I'm incredibly excited to release this blog, which is a list of questions I've recieved from all of you over the past year or so. It seems like a fitting first blog to start up the journey of writing weekly blogs for you guys. I hope you enjoy the questions, learn a bit and if you already know it all, pass it onto someone you know who could learn from it!
Q. Who are you?
A. I’m still discovering this in all honesty but if I had to put it into a few short words I’m a compulsive creative, an observer (I believe my Meyers Briggs is INFP), a student, a photographer (whatever that means), a father, and the soon to be husband of Bailey, the one and only, most beautiful women I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.
Q. How old are you?
A. I am 23 years young, turning 24 in September (time freaking flies) and as best I can these days I’m taking full advantage of the fact that my young body can still drive 8+ hours in a day, sleep 2-4 hours before sunrise and with the help of a bit of coffee still manage to be decently functional throughout the rest of the day. ha.
Q. What is your backstory?
A. I grew up on 21 acres on land on Whidbey Island, in Washington State. I got a jump-start on my love for the outdoors running around the woods on our land, building forts etc. I moved to Salem, Oregon to study Kinesiology in 2013 and began hiking and taking photos more. Since then I’ve built the foundation of my very own small business, which I’m growing, every day. I fell in love (I know, barf), and took on a roll as a father figure, which I absolutely love! Now I get to share my experiences and stories with all of you reading this through my photos, captions and blogs and hopefully in the next year, vlogs!
Q. How long have you been taking photos?
A. I have been taking photos since I got a disposable film camera at about 7 or 8 years old. I then went on to have a small point and shoot when I was 12, and took up some film photography and dark room development in Highschool. I got my first DSLR camera (Nikon D3200) when I started college roughly four years ago and then one year or so ago I upgraded to my current camera and first full frame DSLR (Canon 6D). I’ve been creating paid photo work (weddings, couples sessions, Instagram campaigns and image licensing) for right around one year now.
Q. What camera gear do you use?
A. I currently shoot with a Canon 6D and 24-70mm 2.8mm mark ii lens
Q. Canon vs. Nikon vs. Sony?
A. I get asked this question a lot, in various forms. It’s a highly opinion based topic and each camera has its strengths and weaknesses so I won’t go into detail on this one. I personally shoot Canon.
In an ideal world I would have a Canon 5DMIV for most of my portrait and lifestyle work and any scenario when I need trustworthy weather sealing. I would also have the Sony A7riii for anything that I need extreme detail, for low light performance and for longer hikes. I’d also have the Lumix GH5 for video production use, and I would use it alongside the Canon G7x for the vlogs that I’m intending to start by the end of 2018 (spoiler alert, ooops).
Now the world is not ideal, so I’ll briefly touch on what I think is the best option for a starting camera. When it comes to entry-level cameras, in my opinion, Sony wins without question. If you like the size and feel of Sony camera, I HIGHLY recommend getting an a6000 series camera to start. They have the best sensors of any entry-level camera I’ve used, bar none.
Q. Favorite lenses for landscapes, portraits, low light, etc?
A. I can honestly say that one of my all time favorite lenses is the 24-70mm 2.8. I use it for all my portrait work, client work, and most of my landscapes. If I were to break it down though… I’d say the 16-35mm 2.8 for Lowlight, 24-70mm 2.8 + 35mm 1.4 for portraits, and for landscapes… any “holy trinity” you can create with your budget, ie something along the lines of a 10-24mm (16-35mm 2.8 was what I used), 24-70mm 2.8 (LOVE this lens!) and of course, 70-200mm f/4 or f/2.8 (NEED this lens).
Q. How did you learn to edit photos?
A. The short answer is… trial and error. The long answer is… even more trial and error. All jokes aside, I started out by purchasing a student copy of Lightroom 5 back when I had my very first DSLR. I was still shooting in JPEG at this point, didn’t have a single clue what I was doing but I started to establish a familiarity with the program.
