Kevin Jairaj: Expanding the Photographer's Role
Kevin Jairaj is a Dallas, Texas photographer who found his groove after a business management degree, some sports photography, and a career in corporate America. Shooting fashion after his day job hours, he shot a wedding as a favor to a friend. He had a great time, loved the diversity, and got referrals from that first wedding alone. Shortly thereafter in 2003, he began shooting weddings full-time.
Jairaj’s wedding work has awarded him with rave reviews and is in demand in the Dallas-area and at destination weddings from Trinidad to London. With the results speaking for themselves, Jairaj has gathered many photography fans after they’ve seen his frequently-uupdated blog and Web site. Almost as impressive as his photos, Jairaj has put that business management degree to work and created multiple revenue streams from his photographic knowledge and experience.
For years he was besieged with questions on how he got his images looking as they did. Finally, he made his own Photoshop Actions available to the public, bringing his visibility to a whole new audience. “I have my own formulas for my black and whites, my sepias, my split-tones, and lots of other things,” he says. “People all over the world have been buying it the past few years. The response amazes me.” We’ve had a chance to work with Jairaj’s action set, and we’ve found you can achieve a wonderful film-like warmth to images, among other effects.
The success of this project ultimately encouraged him to create and market the Dramatic Lighting DVD, which follows him on location shoots with a bride and a high school senior, detailing all aspects of his techniques. Rounding out his post-processing offerings is Unique Textures, a collection of images easily integrated into photos or used as multimedia backdrops.
Lastly, a unique offering from Jairaj is an iPhone app called Wedding Vendor. This app has the potential for saving the sanity of wedding coordinators, florists, photographers, videographers, bands, hair stylists and makeup artists or any other vendor who works in the wedding trade. All details of any wedding can be logged and saved into this app, including photos of the bride and groom, locations, other vendor contact info, and more. It even has customizable fields for notes. Jairaj has been in the business long enough to know what data he needs to have handy. Now all he needs to do is glance at his iPhone to recall any past or pending job he’s shooting.
Partnering with Alycia Alvarez, the two shooters have created Rings to Rattles, a series of seminars on teaching photographers how to cultivate relationships with clients from their wedding through the arrival of children and beyond. Both photographic techniques and business practices are covered.
It’s no surprise a photographer who has his own actions, DVD, and iPhone app is a gearhead. Jairaj is definitely knowledgeable about his equipment, and enjoys speaking about it. “If I’m shooting a bride on the beach during the day and I want to overpower the sun, I use Profoto AcuteB’s,” he says. “Indoors I’ll use PocketWizard MiniTT1’s and FlexTT5’s and Canon Speedlite 580EX II’s. The MiniTT1 is so small I use it to trigger all my other strobes as well as the Flexes. I do the 580’s on TTL-mode. You can be very mobile with this kind of lighting and not have to carry around much at all. You can be agile and very quick. Most of my shooting is on location, and this helps me move around and get the shots.” Jairaj’s main camera bodies are Canon 5D Mark II’s, which he loves for their low noise at high ISOs. His favorite lens is the first one he bought: a Canon 70-200mm.
A fashion-lover at heart, Jairaj pays attention to fashion in his wedding photos, and it shows. “Someone once said to me I shoot brides like they’re fashion models,” he recalls. “Well, that’s exactly what they want to be on their special day. I don’t want them to be all prim and proper and posed, like some 1980’s shot. I want them to feel gorgeous and sexy and love their photos as if they were in a magazine.”
Jairaj sees an engagement photo session as a critical part of the wedding photography business. “For me, engagement sessions are almost a necessary thing I try to make all my couples do. I like to see how they act in public, how they react to each other, if they’re comfortable with the camera, if they blink a hundred times—it’s a long list. If I see them blinking a lot, I know on the wedding day I have to take extra shots. It also helps me determine what kind of style they like after they see the photos. Do they like more sepia? More kissing? More romantic or the fun, silly shots? Sexy? This helps me figure out what to do on the wedding day. It’s all about getting to know them better.”
Fashion is never far from his thoughts, and Jairaj still shoots fashion when given the opportunity. A long-time sports enthusiast, his dream is to shoot for a professional football team. Knowing the drive and inventive nature of this shooter, we’re betting it’ll happen sooner, rather than later.