Hey guys, you asked and I answered! Thank you all for taking the time to send me your questions. I hope that my answers are helpful and insightful as you passionately pursue the arts! Let me start off by saying that I am by no means a perfect photographer with all the right answers. This is how I have approached my business and my style of shooting so it may not be for you at all, that’s ok! Everyone has their own opinion on the “right” way to shoot or the “right” answer for how to run a business but in the end, these differences are what make us unique!
1.) How often do you use ASE for your work? How do you incorporate ASE into your workflow, and what are some personal favorite presets or tweaks?
I use ASE mostly for sharpening and texture – On a rare occasion, when I just can’t seem to get my edit right in Lightroom, I’ll bring it into Exposer 6 and lay another edit over it and 99% of the time this solves my problem. One of my favorite things that ASE offer is that it allows you to change the overall intensity of the preset, something that Lightroom does not have.
If I have a fashion shoot, I’ll usually edit all my images in Lightroom and then bring them all into Exposer 6, sharpen them/ add texture, and then export. Besides this and the occasional image that I pull up with ASE, I do not use it for much else.
2.) What camera do you use and are there any special devices you shoot with (reflectors, light-meters, etc.)? What is your favorite lens?
I use my trusty Canon Mark III for all of my work except my self-portraits. For my self-portraits I use my Canon 60D which has a flip-around screen that makes it so much easier to get the perfect shot! Besides my wireless remote. I do not use any other devices but I do, however, use different techniques such as free-lensing, prisming, and shooting through different objects!
My favorite lens would hands down be my 35mm 1.4! I love the bit of distortion you get with it as well as the wider angle! I own a 50mm 1.2 but I use this lens half as much as I do the 35mm.
3.) How did you start with your photography?
It all started when I bought a $100 Canon Powershot camera with Christmas money and I took hundreds of those tacky selfies and diagonal nature photos which were then edited in picmonkey.com with 100% saturation. Like a typical young girl, I went through hobby stages and my parents just assumed this was another one of those quickly passing phases. Considering I never saved a dollar in my life up to this point, when I saved $400-$500 for my first DSLR (the Canon Rebel XS), I think everyone –including me-- realized I was somewhat serious about photography! From there I shot all the time, everywhere, and everything. I started off with free sessions, then charged $50, then $100, then $150, and so on. With each job, I saved the earnings to invest back into my business on gear and raised my price as demand picked up. I shot my very first wedding as a lead photographer when I was 14 and it was such an incredible mile marker for me. With each photographic experience I learned something new and moved forward in my journey to where I am now! I learned by a trial and error method, pressing this button and that to see what it changed in the shot. From the very beginning, I focused on light and the way it hit certain scenes and sculpted faces; I saw the world around me in photos. I think there is something really priceless about teaching yourself something, allowing yourself to fail in order to grow (however don’t take this to mean that I wouldn’t suggest reaching out to others if you are just completely lost; be open to help, sometimes you need it )! Long and short, I picked up a camera and never put it down again. I saw the beauty my Savior and Creator had so intricately and uniquely designed in each person/every part of nature and I longed to share the beauty of Jesus Christ that I saw in so many things.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” – Psalms 19:1
4.) When editing eyes, how do you get them to pop without looking overdone? How do you edit such nice skin tones?
The key to making the eyes pop is shooting for the light – by this I mean that when you position a subject, look at your client’s eyes and see if they are bright and reflecting light or shadowy and dull. Of course you can edit shadowy eyes to some extent but that often looks overdone. Pay attention to the light and the way it hits your subject’s face; do not be afraid to take a moment and circle around your subject and take a photo at each angle to see which direction is best! Same advice goes for skin as well. Sometimes it’s unavoidable and you end up with icky skin tones but it’s super easy to go in when editing and use your orange/red/yellow color sliders to fix the skin tone! If you nail the lighting you’ll almost always have bright eyes and complimentary skin tones.
5.) What advice would you give to new photography business owners, (or young photographers in general)?
