I receive a lot of e-mails from people asking advice on everything from my favorite lens to how to start a business. I don’t call myself an expert by any means, but I am always flattered (and amazed) that people think of me when they have photography related questions! It only seems like yesterday that I was the one asking questions! Because of the number of requests, I have decided to write up a neat little FAQ page so I can direct anyone here to peruse information at their leisure. Again, these are just my personal preferences and experiences, so you can take it as you may. Every photographer is unique in their own way!
- What kind of camera, lenses and computer equipment do you use? I shoot with two full-frame digital SLR Nikon camera bodies. I have the D3s and the D700. I currently have a collection of the following lenses: 17-35mm 2.8, 35mm 1.4, 50mm 1.4, 60mm 2.8 (macro), 85mm 1.4G, and a 70-200mm 2.8. They are all fantastic, high quality Nikkor lenses. My favorite lens has to be my 85mm 1.4, it’s great! I also use a Macintosh computer system (currently working on a 27 inch iMac desktop and a Macbook Pro laptop) and do all of my proofing in Photoshop.
- How did you get into photography? I went to college for photography–that’s the short story. The long story is that I took every single photography class my college offered, and when I ran out of classes, I decided to move to Flagstaff, Arizona on a National Student Exchange program so I could take more classes! This all took place in the years 1999-2004, so basically everything was done on film and in the darkroom! I spent countless hours developing my own negatives and making prints with an enlarger. I shot everything with an all-manual camera (even manual focus!) and that’s what I think trained me to be the photographer I am today. I graduated with a degree in Mass Communications with an emphasis in Photojournalism, which helped me create the style of photography that I love most–real life, candid, honest photography. I was also taking a lot of design classes at the same time, which helped me sharpen my Photoshop skills immensely. It wasn’t until after I graduated that I bought my first digital SLR, and from there I learned everything else by just shooting and shooting, and seeing my images right on that screen. That’s the beauty of digital photography!
- Can you explain your style? My style is simple and straightforward. I love capturing real life, but I’m not afraid to take posed pictures either. I just make people hug in real tight and show that they love each other! I’m pretty relaxed at sessions and let kids lead the way. If a baby cries, I’ll take a picture of it–that’s life! If we get messy, muddy, sticky, or wet that’s all fine, too. As you can see from the technical side of my work I tend to stay away from over-processing, I don’t use textures or do crazy funky edits to my pictures that take away from my original vision–the photograph itself, with simple, true, powerful colors and contrast, and prefer an image that looks as real as can be. I am highly technical and picky about my images and am always striving for a sharp, well-exposed shot. All of this means that I only put the best out there for my clients and they are the ones who benefit from it!
- How did you start your own business? I started by doing what I call “freelance” for about 2-3 years while I was working “day jobs”–I worked at a photography store as a sales associate and after that I worked as a graphic designer for a university. Freelance meant I did random projects for magazines (even got a few covers!) and also took candid pictures at friends weddings and some family photos for people I knew. I charged a pretty low fee to cover my time, but as interest grew I knew I had to make it official. In 2005 I took the necessary steps to create my business name, trademark it, and hired an accountant. I started my business and got registered with the state and made sure I did everything legitimately! I still worked at my day job during this time so I grew my client base slowly without any pressure of trying to make a living off of it. I believe this slow, steady growth is what built my client base to what it is today. In August 0f 2007, I was finally able to take off full swing… I quit my day job and decided to do my photography business full-time. I love it!
- Do you do any marketing or advertising? How do people find out about you? Luckily, I have had the most wonderful, kind, supportive clients anyone could ever ask for. They pretty much do the advertising for me! Word of mouth has been my number one means of getting my work out there. From people passing around my blog at work to show their baby’s latest shots, to a bride showing her friends her wedding pictures, I’ve been very blessed with the kindness and positive words from the clients I work with. This blog has also been a great source of “marketing”… I make sure to e-mail each client their individual link for their “sneak peek” and in turn they usually pass that link around to all of their friends and family! It’s a great tool.
- How do you get such awesome color in your shots? My first rule is to find good light. The right kind of light can help the colors in your images really stand out. In my post-processing I add contrast using various actions and adjustments in Adobe Photoshop CS3 to achieve a final look. I adjust each photo differently, as every lighting situation is different.
- Do you have any kids? How do you work so well with little ones? What if my kids aren’t cooperative during my photo session? I am the VERY proud mom of an adorable one-year-old little boy named Wesley. I love taking pictures of him and he’s featured many times in this blog! I also have had lots of experience with other people’s kids. In addition to babysitting since I was eleven, I worked at the YMCA in a school age program for about two years during college, and I gained experience with children and I feel that has taught me how to interact with them and get down to their level and make them feel comfortable around me–and my camera. However, it is important to make sure you try to schedule your appointment when you think your child will be most happy. Make sure they are well rested and well fed, which should help their moods. It can take some little ones awhile to warm up to me, but within the time slot I reserve for your session, there will be plenty of time to relax and get the smiles to come out! I am very patient! Plus, since I shoot digital I am CONSTANTLY taking pictures, capturing moments you may have missed… it only takes a split second to capture that perfect photo!
- What if there is no place interesting in my house to take pictures? What if my house is too small? What if I don’t like my house!? Of course, weather permitting, I always love to be outside for photo sessions. We can meet up at a local park or any place that has lots of room! If you have a friend or family member with a more “photogenic” home, don’t hesitate to ask–they’ll probably be flattered! I have had many photo sessions where we meet at another spot or a relative’s home for photos. If that isn’t a possibility, I promise I will find a good spot in your home to get good pictures.
Well, that’s all I have for now! I will be adding questions to this list, so keep checking back!
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