BlackRapid Motorcycle Tour of Utah (part 1)

We recently had the BlackRapid Motorcycle Tour of Utah, and it started here at my home studio. Photographers from around the country came for a week of touring the backroads of Utah via motorcycles.

I do a lot of commercial work for BlackRapid, and have long loved the brand, and the camera straps the company makes. If you’re a photographer, make sure you check them out. They’re by far the most comfortable and versatile strap I’ve used.

Ron Henry, the founder of the company put on the event and I’m happy he did. I had gotten used to the Covid life and could feel the change and a feeling of relaxation when I saw all these cool bikes lined up in my driveway.

We headed out and met in Salt Lake to gather the rest of the group and begin our ride south through the 90-100º heat towards Moab in southern Utah.

Though some photographers cancelled due to Covid and some couldn’t make it across boarders, the photographers that came were a great group of guys. The size was perfect, and we took this group shot before heading out. The photographers are from left to right:

On the long ride to Moab through the heat, I took a few photos with my iPhone during some of the long stretches of highway.

Though we posted iPhone images along the way to social media, my favorite way to create images is with an actual camera. But for things like this, I don’t like taking my high-end professional gear. Though I’d get the best possible photographic images if I did, instead I take a small and compact camera with manual controls. It takes up less space, I’m not worried about it getting broken or lost, and I know the images I’m creating with it are going to work out and give me the highest resolution and bit-depth possible for it’s small size.

If I want to make prints large or small, or even crop, edit, or zoom into an image, I’ve got the quality to do so.

Once in Moab Utah, we got our hotels secured, unpacked our bikes and then headed out to ride through Arches National Park for the latter part of the day.

The sun low in the sky, made for some dramatic light and shadows on these gorgeous red rock formations. We’d ride a ways, stop, chat, and take photos, …then ride some more, just soaking everything in.

A motorcycle is a great way to be in this environment. In a car you can’t look up or around, nor can you feel the air change you pass different vegetation or go from sun to shade. On a motorcycle you’re in it all and you feel it.

As Robert Pirsig says in his great book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:

“In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.

On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.”

At one point we stopped to watch the sun go down behind a formation, but the setting sun created some beautiful light on us and the formation behind us.

The great thing about traveling with photographers is that we all are on the same artistic journey – we all want to stop and take photograph along the way. When we travel with other groups, we feel pulled to go in different directions or stop and take photos and enjoy some particular scenery, but no one else wants to. It means leaving the group, which is hard to do.

Here, if someone wanted to pull over to photograph something, we’d all pull over and just enjoy the moment and look to see what that particular photographer was seeing.

As the sun set below the horizon, we rode the curvy roads out of the park, through the dark and warm summer air, back to the small town of Moab for dinner. It was a great first day on the moto tour of Utah, and there’s much more I have to share coming up in part 2. The next day we did some awesome day rides and took some great photographs. That will all be coming soon in the next part of this series.

But in the meantime, if you’re on Instagram get a peak of our iPhone images by following the hashtag, #BlackRapidMoto2020.

And until next time, America.

After a Blog Hiatus, I’m Back

Everything has been so weird in the world, I haven’t felt like blogging and posting photos, yet each week I’ve thought about it because I’ve had so many cool shoots I’ve wanted to share – both during and from before all this craziness in the world.

Covid and shutdowns has affected weddings, family portraits, pretty much every shoot I had scheduled. Almost everything has been cancelled and even my speaking and training events for photographers have all cancelled.

One wedding that I did photograph recently became a small and quite amazing garden wedding in the yard with just immediate family. I’ve often been amazed at all the money people spend on weddings over the years on areas that I myself don’t value as much. I know that photography is the most important thing and should be a bigger part of the budget because it’s the only thing we keep when the wedding is over. It’s our memories of the day in an artistic form.

So many other expenses seem to be about impressing all the guests in attendance, and one good thing about the Covid weddings are that people are saving money and only getting what they really care about.

This recent wedding was a perfect example. It was serene and perfect. It was in the family’s gorgeous yard with their immediate family, and they had me come do some amazing photography. And the images are fantastic! I hope to share some of them soon on this blog.

