FAQ : Reader Questions, II

Photography

Happy Mid-Week! Today I drove to the gym…to run on the treadmill. At the time, it made sense, but when I came home JD asked why I drove someplace to run when I could’ve simply stepped outside for the same thing. Dumbfounded, I stupidly replied, Sanjay Gupta…I like watching him on CNN when I run…so there.

In light of my profound question answering ability, I thought another FAQ Post would be just what I needed to restore my brain cells. Like always, I hope these posts help just one person. I don’t think my answers are profound or awesome, they’re just answers from my personal experience as a wedding photographer.

Courtney asked:
The main reason for contacting you is for help (hopefully). For some reason I can’t seem to get my images to look as smooth and creamy as yours which is the style I’m striving for. I’m sure it has everything to do with nailing the exposure in camera, which I’m really trying hard on, but I know some of it has to do with post processing also.

Yummm, smooth and buttery. Thanks for making me want a croissant…my thighs hate you! 😉
To be honest, 98% of the time I am NOT doing anything in post-processing to achieve this look. I’m somewhat skeptical using retouching tools because Photoshop is not my forte. When I have used skin enhancements, my subjects look like generic Barbie and Ken dolls, with their skin looking like plastic or saran wrap. And that’s just plain weird. If I do use a action, it’s Totally Rad Actions’s Pro Retouch. That action is simply divine and–when used with a low-opacity brush–can achieve nice results.
Like I’ve mentioned before in the FAQ posts, I shoot wide open all the time. When shooting at f/2.0 or less, skin naturally looks so beautiful. Clean, fresh, and young. Also, it totally helps if the client’s skin is naturally pretty…then it just makes me look like I’m doing something cool…when I’m not. 😉

Pablo asked:
I have a question and would like to see what your opinion is. I been taking photos for about a year now and I want to start making it a business but I don’t have a lot of experience doing weddings. What would you recommend me and how do I get more clients if I don’t have a big portfolio to show customers? Thank you in advance.

It’s hard for me to offer advice because I’m not very experienced. I mean, there are probably tons of more qualified people to answer this question (if you fall into this category, please feel free to leave advice in the comment box), but I’ll just explain how I gained experience.
When I first started, I joined OSP Photography Forum, which–no doubt–was the BEST for a burgeoning photographer like myself. I learned everything I know from that place and the members so painfully awesome! 🙂 I got really involved in posting questions and answers and I made cyber friends. These friends later invited me as their second shooter for local weddings. Some photographers would allow me to use the photos in my portfolio, others would not. Either way, I used every experience to learn and watch how seasoned pros worked. I photographed every and any weddings (regardless if I was paid) and I built my portfolio with their help. I owe them everything!

Christina asked:
I am trying to figure out if you are cropping your images or not? I know alot of photography forum sites are preaching shoot wide and crop later, but I wonder if this is a motto of yours as well?

Hmmm, maybe I’m a newbie, but I’ve never heard of shooting wide and cropping later. Call me crazy, but I try to shoot the photo as close to perfect as I can. Not that I’m saying the photo is perfect at all, but I’m at least trying. I could never imagine cropping all my photos to ensure a certain look, but more power to those who prefer this method. The only cropping I ever do is if my photo is tilted in such a way that it makes my eyes burn. Or want to climb out of their sockets. Sometimes I shoot in the weirdest positions so if the photo is tilted muy crazy, I’ll crop a tad. Other than that, no cropping for me! 🙂

Kayleen asked:
My main thing I was going to ask was do you ever feel like down the road you’ll regret not finishing law school. I mean, UCLA Law School is so prestigious and I know the competitiveness to get into secondary schools and you made it!

No. No. No. No. No. No. No. Never. No. Never. Never. No. Never. Ever
I don’t regret my decision one bit. Actually, there hasn’t been one day when I don’t thank God for steering me clear of what I thought was the Safe and Predictable Path. I still have nightmares I’m sitting in law school and a professor employs the Socratic method to call on me. The scene is always the same. He calls me out and I: 1. Melt into my chair, which means I have four legs; 2. Scream so loud fire comes from my nostrils; or 3. I sit still enough for the class to think I’m a mannequin and the only thing missing is my Summer Clearance sign.

Christine N. asked:
The question I have is about outsourcing. I keep hearing about outsourcing your back ups, your editing, your printing, everything. Could you recommend some companies that do outsourcing? I work full time to pay bills (not doing photography) and my time is really special to me and it would make my life so much easier if I didn’t have to run to the local print lab or spend time raw processing.

Great question! There are a ton of companies who’ll help you run your business as hands-off as you’d like it. Of course, everyone has their own preferences, so be sure to find the right fit for you.
I don’t outsource backing up. That is such a vital part of the process that I’d like to be in full control.
If you’d like to outsource your raw processing, definitely check out Photographer’s Edit.com. It’s such an awesome and dependable organization! If you’d like to try out their services, you can get a 20% DISCOUNT on your first order by typing in star at checkout.
I’m in the process of switching my print fulfillment services to Smug Mug Pro and I’m working on customizing my ordering gallery to be truly reflective of the Jasmine Star brand. Whoop, whoop! More info on this move soon…
I outsource my album design to Albumesque and my clients are always happy and satisfied with their wedding albums. I’ve maintained I’m a photographer, not a designer. I want to free myself from focusing on my weaknesses and channel my energy into my strengths and finding ways to give back.

And because posts are always better with a picture, here’s a sneak peek at a fun engagement session I shot yesterday…