We didn’t have a stomach bug this week, but we did have a coughing kid, a dismal and cold grayness, and a leaky roof (in several places) – which, as you can imagine, feels like an invasion of the house snatchers. It’s a terrible feeling. I coped by yelling at the sky. Since we live in the woods, I can scream obscenities out my front door and no one can hear me yell.
Enough about my bad mood. I’m so happy to be paired with Claudia of ImagesByCW today. She is a very gifted photographer, and not only that, she lives among my old stomping grounds in New Jersey. In fact, she was within shouting distance from me one morning at my niece’s baptism but that day was insane and I had no idea how close we were. We are so meant to meet, but it hasn’t happened yet. She’s very knowledgeable about photography, and her iPhone photos are so amazing that she does iPhone tips posts by popular demand. She travels some pretty great distances to some pretty great places and has the sort of life I’d love to try again one day. Or maybe for the first time. And perhaps we’ll go shooting together one day. With cameras.
We thought it would be awesome to ask each other deep photography questions because we are both so very in it. And since I’ve had a bad week and I have a fried brain, all the more reason to just answer without thinking. Raw truths today.
Oh! And I was featured in New Jersey Bride magazine. I was called the secondary photographer in the article, but most of these photos are actually mine! I didn’t take the second one and a lot of the ones of the decorations or the kids. Link HERE.
#AskAwayFriday was created by the amazing Penny from Real Housewife of Caroline County and Amber from Bold Fit Mom, as a way to connect with other bloggers with a great Q & A session of 10 questions and 10 answers, between two bloggers! This is a wonderful opportunity to get to know others while allowing others to get to know you and of course there is also the added bonus of making great friends along the way which is one of the best parts of this online world! Ask me if you want to swap!
We are sad to be losing Amber as one of our amazing co-hosts, as she is working to pursue other business ventures and focusing her attentions on her fitness ventures. We wish her nothing but the best, and hope for her thriving success!
When one door closes, another one opens…and we would like to give a huge Ask Away Friday welcome to a brand new co-host…drum roll please…Welcome Echo from The Mad Mommy! She is both a friend and a fellow blogger. I dig her.
Tiffany from Mrs. Tee Love Life Laughter,
Christy from Uplifting Families,
Stacey from This Momma’s Ramblings
Echo from The Mad Mommy
Be sure to check out Claudia’s answers to my questions HERE. And here are my answers to her questions:
1. How did you start your business? Did you just jump in after someone asked you for photos? Or do you have a well laid out business plan, insurance etc.?
To be honest, sometimes I feel like I haven’t started yet and I’m at the brink. I’m not very salesy or very business-oriented, but I do think my photography techniques are solid enough, although always subject to growth. I worked for a photography company many years ago and learned a heck of a lot then. Then I took a lot of years to sit in an office, realize that sitting in an office might kill me, and then dabble in a lot of other ridiculous things. I didn’t really think about THIS until after Des was born and I had no money of my own. For many families that’s ok, but I mean I literally had no money of my own. I jumped into it with a website and started offering my services. The clients came. Every time I reach a turning point, I buy new equipment or change my tactics. Well-laid out business plan? Umm.. not yet. I do have the connection thing down pat!
2. What was your first paid photography job? Enjoyable? Scary? Any hiccups?
It’s funny that you mentioned that because I hung out with the client’s mom last week when I was in Jersey. The job was over ten years ago! I used sepia film because this was before incredible digital options became known to me. The client and her mom are both horse people so she wanted costume horse photos printed as a gift for her mom. I don’t think I was that nervous because I know them well, but taking money was strange. And I remember thinking I was coming down with a terrible cold that day, but that was just the start of my seasonal allergies. Since the photos were meant to look old-fashioned, she asked me to edit out telephone lines but I didn’t know how to use Photoshop! I had my boyfriend at the time do it for me.
3. How do you prepare yourself for a photo session besides getting your equipment together? Does weather affect your shoots? How do you prepare/protect yourself, your gear, your client?
I’m actually going to copy and paste something I wrote once – about the ten or so steps I take before every photo shoot. Weather is always a factor in scheduling. Same with seasons and sunsets. I’ve actually only experienced rain a handful of times! I factor it all in – I’m very thorough with equipment and lighting and if I need to rent the most perfect lens for a shoot, I always do. I find shelters or umbrellas or plastic bags. Anything! Here are my game day prep steps:
1. I wake up in the morning and the first thing I do is check for any obvious anxiety. Am I nervous? Am I worse? Nine times out of ten, I am calmer than I would imagine. Or I am more nervous than I would imagine, but it melts off when I get up.
2. I eat cereal, and nothing else. It soothes. Nothing else does.
3. I shower slowly. I rest and do deep breathing into my diaphragm, because that’s what I’ve heard I’m supposed to do. I think I’m doing it right because my stomach is rising, and not my chest. Ok, cool. Rinse and repeat that one several times.