I’ve created portraits for the occasional high school senior during this time too. Seniors currently value great photography, particularly because everything else in their senior year has been cancelled – their dances, senior trips, all their plans that they’ve looked forward to are gone. So creating an album of wonderful images for them to document this point in life has been important. I’ll share some of these shoots soon too.

I feel grateful to have the commercial work that I’ve had during this time too. Because of other things being cancelled, I’ve been able to spend more time on certain commercial clients and it has kept money coming in.

Thank you to everyone who’s made orders large and small, like reprints from past family portraits to new shoots, albums, and other things. I appreciate every order and every chance to make something amazing for people.

So to kick off my next blog entry, I’ll share something completely different. I’m going to share photographs from a recent motorcycle trip through Utah. It was a great chance to get away and enjoy a sense of normal life again.

Bella in San Jose, California

I recently had the pleasure of photographing Bella in San Jose, California. I was teaching an adaptive lighting class to photographers there, and she was my model.

We made the shoot extra hard by shooting outside at the worst time of day (noon), and also mixed in some indoor shooting using a small lighting kit. I wanted to show photographers that no matter the circumstances, we can always create great images because we should always control light. That means correctly sculpting people with that light, making them look amazing no matter what, and mixing our lighting with other lighting conditions like bright sunlight.

These images turned out wonderful. I wanted you all to see them.

Had we shot with no lighting at all and relied on haphazard results (what new photographers call “natural light”), she would have had dark eyes, muddy skin, and our background would be too bright and blown out. Instead, by teaching various techniques of light control, we got fantastic images where her skin glows, her eyes pop, and the background can be as bright or dark as we want.

I went for a darker background so that we’d have a blue sky and deep greens in the foliage behind the model. I want to control the viewer’s eye so that it immediately goes to the model.


Aside from shooting a variety of options outside, I also did some demos inside using just the lighting gear that I brought with me on the plane. And you’ll see that even indoors, we can continually get great results. Besides great expressions, you’ll notice the soft shadow on the cheek, soft skin, and eyes that pop.

Thank you to Bella for being our model, and thank you to all the photographers who both attended and also worked behind the scenes to make the workshop in San Jose, California possible.

If you’d like some great portraits, give me a call at 801-728-3317. Even though we’re under quarantine here in Utah, some photoshoots are still possible with the right precautions – particularly high school senior portraits. And others types of shoots can be booked out a bit further too.

And if you’re a photographer that would like some training, check out my training website, BryCoxWORKSHOPS.com

And until next time, America.

Ashleigh in Santa Ana, CA

I recently had the pleasure of photographing Ashleigh in Santa Ana, California. She was my model for a photography workshop I was teaching there. I taught adaptive lighting techniques for portraiture, both in studio and on location.

I taught this event for 2 days at the California Center for Digital Arts, where I used their studio for the indoor photographs. For our outdoor location shoot, we stepped outside onto the street to use the sidewalk, alleyway, and nearby buildings – continually mixing sunlight with studio flash.

I love how these turned out and wanted to share them with you.

Ashleigh’s friend Natalie was her hair and make up artist, and she looked so pretty that I thought it’d be great to include her in a photograph too. Here they are together.

For the outdoor portraits, I liked them in both color and black and white. But the black & white gives them a great vibe with the textures of the street. And they work great in b&w for this trio design.

Here they are up close though so you can see how beautiful they each are.

Ashleigh did a great job and I appreciate her being my model for this event. And thank you to all the photographers that came to this 2-day learning event.

If you’d like some great portraits, give me a call at 801-728-3317. Even though we’re under quarantine here in Utah, some photoshoots are still possible with the right precautions. And others can be planned out too.

And if you’re a photographer that would like some training, check out my training website, BryCoxWORKSHOPS.com

And until next time, America.

“Soft Rain” by Janet Cox (My Mom)

My mom wrote this song, “Soft Rain” a few years before I was born. She wrote it on her ukulele and my dad arranged it for choir and orchestra. I grew up hearing it all the time. Besides singing it as kids, we’d constantly be invited to hear choirs across the valley perform it.

I really love this song, and our beautiful Utah spring weather has made various people post about this song online this week. So my sister took a recording from the 1970s by the Mormon Youth Symphony and Chorus, created this video, and posted it to her YouTube.