The very first thing I did was explore every panel; mess around with all the sliders and in between read A LOT on Google and watched a lot of Youtube Tutorials. I began to pick up more over the first year and a big part of this was by meeting with other photographers and asking a TON of questions. Learning in person is way better because whomever is teaching you can actually show you rather than trying to describe a concept that may very well be foreign to you. I played around with filters in various editing apps on my phone and tried to recreate the results in Lightoorm, deconstructed a few presets, including a set of VSCO presets a friend gifted me and continued to adjust my style. I think the most important thing I did while learning to edit, and this is not to say that I’m done learning- far from it, was never let myself get stuck. I’ve entirely thrown out my editing style, twice, and even now am continuously making micro adjustments to my edits and presets as I learn more from various sources.
Q. How can one progress out of auto mode into manual mode shooting?
A. This question is another that could easily be an entire blog post. I also think that I would be hard pressed to write a better guide than those that already exist. Here’s one that I think does a pretty good job (Link). The key is to experiment with how your camera works, take a few tips from a guide and go out and practice them so you can see first hand how the different settings effect your final image. As you get more comfortable with each individual setting, you’ll begin to understand how they all work together to create the final image and how you can make small adjustments to each setting while on the go to get the desired result and images that are overall better exposed and easier to edit.
Q. What is your editing workflow?
A. I like to stay as organized as possible while editing new shoots, so the first thing I do is create a folder on my external drive with the shoot title (or location) and the date and then I create three 2-3 subfolders. I always have a folder for my RAW image files and my edits. If I’ve done a really quick shoot, got what I needed and I know I really won’t have to spend a lot of time making selects in Lightroom, I’ll leave it at that and import my RAWs into Lightroom. If I have a much larger shoot, or have shot at a few locations throughout the day, I’ll use Photo Mechanic, which is a photo culling software I found out about via Mango Street Labs. Once I have made my selects within photo mechanic, I’ll move them to my selects folder on my external drive and import only those photos into Lightroom.
Now the actual fun part, editing! These days unless I’m creating client or portrait work that completely strays from my own style I start with one of my presets as a base layer. I’ll select one of the photos of the set I’m working on that I feel is the best middle ground as far as exposure, colors, and white balance. I apply the chosen preset, create adjustments and then I create a new preset with the photo set title and apply it to all my selects. At this point I’ll usually do a second round of selects now that I can see each image with edits and then make small adjustments to each image, focusing typically on white balance, highlights, darks, and specific balancing to colors under the HSL panel. If I like the result of the preset, or think it will apply to future photo work I’ll keep it, otherwise I will delete it from my catalog after the client has accepted the photos. I may release a set of my presets eventually… but for now, here a few before and after images of work I’ve create during the past year:
Q. Is photography your job?
A. It is for all intents and purposes, my job. It is one of the most rewarding and at the same time challenging jobs I have ever taken on. I’m going to go into this further in a few of the upcoming weekly blogs (will add links to this blog once they go live).
Q. How did you learn to make money with photography?
A. That’s a tough one. I’m still learning and it’s all been through trial and error, and a lot of self-evaluation. I’ve had to determine the value of my time, skill level, social reach when it comes to social campaigns, and the value a photo will bring to the client (based off the extent of usage) when it comes to image licensing.
The moment I learned how to make $$$ with photography was actually the moment I learned how to market myself, how to go up to someone at a local business, email, or call them and pitch to that person how my work and my creative ideas would be worth investing in.
Q. How do you sustain yourself physically, mentally, financially and emotionally for 365 days a year?
A. I feel like this is an excellent topic to write an entire blog on, but the short and bittersweet of it is… I don’t. ha. The reality is that it’s almost impossible to sustain all of those elements of life to one’s fullest capacity, every single day. There will always be one part of life on the back burner while you prioritize other parts.
There are a few things that have kept me somewhat sane throughout it all, the three main ones are: staying organized and making a check list of day to day tasks, finding as many little moments throughout the day that are fulfilling even if the overall day’s outcome is frustrating and the one I find most important is being okay… with not being okay.
That's all the questions and answers for now! I really hope you enjoyed, learned a litte something or found something you could pass onto a friend who's learning. This is definitely a blog I will be updating and adding new questions to over the coming months, so keep an eye out for updates!
Would love to get your feedback on this one, as well as any suggestions for next weeks topic, if you drop a comment below with your ig @tag I'll come show some love on your account.