FAQ : Reader Questions X


The last time JD was in Scottsdale, Arizona, he was there for a start-up company he worked for when we first got married. He traveled extensively and his absence made life feel extra lonely, but he continued to work for the company because he believed it held the keys for a bright future for us. He’d come home and recount stories of new restaurants or a cool deli he visited on his business trips and he promised to take me back one day. I politely smiled, but hoped we wouldn’t be going back for someone else’s company. I wanted us to go on our own, to be free from outside expectations and demands.
Today, I’m writing from our hotel room in Scottsdale happy to report the food has been just as good as JD recounted!

As we drove up the 51 Freeway, I turned to JD and asked, Can you BELIEVE we are here?! Together?! We’re incredibly stoked to be shooting a wedding tomorrow, and I am honored to share in such a special day with the bride and groom. Until then, however, JD and I plan on living life…free from outside expectations and demands.

I worked on a FAQ post on the plane ride, so I hope it helps at least one person. Like usual, I don’t think I’m right, cool, smart, or some type of sage…I’m simply answering questions the best I can and I hope they help! A few of the questions were emailed from readers, and others were pulled from my Facebook page

Julie asked:
Thanks for your recent post on shooting group formal photos at weddings! I’m curious what f/stop you use. Do you shoot group formals wide open with apertures like 1.8?

It’s funny because I received this question a lot after I blogged that post. While I love shooting wide open, I definitely do not shoot this way when shooting group formals. I don’t have a hard and fast rule, but I usually keep my aperture somewhere between f/4.0-5.6 (depending on how many people there are, and their formation) for bridal party pictures, and I keep the center focus on the bride

Wilamena asked:
I have a hard time coming up with things to blog about. You blog everyday without missing a beat and I can’t help but wonder how you do it. Do you have any tips on making my blog a little more personal, especially if I don’t have too many shoots to blog about?

Oh, Wilamena, welcome to the club! I struggle coming up with fresh content quite often, but I come to believe the blog is an integral part of who I am, and my business. My best piece of advice is not to think too much about what to write, think more about how to write it. Writing a story about a recent trip to the grocery market sounds mundane, but if you care about what you’re writing, readers will care too. I also have bi-weekly topics (like Kisses&Disses and FAQs) that make blogging a little more manageable. Furthermore, use your blog to share with others who you are. Do you like the QVC channel? Love cleaning your bathroom tiles with a toothbrush? Have a pet rock collection? Use your blog to showcase different components of your life to further define your character. Trust me…if you write, people will read.

Sarah asked:
Last weekend I shot a wedding and it went well except for family pictures. There was no where to shoot the groups and I felt stuck. Do you ever struggle with this and how did you handle it?

Yes and yes. I can think of two weddings rather recently when I had to make the tough choice of moving large groups of people because of harsh light/mediocre background. In both situations, the light was way too strong (once sidelit, the other backlit), and I struggled with what to do. It’s often difficult to make a decision and move a large group of people, but I definitely think it’s in everyone’s best interest. Most brides think it’s of utmost importance to have formal photos at the ceremony site (under an archway, or at the end of the aisle) and while I don’t mind this, I will kindly offer another option and explain the light would be better elsewhere. Yes, this is tough to do…but my brides hire me because I’m a professional and they trust my opinion.
In both aforementioned instances, I wanted to melt when I explained to the bride that the traditional photo location wouldn’t work, but both brides were so supportive and I’m happy with the final results. And if I’m happy, I’ve come to believe my brides will be too! 🙂

Faraz asked:
When framing, how much space should I leave along the borders of my frame so that I can crop the photo for different print sizes and still be safe?

You know, I have to admit your question make me think long and hard about how I shoot. Then I got a little worried because I don’t think in aspect ratios, I think in moments. I love shooting on the fly, so if a client orders a print later and a portion of the photo is cropped, I’ve learned to live with it because the aura/essence/moment can still be felt. Freeing yourself from thinking of how the photo will be ordered will allow you creative freedom and I think your clients will love the photo any way they order it.

Mike asked:
How much time do u spend on your images?

This is an interesting question because I don’t spend too much time on my images in Photoshop. I definitely stay away from over-processed, action influenced images, so I use Photoshop as a tool to refine my style, not define my style…if that makes sense. Every picture is different, but I don’t usually spend more than a couple minutes on an image. I know there are some photographers who roll their eyes and despise my approach, but every artist is different and I prefer to shoot images really close to how I want them straight out of camera. If you’re working with a picture you already like, Photoshop should be used to make it better. There’s commonly held beliefs that photographers can ‘fix’ an image later in Photoshop, but I’d kindly disagree with that approach and encourage newbies to hone their skills as photographers, not Photoshop artists.
Having said that, if you’d like to read more about what Photoshop actions I use, you can click HERE and HERE for detailed posts relating to this.

