oklahoma city photographer

Rachel

The title says it all.  Rachel.  I know the moment my phone lights up and displays her name, there is a beaming beautiful girl on the other end.  I am honored, truly honored to have met Rachel and her husband Brandon last year.  I was chosen as their wedding photographer, and what a great time we had.  From engagement photos, to Bridals, to their actual wedding in November at Noah's Event Center, to more Bridals... we were all too happy to take pictures.  Their wedding was gorgeous, but also private- however I CAN share Rachel's gorgeous Bridals that we took here in-studio.  We had planned this for awhile, and wanted to photograph her in her traditional dress.  

There are no words to describe how wonderful the shoot went, and how freaking spectacular the photos turned out.  Her makeup was meticulously applied by the wonderful Ciara Amir.

Not only was this bridal shoot a lot of fun, but we are trying to come up with reasons to shoot again!  I can't wait for next time! 

Happy Shooting!

Photo Con 2016

I attended Photo Con 2016 right here in Oklahoma City on Friday, and it was awesome!  The vendors were great, ranging from Canon to Nikon, Sigma, Radio Popper, Bedford's (of course), Sony, Lowepro, Westcott, and a number of speakers.  I was able to go in stealth mode with my Fuji, and shoot from the waist.  You see, the X-T1 has a tilt screen, so I can take pictures of what is going on, and people think I'm just fiddling with my camera.  

I finally got to meet Xavier from XP Photogear.  He was great to talk with, and was happy to show me all the latest and greatest.

Radiopopper and their line of triggers.

Sigma had some beautiful new lenses on display!

Met Eric Epperly, and yes, I thought this photo was hilarious.  Didn't catch it at the time, but hey, I was a journalist today. 

There was a lot of folks on-hand to educate.  You could bring your camera, ask questions, test out new lenses, it was awesome!

The Sony rep (pictured right) was awesome.  He showed me the new Sony Alpha a7R II (they are currently running a special price during the expo if you wanted to get one).  Wow, what an amazing system.  I seriously regret not checking them out before I upgraded to the Mark III.  

Need a tripod?  Well... here are a variety that you can try out BEFORE you buy, and here is the one guy that knows them all like the back of his hand.

I did get to see Robert Trawick and Jim Felder in action using that cool Podcast machine.  Being interviewed is a Canon rep, he was talking about the new Canon printer that had come out this year.  If you stop by their booth, they will print out a photo for you! Check out Robert and Jim on their Fotofacts Podcast (available in iTunes).  They are a wonderful bunch, and interview so many great photographers and vendors.

I wish I could have stayed longer, especially since Sue Bryce was there.  I actually saw her when she had first arrived, and I should have approached her then, but didn't.  I was trying to be as much of a photographer today as possible, but at 3 p.m., mom duty calls.  There is dinner to be made, and kids to pick up from school.  My friends are posting photos online of her speaking, and I am totally jealous- but that is ok. :-)  I know when the time is right, we'll meet again.  Was it a great experience?  Sure!  Many vendors on hand to answer questions, and to let you try out the products firsthand.  I had my mind set on a few things, but after playing with them at the Expo, I changed my mind.  Which was awesome, it saved me time and money.  So yes, today was a success because I got a chance to network, try things out, ask questions, and see the new and upcoming toys.  

I did walk away with a couple of things:  The MagMod Basic Kit, I'm interested to see what it can do to change my OCF (off camera flash).  I love being creative with light.  I especially love the selection of gels it comes with, and the cool magnetic feature.  I also got a TetherTools Kit- something I have been wanting to try for YEARS.  They say it will prevent Lightroom from quitting and kicking me out while I'm tethering during a shoot.  This is SOOOOOO annoying- not to mention embarrassing.  Will I be returning next year?  Probably.  I say it was worth the $75 ticket.

Until then, happy shooting!

~Leia

My Editorial Kit

I'm frequently asked what lenses I use for headshots, or fashion work.  This week is the perfect chance to share because I'm putting a small kit together for my trip to Chicago.  It is a bridal shoot, but I love to treat bridals as "fashion" because really- that's what it is.  Beautiful Bride's showing off their dresses- yeah. It's fashion.  

