Well it’s only taken me long enough, but I have finally gotten a chance to start doing FAQ posts for my all my photographer friends out there. I get emails all the time from different photographers all over the world with questions and even though I try my best to answer all of them, my clients come first so I may not always get the chance to respond. Hopefully I will be able to answer most of your questions through FAQ posts. I’ll do my best at least! And FYI, I don’t claim to know it all. Even with my almost 12 years of experience, I am still learning all the time. Also, not everyone does things the way I do. The neat thing about photography is you can pretty much break the rules. I have learned that art cannot be taught and I encourage you to go out and find your own way of doing things. In the long run it will make you more successful that way for being different and unique.
1. Did you go to school for photography?
Ready for this? Nope!! I have never taken a class or read a book on photography in my life. I know that may be hard to believe. But I have always found for me personally I learn easier when I just do something and learn from experience. In no way am I saying you shouldn’t take a class or read books, I’m just saying I didn’t… but everyone learns differently. At age 15 I got a job at LSU’s 4h mini farm – a job that lasted only two weeks – getting paid minimum wage. (sidenote: this has nothing to do with what I am talking about but Mikey, at 16yrs old, also worked this particular year at the mini farm and in NO WAY was that the real reason I made sure to get hired as well… but he sure was THRILLED when he found out I’d be working with him… oh it’s true, ask him.) I saved my pennies and along with the help of my grandmother, was able to purchase my first camera. A film Nikon N50. As soon as I got my hands on that baby I shot anyone who would let me practice on them. It’s truly how I began to learn lighting and flattering angles on people. Experience has been my greatest teacher.
2. I just got into photography and was wondering what advice you have for new photographers who are just starting out in the business?
Shoot, shoot, shoot!! : ) No, really. If you don’t already have a good digital camera, then a really excellent one to start with is the Canon 50d. Don’t be afraid to play with the manual settings on your camera and allow your self to make mistakes – because that’s how you learn. Plus it’s okay, because it’s DIGITAL and you can just hit that magic little button called DELETE and no one will ever know how over-exposed the shot of your dog you were practicing on turned out. ; ) Practice, practice. Tell your friends you will give them free pictures if they will model for you and let you learn on them. Then once you’ve got a nice little portfolio going, get a blog and website to showcase it. I’d say start with a blog first because it’s more personal and people want to get to know you, not just your work. There are tons of photographers out there, but the ones who always captivate me the most are the ones I feel like allow me to get to know them with their online presence. Also, if you don’t already have Facebook, get one. Facebook has been one of the coolest ways for my clients to get to know me and vice versa. I could go on and on about Facebook and how much it has helped me, but I won’t. Just get one. : )
3. The lighting in your photos always looks amazing, how do you get them to look the way they do?
Lots of practice!!! : ) I am still learning everyday, but my favorite light is natural light. I know that a lot of really neat things can be done with artificial light, but I am just a lover of the natural. I love the warm tones it creates and the mood it sets. One of the best ways to get beautiful lighting in your photos is to know what time of day to shoot and how to use it appropriately. My favorite time is about an hour before the sun sets in the evening. There is this really neat website called Time and Date.com that will tell you what time the sun is going to set anywhere in the world anytime in the year. It definitely helps me so much when planning photo shoots and it especially assists me when helping consult my brides for what time of day they should have their ceremony when they book me. When the sun is high above you it’s a lot harder to get the correct light because it can cause harsh shadows in places you’d rather them not be. It’s not impossible to get beautiful photographs at high noon, it’s just a lot more challenging. Another tip is don’t put your subject in the shade if the background behind him/her is in the bright sunlight. To me it would be better to have the subject in the bright sunlight with the shade behind him/her. I’ve noticed darker backgrounds usually produce better photographs.
And because posts are prettier with pictures… below you will find one I shot of my fellow photographer friend Tina from Arizona while I was in Laguna Beach, California a couple of weeks ago. This shot was completely candid.