Happy Friday!

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  1. Kare

    October 16th, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    Thanks, J; Happy Friday, to you, too! Can’t wait to see shots from tomorrow’s wedding!

  2. Larry Reeves

    October 16th, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    Welcome to Arizona! Thanks for this post…awesome. I couldn’t agree more with you on the last point…if it needs ‘fixing’ I toss it.

  3. Jennifer O.

    October 16th, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    I love reading your blog, it’s very inspiring!

  4. Katie Whitcomb

    October 16th, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    I love your FAQ’s. I was just thinking of emailing you about your inspiration for blogging everyday. I have incorporated Vendor Spotlight’s and links to websites like J.Crew of things that I like to show my bride ideas. As wedding professionals, we get asked all the time of who we recommend or for advice because we’ve "seen it all". To our clients, that makes us that much more special. Thanks for the post.


  5. Karen R.

    October 16th, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    Hi Jasmine! I spend a lot of time in Phoenix (friends, family, etc), and don’t know where you’re shooting tomorrow, but if you have time while you’re in Scottsdale, go visit the Phoenician on Camelback… WONDERFULLY gorgeous location. I believe they do brunch on Sundays … massively expensive, TOTALLY worth it (we go there for Thanksgiving every year and the diversity is amazing, even for vegetarians like me — and you!) Have a great time, hope all goes well and ENJOY!

  6. Nicoracle Photography

    October 16th, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    Oh J*, just when I couldn’t stand another moment of counting the minutes until the weekend hits you saved me with a nice long post full of your humble wisdom.

    Thank you so much for being such a rockin’ lady- there are so many photographers out there like me who owe you big time for sharing yourself with us.

    You always challenge me to try to be a better version of myself. Thank you.

  7. Annie @ Marry You Me

    October 16th, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    Have fun in Scottsdale! That’s where I’m from – my family used to own what is now The Sanctuary on Camelback!! If you like adorable lunch places check out Arcadia Farms. Delish and a local legend.

  8. Karen Sumner White

    October 16th, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    Thanks for the post – I am a longtime photographer who is just about to start blogging and I need all the help I can get! And a HUGE thank you for reminding everyone that the "I’ll fix it in Photoshop" attitude is one they need to drop and spend time learning how to get it right in the camera! I love the amazing things that you can do to enhance an image in Photoshop, but a bad photo fixed in Photoshop is still a bad photo!

  9. Life with Kaishon

    October 16th, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    This was so interesting. I am glad you are in Arizona and I hope you have a wonderful, wonderful time!

  10. Marissa Rodriguez

    October 16th, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    LOVE FAQ!!! So awesome of you do do one of these while on the plane when you could be doing something totally different! Thank you!

  11. Jennifer Brotchie

    October 16th, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    Jasmine, I learn soo much from these posts and I truly appreciate them. I like the way you think and it continues to inspire me with my own business. Like Oprah said the other day, "You manifest your own reality." You being in Arizona with JD is proof that it can happen, it can manifest.

  12. Lana

    October 16th, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    I was just thinking this morning, gosh I hope Jasmine does another FAQ soon!!! Thank you Jasmine, you actually answered a question of mine in here and your constant generosity with your talent and expertise is sooooo appreciated. Have a great weekend!

  13. Sherry

    October 16th, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    Thanks for being a rockSTAR. ;D ;D (I think I’m so witty. But not really…)

  14. michelle sidles

    October 17th, 2009 at 1:07 am

    Thank you!! Your response to the last question about editing was so refreshing! I was thinking random thoughts earlier today and I had a fleeting thought that there is this impression that if you’re not a great photoshop artist then you’re not a great photographer. (this is MY impression). However as I have practiced/practiced/practiced I’m nailing my images in camera more and more and don’t feel compelled to do a bunch of PS work to them. Your response is very appreciated. 🙂

  15. Dawn Regan

    October 17th, 2009 at 1:11 am

    Thank you so much for taking time out of your very busy schedule to post FAQs, Jasmine. It’s like opening a Christmas present anytime I see that you did an FAQ post! Yay! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  16. Lydia

    October 17th, 2009 at 1:28 am

    I love these FAQ because I feel like I’m getting inside your head for just a moment and uncovering a treasure trove of wisdom!