First off, my trusty Mark II is my main body.  I will be using my Fuji more (I talk more about that here!)  My Canon has been with me for 3 years, and I love it.  I send it in once a year for a checkup, it and just keeps shooting.  While there are a few things I would change about it, it continues to be a trusty way to get my shots.  A few close friends jokingly ask when I'm going to upgrade, or get out of Canon completely and embrace that cool new Sony A7- I do plan on upgrading to the Mark III here very soon, but as far as leaving Canon completely- I honestly don't see that happening anytime soon, if ever.  I'm actually wondering when they'll stop fooling around and just come out with a mirrorless already.

As far as lenses, I love using my 50 1.2 for pretty much everything. It's my favorite focal length for weddings, engagements, small groups, fashion- almost anything I can think of, I always use my 50 as a starting point, and change focal lengths from there.  My 100 2.8 is a great lens for portraits and details.  It is completely versatile.  I don't have to worry about camera to subject distance, because it will focus either way.  I can shoot from a distance, get some great compression, OR shoot a little closer to the subject, crop in-camera and get a great tight headshot.  For engagement sessions, I love getting ring shots- the beautiful bride-to-be looking up at her fiancé smiling, her hand showing off that gorgeous ring.... as with any prime, all I have to do is move my feet.  For real versatility I love what my 24-70 does for me.  If I'm in a tight spot, and I know there will be some issues with space, or if I know we'll be outside and my clients will want wide as well as tighter shots, I trust that the 24-70 can handle it.  This was the first piece of L glass I bought, and while it's not 'version 2' it is still a really wonderful sharp piece of glass.  I love prime glass though; I love using my feet to move in and out of a space.  Zooms are great, but primes are greater.  Give me a 50 and an 85- and I'll be shooting all day.  I only use zooms out of convenience.    

I don't upgrade at the drop of a hat either.  I know there are several lenses that have had the second version come out- but my lenses work great for what I am capturing.  They are all very sharp, and they just work.  I'm sure someday if I try the 24-70 II, I'll think myself a fool for not upgrading sooner.  I'm not always on the lookout for the next lens, the next body.  If something works, I stick with it.  

I have my trusty 580EXII, (we have 2 of them), and love them.  We use them off camera, on camera, with a diffuser, without, they've survived falls, drops, mine even came crashing down onto our tile floor from 8 feet up.  I sent it in to CPS and they repaired it- but it came back good as new, and is still firing.  I don't see the need to go to the newer flash- yes I know the 600's do more- but these work just as well for what we use them for.  

This is my Speedbox 65 that I've had for over a year.  I take this thing with me on every single shoot-weddings included!  It is the most perfect speedlite diffuser that I have found.  It collapses perfectly, opens at the drop of a hat, and again- it just works.  I only have one, but would like to get the Speedbox 70 this year sometime.  I love the perfectly diffused light that comes out of this when we are outdoors.  The subjects face is perfectly lit, all shadows disappear, it's as if magic took place... seriously.  For weddings, it works great for the cake cutting, and formals.  

I'm going to have to take it apart completely for my trip- but I'm excited for the shots I'll be getting.  All photographers have certain kits for certain things.  There is no right or wrong here, you use the best tools for the job.  I mentioned my 85 1.2 earlier, that is a great lens- no complaints- but I love it most for studio work.  It is a nice heavy lens- tack sharp but love it most in a controlled setting.  

Let me know if you'd like to see blogs on anything else.

See you on the next shoot!

~Leia

My Second Love.

I'm coming clean this week and letting my friends know that I can't hide anymore.  Time to call it what it is.  I started my marriage with Canon 10 years ago.  It was a handsome silver little point and shoot that lured me in.  I moved forward through the Canon line.  Just over 2 years ago I was introduced to the Fuji x100 online. It made me a better photographer.  It forced me to do things I had never done with Canon.  I took chances, risks, shooting was fun again, it was liberating.  We hung out downtown, in parks, it fit into my hand so nicely- we were a match. We went to weddings together, and the shots of reception details were fantastic.  I couldn't tell what I shot with my Canon vs the Fuji.  Yes, it is THAT good.  Friends wanted to know more about Fuji, I happily shared stories and photos of the moments we shared together.  

I took a serious cross country road trip with it, leaving my trusty Canon behind.  Scary? Yes.  Worth it?  SO MUCH YES.  The photos that came out of that trip were so gorgeous, sharp, and clear that I published a book with them.  In print- wow.  You can't even imagine.  I wanted more.  I moved on to the Fuji X100s, then the Fuji x100t.  My husband and a few close friends were really surprised I didn't move straight to the X-T1.  But I had my reasons.  

Last week I decided to finally try the X-T1 with the 35mm and it is everything I imagined, and more. So. Much. More.  

