I was organizing and preparing for the end of the year, when I realized how awesome 2013 was for my photographic adventures. I make my living as a wedding photographer here in the San Francisco Bay Area, but there’s a lot more that I’ve done (and will continue to do) besides weddings.
Don’t get me wrong… I love my couples, and I love my job. But if you’re a chef and your job is to make pizzas at a restaurant, you don’t just stick to making pizzas at home!
To start, this year has been very travel-heavy. Normally I do a bunch of concerts throughout the year, but this time I swapped much of the concert shooting for traveling (and the projects that come with that). Tallying up, my journeys took me to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe (twice), Colorado, Florida, Istanbul, and Paris (twice)… plus all the local outings to wedding venues here in Northern California.
Some of the main highlights:
Paris, France: Worked on an independent film with my brother and a wonderful cast & crew. Crazy experience, and required two trips out there to get it filmed (once in April and once in October). See all my previous posts documenting the trip, if you want more details.
Istanbul, Turkey: After our first round of filming in Paris, I headed to Istanbul by myself. I had never been to that part of the world before, and it was my first trip to another country alone… where I ended up shooting a hip-hop video for a Tunisian rapper/DJ in a dingy basement, with real blood donated by our video’s “director” (we couldn’t find fake blood)…
Las Vegas, Nevada: Brodie (of the Brodie Stewart Band) few me out to Las Vegas with him to meet up with Adam Shoenfeld, who plays on Brodie’s upcoming record. Adam was on tour playing for Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. We shot some great interview footage, then had a couple of nights hangin’ out with those guys (and some of the stage crew for the Tim McGraw/Faith Hill show at the Venetian). All of it topped off with free tickets to the Tim & Faith show, and my own entire row of seats on the plane coming home for me to stretch out on.
Ben Folds Five: The most rewarding moment of 2013 for me was getting my photo on the front cover of Ben Folds Five: Live, which is the first-ever live album for the band. I’ve been a huge fan of Ben Folds Five since high school, and once I heard their 12-year hiatus was over I pushed to get photo access for their show at the Warfield in San Francisco on their reunion tour. I was just thrilled to even go to the show, let alone shoot photos. But a couple of months later, I get a call from their people and BOOM!… there’s my photo on the record cover (released by Sony) and can be found in stores all over the world. Pretty cool to see “Clay Lancaster” on the CD insert, and on the back of the vinyls.
The rest of the year was filled with wonderful weddings, trips to visit family and friends, some great shoots and celebrity guests for theFIVE10.com, AND I bought a condo… so I am now a first-time homeowner.
On January 1st of this year I didn’t see any of those previous events on the horizon, so I can’t wait to see what 2014 will bring. It’s gonna be pretty hard to top what happened this year… but, of course, I said the same thing last year.
We’ve had a fairly busy last 10 days, and after this evening I should comfortably be able to say that the Paris portion of the film is in the can (which is like 90% of it).
The ending was re-written and a B-story was added. Our first few days were spent re-shooting the ending with our lead actress, as she had another project to get to. I flew from San Francisco to New Jersey, then New Jersey to Paris… hopped on the RER train into Gentilly, met up with everyone here at the studio, had about 30 minutes to get settled, then we started rolling.
A big problem with not having much of a budget is that we have to shoot where we can shoot. That means spending hours on crowded riverbanks – take after take – trying to avoid loud boats, loud people, rain, onlookers, lighting issues, potential security issues, etc.
One of our scenes took about 8 hours to wrap. The scene is only about 5 minutes long.
The majority of our people are now gone, leaving Keith and me here in this art studio on our own. We spent the last day and a half doing some much-needed sleeping in, some pub-drinking, some bicycle riding through the city, some wine drinking, some photography, and some Formula 1 race-watching. After our mini pizzas come out of the oven, we’re gonna jump on the Metro with the RED camera and go film some establishing b-roll. Then tonight we pack up, and jet back to San Francisco tomorrow morning.
It’s been a blast. At the start of 2013, I surely didn’t see myself going to Paris this year… and definitely didn’t see myself going twice. Now it has become a running joke that we’ll all just be right back here in a another few months to film something else.
To my clients who have been patiently waiting on their wedding photos, thank you! I’ll have them to you soon.
Enjoy some of these photos, and I’ll see you guys back in the States in a couple of days.
It’s wedding season. It has been, and it will continue to be for a bit. Which means it’s Editing City here in my office, on top of admin stuff, bookings for next year, and traveling.
Going back in my calendar, I realized I’ve traveled a lot in 2013. Los Angeles, Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas, Paris, Istanbul, Lake Tahoe (again), Denver…
|Lancaster Bros. during our first filming outing in Paris last April|
…and guess what? My brother Keith and I just coordinated flights and are headed back to Paris in about 3 weeks to finish up the movie we are working on. Time was crunched last trip (3 weeks is pretty ambitious for even the most indie of films) so we missed some shots that we needed. As I understand it, our writer/director has revamped the storyline and added some new stuff, so all of us are headed back to finish up.
There’s a couple more weddings to shoot before the trip, more weddings after the trip, then I’ll be headed to Florida for Thanksgiving (which is also my birthday this year) to see my parents’ new house.
