Wedding Workflow: Photographer Mike Colón Plays it Safe
When photographer Mike Colón shows up at a celebrity wedding, he doesn’t have to dodge security guards or stake out a spot in the bushes. As a notable celebrity wedding photographer, he is an important part of the event itself, capturing timeless nuptial images for his famous clients.
“If you’re trusted to photograph a $3 million wedding that’s already making entertainment news, everything has to be under control,” said Colón, an international wedding and lifestyle photographer based in Newport Beach, Calif. As one of the first wedding photographers to develop an all-digital workflow, Colón also travels the world teaching other photographers the latest techniques in digital photography. He is a strong believer in a new era of wedding photography in which photographers share their knowledge with each other.
Image ©Mike Colón
Saving the Day
Colón uses the handheld Epson P-5000 multimedia storage viewer onsite at weddings to download, backup, store and display thousands of images without a computer. “No matter what kind of wedding, you’ve got to have a way to back up images on the spot,” he said.
While photographing a wedding, Colón and his assistants have a well-choreographed system of using two photo viewers for multiple backup purposes. After a memory card is full, each photographer quickly downloads it to one of the photo viewers, and repeats the process with the other viewer. The team is able to download, view and store thousands of JPEG and RAW images on each viewer’s 80GB hard drive. The viewers' long rechargeable battery life keeps them working throughout the wedding and reception, and beyond the last dance.
“They say that time flies by at weddings, but so might your images—and your reputation—if you shortchange your backup system,” said Colón. With all wedding images in his safekeeping, each copied onto both of the P-5000 viewers, he later transfers the images via a high-speed USB 2.0 interface from the viewer to the computer at his studio or the laptop in his hotel room. Colón also uploads the images to an online system that archives them for viewing and printing. There are no stacks of memory cards to mix up. When the job is over, his assistants take their own reformatted cards home with them.
During the wedding, Colón can instantly scroll through and review the images to review how he and his assistants are doing and zoom in to check the focus and fine detail of RAW files. Epson’s Photo Fine Ultra technology has a four-color filter system that displays 16.7 million colors.
Colón also uses the storage viewer to back up and display photographs from the engagement or pre-wedding session. After photographing the couple in a romantic setting like the beach, he often takes his clients out to dinner to go through the pre-wedding images, which he downloads to the P-5000 on the way to the restaurant. With the viewer he can organize files, create albums and slide shows, and assign file ratings for easy access.
“Passing around a hand-held photo viewer at dinner is a great alternative to trying to make room for a laptop on the table,” said Colón. With a large, 4-inch LCD, they quickly scroll through the images in brilliant 4-color quality and detail. The future bride and groom can then make a trouble-free decision about the shot they want to display at the wedding. Because a pre-wedding shoot is usually a last-minute affair, the photo viewer saves precious time for the photographer and clients.
“My ultimate goal is to create images that not only tell a story, but also become a tangible reminder of the feelings and chemistry shared between a bride and groom,” Colón said. “The photo viewer is a great way to begin this process because my clients love to see happy and romantic images of themselves as a slideshow set to music.” If he later wants to share the images on a big screen, the storage viewer can connect directly to a television, computer monitor or projector.
Image ©Mike Colón
On the Spot
Colón travels everywhere with the Epson photo storage viewer, which he carries in his laptop case or camera bag. He often brings the photo viewer to meetings with clients, wedding planners, caterers, magazine editors, or whoever else is interested in seeing his work.
“The P-5000 is like an instant portfolio,” he said. “I always have it with me because you never know when you might run into a potential client.” On a recent flight, he sat next to a man who was getting married and looking for a good photographer. “I pulled out the P-5000 and showed him my slide show complete with dissolving images and music. An impromptu presentation right there on the spot,” he said.
Colón recently photographed a plethora of gowns featuring this season’s dramatic poufs and layers, veils and flowers during New York Bridal Fashion Week on a magazine assignment. The runways featured the latest from superstar designers like Oscar De La Renta, Carolina Herrera, Reem Acra, Monique Lhuillier, and Melissa Sweet.
“I was happy to see so many fashion runway photographers using the Epson photo viewer for backup and viewing,” he said. “Last year, they saw my assistant and me backing up to two viewers on the job, so I think the word spread. The Epson P-5000 makes it so easy to store and share images anywhere.”
Sharing knowledge is exactly what Colón is all about. “The new school of business is about networking, rather than keeping secrets to gain a competitive advantage,” he said. “If you share what you learn with your fellow photographers, they will in turn share their knowledge with you.”
Image ©Mike Colón