Fuji X-T1 with 35mm attached, Fuji X100t

Fuji X-T1 with 35mm attached, Fuji X100t

Just in the 2 days I've been shooting exclusively with the X-T1 I can see the appeal.  From the shutter speed, the tilting screen, the fact that you can CHANGE LENSES, the array of options and settings- it's incredible.  This morning I took some amazing headshots with it, and I just love the ease of use.  My triggers connected easily, and I was in business in minutes.  I love the way I can control the light- in my opinion my lights are easier to control with the Fuji line, than they are with my Canons.  It's like they just KNOW what to do with the light.

The tilting screen is going to be excellent for those times when I need to get a nice wide overhead shot- I can tilt the screen so that I can see what I'm shooting!  

The tilting screen is going to be excellent for those times when I need to get a nice wide overhead shot- I can tilt the screen so that I can see what I'm shooting!  

It is a crop, so any lens you get, you've got to remember what it really is after the 1.5 crop factor.  The 35mm that is attached is really a 52.5 and that is perfect.  50mm is really my most used focal length and this was the lens I wanted to start out with.  

Anyone who is curious about anything Fuji really should follow Zach Arias on his blog.  He is an absolutely fantastic Commercial photographer and I've secretly stalked him for years- since his One Light days.  He can tell you what is what when it comes to Fuji.  He shoots with a Phase 1, and I see that he is slowly getting out of Nikon.  He primarily shoots all of his Editorials with either his Phase or his Fuji's.  

Am I breaking up with Canon completely? No.  I believe we can all live in the same house together with minimal disagreements. :-)  You see, I use my Canon for everything, but I'm learning that I can use the Fuji for everything too.  At 8 fps, RAW/jpg, transferring photos wirelessly (oh yeah-it has built in wireless)- that in itself is already more than my Mark II can do.  I'm really excited to be flying to Chicago this week to shoot Bridals for one of my brides with this camera- of course I'm taking my Canon too- but this is going to be a wonderful opportunity to really see what this baby can do!  I can't wait to post the photos from my latest adventure, but that probably won't be until late March- after her wedding.  Hope you all have a fabulous week!

See you on the next shoot!

~Leia 

New Year, New Me.

Everyone has that one candle that they've never burned.  It's ok to admit it- I know because I have them all over the place.  This one is from Mom from 3 years ago, it smells great, I want to save it forever.  This one is a pretty color and I may not find it again anywhere- so I'm saving it. This one over here has a really good smell that is sold out, I'm saving it.  I started really thinking about all of the things I'm saving.  Saving for what?  After I had my accident last year, I started thinking about the house, and the way I left it.  Unburned candles, an unopened bottle of wine, a few shirts that I want to wear someday but haven't found the right occasion.  I don't care what anyone thinks of that, but I care.  What am I doing? What am I waiting for? You never know when your number is up.  I guess the point of this blog is some sort of written affirmation that I plan on living.  Although last year ended a little rough, this is a new beginning.  A rebirth of sorts. I'm letting go of the bad of 2015 and starting fresh.

After the accident, I had some pretty bad internal injuries that needed to be urgently addressed; it was a miracle I was able to work like this and it wasn't even until this month I actually started feeling like myself again.  You have no idea how important your health and wellbeing are until you temporarily lose them.  Your health is everything.  EVERYTHING.  Don't ever look at someone and think that just because they look fine on the outside, that the inside matches.  I'm proud to say that I have one more month of medication and I'll officially be 100%.  I never let my injuries affect my job.  Six days after the accident, I was shooting another wedding, then another.  

I'm going to say this: I'm burning every candle in my house.  Yes, even the beautiful candle picture above from my mom.  It smells amazing, and I'm enjoying it.  I went on a photoshoot this week, and wore a bright red blouse that I love.  I picked it out because it was daring, beautiful, the material felt good, it made me feel alive in the dressing room- but I've never had the guts to wear it anywhere.  Why?  I don't know- so much of my job is 'blending in.'  This week I put that blouse on and felt good about it.   2016 is going to be different- I'm going to live more this year than I did last year.  I'm making every moment count.  

I have some personal goals this year with my photography as well- and I can't wait to put them into action.  I have implemented new software this year that is really going to streamline my studio- quotes, invoices, workflows, contracts, EVERYTHING is going to be online.  So far the response from clients has been wonderful.  The studio has really jumped ahead by leaps and bounds- not only has it made the first week of the new year so much easier, but it will really keep everything organized and in one spot- not only for me, but for clients as well.  You will be able to access your invoices and contracts all online- so if you happen to lose anything- there will always be a copy online.  All existing clients should have received an email last week introducing the new system.

