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!