  17. Erika

    October 17th, 2009 at 2:04 am

    I can’t believe you are in Scottsdale and we are not getting together!! Oh yea maybe it’s because we have never met. 🙂 Thanks for another fabulous FAQ post and enjoy your time here in the desert.

  18. jen

    October 17th, 2009 at 2:28 am

    Thanks for sharing tips with us!! it is helpful to get ideas!

  19. Claudia Hung

    October 17th, 2009 at 3:37 am

    Whoa! As much as I love Jasmine I’d have to disagree with what she wrote about framing. Really? As a professional photographer, shouldn’t we be thinking about composition and framing? I can’t imagine trying to ask a client to live with a photo of someone’s head cropped off because I was "thinking in the moment" and say "Hey, but you can still feel the aura!"

    I’m not suggesting that we should be over thinking the issue of how much trim is going to be cut off and whatnot but I imagine that it’s much like any other technical aspect of photography: Familiarize yourself with it so that it becomes a part of the way you shoot instead of getting caught up in the technicalities. Make it a habit to give yourself some space around the edges for trim or make sure you cover off a "safe" shot first before you do creative things with cropping. This is how you free yourself from over thinking and allow you to shoot with creative freedom.

    2 cents.


  20. Trevor Dayley

    October 17th, 2009 at 5:05 am

    Wonderful post as always. I have started and ended a blog a few different times just because I didn’t feel like my writing skills were near J* levels! Thanks for inspiring me to try it again, and like you said just "care about what you’re writing" and "share with others who you are…" Sounds simple enough. Now time to get it going again…

  21. Lisa H. Chang

    October 17th, 2009 at 7:02 am

    Hey J* This post is great ~ very helpful. Thanks for the story about moving groups for formals. It’s great to see how professionals approach issues like this 🙂

  22. Alexandra

    October 17th, 2009 at 8:31 am

    Oooh I love seeing FAQ blog posts! Thanks a lot Jasmine 🙂

  23. CReid

    October 17th, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Hey Jasmine

    Thanks for the knowledge, in particular Wilamena’s question regarding blogging. Thanks for inspiring us Photogs.


  24. Paul

    October 17th, 2009 at 11:35 am

    When you can’t think of what to blog.. keep answering questions:-)… I love these posts…!

  25. Feuza

    October 17th, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    I always love these and thi s one was extra nice! thank you

  26. Linda Sherrill

    October 17th, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Thanks for another great blog subject (s).

    You inspired me on your anniversary to write a blog about mine…check it out if you’d like..

  27. Therese Beth Photography

    October 17th, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    As always, great advice! Thanks for sharing with us.

  28. Tiffany Wirth

    October 17th, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Just another newbie fan wanting to say THANKS! As always your advice is extremely helpful and inspiring. Thank you for being so open about what you do and how you do it, especially with Photoshop and the equipment that you use.

  29. Amanda

    October 17th, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    Hi! I’ve never commented before, but I did have one question. Would you be willing to show a before and after shot? As in, what one of your images looks like straight out of the camera and then after post processing. I’m sure your images look great SOOC, but it might give a little hope to those of us who are strugging along.

  30. Mandi

    October 17th, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. You are such and inspiration. I too shoot for the moment, especially with my lifestyle photography. I love the freedom to be creative and I find you really get to catch those intimate moments.

  31. Kristy Cefalo

    October 17th, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Thanks for posting these answers. I feel so much better about the decisions I make as a photographer. I really feel strongly about maintaining my creative freedom rather than worrying about cropping. I shoot what I see.

  32. Serendipity Photography

    October 17th, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    Yes, I agree that coming up with the content for the blog is hard — but I think you do a superb job!! 🙂 Great work too!

  33. Hannah

    October 17th, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Hello! I just thought for those of you that have Wilamena’s trouble I would give you a couple ideas…

    One thing that is extremly helpful is to do a photography challenge. Right now I’m doing a 30 day photography challenge and it always gives me something to blog.

    Another thing, is if you just did a shoot but don’t have all the images ready, you can do a "sneak peek" for your daily post.

    Well, I hope this gives you some ideas.


  34. katelyn

    October 17th, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    yay for not over-editng! I think that happens oh so often to photographers who have just been introduced to actions. I know I definitely went through that phase! They’re great in moderation but controlling them is key. @claudiahung: I understand your reasoning but I also think an image’s composition should be accurate before say, an 8×10 is printed. If I always left extra space or a border "just in case" they ordered a 8×10, my composition wouldn’t be inspired by the moment but rather by a future print order. I think don’t anyone is saying that chopping a head off is acceptable…but framing an image and nailing the composition should be done in the moment, don’t allow extra space just for printing purposes and sacrifice awesome composition. Looked at your site, loved it!