So my friends, don't be afraid to live this year.  Don't be afraid to burn that special candle, and bask in the ambiance.  Don't be afraid to let your hair down and enjoy life!

See you on the next shoot!

~Leia

How to save time AND waste it quickly and efficiently

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about how I completely replaced my laptop with a tablet.  Of course I have a desktop- but for on-the-go work, showing client albums, replying to emails quickly after business hours, keeping up with my website, social media, reading, or passing time in a doctor's office- a tablet is really the way to go.  This week, I am focused on one single app that has completely revolutionized the way I keep up with my favorite blogs.  

Feedly.  Feedly has changed my life.  If it cooked and did dishes, I'd probably marry it.  Seriously though, this little app is truly amazing.  Just as my title says- this app can help you save time by collecting the feeds from all of your favorite blogs all into ONE place.  Of course it will help you waste time in such an organized way it's hard to feel guilty about it.  

You can search for topics that are of interest to you and start following those just to get started.  You can also search for specific websites and whenever a new blog is written from that site, it will automatically import into Feedly.  You can also discover blogs that you never knew existed! (hence the wasting time part).  I open this app every 2 or 3 days- sometimes depending on how busy I am- it might be a week or more.  All of my favorite blogs are on here, just waiting to be read.  It's like magic.  

All of your blogs show up on the left hand side if you feel like looking to see what you are subscribed to-otherwise the list stays hidden.  It's easy to see what you have available to look at, the interface is simple and clean.  If you feel like reading a blog at a later time, you can save it to Pocket- which is a handy app that collects blogs or stories on the net- so that you have one single place to read them.  

Another great thing, is that you can share whatever blog you are reading to social media.  I love sharing blogs about weddings to my Twitter account.  Occasionally I'll share a blog on Facebook, or copy a link and share it somewhere else.  

So there you have it!  This app is completely awesome, helps me stay organized, but also allows me to keep up with my favorite blogs without wasting hours on the internet searching for them.  If I have to search for so many- I will end up forgetting a few- so having them imported to one app is fantastic.  Anyone can use this obviously- not just photographers.  Teachers, educators, engineers, students... you can tailor this for YOUR interests.  I've included links within this post so that you can check it out for yourself.  Feel free to leave questions or comments, and I will respond.  If you do get it, be sure to follow MY blogs if you aren't already! Hope you all have a fantastic and productive week!

Until next week!

~Leia

Headshots. Why we love them. Why we hate them. Why we NEED them.

Headshots.  

A word that immediately brings fear and loathing in Oklahoma. :-) Seriously though- why do we even need headshots to begin with? Well a headshot is generally used by professionals to allow clients a chance to see who they will be working with.  People will judge you by that photo.  They will form an opinion of you before they have even met you, just based on your photo.  I know- harsh right? But it's true.  A good headshot can really be an amazing thing.  You might get that date, job, book or movie deal based on your photo.  A bad headshot can have the opposite affect.  A headshot- like ANY photo in the world- can be interpreted in so many ways; ultimately you are the one that is going to have to be happy with it and how it represents YOU.  

Few may know this about me- but I am extremely picky.  Especially ESPECIALLY about how I look in a photo.  I loathe being in front of the camera.  I know, it does seem a little strange considering my career is taking photos, making clients feel comfortable in front of the camera, fixing hair, adjusting shirts or ties, coaching you into position- but seriously.  I don't like being on the opposite end of the lens.  Many fellow photographers and close friends have offered to take my photo- but I know how picky I am- and I wouldn't want to put them through my process.  I am very critical about my smile, how I'm positioned, my hair- I drive myself crazy. lol  When a client comes to me, and expresses their apprehension for the camera I understand you.  Believe me. 

I've gotten comments about my current headshot over the years, such as:  "What's with the big shadow behind your head?"  "Why is it so bright?"  "Why are the shadows so harsh?"  Why Why Why.  Why? Because I wanted it that way.  Because I like it.  Because for the first time in my life I was photographed in a way that made me feel pretty, made me feel confident, and more importantly- happy!  I shot myself that way because that is exactly how I wanted ME to look.  I shouldn't have to explain it- that photograph was for me.  I also have to consider where the questions are coming from- other photographers.  Do I take it personally?  Heck no.  

