Calvin Hobson: Wedding Photography After the Military

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All images by Calvin Hobson. Read more at the Phoblographer.

Photographer Calvin Hobson has a very unique story as a photographer. He’s a former armed service member, and always had the creative bug in him. Calvin had the opportunity to travel a lot with the US Air Force, and since leaving he has transitioned into shooting weddings. Like many wedding photographers, he had faced many of the problems of an oversaturated market. But he found ways to overcome them not only through his work, but his people skills.

As many photographers will tell you, people skills are one of the best things that you can have a professional.

Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.

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Calvin: I actually started with video as a kid. I used to sneak my parents fancy new VHS direct camera out and film little skits with my friends. This was my intro to my world through a lens. As I expanded I ended up encroaching on the still aspect and took a class on photography, learning huge lessons with a cheap 35mm. That static lens camera eventually turned into many SLRs and a dream job!

Phoblographer: You’ve got one of the more interesting stories that we’ve heard. You’re a military vet that retired and went into wedding photography. What made you want to go into it?

Calvin: I did several tours overseas as an Airman in the USAF. Traveling to derelict war zones, ironically, allowed me to see some of the most beautiful places in the world. Camera in hand, I graciously learned how to translate what I was seeing into art that others could appreciate. I think this is a keystone when it comes to what you look for in a wedding photographer. It wasn’t long before I was taking what I loved doing and making memories that people love seeing.

Phoblographer: What was it like getting your start? These days, getting into the wedding photography world is quite tough.

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Calvin: The photography market is definitely over saturated, and that lends a giant set of problems as a photographer. Most notably, what makes me stand out in sea of photographers? Why should my bride pay my rates instead of a few bucks to her niece who just bought her first entry level DSLR from Costco? I learned quickly that my work sells itself, which is why I try to make every wedding my best yet.

“Traveling to derelict war zones, ironically, allowed me to see some of the most beautiful places in the world.”

Phoblographer: What do you think you did wrong when you first started your business, and with now having better knowledge, how would you have fixed it?

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Calvin: My biggest mistake is taking on brides that I didn’t connect with, or I sense trouble with. If my bride and I aren’t laughing and getting excited exchanging photo ideas on her big day, then I want nothing to do with it. Its unfair to me and her to not produce the most brilliant photos I can create.

Phoblographer: Tell us about the gear that you use.

Calvin: I shoot Nikon D800s with the “Holy Trinity”: 14-24mm f2.8, 24-70mm f2.8, and my favorite 70-200mm f2.8. As a strobist photographer I also carry as many speedlights and Einstein monolights as possible!

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Phoblographer: Tell us a funny story from one of your weddings, everyone has them.

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Calvin: I have a million stories to tell, but one of my favorites is from a destination wedding I recently did in Maui. The coincidence of it is amazing. The day after the wedding my groom had removed his newly acquired ring in order to go surfing. My bride wasn’t pleased about this, and the ring made its way back onto his finger–only to be lost almost immediately in the vast ocean. The story gets better. The following day, we are hiking to some waterfalls to knock out a gorgeous trash the dress session, when we come across a REAL sign that couldn’t possibly be more infinitely coincidental. “We Find Lost Rings, Call Mac[Brides name]” I still can’t believe that actually happened.

“The photography market is definitely over saturated, and that lends a giant set of problems as a photographer. Most notably, what makes me stand out in sea of photographers?”

Phoblographer: Where do you get your inspiration from for your images?

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Calvin: Oddly enough, I actually dream most of my ideas up. I will wake up in the middle of the night and run over to my computer to write my ideas down in an ongoing “photo ideas” document that I have, before I forget about them! Its the best of both worlds: “Awake me” doesn’t struggle to come up with ideas, but I get to take credit for them!

“I seem to have a curse of “The iPad Lady” lately.”

Phoblographer: Have you ever had an “Uncle Bob” at a wedding trying to take photos? How do you deal with them (or how would you deal with them?)

Calvin: Oh yes. I seem to have a curse of “The iPad Lady” lately. Just as my couple goes in the for the kiss… “iPad Lady” swoops into the isle and thankfully captures it with her breathtaking 5 megapixel feat of art, proudly held high above her head! Trap-doors should be a common photographer tool.

In all seriousness though, I really REALLY encourage my brides to have “unplugged” weddings. I think it is the best thing to happen to weddings since the advent of smart phones. Sit back, enjoy the moment with the couple that invited you to enjoy their ceremony. I’ve got the photography.

“If my bride and I aren’t laughing and getting excited exchanging photo ideas on her big day, then I want nothing to do with it.”

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