at a great portrait focal length, as well as a length long enough to be a prime substitute for a zoom, and of course, that lovely 72mm lens opening diameter that for some reason seems to produce the most contrast and deepest colors. The only possible drawback to this lens is that in tight spaces, 135 can sometimes be a little long. But that can also force you to see details and perspectives you might not otherwise have noticed. I always encourage everyone to pick one of these up before Canon discontinues them and then opens up their own eBay account to sell them at $4K. ;)

(The 135 2.0 at 2.0. Click for full preview.)

Canon EF 80-200 2.8 L lens

Yep, you read that right. 80-200. The third in in my 72mm diameter trifecta. This lens is no longer made, and from the 1980's. Possibly the best-kept secret ever. It's nicknamed the magic drainpipe, or the prime-pipe. I acquired one after just not being happy with my 70-200 copy, and the first time I used it was at a rehearsal dinner. And I think I snapped a photo and then just stared at my preview screen for about 60 seconds. I could have promised you I was looking at a photo from a prime lens. I love this thing. No lens that I have matches this one in color depth. And surprisingly...it's a very fast focuser. The only drawbacks are that you have to flip a switch to go to manual focus, and that if it breaks and you take it in to Canon, the folks at the counter will look at you like you built your own lens and wrote 'Canon' on it. Yep, Canon will no longer fix these, so make sure that when you get one (notice I said 'when', not 'if'), take good care of it. Your wife or husband might not let you cuddle with it in the bed at night like you would a new toy when you were a kid, but at least you can keep it on the nightstand.

(80-200 in a moment needing instant capture. Click for full preview.)

Canon EF 24-70 2.8 L lens

My go-to walk around lens. Primes are wonderfully sharp...but brides and grooms care more about that spontaneous moment when her father puller her husband in for a hug, than that perfectly tack-sharp photo of the centerpieces for the third time. And a 24-70 is the perfect focal length to make sure everything is captured. Even when I have another lens on my camera, the 24-70 is almost always in my shoulder bag and on me at all times. This particular lens isn't the fastest focuser when the lights dim, so you do need to be sure you know your math well enough to manual focus at times.

(24-70 when you need those wider angles to get the moments as they happen. Click for full preview.)

Canon EF 85 1.8 lens

My one non-L lens. Why? Because the focus is like lightning on this thing. Sometimes this little guy is my secret weapon when focusing in the dark...it's sometimes scary how this guy can focus when I can't even see period because the DJ just killed every light in the place. (Which, I agree, does make for a great dance party at the end of the night.) The alternative is Canon's 85 1.2 L, which takes amazing portraits...but is confusingly slow to focus. The thing is, for me, this 85 1.8 might just as well have an L designation on it. Its photos are that good, and it's definitely one of my go-to's.

(The 85 1.8 for portraits, reception moments, and ceremony moments. Click for full previews.)

(Backup: Canon EF 50 1.8 lens) 


Lights are definitely something I encourage every photographer to have in their arsenal, even those of you, like me, who are more concerned with photojournalism and making sure the moments are captured. When used well, the photos they produce makes people go, 'Wow! That photographer always gets lucky with super dramatic lighting." Nope...I'm just the guy hiding flashes in trees.

(Various off-camera lighting setups for portraits and receptions. Click for full previews.)

Canon 580EX II flash (3)

A wonderful flash for the price. I have three for full surround lighting setups. The best thing about these flashes is the high-speed sync so that you can use them in full sunlight to offset the harsh shadows.

Yongnuo 568EX II flash

I have this to compliment my Canon flashes. I go back and forth with the Yong's...I've burned out three of them, but yet...the price is still so good!

Genaray 6200t LED light

I can't stress the importance of having at least one source of constant lighting in your arsenal. This is a videographer's light, and you can mount it on your camera or a stand. Great for adding drama, or actually giving your camera or eye something to focus on in those crazy difficult situations where the only lighting is the reflections of the moving DJ spots off of the groom's boutonnière pin. ;)

Yongnuo 622C Flash Triggers

Radio-controlled triggers for off-camera flash setups. These little things are surprisingly consistent...moreso than some flashes with built-in signals I've owned in the past.

Matthews Lighting Stands

Little Burbank company that makes great stands that are light enough to carry, but won't blow over with the wind of someone walking by. That is all.

Generic Shoot-through & Reflective Umbrellas

I love the look of umbrellas when used correctly, and they transport super easily.

Manfrotto Tripod

Best tripod and old vintage intensely heavy tripod head ever. I don't use tripods during the ceremonies or receptions, but for those Pinterest-style overlayed long exposure sparkler shots, they're of course essential.

Enough cards, batteries, and flash batteries to last me basically a three-day non-stop shoot.

You can never have enough backups.


And speaking of backups, this is some of the most important gear you can have. You never know when something unexpected may happen, and the wedding is not going to stop for you. I encourage brides never to hire photographers without backups. My backups include a 7D backup body, and of course 3 Canon and Yongnuo flashes. I also have my "Dear Sweet Mercy" bag that never leaves my car, which includes a Canon 450D body and a Canon 50 1.8 lens. I've never had to use those...but they are there. Backups to my backups mean never being in danger of missing a wedding.

That was probably way too detailed...but there you have it. My bag.



(Karl Verkade Photography) Best of The Knot 2015 Canon 135 F2 L Canon 80-200 Newport Beach wedding photography Orange County wedding photographer affordable wedding photography Los Angeles artistic wedding photographer Newport Beach best wedding photographer Southern California classic wedding photography Huntington Beach photographers with backup equipment https://www.karlverkadephotography.com/blog/2015/3/whats-in-my-bag Sun, 08 Mar 2015 19:17:06 GMT