So when it comes to your headshot, how do you prepare?  How should you smile? How should your hair be styled? What are you going to wear? There are many questions, but perhaps I can put your mind at ease (just a little) by helping you out and giving you some pointers.  

Serious? Smile? Sqinch? 

Serious? Smile? Sqinch? 

My advice:  Dress as if you were going to the office.  Most of the headshots I shoot are women and men working in offices as attorney's, news anchors, business owners. You will already have the wardrobe.  You will already know how you will want your hair, makeup, etc.  Practice smiling in the mirror.  Seriously- I've done it.  I know exactly how I want my smile to look and I have to practice it over and over again so that when I'm in front of the camera I can pull it off.  Do you want to show your teeth when you smile?  You can smile without opening your mouth by letting your eyes do the talking and still have a great shot!  Being in front of the lens is a strange thing.  You forget everything and you instantly feel uncomfortable.  I think for me it's even worse because I am by myself. :-) Practice how you want your arms positioned in the shot, do you want them crossed? Hands in pockets? On your hips, at your sides?  What looks better?  Practice with the shirt or dress you will be wearing for the shoot, that way you can see how it photographs as you are moving around.  You might notice that the shirt you want to use for your headshot wrinkles in a weird spot- or maybe you can see through it.

Practice moving your face up and down.  Do you look better with your chin down slightly?  Which side do you find yourself photographing more-if you take a lot of selfies you might notice a pattern.  These are all important things to know, these are things the average person doesn't really think about until it's picture day.  Believe me, I had no idea I even had a side until my headshot 2 years ago.  I'm always positioning myself to the right, and turning my face to the camera.  I know if I do it the opposite way- I look funny- not haha funny- weird funny.  

Some people squint when they smile- I know I do, slightly more on my left eye, making it appear a little smaller.  I've done that my whole life, I can't help it.  There are ways to position your face to as to minimize that (and I will do that for you- so don't worry about it!) but I still choose to photograph myself the way I do because the way I see it- it's me.  It's a part of my face, it's what it does when I smile- I can't change it. Take it or leave it.  

The hair.  Men- you have it easy.  You are the lucky ones who get to spray it with water in the morning, run your fingers through it and your good to go.  You may however want to think about the last time you got your hair cut.  You can never go wrong with a good cut and shave before pictures.    WE on the other hand have to get out the irons.  Curly, straight, flattened, shiny, middle part, side part, ends flipped, ends straight, hair up, hair down.  So. Many. Options.  You may even want to get your hair done before your headshot that way it's one less thing to think about.  I can only speak for me, if I don't straighten my hair it will look like a brown christmas tree.  I'm not even joking.  It is so thick and wavy- it will not lay flat on it's own.  It takes about 10 minutes to dry with a hairdryer, 30 minutes to straighten, then I like to spray some stuff on it. Believe me, my hair is a process which is why I always wear it up and out of the way.  Bottom line: wear your hair and makeup as if you were going to the office or out to a nice dinner.  Wear it in a way that you are used to that is tried and true.  

So what to wear?  Guys, again you may have it easier- some nice shirts, perhaps 1 or 2 different colors- 1 or 2 different sports coats, pick a matching tie and handkerchief and you are set!  I like to photograph against gray or white- mostly gray.  Picking shirts/jackets/dresses that stand out against that color is a good idea.  Guys, white shirts, dark jackets- ties that stand out- Ladies- colors that will stand out against the gray- I love bold colors- but staying away from patterns or stripes for a headshot is a good idea.  Think about what this headshot is for.  It's not a yearbook photo- this isn't picture day at school- this is YOU- the handsome, beautiful, smiling, professional.  

Headshots are hard.  They really are.  All photographs are personal.  Family photos for example feature your whole family and the attention can be divided between your face and the faces of your children and your spouse.  A headshot is just you.  Your face, your smile, your hair.  You.  There is no escape, the camera doesn't lie- it's just you- front and center and a lot of people just squirm at the idea.  Make it personal, make it fun.  You are handsome, you are beautiful.  I want to make you feel that way.  If I can make you feel amazing after seeing yourself on the big screen- I have done my job folks.  Stand in front of a mirror and work on your angles and your smile- it's that simple.  Discover what angles you like, what smile you like, and what looks you want to avoid.  Of course I will guide you throughout the shoot- but the more you know about yourself beforehand, the better prepared you will be when we shoot.

I made myself feel amazing 2 years ago with my headshot.  I was responsible for my happiness, my confidence, my smile, and the way I felt.  That being said, I made myself feel amazing today.  