There are two windows to the outside world: the version given to us through screens (TV, news, movies, social media), and our actual windows to the outside. The messages are completely different from both views. The first tells us to worry, have fear, and creates anxiety. The second is much more positive. Being outside, talking with our friends and neighbors, and being involved in our community creates a far more positive view of the world.

So being spring time, and knowing that we all need something beautiful and positive today while we’re all in quarantine, here’s this song my mom wrote, called “Soft Rain.”

And until next time, America.

Fall Family Portrait Delivery and Install

I just delivered this gorgeous fall family portrait. It was created right here at in my studio gardens at the end of fall. My client was out of town for Christmas, but now that they’re back, it’s delivery day! This video shows how beautiful everything looks.

I love taking care of all the finishing touches for clients. That means taking the artwork and details past the shoot, and all the way through to the end. There’s a lot of work involved in making something perfect, but attention to detail at every step is crucial, including the individualized retouching, custom printing, surface coating, mounting, framing, delivery to the client, and wall installation.

I love the overall balance and grouping of the family, and how great all the kids’ expressions look. This really looks inspiring and beautiful on the client’s wall.

During a family session, it’s a great time to do smaller family groups too. Everyone can order their own portraits, plus they’re great too for smaller wall groupings and Christmas cards too.

Look at how cute all these kids are together. I photographed them about a year ago and it’s amazing how much they changed in that time. (I share those below.)

Sometimes we can end a family portrait session with just grandkids with the grandparents.

About a year ago I photographed just these four kids alone. Look how much they’ve changed and grown in just a year. It just shows how important it is to get portraits of family and kids regularly. Because they change and grow so fast, it’s wonderful to have professional portraits and wall art throughout their life. 

And during that shoot we also did individuals of each child too. These are great in wall groupings or in a child’s bedroom.

I love creating custom wall galleries and family artwork for your home. And I know it’s time for some updated family portraits for your family. Give me a call at 801-728-3317 and let’s create some wonderful wall portrait art for your home.

And until next time, America.

High School Senior Portraits of Shannon

I love photographing high school seniors. I can really be creative and the seniors love the fun images we get.

And you have to see these high school senior portraits that I did for Shannon while I was training photographers in Texas. While teaching photographers around the country at an event in Texas, I did a quick lighting and posing demo with Shannon. She was my model and I created some gorgeous high school senior portraits of her.

I have lots of wonderful choices and all of the images look amazing. But here are some of my favorites. I love images that show flow and movement, especially as a series. These four images are great as a collage for the wall as a set of 4.

Even though for this shoot I’m working on location in another state, I still like creating studio portraits when possible. Studio images look sharp and professional, and they separate you from the photographers who can’t or don’t know how to create studio images. Plus mobile lighting and setting up studio gear is possible anywhere.

However, with seniors I prefer to do mix sessions of both studio and outdoor locations. Here at my Utah studio, I have easy options for both inside and out, right here. Plus we have lots of wonderful outdoor locations very close by for more variety too. But for Shannon, because I was doing a lighting demo, we did everything in one studio location.

I have a lot of wonderful images that are great as standalone images. When I photograph a a high school senior, I want a lot of variety quickly with one outfit before changing outfits and backgrounds. This series of Shannon on gray would be just one of the sets I’d do with a senior here at my studio. We’d start with one color and outfit, then keep moving to more outfits and backgrounds. That gives us a lot of variety for the album design to come later.

But as you can see, in just a short amount of time and with one outfit, we have lots of wonderful images of Shannon for her wall portraits and album pages.

Throughout the shoot I like to increase the motion and action of the photoshoot. Here I’m having Shannon spin around, having fun with her hair.

And to end our fast shoot, here’s a quick selfie together. High school senior shoots are fun, and you can bring your friends and family to the shoot too. In fact, adding close friends to part of the shoot is always fun for a few images – though most should be of just you.

If you’re a high school senior and would like some wonderful new images, this is the perfect time of year to get you in. Give me a call and let’s talk more about your personality and what would make for some creative portraits. 801-728-3317

And until next time, America.

Mark & Kendra’s Airport Engagement Portraits

My friends Mark and Kendra recently got married and I wanted to share their gorgeous engagement photos. Because Mark is a pilot, this couple wanted some fun engagement portraits at the airport. It was the perfect location and very creative, even down to the details of their costumes.