To top it off, one of my good friends (an exchange student from Berlin that I met in 1996) is in town visiting. I had not seen this guy in 16 YEARS, and after a few minutes it felt like nothing had changed:
|Martin & Me last week|
Oh, and for the first time in my life I actually beat a Zelda game:
Here are some of my other favorite moments since I last updated:
|Shot promos for Tracing Figures… a band that contains two of my former band mates from years ago.|
|Seeing my family at our reunion in Vail, CO. That’s me with my cousin & uncle.|
|Dusk on Lake Tahoe|
|Got to shoot Gillian’s wedding at Diablo Ranch in Walnut Creek. She is an old friend from our high school choir days|
|Vail, CO mountains as the lightning storm started coming in|
|Aimee & Paul’s wedding at the Rengstorff House in Mountain View|
|Taryn & Brian’s wedding reception|
|the moon in Tahoe|
It’s been a blast so far! Gonna be hard to top the events of this year when 2014 rolls around. Then again, I said the same thing last year.
Well, with the multi-media direction I’ve been taking lately (as opposed to just still photos), it only seemed fitting to finally revamp the image of Lancaster Media.
In case you weren’t aware, my brother and I formed Lancaster Media in 2007 with the idea of being sort of a tag team. In the years following, I focused mostly on wedding and promotional work while he (Keith) began his career as a cinematographer/editor in Los Angeles.
Fast forward a few years, and all of a sudden our interests and fields are starting to overlap again: I’ve been doing more and more video work, and Keith is headed to Paris this summer to learn some still photography).
Don’t worry, I’m still very much for hire if you’re getting married! In fact, my schedule is busier than it has ever been.
But to commemorate the resurgence of the Lancaster Media name, here is our new intro/promo:
Clay & Keith Lancaster
Later this year I will be lucky enough to photograph Nick & Sarah’s wedding, but we first headed to the Legion of Honor in San Francisco to get a round of engagement photos done.
Such a fun couple, and we all had a blast exploring around the cliffs that overlook the Golden Gate Bridge, or climbing the stone steps of what remains of the Adolf Suttro mansion.
Sometimes things drop in your lap. Actually, that’s been most of my business lately.
A friend of mine (who routinely browses Craigslist for various things) came across a couple looking for a last-minute photographer for their quick ceremony at San Francisco City Hall. He copied the link and posted it onto my Facebook wall, of all things.
So when I woke up in the morning and saw his message, I figured “why not?” and sent an email reply to the couple. Within about 45 minutes, we had the event booked.
I hopped on the train into San Francisco for the short and sweet (as city hall weddings tend to be) ceremony, followed by a little bit of just hanging out with the newlyweds and snapping some photos.
In the last year, I’ve had to turn down a lot of video inquiries. Doing video for weddings or musicians is much more time consuming and costly than still-photography, from an overhead standpoint. Not to mention that many people asked about it as well as doing still photography for their wedding… kinda hard to do one when I’m already doing the other.
Since Lancaster Photography is a small operation (meaning: myself, and a few part-time affiliates), it’s just not doable or profitable at this point.
The thing is, I’ve been doing video editing for years and am current with the latest software/methods/formats. It’s been a strong hobby of mine this entire time, along with audio post-work (see the video page for examples).
So, what to do?
I had this thought. Even if you don’t hire a professional camera man with the insanely expensive video rig, you probably have (or will have) a bunch of funny, sweet, silly, stupid, or downright offensive video footage from your wedding/event that you’d like to save, but don’t know exactly what to do with. I’m talking video from iPhones, Flip cams, camcorders, etc. that you or your guests filmed throughout the night.
Now, for an hourly editing fee, you can give me all of that priceless footage (I don’t judge, trust me) to splice together with music, titles, transitions, captions, video enhancements, and audio enhancements… and voila! …you have a movie! Once it’s finished, I can give you the final product in any format you like, including DVD.
Contact me for rates and ideas, and let’s finally do something with all those random video clips that are currently eating up space on your computer’s hard drive.
2012 is shaping up to be a busy year, and it starts now I guess!
Hopefully it’s a sign of a slight economic recovery, but by January 1st much of my 2012 calendar was already booked. I’ve had to turn away three weddings this week alone because the dates were taken, so get a hold of me soon if you think you’re gonna need me. Great for business, but I hate having to turn people down.
Since the week of New Year’s, I’ve been to Reno, NV – Carson City, NV – San Francisco, CA – Los Angeles, CA… and everywhere in between. That’s a lot of driving, especially when the starter on my car is acting like it’s 90 years old.
Last week I cruised down to Hollywood to work on a video with the other half of Lancaster Media (my brother Keith Lancaster), then came back to the Bay Area to finish edits on a wedding, had a couple of meetings, and then an engagement shoot here in Walnut Creek on Saturday morning. Here are a few of my favorite photos from that session:
I hope everyone had a great New Year’s celebration! I was lucky enough to spend it at one of my favorite venues in San Francisco with many of my favorite people, watching my pals in Happy Body Slow Brain debut a new song and bring down the house. Can’t think of many better ways to ring in the new year.
My last wedding of 2011 was for a lovely academic couple, held at Mills College in Oakland, CA. I really enjoy the intimacy of a small wedding, and I think this was the first time I’ve been served breakfast at one! Not to mention it was the first time I had done a wedding at a college (which apparently have chapels… didn’t know that).
The room was super unique… round, with the alter in the center, and a large pipe organ on the back side. Very dimly lit, which was not conducive to photography but sure had a great atmosphere, and I managed to get some cool photos regardless.
This couple is really sweet, and I thoroughly enjoyed that they appreciated my stupid jokes throughout the day.