                                               I am happy, oh so happy....

                                               I am happy, oh so happy....

So until next week peeps!  Smile!  It's free!

 

~Leia

 

Why I kicked my laptop to the curb and embraced my tablet

I remember 10 or more years ago when people were wondering if they could ever work off of their laptops completely without their desktop.  Fast forward to today- when tablets are quickly taking over as the new portable way to bring work with you!

I was completely against a tablet.  In fact my husband forced me to get one.  I didn't even want a new one because I was absolutely sure that I did not want one in the least.  To get my feet wet, we went to a pawn shop and bought an iPad.  I played around with it.  Still surfing the net on my phone. Checking email-on my phone.  Doing everything I'd always done-on my phone.  That iPad must have sat on a shelf for 2 or 3 months collecting dust.  It wasn't until I had coffee with a friend (who lives on nothing BUT his iPad) that I started to see some benefits.  He excitedly poured over all of the cool apps he had, the awesome blogs he was reading, the colorful galleries he had set up.  All of a sudden- the iPad was AMAZING!  I went from not caring about a tablet at all to completely embracing it.  

Needless to say- I loaded some great photography apps, was able to keep up with other blogs easier, and best of all, it was so light and thin that I could easily slip it into my bag when I was meeting with clients.  Showing them full galleries was a breeze- although I loved my laptop- I realized taking it with me to client meetings was a little cumbersome.  A tablet was better.  So. Much. Better.

A few apps I love: Feedly (great for keeping up with blogs all over the net!)  It keeps them all in one spot without having to surf your favorite sites.  Dropbox, Weatherbug, Twitter, Pages, and Pocket just to name a few.  Most of the apps I have are specific to my photo galleries, and my web hosting company.  

To solve the keyboard issue- because I NEED to type on a keyboard- I bought a Clam Shell case.  Yes, they are a little pricey- but totally worth it.  It's one of the best cases I've ever used.  

With everything we need to take with us nowadays, I can only imagine slipping my iPad into my messenger bag, along with my albums and studio samples.  I can no longer imagine bringing my laptop along.  

Really accepting my tablet was one of the best things I could have done.  I know it sounds ridiculous to some- but in all honesty- I'm very busy.  I don't have time to waste.  Tablets are quick, easy, light, small, and in my opinion a necessity for photographers.  I am interested in trying out Cam Ranger with it someday too- because I hear that is absolutely fabulous while you are shooting!! 

Until next week!

Frequently Asked Questions...

This week, I thought I'd answer questions that I am frequently asked.  I get emails, and facebook messages  asking question after question mostly from other photographers.  First off, everyone has their own style of shooting.  Everyone will use a different lens for a different job, everyone edits differently, and lastly- everyone is priced differently.  For the most part- this has been a very expensive and calculated game of trial and error.  These questions are in no particular order.

Q:  What camera do you use?
A: My husband and I both shoot with Canon 5D Mark II's. We have a 5D classic as backup, and also shoot with our Fuji.  We are upgrading our main bodies next year and will use our Mark II's as our backups.

Our non-human babies.

Our non-human babies.

Q:  How did you start shooting weddings?
A:  I started out helping my really good friend with his weddings years ago; he is the one who showed me the 'ins and outs' - what to watch for, best places to position yourself, don't be afraid to get in and get the shots you need, things like that.  It was a priceless experience; I shake my head when I see posts on Facebook that start out as "I'm shooting my first wedding ever next month, what lens should I use?"  I think it is very dangerous to shoot a wedding without having the proper experience, without having the opportunity to shoot alongside someone else, without having the right equipment.  

Q: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you first started out?
A:  That is a pretty loaded question.  Naturally I wish I knew everything- it would have saved a lot of time and money!  I think the biggest thing was the 'lens game.' Many people were telling me what lens they thought I should get- without really telling me why I needed it.  I had no idea why I "needed" certain lenses.  I hadn't yet focused my photography to certain areas- so it was hard to purchase anything because I wanted to shoot "everything."  It wasn't until I started narrowing my focus that I realized certain lenses worked very well for certain things.  I have used primes for a long time and I love them.  I will break out my 24-70 or my 70-200 in certain situations but the important thing is that I know WHY I need to use them.  I know what will work for me, from a flash to a stand to a light modifier.  If I know I can't use something on a regular basis, then I don't buy it.  Since my husband also shoots with me- every purchase is discussed from two points of view which is really nice!

