FAQ : Reader Questions XI


I woke up yesterday morning determined to finish my Christmas shopping. I woke up this morning with a new pair of shoes, a new dress, and a complete list of gifts to be bought for others. Yeah, will power? I DON’T HAVE IT. In hopes of making me feel better about being totally selfish and not being in the Christmas spirit, I’m blogging a FAQ post in hopes of getting out of holiday purgatory. Like usual, I don’t think I’m a photo genius or guru…my hope is that this post helps one person. If more comes from it, I’ll be stoked…

Brandon asked:
My question is, do you have any tips on how to improve your manual exposure abilities? Do you have exercises that have helped you get certain lighting conditions down? Have you memorize certain settings for certain lighting conditions? Do you tend to use one metering mode, or do you switch off? Just any tips to improve my saavy (and speed) in manual exposure would be great!

As I mentioned in this post, when I bought my camera, it was set to evaluative metering and I haven’t changed it since. In all actuality, I use the LCD screen to gauge my exposure…I’ve done it from the beginning and it’s worked like a charm ever since! 🙂
However, when I first started, I was on the beach shooting and I was challenged to shoot manually. Having no idea where to begin, I asked for help. The setting I was given for shooting midday in full sun with my 70-200IS 2.8 lens was the following: f/2.8, 2500, 100 iso. All of a sudden, I felt like someone had given me a lump of gold. I finally found a place to start! I used that setting as the benchmark for all my shooting. I’d always start there and then change my settings accordingly when I was trying to learn how to shoot. For instance, if there was less light in a different situation, I’d first find the right iso, then change the shutter speed to find the right exposure. I know this must sound stupid to many people, but this was my setting…this was an eye-opening key to truly understanding my camera and challenging myself to become a professional photographer.

Christina asked:
I’ve been wanting to get more experience in the field of wedding photography … I am willing to be an assistant shooter, however, how do I contact photographers that are in need to second shooters?
Also, in starting a photography business, do you recommend that I take classes for that? or will internet research be sufficient (that’s what i’ve been doing so far…).

I addressed the subject of procuring a role as a second shooter on this post, so I hope that helps in a small way…
It’s hard recommending something not from my personal experience. Of course, I could imagine how things would be had I gone to photography school or taken classes, but that’d be like grasping at straw in a tornado. What I can talk about is my path…although I’ll be the first to admit it wasn’t easy or perfect!
I didn’t take classes, or classes in the formal sense anyway. JD bought me a camera in 2006 and I just started practicing. A lot. I forced myself to shoot everyday. I photographed at least one thing everyday manually, so I could better understand my camera. I surfed the Internet for advice and tutorials, but nothing really hit me because I’m a visual learner…I needed to see people in action. During my first two years of business, I attended over ten workshops and seminars. Maybe more! Going to workshops was how I learned best and it exponentially propelled my growth. The people I met, the things I learned, the miles I traveled, all made up my ad hoc photo education. And I’m proud of it.

Denise asked:
My question is, understanding that the quality of equipment makes a difference in your photography, do I need to wait until I purchase professional lenses before I can charge for my work?

To be honest, I don’t think you’re asking the right question. In my opinion, you should ask if people are willing to pay you now, regardless of your equipment! 🙂 I don’t think equipment makes the photography…the photographer makes the photography. Honestly. Having said that, however, procuring professional lenses is always beneficial and allows you to achieve the type of images you’re proud to share, and also attracts clients who appreciate your aesthetic and professional appeal.

Lisa asked:
When I checked out your wedding pictures I was trying to figure out what lens you use the most? Would love & appreciate any advice.

I use the 50mm, 1.2 and the 85mm, 1.2 the absolute most! I can’t live without those lenses and they’ve become a cornerstone in how I shoot. However, I would venture to say I use the the 50mm the most out of all my lenses.

Other frequently asked questions…
What camera and lenses I use: HERE
Focus: HERE and HERE
Lighting: HERE (using natural reflectors) and HERE (using off camera flash)
Photoshop: SOOC Comparisons, HERE and HERE for Photoshop actions I use and examples.

