This section is mostly meant for photographers, to answer the common questions that I receive via email and at my workshops. If there’s a question you’d like to see included, feel free to email me and I’d be happy to add it. Here goes nothin’….
Why Nikon? Oh brother! Stirring the pot already, I see. If you really want to know, see my post here.
Do you bring lighting to your receptions? Heck no. First of all, I don’t want to drag them around. Second of all, my clients spend a lot of money and time making their receptions look beautiful. Somehow, I don’t think a 6′ octabank would be a welcome addition to the decor. In all honesty, I love to be stealth and simple when I shoot at receptions. I bring fast lenses, a steady hand and, if I must, a speedlight.
What do you use to process your images? I edit my images in Adobe Photoshop, using only Totally Rad products, which are created and developed by my husband. When performing my own RAW conversions, I use Adobe Camera RAW. I loathe Adobe Bridge, am scared of Lightroom, and have never opened iPhoto.
What advice do you have for someone just starting out? This is an oft asked question and I wish I had a perfectly crafted answer to share. I don’t think there’s a quick or sure-fire path and I certainly caution people against buying in to some of the workshops and hype-artists who say that there is. I can tell you this – I have been shooting weddings for 8 years and I work hard all of that time. I started out second shooting and I gradually raised my fees. I pounded pavement (barefoot, in the snow) and went to networking meetings; I made sample albums and bought people coffee and showed appreciation when people sent me referrals. And I constantly work to improve my photography and my business. I made friends in the industry and built a network of referrals. I invested money in equipment, in a professional website and in my branding, but I never went in to debt. Overall, I would say work hard, be smart and don’t rest on your laurels.
Who designed your website? This site, and my last two sites before that, were designed by the fine folks at Into The Darkroom. Of course they’ve been great, or I wouldn’t keep giving them my money, silly!
What do you use to design albums and what’s your process with the client? For each client, I choose the images I would like to see in their album, retouch them and do my artistic edits, and then design the album, using Adobe InDesign. Next, I present the proposed design to the client, using a simple slideshow program from Into the Darkroom, and they submit their changes. From there, I make the changes and the album goes to print. I allow one round of changes and then charge a fee for each additional change after the initial set of requests. This process is discussed at length during my initial meeting with the client and has worked well for me for the last 5 years or so.
How to you balance motherhood and your career? This is a hard question and I eventually hope to devote several blog posts to it. My best advice is to carefully partition your time so that there is mommy time and then there is work time. I used to try to mesh the two and I ended up feeling like a lousy mom and a half-ass business woman. Now, I am very disciplined about setting aside time to work and time to play and I don’t blur the line between the two. (Except for right now, while I am cooking dinner, writing this and singing Wheels on the Bus….)
How do you deal with being pregnant or nursing and shooting weddings? Great question and one that is close to my heart. Please visit this page for lots of useful information.
How do you think of “poses” and where do you get inspiration from? I don’t typically do a lot of posing. I am a huge believer that people should look natural and authentic in their photos, so I try not to intervene much. I do a lot of observing people and couples and am always taking inspiration from the way I see two people sharing affection. I deliberately avoid reading other photographers blogs because I want to stay focused on making images that are a true expression of how my clients interact.
What is that “blurring” effect in your photos? Is that a Photoshop filter? Nope. I shoot a lot with tilt-shift or perspective-control lens, which allows me to manipulate the plane of focus in an image. It’s a lens that was originally used primarily for architectural photography, but that I have been using in my own wedding work for about 6 years. For what it’s worth, it’s manual focus, doesn’t meter and is a huge pain in the you-know-what, but I haven’t found an action that does a great job of approximating the look, so I’m stuck with it for now.
What settings do you use? I shoot manually, using auto white-balance in RAW.
Do you always shoot “wide open?” Nope. I see no reason to sacrifice sharpness and focus if there is plenty of light. When light is not an issue, I will typically shoot at about f/5.6 for ceremonies, candids, etc. I prefer to shoot at least at f/8 when photographing family and bridal party groups, where having the extra depth of field is a plus. If it is DARK, and only when it is dark, will I shoot at f/1.4. In my opinion, there is plenty of fall-off and depth of field at 2.8 and I am not willing to risk sharpness or focus if it’s not necessary. I know some people SWEAR by shooting wide open. I say, ask to see one of their files at 200% and then decide if you want to follow suit.
What lenses do you use and when? See the “what’s in my bag” section of this site for a complete list of my equipment. As far as what lenses I use for different parts of the day, I typically shoot bridal preparation with a 50mm or 85mm lens, depending on how much room I have to move around. For groups shots, I find that the 24-70mm, while not sexy, is a good focal length and allows me adjust the framing for large and small groups. For portraits, I usually use a combination of a 70-200, a 45mm PC-E and a 50mm lens. At receptions, I prefer to shoot available light with an 85mm f/1.4 for toasts and candids and then I switch to the 24-70 (on the wide end) for dancing and party shots.