What type of equipment do you use?
We shoot with a Canon 5D Mark II, and Canon 7D. Our favorite lenses are the 50mm. f/1.4 and the 35mm. f/1.4.
What editing programs do you use?
We edit with Photoshop CS6, Lightroom 4, and VSCO Presets Film 01.
Do you generally stabilize with a tripod or shoot without?
We shoot with a tripod on occasion, usually only when shooting with a long exposure time.
How old were you when you became interested in becoming a photographer?
I bought my first camera at age 17 . I took a few photos of friends and family with the only intention of it being a hobby. I really enjoyed it, but I was still in high school and had a lot of other things that I was interested in too, so it was mostly a creative muse.
How long were you taking photos before you photographed your first wedding?
I booked my first wedding at 19.
How old are you now?
I am 21, my husband, Josh, is 20.
Did you go to college? If so what did you major in?
I went to college my freshman year, but I haven't had any schooling pertaining to photography. I am self taught and have had some really great photography mentors in my life. Going to school for photography can be a really great option for some people, but for me, learning on my own was the best way for me to create and cultivate my own style.
Something that has been extremely helpful for my journey is remembering to always ask questions. Always. Ask local photographers that you admire if they are in need of an intern, second shooter, or just a helping hand. There have been occasions where helping out the photographer I was assisting for the day was simply following them around, carrying equipment for eight hours, and not taking a single photo, but the information I learned was invaluable.
If you don't have a photographer mentor to give you tips, then research. research. research. Photoshop question? Google it. Equipment question? Google it. Lighting question? Google it. Always be open to learning, changing, growing, advancing. There are so many phenomenally talented individuals that have created photography tip blogs and tutorials.
When did you realize that your photography was more than just a hobby and that you could turn it into a business?
I don't think anyone wakes up one day and says, today is the day, I'm turning my hobby into a career. I think these things take time. Setting goals, working hard, and loving what you do is the best way to turn your passions into a career.
As far as being financially stable to make the transition from a hobby to a career, that is a very personal, subjective decision depending on the individual. If you truly are considering turning your hobby, whatever it may be, into a career, first talk it over with those it will affect most. Create goals, plans, and realistic steps to turn this dream into a reality. I think back to when I was working two jobs in college, planning our wedding, and really starting to take off in photography. That was one of the hardest times in my life physically and mentally, but I wouldn't change that period for anything. A transition stage can be straining but so very worth it when you can look back at how you made your dream possible and at all the obstacles you over came along the way. I know I wouldn't appreciate where I am today if it wasn't for that stage of transition.
I haven't been taking photos for very long, how do I start booking clients and create a portfolio?
I think it's a really great idea to spend some time shooting inspirational shoots where you can create a style of your own, while having creative reign and freedom. This stage is really important when it comes to cultivating the style and brand of your work. I don't suggest announcing that you're giving out free photo shoots and taking anyone and everyone. Instead, look for locals to model for you that fit the aesthetic of your photography style. Once you've built up a portfolio that you're proud of, you can begin to advertise yourself as an experienced photographer and already have your prices set. Sometimes this step can take months, maybe even a year or two. Don't get discouraged if after your first couple of photo shoots you don't have the portfolio of those who have been at it for five years. Art has no sense of time. Let it create itself as you grow, learn, and become your own artist.
When did you know you needed to upgrade to high quality equipment and how did you decide what to buy?
This has been a really fun, exciting process over the years. Buying a new lens or camera is like a creative high for me. We try really hard to be strategic when buying new equipment; researching what's the next best step to give our clients the best quality we can provide. It all depends on the individual, but we've tried to have a balance of buying within our budget and buying the best quality out there.
I'm looking for a good beginners camera, what do you suggest?
This really depends on if you're wanting to make photography a hobby or a career. I purchased two cameras, one I never use and one I rarely use that I feel were a waste of money. I so wish I had known that "trying to save a few bucks" resulted in spending way more when I realized it lacked the quality I wanted, and I ending up buying the better version shortly after. I never want to tell someone what type of camera to buy since it's a such a huge commitment with a big price tag, but I do suggest purchasing one that you feel is a good quality camera and not something you're getting because it's a more affordable route.