I love how these turned out. and always love to do location photo shoots, especially when the location incorporates something about the client’s personality. Everything in a photo should tell a story about you, and not be random. So being at the airport was the perfect choice for these two.

It was a cold winter day and they were short on time, so we had to work fast. To compensate for the difference in elevation with the couple standing on the wing, a ladder was needed to get the angles just right. And being winter, the sky, coloring, and natural light of the air was gray and drab. So a studio light on location was needed to really make the colors and the sky pop and create shadows and dimension. The results are wonderful skin tones and gorgeous colors.

 

We had a lot of great choices and I love them all, especially this one of these two running off together. One idea for their invitation was to have the images as old snapshots. So I cropped them square and treated the images so that they had a faded film look. Here was one idea of them as a trio.

Here are those squares close up.

Their final invitation design was an airline ticket, and this was the back of the design. I shot this using the old wood on my coffee table.

Before ending the shoot and entering the hanger, I did a couple individual headshots of these two as well. Here are my two favorites of those, cropped as squares with an old film edge.

I’m so excited that these two are married. They’re both fantastic people individually, and both incredibly accomplished in so many ways. They’re really good together, and they both compliment each other as a couple. I know they’ll make a great team and I’m glad they’ve moved forward with engagement and marriage.

Engagement Proposal Video

Mark also had me come photograph their proposal too. They love to rock climb together and he’d arranged to have a ring at the top of the route for her to get and bring back down. He told her that she was going to help him in a high-level training exercise and that she was to retrieve the “objective” from the top. She had no clue he was proposing and when she repelled down, he was on one knee.

To explain me being there, he told her that I was just in the area doing a shoot and thought it’d be fun to get some climbing photos. But I was really there to capture video and some photos of the proposal. She was completely surprised and you can see the immense sense of joy, relief, and surprise.

If you got engaged over the New Year and need some fantastic photographs for your engagement, bridal, and wedding, give me a call at 801-728-3317. I’d love to create something wonderful for you too. And here’s a link to some wedding info too.

And until next time, America.

Elyse’s Wedding Album Design, Salt Lake Temple & Utah Capitol Building

The Salt Lake Temple is closing this month for a massive 4 year renovation. Plus this is the time of year when many people get engaged, so I thought a Salt Lake Temple wedding would be perfect for my blog right now.

I’ve had people ask about this album because I originally shared a few early favorites from this wedding on my blog, but not the entire wedding album. So here’s the entire album, in video form.

I love sharing entire albums because then people can see how wonderful things look from beginning to end. I don’t rely on “lucky” shots, but rather custom light every photograph to create an amazing set of images for the final album. To really see the story of these images and how it all flows in the album design, watch the video above.

And here are just some of the album page spreads that you see in the above video. As you can see, these two look like models. The portraits are romantic, fun, and flow together in a gorgeous album design.

I love creating these albums for my clients. If you’re engaged, let’s talk more because I’d love to create something like this for you too. My phone is 801-728-3317.

And until next time, America.

Joe McQueen Passes Away at 100 Years Old

Famous Utah sax player and friend to many of us, Joe McQueen has passed away at 100 years old. Many musicians of course know Joe here in Utah. But those who follow my blog may know him from these recognizable portraits I’d done of him a few years ago.

For his 100 year birthday, I’d recently helped his Baptist church congregation in putting together a book on his life. And they had me play sax at his birthday party too. For that event, I made up these two videos.

Here’s the video clip of performing at his birthday party in June.

Recently, my dad and I had dinner with Joe and some other friends of his from church. He was in great spirits and has kept a busy schedule gigging, even at 100. He was always blessed with health, talent, and was a friend to so many people. At his last birthday, it was inspiring to hear so many people talk about how their lives were changed by Joe.

I’m grateful for the time I had to get to know him. He inspired many people in many areas of life, and his friendship has led to other dear friends for which I’m grateful.

I know he’s playing his sax and feeling young and free in heaven.

Design Your Own Cox Christmas Cards + Print at Wholesale Cost Too

It’s Christmas and we all love sending out Christmas cards to our friends and family using updated portraits. Now you can design your own cards online using your Bry Cox retouched portraits, and get them at wholesale cost too.

Choose from lots of options, sizes, foil embossing, even creative envelopes. You can even order in quantities of 5 after the first 25 cards.