Q: So you have four kids!  You must photograph a lot of kids because you have so much experience with kids!
A:  Funny thing.  I don't!  It seems logical to assume that- but I don't photograph kids, babies, or newborns.  I don't cover birthday parties or any child-related occasions.  In the beginning I thought I wanted to focus on that type of photography- but chasing a child down the sidewalk with my camera is not something I want to do.  My kids have grown up in front of the camera, so I have been fortunate enough to direct my kids at very young ages to pose in certain ways with little effort.  They are so used to seeing cameras that it is really not a big deal to take a quick snap, or even stage a photograph with them.  I will post funny or cute pictures of my kids on social media but you will not see any of them on my website.  Taking photographs of my kids is important to me (like it is for any parent) just to have memories of certain milestones.  I love silly staged photos, but I also love the mundane of everyday life.  Their little lives are everything to me.  

Samantha at age 3

Samantha at age 3

Q:  That is so awesome that you and your husband shoot together!  How did that start?
A:  Well... it was definitely unexpected.  I had spent so many years talking about cameras and lenses, and setting up so many shoots that it was hard for him NOT to be involved.  If he was available to hold a light on a windy day- he would.  If he was around to help set up a shoot, he would.  So even if he didn't want to be involved he was.  He had the advantage of living and breathing photography before he ever started shooting.  Three years ago I hired a second shooter for a wedding and he came along as a third shooter.  The shots he got from that wedding were awesome; he has a natural talent-one that I had to really work hard to get.  After seeing what he shot from that wedding I knew that my life partner was now my shooting partner.   Our goal is to shoot full time 7 days a week, but until that happens he is a truck driver (his other passion is driving).  

My handsome partner. During his down time he likes to sunbathe with the reflector. LOL  

My handsome partner. During his down time he likes to sunbathe with the reflector. LOL  

Q:  What is your most favorite lens?
A:  I love my 50 f/1.2.  I use that lens the most and have almost shot entire weddings with it.  It's pretty versatile, and if I need something wider I will use my 35mm.  

Q:  What is one fad in photography that you wish would die?
A:  The Tilt.  It is terrible.  I think everyone goes through that phase though, I did it- but I haven't done it in years.  I think any photograph with people and a horizon line in it that is tilted makes me feel dizzy- it looks like the people are going to fall right off the page.  Now detail shots are different-if it's a ring shot (or something close up) and it's tilted-it could work; shooting people tilted is not a good look.  

Q: On the business end, what is the first thing you thought was really important?
A:  I applied for an LLC, started collecting sales tax, and hired an accountant.  In that order.  I felt like it was really important for me to start out as a legitimate business early on and respecting it as such.  I know there are thousands of photographers out there who work under the table but I wanted to work with professionals in the community- and I felt (and still feel) that a professional (lawyer, doctor, business owner) will more likely hire another professional.  Of course there are thousands of professionals who are NOT professional- but I'm not worried about them.  lol

Q: What do you like most about this job?
A:  I never would have met the people I have met- had it not been for this job.  I think any professional photographer that has been doing it long enough will agree that we find ourselves in really amazing places, working with truly amazing people.  There are many benefits in this line of work, I get to make my own schedule 90% of the time which is important when we have a house full of kids.  I get to volunteer for their field trips, I get to network with other photographers and meet clients during the day- which are all things I couldn't do if I were working for someone else.  

Q:  How do you handle the stress of a wedding day?  I could NEVER do it!!                                                      A:  Yes, weddings can be stressful, but I can handle it.  I honestly believe having my four wonderful kids has helped prepare me for any wedding day.  If I can handle them and herd four kids through life, then I can certainly control a wedding party! :-)  Taking charge, and being (for all intents and purposes) a 'day of coordinator' is really something I was born to do.  I've made timelines for weddings, I've taken charge of the entire day!  Of course I only step in if/when the bride wants me to- I would never dare walk into a wedding with unsolicited tips and timelines! If the bride and groom need help- I will step in.  If everything is under control-than I hang back and document the day.  Most of the time brides will look to me asking for help though.

