A humbling beginning

My bio doesn't start off with me loving photography since I was a kid. I never dreamed of being a photographer in my youth either. Honestly, it was my ex-wife that suggested it to help pay for child support! True story. 

My career has been in graphic design and before that I was in fine arts in school. I remember getting my first taste in digital photography in 2005 when at the time we bought a digital camera for real estate business. It burned the images straight on a mini CD! I thought it was the coolest thing. So I pretty much took over the camera and had fun exploring with it. Fascinated with taking a photo and then doing wild things with it in Photoshop. 

Then the bug hit me. I took some of the first pictures of my daughter when she was about 18 months old in mid-2004. I mean, how could you resist a face like that! That was the picture that sold me on doing more photography. Shortly after that, I won my first award from Kodak of my dad and my daughter in 2005, and it was featured in Time Square, NY. Then things just took off from there. I was living and breathing all things photography. Since then I have been fortunate to earn more awards for my work.

2015 - 2nd place Wedding Category PPA District Image Competition
2014 - PPA Bronze Medal
2014 - PPANE Judges Choice
2010 - PPWM Top 5 Photographer
2010-2015 - Bride's Choice Award

Now it certainly wasn't an easy road to get to where I am at today. I can tell you it cost A LOT of money! Thankfully I had a day job to support my addiction. So I moonlighted on the side and slowly upgraded my gear to help me achieve results I was looking for. Now I have some pretty amazing equipment. Using all Nikon equipment D4s and D600. I would have drooled and dreamed of owning that gear when I first started. 

Below is a collection of work from when I first started photography in 2004 and started my wedding photography business in 2008. I have since then photographed nearly 200 weddings. Seasoned pros say you must earn your right into photography, mentor, assist, second shoot, apprentice/intern, school, etc. before you can shoot a wedding. I never really believe in all that. I just dove right into it with no training and learned along the way through reading LOTS of books, magazines, videos and trial and error. 

I then upgraded my point and shoot camera in 2006 to a Olympus E330. My first DSLR. I didn't even know what DSLR was! I started to learn about lighting and depth of field. Researching and living in photography books.

By now I started to get a better understanding of exposure. Exploring landscapes, more of my kids and my first wedding in 2008. In 2008 I made the decision to give wedding photography a try and thus Pritchard Photography was born.

That first image was from my 4th wedding I ever photographed. By then I had upgraded to the Nikon D300. I started to experiment more with advanced techniques, and it was in 2009 I slapped a logo on my images and began to brand myself and my business as Pritchard Photography. I did seven weddings in 2008 when I first started.

This period is when I started to kick it up a notch. I was beginning to understand the camera and lighting better and was able to focus on the creative process and not my settings. 2009 I ended up shooting somewhere over 20 weddings my second year into business.

In 2010 I was more actively involved in the photography community and joined the Professional Photographers of West Michigan. I won Top 5 Photographer that year and was starting to create a name for myself. It was an exciting time, and I was shooting 30 weddings that year! This was the year I began to get more into advanced lighting. Speedlights, continuous lights, available lighting and mixed lighting. This was the period I was doing a lot of lighting from behind, setting up tripods of lights and trying lots of different tricks. 

2013 was a milestone year and huge game changer for me. In 2008 when I started wedding photography I came across Jerry Ghionis, one of the world's best wedding photographers. Like the Michael Jordan of photography. I could only dream of getting my work in the same light as his. So in 2013 I mentored with Jerry Ghionis for a week in Beverly Hills. Learning from the best changed many things for me. I learned a methodology to photography. I learned the importance of posing, creating emotion and seeking to light. How to turn ordinary to extraordinary. My focus was to create strong, emotional, dramatic images that stood out different from bright, airy looks that everyone is doing.

2014 was the year I started to pursue my Master of Photography Degree with the PPA. This is a huge challenge a personal milestone to be ranked in that top tier of a professional photographer. In my first year in 2014 PPA Competition, I merited all of my images and earning a Bronze medal. It takes 25 points to get your degree, and I currently have 10 points. I also started to teach more photography classes to earn merits for the degree and recently taught at the Winona School of Photography. I'm currently seeking more speaking opportunities in my pursuit. Creating images for the PPA competition are very challenging as they are critiqued by some of the best photographers in the industry. This has challenged me to perfect my work with my clients as I continue to grow.