Everything is beautifully printed, and you can control the overall design and color scheme to match your style.

How to Get Your Cards Going?

First, let me know you’d like to order cards, and I’ll set you up with your own online store using the retouched images from your last photo shoot. I’ll then send you your own web link.

Click that link and your store will open up and look like this. You’ll see images from your shoot along the top, and below that, lots of designs to choose from. You can even sort the designs down by Card Type, Foil, Photo Count, and Shape.

Customize Front, Back, and Envelope

When you find a design you like, click it and customize it. In the customization mode, you’ll see 3 sections at the top of the screen: Front, Back, and Envelope. Make sure you go through all three sections and choose all the options you’d like for each, shown down the right side.

Drag your portrait into the card’s design, choose card colors, layouts, shapes, etc.

On the back of the card, you have more options too. In this example, we did the same photograph on the front and back, but with different layouts and text. We also choose a shape that makes this into a Christmas tree ornament.

Then on the envelope section you can choose blank or custom envelopes. There are lots of colors and designs here to make the envelope more fun to get.

Review and Check Out

When you like everything, review your choices, and check out. That’s it!

So if you’d like some beautiful new Christmas cards this year from your latest shoot, give me a call and I’ll get a store set up for you.

And until next time, America.

It’s my Birthday & Time for an Updated Portrait

After years of being a photographer, one of the biggest hurdles I’ve noticed for clients is that they stress about getting new portraits done. I understand that. Everyone has the same excuses to put off professional photos: I’m getting older, I don’t like how I look right now, I don’t have time, it feels vain, I’ll do it later, etc.

So to set the example, and for the mental exercise of doing it, I update my portrait each year. I use my use my birthday as the reminder and catalyst to create something new. I think it’s important to keep your portrait up to date, no matter what.

Many times a client will show me their website, and their business headshot is 5-10 years old. It looks dated, and nothing like them. And I speak and train photographers around the country as a PPA Master Photographer / Photographic Craftsman. Even amongst photographers, it’s not uncommon to see them using old headshots. So of all people, we as photographers should get and show updated portraits.

So for my new portrait, I wanted to try something new this year. I decided to do everything the opposite of my last one. Normally I’m smiling in my images, so I instead I’m serious. Normally as people get older, I photograph them with softer light to hide wrinkles, so for this I did sharp specular light to highlight wrinkles, lines, and textures. Normally headshots are close up, and so this time it’s full length. And normally I do a clean white or fashion gray for headshots, so this time I used a dark, hand-painted, Oliphant-style background that I got in California from DBC Backdrops. Normally a headshot is bright and airy, this time it’d be darker tones and moody.

After setting up the equipment and metering the lighting, I shot a few options both standing and sitting using a hand-held remote to fire the camera. These were my favorites. The artistic side of me often has to live with something for a bit to see how I like it, and so far I am really liking these. They are completely different from my last ones.


And I have another self-portrait to reveal on my birthday. I wanted to do a fun image of me, riding my motorcycle by standing on it, while driving through an exposition, shooting a gun, and waving the American flag. It would be over-the-top enough to be funny and entertaining, but also artistic and well-done down to the tiniest details. I’d do it just like a commercial art piece for a client.

For commercial work, sometimes a shot is impossible to get. In those cases I’ll create illustrative composites – multiple images combined into one impossible-to-create image. These digital composites are surreal worlds that don’t really exist. It’s a complex process, but first the idea is mapped out, then a series of photographs are created of each piece matching lighting throughout, then those parts are painstakingly blended together into one final art piece.

I love how it turned out. It’s comical and fun, but the attention to detail (like the shadows, lighting, and blending) all look great, especially up close.

Portraits should be fun. The creation process should be enjoyable and memorable. If you get them as custom wall art that you see every day, then those portraits should make you happy when you see them. We shouldn’t put off getting portraits either. I’m a believer that we should have current portraits that we love, whether you’re single, married, have kids or not, you should have a portrait that represents this time of life in a beautiful, artistic, and uplifting way.

If you’d like a new headshot or even some new family portraits, it’s a great time to come in. The studio gives us a lot of artistic options, but there’s still some fall left to do something outdoors too. Give me a call at 801-728-3317.

And until next time, America.