  35. Amy

    October 18th, 2009 at 2:22 am

    "I know there are some photographers who roll their eyes and despise my approach, but every artist is different and I prefer to shoot images really close to how I want them straight out of camera."
    And this, my dear, is a big reason why you inspire me and why I think some day I can do the same. 😉

  36. Jenna

    October 18th, 2009 at 3:50 am

    Hi Jasmine. I was wondering if you had any advice on camera equipment? Starting out I am having a hard time deciding which camera is the best. What lens do you find most benifical? I feel like there are 100 avenues and 1,000 ways to turn! You sure are on the right road! You are a truely talented photographer and I enjoy following your blog. Thanks for your time.

  37. michelle cunningham

    October 18th, 2009 at 4:40 am

    you know what jas … congratulations on getting to a happy place. isn’t it awesome when we can look back and say.. wow… we’ve come a long way!

  38. gina

    October 18th, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    thanks for sharing your talent. we all learn so much from you.

  39. Rima

    October 18th, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Thanks for sharing J* I found it very useful. I spent my past weekend reading your blog from previous years. Your work and charisma is infectious, I would love to meet you some day, hopefully you’ll do a workshop in the UK, I’ll be the first one to sign up!

  40. Malia

    October 18th, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    Thanks Jasmine! I love your answer to that last question! Your photos are always beautiful and natural and never over processed! Love it!

  41. stephanie

    October 19th, 2009 at 3:29 am

    can tell you enough how much i love FAQ DAYS! i always learn something new!

  42. Genoveva Wayment

    October 19th, 2009 at 5:44 am

    thanks so much for answering these questions!
    my photography website

  43. Brian Fletcher

    October 19th, 2009 at 5:44 am

    "I definitely stay away from over-processed, action influenced images, so I use Photoshop as a tool to refine my style, not define my style" – Great advice for any new photographer!

  44. Yaeko Photography

    October 19th, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Hi Jasmin, thanks for sharing. I love your blog. I appreciate your work. Natascha

  45. Stephanie Stewart

    October 19th, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Love your FAQ posts! I truly do learn something from each one, and from about each post, seriously! So thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I love what you say about not over-processing and the advice for coming up with blog content, which is one (of many!) aspects I need to work on.

  46. megmanionsilliker

    October 19th, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    i just love your style. period.

  47. Mark Daams

    October 20th, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Your FAQ posts are very interesting to read. I always learn something I can use. Thanks!

  48. amanda thiessen

    October 20th, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    These posts are my fav!!! Thank you!!!

  49. Susan

    October 21st, 2009 at 3:37 am

    So awesome – thank you for the info . . . love these posts!

  50. Sandra Yu Photography

    October 21st, 2009 at 4:38 am

    J* Ditto on the blog struggle. I will take your advice to heart. I will believe "If I write, it; they’ll come"

  51. Mike

    October 21st, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Thanks Jasmine for answering my question! I’ve been a fan for awhile and appreciate your input. Keep up the Awesomeness!

  52. Keri Welch

    October 23rd, 2009 at 3:01 am

    These posts are so helpful for us new photographers…thank you!

  53. Christina

    October 23rd, 2009 at 6:01 am

    I love your photos! And your answers are so helpful to us newer photographers. Its nice seeing an experienced photographer give advice and encourage new artists.

  54. arielle joy

    October 23rd, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to do these super helpful FAQ’s for us Jasmine! You’re the best!

  55. Meredith

    October 25th, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Thank you so much for offering these Q&A’s! They are so helpful and I love your honesty!

  56. Becky

    October 28th, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    I love that you don’t do much work in photo shop. I struggle so much with this. I’ve learned to shoot clean and then I come into the wedding market and I have brides pass me up because they want more vintage/photoshoped images. I must admit I have been selling my soul to the action devil.

  57. jun

    December 27th, 2009 at 1:43 am

    "I know there are some photographers who roll their eyes and despise my approach"

    I was surprised when I read this line. I can’t believe there would be anyone who would do that. I really like your style. Natural light most of the time and moment driven. I kinda like your point as well to shy away in photoshop as much as possible.

  58. Angel Pope

    January 7th, 2010 at 1:29 am

    "And if I’m happy, I’ve come to believe my brides will be too! :)"

    That could not be more true! I must be my own worst critic. And if I can make it to the point where I am consistently happy then I will certainly have some ecstatic clients!!!

    As always, you inspire!

  59. Malou

    May 20th, 2014 at 9:13 am

    Great FAQ! I was already following your tutorials! Great work your doing and thank you for all your great tips!