And because posts are always better with a photo…here’s a sneak peek of what’s in store in the next few days….

Happy Sunday!

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  1. Raquel

    December 20th, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    thanks! It is quite refreshing to come across someone who is willing to share their knowledge and who is not intimidated by bettering other photographers. It’s nice to know that you see that clients all over the country will benefit from better photographers and you are on a mission to see that come to fruition. Thanks for all you do!

  2. Reyna Alailima

    December 20th, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    I am SO excited to finally see you shoot a wedding where I actually know and love the people you’re shooting!! I know you’ll tell the story of thier love better than anyone else possibly could! XOXO

  3. Kare

    December 20th, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Love your FAQs. Some day I’ll ask something so I get to have my name up in lights! I need to work on manual exposures so I’ll take your advice and experiment.

  4. Paula

    December 20th, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    yeah~~ I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these posts!! Food for my photography soul! 🙂 Thanks!!!

  5. Amber Fox

    December 20th, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Jasmine, you are rad! Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I thank you for your humility and your unbelievable willingness to share your secrets. I have learned so much from reading your site and being inspired by your images. God bless you & JD this Christmas!

  6. Dawn McCarthy

    December 20th, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    LOVE your FAQ posts!!! As always, I appreciate your candidness. I know it must get repetitive but honestly…you are an inspiration. And btw…I did finish all of my Christmas shopping yesterday and I was so proud! It felt good to wake up with that behind me today. But now…the wrapping! : )

  7. Connie Sithi

    December 20th, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    I love your FAQs! And um, I have issues NOT buying something for myself when I go Christmas shopping, too!

  8. Melissa Papaj

    December 20th, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing Jasmine! I too had a hard time Christmas shopping and came home with more for me than anyone else…sigh…

  9. Brandon

    December 20th, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Thanks, Jasmine! I always love your FAQ posts and I appreciate you getting to my question today.

    Thank you for being the inspiration you are to so many of us!

  10. Nellie Guerrero

    December 20th, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    I just got my 50mm 1.2 and totally thought of you 🙂 thx for your help Jas!! I heart ya!!

  11. Caitlin

    December 20th, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    I am so grateful for these posts. Not only for the awesome information you share, but the wonderful feeling I get in realizing other people struggle with the same questions that I do! How did you determine what workshops to go to?

  12. claire

    December 20th, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    J* you rock as always! thanks i heart these posts so much.
    Merry Christmas!

  13. Connie

    December 20th, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    I am just like that Jasmine… I go Christmas shopping and end up with a bunch of bags for myself and a longer list for others! What is wrong with us – hee, hee! Thanks for sharing all your camera info… love that you share!

  14. feuza

    December 20th, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    oh thank you, this was so helpful~ love it

  15. Linda

    December 20th, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    Thanks!! This was a wonderful gift and think of how many people received it and were blessed by it. You give so much and we greatly appreciate it. That is what we love about you!

  16. gina

    December 20th, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    thanks Jasmine…I love your FAQ posts!

  17. Jeanette

    December 20th, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    You are amazing! Thank you for sharing so much. I think some photographers are stingy with their knowledge but you give it freely and so candidly. Thank you so much for that! I love your work, it’s amazing and your blog is fabulous!!

  18. s h e r r y

    December 20th, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Jasmine! 🙂 🙂

  19. Etoile

    December 20th, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    I love these posts so much. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Lori

    December 20th, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    I’m so happy to hear your choice in lenses. I pretty much never take my 50mm off. Unless I have to of course. I also love what your said about workshops. I’m still trying to convince my hubby that is the best route for me. I can’t wait to attend a jasmine start workshop!

  21. Alexandra

    December 20th, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    You’re fabulous, thanks for always sharing.

  22. Catherine

    December 20th, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    What a great Christmas Present! Thank you for answering FAQ’s. It’s just so helpful! Merry Christmas to you…. enjoy the boots : )

  23. Barb

    December 20th, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Thanks you Jasmine for being so generous with your knowledge and for providing so much inspiration! Even my daughter drools over your blog (she’s 12).

