Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Finally as promised, your Q&A

I am caught up enough to start to answer some of the questions that have come my way over the past few weeks. Hopefully worth the wait!!

This is a mixture of questions I received both from photographers starting out and parents.

Q:How much "fixing" or actually photoshop work do you do to your photos? (maybe it is a secret). It seems that I do A LOT.....maybe too much?? I am always fixing the levels & changing it from color to bw. I am also always cropping the picture to get that "angel look".....But am not very good at it I am afraid...Sure it just takes a lot of practice. Anyways, wish I lived closer to you, I could be your next intern! You do FANTASTIC work!
A: Yes my photoshop work is top secret classified. Next question.

Kidding! Seriously when I first started out I had the compulsion to do tons of PS work on each and every picture. I quickly learned that just because you can doesn't mean that you should; At least, not for me and my style of photographs. I have learned over the years to get the best possible in-camera results and just use PS to crop and "tweak". I will typically crop all proofs to 5x7 dimensions, and add more contrast and get the exposure right with levels. Other than that I sharpen with unsharp mask only before printing or posting on the web, and that is it.

Q: I love receiving your updates, and I do have a question for you :) When taking photos, my biggest problem is not knowing what to say to people when snapping to get a natural look out of them. Everything I read just says to keep it light and humored, but when in the spot, I'm not sure how to carry this out? I would love to hear how you get some of your priceless faces as a lot of people are uncomfortable in front of the camera.
A: Every family and child is different, but I do have a few sure-fire tricks to getting different expressions. Peek a boo from behind the camera works with babies almost everytime. (my baby planners are all nodding their heads right now) I'll also play peek a boo with big kids who think they are too cool for me, just to crack that 'real' smile. I have to do that with my own 8 year old son incidentally! With kids I just get to know them and get them talking about their lives, their expressions will turn natural when they forget they are being watched. Just remember that generally, most people are not comfortable in front of a camera, so turn the tables on them and act like a fool so that they become conscious of you and not themselves. Talking to you or each other=good, uncomfortable silence=bad.

Q: Do you shoot RAW or JPEG? What is your reasoning behind your choice?
A:Jpeg, mostly because I'm lazy and don't want to mess with RAW, but also because I feel at this point like I have perfected my exposure and color correcting. RAW is great when you are just starting because if you mess up your color or exposure by a couple of stops, you can fix it. I've never used it and I know lots of photographers out there sware by it, but I heart JPEG.

Q: How do you convert your digital images from color to black and white? Of all the digital b/w images I have come across, yours look the most like film.
A: Thank you Molly! I worked a long time to find that "perfect" BW look in photoshop, and I'm a real snob about black and white images since I learned photography the old fashioned way, processing my own film in a black room. Basically without getting into all the nitty gritty details, I use the channel mixer tab, select the "lightness" channel, and then adjust the contrast from there. When I'm tweaking my images I make sure skin has lots of highlights in levels. My college professor always taught me that a perfect b/w image has a nice mix of white whites and deep blacks.

Q: I just bought a Canon 5D and love it. I want more than anything to do what you do and I want to take clients someday. How do I make the move from friends and family to real clients?
A: If you're a photographer just starting out in this business, my best advice is to pay your dues and know your stuff inside and out before you start charging. When I say know your stuff, I don't mean you can take a picture that your family and friends like. I mean know your camera from the inside out, understand Photoshop and how to use it, understand lighting, develop your style, and that is just the photography part. To run a successful business you need a business plan-a set of goals for yourself. You also need to understand basic accounting or hire a bookkeeper, set up a sales tax permit, file a business license, know how to market yourself, and provide customer service that is specific to the market you want to work in. It took me four long years of portfolio building, classes, unpaid internships, and practice before I felt comfortable charging even close to what I charge now, and you owe it to your clients to be knowledgeable and professional before you take their money. Go to workshops, intern with another photographer, take business classes, build your portfolio--and the business will come when you are ready!

I hear horror stories on a weekly basis from clients who contact me after going to someone with a webpage who claimed to be a professional, but the pictures they got back were atrocious or the customer service was awful, or they just plain got ripped off. Avoid the bad PR that you will no doubt incur by knowing your stuff inside and out before you get out there- It will be worth it in the long run!

Q: Are you ever going to have those parent workshops you promised us?
A: Yes! I was completely overwhelmed at the demand for the workshops and decided that I wanted to put them off until I could devote my complete attention to them. I am looking at a date in January or February when things are slow for me and families are not on vacation. I will keep you updated-if you would like the latest info on those emailed to you, please make sure you are on my list of interested parties- deanna@devine-memories.com

Q: What software do you use for your slideshows? Amazing work! Your an inspiration!
A: I use Pics2Exe, and thank you!

Q: You seem to really love what you do and have a natural ability with children, what is your background?
A: Before I was a photographer, I was a preschool teacher and director for 5 years, and of course, have 8 years experience as a mom. My college major was elementary education. And I can't imagine doing anything else, and thank God every single day that I have been so incredibly blessed with this gift and the circumstances to live my dream!

Q: What do you do to pass the time when you are proofing? Thanks and I love reading your blog everyday!
A: Sometimes I set up my laptop next to my monitor and watch movies or ABC online (old episodes of LOST or Desperate Housewives) , but most of the time I rely on on good ol' Itunes to pass the time. I also have a large list of blogs I keep up with when my pictures are batching. The blogs I read are a wide range, from friends and family to mom blogs to other photographers to business and marketing to celebrity gossip.

Thanks again for the questions and keep sending them! I know I have missed a few but my eyelids that have been open since 5AM are not cooperating with me anymore!

1 comment:

Summer said...

Thank you so much! These are great tips!