Behind the scenes.  We will do everything in a short amount of time, light testing, photographing dresses, arranging formals, coordinating first looks... you name it- we do it.  I think that's why we're so exhausted the day after. :-)

Behind the scenes.  We will do everything in a short amount of time, light testing, photographing dresses, arranging formals, coordinating first looks... you name it- we do it.  I think that's why we're so exhausted the day after. :-)

Q:  What are you doing the night or day before a wedding?  Your prep must be stressful!                              A:  The day before a wedding I am cleaning lenses, checking equipment, charging batteries... it's not stressful- it's fun.  I enjoy it and can't wait for everything to start.  You have to understand, I have worked so closely with most of my brides over many months that by the time their wedding day comes they have become my friend.  We are so comfortable around each other I really feel like this is just another day together, only they are wearing gorgeous clothes.  

Q: What is the first lens I should buy if I'm just starting out?
A:  It really depends on what you want to shoot and what kind of a budget you are working with.  I started out with a Tamron 28-300 because I wanted the versatility and at that time-I could afford it.  I think once you figure out what you want to take photographs of- it is easy to see what lenses work best for that job.  If you want to photograph portraits in a studio- you probably don't want to use a lens most used for landscapes.... You just have to get on the internet- research- ask questions- network- etc.  

Q:  What was the first L lens you bought?
A:  It was my 24-70.  I still have it and use it on occasion.  It took me 5 years to save and buy my first L lens.  

Q:  What lenses do you use now?  
A:  I use primes, my husband loves zooms.  We have a variety of both.  

Q:  Craziest question you have ever been asked by a potential client?
A:  Years ago, I was approached by a lady who flat out told me that she really liked the style of another photographer here in the city but she couldn't afford her prices, so she asked if I could copy her style.  That blew me away lol.  

Q:  When did you know you 'made it?'                                                                                                                   A:  I think 'making it' is a work that will always be in progress.  I don't think I've made it and can just sit back and relax with a fruity umbrella drink.  I think that I have really worked hard to get where I'm at and while I do enjoy certain successful moments in my career I don't think "I've arrived."  I don't know if I'll ever "arrive."  I sit up really late at night thinking about what my next step will be.  My brain never stops.  I have insomnia and most nights can't sleep before 2 or 3 a.m. I'm not sure if my photography business is what started my insomnia or what- but it's really hard for me to just sit back and relax.  I'm always thinking of the next client, the next shoot, the next technique, the next this or that.  

Q:  Did you ever want to give up?  
A:  In the beginning, yes.  Quite a few times.  Did people tell me I couldn't do this? Yes.  Was I told my photography sucked (in the beginning of my career) and I have no right to be called a 'photographer' yes.  While I moped around the house for a few months after that, I realized that I wanted this more than anything so I studied and worked my ass off.  Years later here I am.  Looking back I'm glad those other pros pushed me.  If someone pushes you, you either give up or work harder.  I chose to work harder.  It was the defining moment of my career- I almost don't think I'd be the same photographer had I not been through that tough wakeup call.  

Packing up and leaving my full time job was not an easy decision- but I was bound and determined! 

Packing up and leaving my full time job was not an easy decision- but I was bound and determined! 

Q:  Was it easy to give up your full time job to pursue your photography business?                                         A:  No.  It wasn't easy at all.  To leave the security of a steady income was very frightening- but my husband encouraged me to take the plunge.  

Q:  Your kids must all want to be photographers!
A:  Only one of them.  My oldest daughter has shown a lot of interest, I am going to start showing her the basics this year.  Who knows, maybe one day she'll take over!  My son wants to be an artist, my middle daughter wants to be a dentist,  our youngest daughter just wants to be happy and eat macaroni and cheese everyday.

Q:  What is one thing you wish you could photograph?                                                                                       A:  I wish I could photograph an entire wedding in black and white.  I love how black and white photos really just focus on the subject- colors or surrounding objects can sometimes be distracting and take away from the subject but black and white really just keeps things simple and classic.  

Q:  What is ONE piece of advice you would give to anyone new starting out- something you wish someone would have told you?
A:  There are so many things.  Here is one: It's ok to look to other people for inspiration, advice, etc. but at the end of the day you have to shoot in a way that makes you happy.  You will never be able to fully copy someone else; learn and keep learning.  Research and keep on researching.  It never stops.  Don't look so hard at what other people are doing or NOT doing.  Look at yourself, keep your nose to the grindstone and work hard. We have all compared ourselves to other professionals in whatever job we have at one point or another-but I think if we're not focused on what we are doing, constantly comparing and watching everyone else will destroy you.  If you want this bad enough, you will find a way.  It's what I tell my kids.  If you want it, you will find a way to get it.  Oh, and be nice. :-)


***It's been nice to take care of FB messages and emails all in one blog post!  :-)
Hope you all have a fantastic week!