4. I wear my lucky underwear, and if it’s not summer, I wear my lucky socks too. Even lipstick. It’s that whole mindset that if I look good, then I will feel good too. Or I can just pretend I’m as put together as I seem.
5. I blast music, like “Safe and Sound” or the “American Beauty” score. “Learning to Fly” by Tom Petty and “Song H” by Bruce Hornsby are really great too. There are a number of songs that are soothing and healing to me.
6. I spray an herbal spray called “Fear-Less” into my mouth a few times.
7. I reach out to all of you to tell me something good. And you do.
8. I take test shots of something beautiful and/or strange around my home or yard.
9. I hug Scarlet and listen to her voice. I hug Des and then think of the way he runs with his right arm out, like he’s in a dance.
10. I blast music in my car. I ask for wisdom from the Radio Gods. Often, it plays something like, “Photograph” or “White Wedding.” When I’m on my way to a wedding! To take photographs! Perfection.
4. What is the hardest part of the job when shooting for a client? What do you enjoy most?
The hardest part is the anticipation and waiting for the “click” moments. I would never end a shoot until I reached that point in which I realized that if something were to happen and the shoot were to end RIGHT THEN, I’d be ok with that. I’d have captured enough of those, “YES, this is why I do this!” moments. Where it all just..clicks. Generally that happens 5-10 times during a shoot because I never stop. And what do I enjoy most? The moments where it clicks into place. The connection.
5. How do you make your subjects comfortable about you and your camera’s presence and bring out their best? Do you and how much do (you have to) direct your client(s)?
That’s always the biggest question. I rely on pretty much 100% instinct so the fear that it won’t kick in is ever-present, but raw instinct does take over. I make them comfortable by being myself and talking to them and asking questions and shifting settings and lighting and poses. I definitely have to direct them. Of course. There are rarely 100% candid shoots and that’s ok. If it’s an adult, I direct with talking and wondering and more talking and shifting and wondering. If it’s a kid, I usually need an assistant to help me and it’s about changing the environment ever so slightly and following the lead of the child.
6. Do you have specific settings for your family portrait work you always rely on? E.g. do you shoot in aperture mode or completely manual, auto-focus or manual?
I always shoot in manual mode. It makes a huge difference! With children and families, I set a shutter speed of at least 1/250.
7. Do you use flash/lights & tripod & reflectors for on location shoots? What is in your camera bag while on an assignment?
I do have a few reflectors but I’m surprised by how seldom I use them. I guess they can be a bit of a pain without an assistant and I’m just not that big-time yet. I have an external flash unit and a Gary Fong Lightsphere that I carry with me at all times. I also have a portable lighting kit by CowboyStudios. It’s ok – nothing special. I keep it in the car for indoor shoots. I also have a slew of lighting products just for fun. My camera bag has the camera body, 3-4 lenses, the flash unit and a shutter buddy.
8. Do you shoot raw or jpg or both? And why?
I ONLY shoot RAW because the difference is astonishing at what you can fix – namely the exposure and white balance!
9. How much editing (beyond the basics) do you do and which tools do you use (most)? Explain your workflow and backup system.
I favor a clean look and I shoot way too many photos to get too fancy with editing. Since I shoot RAW, I have to add contrast, sharpening and white balance corrections in Lightroom. Then I bring the photos into Photoshop (Creative Suites) to see if there’s anything I can do to add a WOW factor. I like to write my own actions full of little special effects. Then I save the photos, go back into Lightroom and export them into JPEGs. I then put them into SmugMug, Dropbox and my external hard drive before deleting them off the computer hard drive. They’re RAW files so they take up quite a bit of space.
10. What is your favorite image you have shot recently? Can you describe its creation in regards to location, lighting, composition, camera settings etc. also your thoughts when creating the image and what it means to you?
There are so many recent ones that I just can’t share yet, because they’re either in process for a client, or I haven’t uploaded them yet from Florida! I really enjoyed this photo of a mama and her TWO-day-old baby. So young and fresh and pink!
It was meaningful because it was one of my first newborn shoots ever and I did have a connection to the subject and I thought that it became evident. The location was a really well-lit room in the client’s house. The composition was spontaneous, really. I shot with my favorite 50mm 1.4 lens and I’m going to guess the settings ranges because the files are now safely on my external hard drive and I haven’t a clue how to retrieve them. So the aperture was about 2.8, the shutter speed was well over 1/250 and the ISO was 200 because it was pretty bright in the house.
11. How tolerant are you when you see blurry or overly cluttered or under/over-exposed, over’this’ or ‘that’ images on social media?
I’m honestly pretty tolerant of it, mainly because I don’t look at photographs critically unless I’m asked to do so! And we all know the world is full of photos taken by non-professional photographers so I just pay attention to the subject matter.
Super duper extra bonus question
12. Is there anybody or anything you would love to photograph (except moose! J)? Name three or more – bucket list!!
1. Northern lights. (no explanation needed)
2. Blue whales. (no explanation needed)
3. Cassidy. I used to do it all the time, and now it’s mostly when he’s with the kids. Or dressed like a tree.
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