- First, I would say don’t drown yourself in a sea of “inspiration”. It is good to be inspired by other artists who have had years of experience; it is a bad thing to find yourself wanting your images to look identical to their work or constantly putting down your own art. Part of growing is making mistakes and putting out some amateur images, its ok! It is going to be detrimental to your own work if you are constantly comparing it to your inspirations. A big part of being successful in a world with SO many talented artists is discovering your style and then sticking to it. Find your voice in the world of art and don’t confine your creativity and look to the people you follow online!
- Don’t let your age (whether older or younger) keep you from pursuing your talents to the fullest in any area. If you tell yourself that your age makes you less of an artist or determines what you can achieve, you are your own worst enemy. Shoot for big goals and push your limits, you will surprise yourself.
- More gear does not mean a better photographer -- work with what you have. I have to tell you that I MacGyver so much! I don’t own a single backdrop and I’ve used anything from wrapping paper to the backs of frames as a background! With every camera I have owned, I pushed it to the full potential and then moved on. I think it is a mistake to buy a really complicated camera when you haven’t even mastered a beginner DSLR. - Don’t try to be every kind of photographer, find what you’re good at and stick to it. Some people are amazing at capturing family portraits and others are pros at posing and rocking fashion photography. I used to try to shoot everything but I realized I was hurting myself and other photographers who specialize in those areas. I decided to stop shooting family photography and never tried to be a professional nature photographer, not because I can’t do it, but rather because they aren’t the areas I am passionate about or most gifted in. Find the market that you are most passionate about and don’t do yourself the disservice of spreading yourself too thin across too many areas!
6.) How do you make a subject comfortable in front of the camera/how do you get clients to pose naturally?
This is such a good question! Simple things like giving them an easy pose in the beginning and having them look away from the camera for the first shot can help a lot! To get a laugh, I have my clients fake laugh and 9 times out of 10 it turns into a real one (I use this a lot!). I tend to talk a lot to my client while shooting with them. The key is to let them know they are doing a good job; if you’re not saying anything they are most likely going to assume they are not doing too well. I’ll do anything -- making fun of my illiteracy while trying to focus on getting a shot, to shouting out funny words -- pretty much anything to make them laugh! Getting them to loosen up in front of the lens is super important to getting a natural pose. Have them move around a lot and direct movement in the hands, legs, as well as eyes/feelings. If you don’t connect with your client, you will most likely end up with impersonal images that come off unnatural and not engaging.
7.) How did you learn all of your cosmetology makeup art skills?
I sort of just did it a lot and watched a gazillion youtube videos – Michelle Phan was pretty much my cosmetology teacher.
8.) Do you have a method to how you use social media for your business? What do you do when you're hitting a dry spot and don't know what to post or just want to mix it up a bit?
That is a great question! Facebook is my main place for reaching clients and so I am most strategic on that platform. When it comes to posting on my page, I found the best time to post images and try to consistently post at the same time. This maximizes the views my posts get and also keeps my fan base in the loop because they generally know that at ___ time there will be a post by me. I have found that “boosting” posts on FB was kind of a joke for me. Try posting something new or exciting instead and almost every time your views and interaction will go up.
When I hit a dry spot I try to post something I know my followers love – for me, my audience is really into my self portraits so I’ll post one or two of those to draw people back in or get more activity. Also, you might try things like giveaways or special blog posts that target a bigger audience and are likely to be shared/pinned (Fashion posts, Q&As [haha], how to’s, or holiday freebies).
9.) Do you use VSCO and if so, what are your favorite presets? If not, what is your editing process?
I do! I love VSCO presets as a base edit for my work! I mostly use Kodak Portra 800+ from the 01 pack and have edited it quite a lot to make it my own. I highly recommend snagging the first VSCO pack if you do not have it; even if you don’t use the presets full on, they are a great place to start off when creating your own preset!
10.) Do you use any lighting at your shoots or at your weddings? If so, what do you use?
Let’s see here! Since I shoot with all primes and an exceptional camera which can handle low light situations, I can often pull off not using a flash. However, if it’s dark enough that I can’t get a sharp, well-lit image, I’ll use my flash (Canon 600EX-RT Speedlight). For my portrait shoots I do not bring any lighting equipment at all since I specialize in natural light.