  24. Karissa

    December 20th, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    I agree 50mm 1.2 is the BOMB!!cant wait to do your workshop in OZ in a few weeks….not long now….eeeeiiiiieee

  25. Ali

    December 20th, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    Thank you so much for this awesome post! I love how you share so freely, you are such an inspiration in so many ways. Also, I’m happy to know I’m not the only one who can’t resist shopping for myself as well as everyone else!

  26. Gail

    December 21st, 2009 at 12:16 am

    Jasmine, I had to laugh because I just finished my Xmas shopping but in the process bought a pair of jeans, sweater and shirt for myself!! 🙂 I can totally relate!

    And speaking of buying things..I just got the 50 1.2!!!!!!!!!! SOOO excited to put it to work!

  27. Ashley

    December 21st, 2009 at 12:38 am

    Great post!! I love all your FAQ posts!!

  28. jason

    December 21st, 2009 at 1:26 am

    jasmine rocks!

  29. Jennifer

    December 21st, 2009 at 2:29 am

    You are truly amazing! So humble, too! I want to be like you when I grow up! =)

  30. anda

    December 21st, 2009 at 2:41 am

    you are definitely out of holiday purgatory after this post! i especially appreciate your answer to the first question. i just learned so much from you. AGAIN!!

  31. Emily Heizer Photography

    December 21st, 2009 at 2:42 am

    Hey Jasmine! That post you link to doesn’t say what CAMERA you shoot with, just the lenses! False Advertiser! If I sweet talk Polo can he make Mommy spill the beans????

  32. Emily Heizer Photography

    December 21st, 2009 at 2:45 am

    THERE IT IS!!! It was hidden away in the 2nd "focus" post. 🙂

  33. Kristin Hartness

    December 21st, 2009 at 3:27 am

    Thanks, Jasmine, for being so willing to share your knowledge. These FAQ posts are so helpful!

  34. Lisa H. Chang

    December 21st, 2009 at 3:49 am

    Thanks for the tips on shooting manually. It’s something I’m trying but struggling w/ a little ~ especially when taking pictures for people. I find it easier to switch to Aperture Priority when there’s a lot going on. But I agree that manual is the way to go to understand exposure more!

  35. jacqueline fronters

    December 21st, 2009 at 4:13 am

    Thank you so much for this knowledge and sharing. It’s always appreciated.

  36. Sarah Ciccone

    December 21st, 2009 at 4:28 am

    I love your FAQ’s Jasmine! I’m always looking forward to reading them! Your sharing of knowledge and how you handle certain situations is always very much appreciated. Thank you also for showing that it is still possible to be a fabulous photographer without going to school. Gives me more hope since I can’t go to school for it anytime soon. Been studying online info. and practicing like crazy 🙂 Thanks again for the inspiration and I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!!!

  37. Stephanie

    December 21st, 2009 at 4:56 am

    Jasmine, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge. Lighting an posing is my most difficult area! THANK YOU! 🙂

  38. Lydia

    December 21st, 2009 at 5:13 am

    Jasmine, you’re such a blessing to so many people! I’ve learned so much from you over the years. I can’t thank you enough for your willingness to share!

  39. Suki Zoë

    December 21st, 2009 at 7:17 am

    Thank you so much for sharing so much!
    I’m looking @ lighting equipment at the moment – I read your blog on off camera lighting, with the LiteDome – what is the light inside the dome? Suki x

  40. Heather LaBone

    December 21st, 2009 at 11:00 am

    I love you. Thank you. You ROCK!

  41. Jane

    December 21st, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Ahhhh, my heart just melted. So great of you!

  42. Jo

    December 21st, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Jasmine, be stoked!

  43. kristin partin

    December 21st, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    you are an angel.

  44. ajira

    December 21st, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Thanks for this FAQ! It came at just the right time too as just yesterday I was struggling to expose correctly for my subject and the great sky in the middle of the day. It was super sunny, we were on a pier… beautiful, but hard to meter for! I’m still not able to always judge from the LCD if I’ve nailed the exposure or not. It’s just iffy. I did try the setting you recommended above though so I’m going to look at my images now and see how it all worked out!