How do I decide what my starting rates for each photo shoot should be?
Sometimes it sounds tempting to charge a lower amount to book more clients, but from my experience, a higher price may mean less clients, but those who do book you are booking you because they love your work, not because you fit in their budget. I've realized over the years as our prices go up, the more clients we have that are interested in booking us and only us, changing their wedding dates just for us, and loving every photograph we create with them. This has given us freedom in our work and has really changed the way we shoot. Again, one of the questions I really can't answer for anyone since it should be evaluated by the individual. Consider looking around at the local talent and see what they're charging and why.
How do you market your business to get new clients? Is it more word of mouth, ads on blogs, etc?
Our biggest way of advertisement is word of mouth. We haven't paid a dime towards advertisement and here's why: we want our clients to choose us because they love our work and because we provide quality photographs. We don't view our clients as a number but as a unique love story and as new friends. I am by no means saying that one shouldn't pay for advertisement, this is just the method that works best for us.
I was wondering if you could give any pointers on how to make your subjects comfortable and make their posing natural.
We give our clients a lot of direction throughout the shoot, but never restrictions. We might tell them where to stand, where to place their hands, and so on, but we will always encourage them to be themselves and enjoy each others company (laugh, kiss, tickle, talk). We really make it a point to interact with our clients so that they don't feel like some stranger has a camera in their face, but instead, it's a new friend that's just enjoying the day with them. Josh and I always joke and say, "we love love." But for real, we do. A lot. We are honored that our clients want us to be a part of such a special time in their lives, so we are going to be all there. Mentally, emotionally attached. Looking for those moments that people share that may go unnoticed if you're not paying close attention. Those are the photographs that your clients will love and cherish the most.
Do you have your clients sign a contract or release form, or is it more of a verbal agreement?
We have a written contract that our clients sign. I think it's very important to keep you and your clients safe. Talk with a lawyer or research a contract that works best for you.
How long do you take on giving the photos to the clients? This has been a problem for me in the past, as most people want to have them the day after!
This is different for every individual, but the most important part is being straight forward about the turn around time when they book you. If they are requesting the photos sooner, you can quote them an additional fee to finish them before the given turn around date. Always try and remember that the client is probably just really excited to see the photos and most likely isn't trying to rush the process or make you feel anxious if you don't finish them faster than promised. :)
Do you have any tips on how and where to store your pictures?
We keep multiple external hard drives with multiple copies of each shoot. We purchase high quality EHD's to prevent losing any of our work. Buying a cheaper EHD isn't worth the risk for us.
Do you have any outdoor lighting tips?
We primarily shoot outdoors and are natural light fanatics. We use an app called Magic Hour to know the best times to shoot during sunrise/sunset.
Do you ever get scared of your business turning into a "job" and one day not liking what you do?
I don't think just because you love what you do means you have to love it every day. That mentality is unrealistic and can potentially set you up for failure. There are days, even weeks, when it takes everything in me to sit down and edit. Moments like that I have to ask myself these questions:
Am I passionate about this?
Have I over committed/over booked myself?
Am I inspired?
Am I growing?
If I answer "no" to any of these, something needs to change. It doesn't mean I'm going to call it quits, but find a way to become inspired again. When I feel like this, I look at portfolios of talented creatives (not just photographers), write down new goals and ideas, location scout, or sometimes simply take a break. One of the best ways for me to regain inspiration is to take a day or two break from editing so that I come back refreshed, excited, and passionate.
I'll end with this. One of my mentors said to me, "When does somebody know they're a photographer? How do I know I'm a photographer? What specific photo did I take, look at it and say, 'there, now I am a photographer'?" This was one of the most humbling statements I've ever heard, and I will never forget it. This specific mentor is known throughout the Midwest, has won multiple awards for his work, and has created a true standard for our local area. But I think the main point is this, never stop becoming a photographer. Never stop becoming anything you're passionate about. You should always be learning, growing in your skills, and challenging yourself creatively. Never settling and saying, this is my best work, but saying, this is my worst. Knowing that every shoot you should excel even farther. Never stop learning.
**There were a handful of questions I wasn't able to get to this round, but I'll happily email you in the next few days if your question didn't make it in the post!