    I appreciate how much you share. Thank you!

  45. Diandra

    December 21st, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    I always look forward to your FAQ posts. And I cant wait to see that shoot!!!

  46. Jennifer Brotchie

    December 21st, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Always so very helpful! Thanks Jasmine!

  47. Tammy

    December 21st, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Thanks for sharing! Makes me feel like I made the right choice signing up for Imagaing USA next month! Wish you were speaking though. Merry Christmas and have a great 2010!

  48. Brian Fletcher

    December 21st, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Great tips as always, Jasmine!!

  49. B

    December 21st, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!! Joseph and Amy look amazing!!! I can’t WAIT to see that post 🙂

  50. Shang

    December 21st, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    I love all your FAQ posts. I loved this one in particular because I found out that we both love a 50mm and 85mm! Except yours open much wider than mine =)

  51. Tracy Miller

    December 21st, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    Great Post Jasmine! I always enjoy reading the answers to your FAQs… Keep it up!

  52. corey

    December 21st, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    Your tips are always helpful.. Jas, im currently in tampico, mexico have been shooting massively!!!! I love your country one of my best friend has a home here and its beautiful !!! Merry Christmas to you and jd and of course POLO..

  53. Mia

    December 21st, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    I love your FAQs!!! Thanks for these and please keep posting more! You’re the best!

  54. Becca Jewel

    December 22nd, 2009 at 12:57 am

    So what does the 85mm do for your photo. how does it enhance your photo?

  55. Cyn

    December 22nd, 2009 at 6:02 am

    OMG!! You are doing their wedding?! That is soooooo awesome!

  56. Leyla

    December 22nd, 2009 at 7:47 am

    I love your FAQ posts! Even though I’m not a professional photographer, I find the info very helpful.

    Thanks so much for sharing! You rock! =)


  57. jeramy

    December 22nd, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    great shot. love it. merry christmas!

  58. Vicki

    December 22nd, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Very encouraging post. Thank you so very much.

  59. cassandra m

    December 22nd, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    always a good read. love these posts.

  60. Kenny Stoudt

    December 23rd, 2009 at 12:29 am

    Love all of it!!!

  61. Nadia Meli

    December 23rd, 2009 at 8:04 am

    Thank you for sharing such precious advice! So helpful!
    nadia : )

  62. Angel Pope

    December 24th, 2009 at 3:12 am

    Thanks. I read some of your comments in Professional Photographer awhile back and was so excited that your favorite lens was also mine! Not only because you rock but because it gives me hope. 🙂

  63. Autumn Nguyen

    December 24th, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    You are a true inspiration! I love your posts and learn so much from them.

    Happy Christmas.

  64. Jan

    December 25th, 2009 at 3:20 am

    Thanks for sharing, Jasmine!

  65. Allison

    December 26th, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    Jasmine, thanks for sharing so much knowledge with us! I’ve learned so much from you and am constantly inspired by your work!

  66. Lisa Fischer

    December 28th, 2009 at 1:10 am

    I am one. You help me daily.

  67. Samantha Morris

    December 29th, 2009 at 4:04 am

    You are so awesome… Thank you so much for being so open and willing to help. Your blog keeps me focused and inspired to do better at what I do. If you are ever up for a trip to Montana, It would be great to have you up to do a workshop!:-)

  68. Naomi Figueroa

    December 30th, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    I love these posts! Please keep them coming whenever you have time. Thank you so much for sharing all that you’ve learned. I am truly learning to appreciate that about you and other photographers that are willing to give back–it sets you apart in a great way from others, and it’s something I aspire to do as well–to give back, not just expect to receive.

  69. Zabrina

    December 31st, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    Hey Jasime,

    I love this useful tips post. You are such an inspiration. Your sharings is very beneficial to new photographers like us. Thank you!!!! I can’t wail til coming to your class at WPPI in March! Happy New year to you!
    btw, I am Scott Robert’s student 🙂