Phew! All questions, answered!
Julie: I was thinking about getting a wide angle lens (10-20 sigma). Do you think it would be useful at all in shooting portraits/weddings? Also, I’ve been wondering lately about photographer placement during a ceremony. Where do you stand, or do you move around? Do you use only one lens for the ceremony, and which would be better, a zoom to get close to the couple, or a wider lens to capture the entire scene?
For your first question, I can tell you that I’ve never shot portraits with such a wide angle, but that’s just me. You develop your style by choosing the lenses that your turn to for different functions. If the look of portraits from such a wide agle lens inspires you, then go for it! But if you aren’t sure, in the interest of saving money, ou could rent it first and see how you like it. When I first started out, I didn’t know much about what I was doing, and I turned to other wedding photographers to see what they were shooting with. If I really admired their work, I’d end up buying the lens that another photographer was suing for portraits, only to find that it just wasn’t quite right for me. Especially as I began to break away from trying to be like other photographers, and learning what lenses I just melded with. After buying the 85mm 1.8, the 45mm tilt shift, the 24mm 1.4, I settled on the 50mm 1.2, and I don’t really use my other lenses as much, except for the 24mm, and only rarely. Looking back, I wish I had rented those lenses, so I wouldn’t have all these dusty lenses sitting in my house!
For the second part of your question, check out this blog post: http://www.punambean.com/blog/?p=393
Kelly:Why do you sometimes choose to shoot with film? Do you have any advice on how to direct subjects for the more formal portraits?
I shoot film for the parts of the day that inspire me most, where I have total control over the lighting and composition. There is something to me about capturing a moment on film that feels so much more precious. With a digital camera you can keep shooting until you get it right. With a film camera, you don’t know if you got it right until the film comes back from the lab. You can read a little bit more about why and the differences here: http://www.punambean.com/blog/?p=806
I like to get the formals over with as quickly as possible, so I have more time to shoot what really inspires me – portraits of the bride and groom. I’m loud and/or pushy if I need to be, while also being relaxed enough to make my subjects laugh. I’m presonally not a fan of the stand-in-a-line-and-show-your-teeth kind of photography, so if I must stand people in a line, I’ll try to make them laugh with my wiles. This is when it’s really nice to be shooting with Husbone, since he is irresistably charming.
nely: Could you please share any tips on submitting to magazines?
I’ll be the first to admit – I’m really no expert. I’ve been published in a couple of magazines because my bride or another vendor at the wedding already had their ducks in a row and all I had to do was submit the photos when the spread was being put together. That being said I still do submissions on my own, but not as frequently as I would like to. Usually I’ll find the number for the photo editor of a magazine I want to get published in. I’ll give them a call, just to ask what the requirements are, as they are different for all magazines. Some magazines want a link to the blog post or gallery, and some want a disc of 100 images and a proof sheet or prints. The beautiful and talented Jasmine Star posted a great article about how to get a wedding published, which you can find here: http://www.jasminestarblog.com/index.cfm?postID=627. Good luck!
Gemma: I’m a new photographer and was wondering if you could give some tips on developing your individual photography style. I’ve been trying to apply different composition techniques but my pictures just seem so-so.
Everyone is different, everyone embarks upon a different journey to find who they are as an artist. So the best way I think I can answer this question is just to share with you my journey. I’m not trained as a photographer, I went to school for acting. It’s funny because acting and I had a bad breakup, and when I started my relationship with photography, I wanted to start over from scratch. But as time went on, I realized that having been an actor my whole life presented certain advantages in the world of photography. I’m trained to connect with people, to see things cinematically, to direct a scene to make it emotionally powerful. In short, I have a sense of drama, that I shouldn’t have been so quick to shun. I guess what I’m trying to say is, use what you have. Take opportunities to shoot what inspires you. When you are shooting for yourself, through composition technique out the window. See what comes naturally to you, when you shoot what you love. And of course, nothing will help you more than practice. Grab some friends, your children if you have any, your kitties or your puppies, get in the car, drive to somewhere beautiful, listen to some inspiring music while you are shooting. See what happens. The best way to become a better photographer is to constantly be pushing and inspiring yourself. I’ve heard some people lament that not everyone can be a great photographer. I think that entirely depends on the effort you put in – though it certainly comes easier to some than others. But if you allow yourself to be constantly working on it, one day you’ll look back at your previous work and see how far you’ve come.
aK Sandhu: What is the best advice you would give a 1st-yr-wedding photographer in terms of being a good business-person? How to most efficiently booking weddings, marketing, spending on the right equipment, finding the right workshops, networking, business aspects, etc.??? I know this is a LOT but looking at your own path, what is the best and worst things you did for your career and what should you have done differently?
The best advice I could give you, is that your first year is a time to figure out how to be a good business person, if you don’t have any prior experience. The greatest thing about owning your own business, is that it’s comes naturally to be an advocate for your business. When I started, the first thing I did was find a community of support. I started attending my local PUG meetings (when I was a member of Pictage, they have Pictage User Group meetings in most major cities), finding out about events, shoots, parties, and networking my butt off. In my view, the best way to become a better business person, is to make friends with other busienss owners. The great thing about the modern wedding photography industry, I can say from observation, is that there really is no competition. You set your self apart, through our blog, your personality, your work, and there is no one else like you. That’s not the whole kit and kaboodle, but it’s a great place to start. From that point on it’s a matter of spending time on the marketing aspect as well as the photography aspect, to present yourself as an individual so unique, that the clients who want you to shoot their wedding can’t imagine hiring anyone else. And since there is no competition, (most)people are really open with their advice and experience that’s helpful to your business. That’s how it is in New York, anyway. I know that some markets are a little more old fashion than others, but I believe that this is where everything is headed. I also tend to think of the wedding photography industry as a little like high school, and WPPI is like Prom. The most popular (aka successful) kids are part of the most clubs, are the most involved in their community, and are part of strong social groups (which you can easily cultivate in your town if there isn’t one already). Anyway, that’s just an observation. I certainly feel like I’m always learning as I go along. In the first year, it was all about booking weddings, and now it’s about booking my kind of weddings and refining my presence in a community of photographers and wedding professionals, or getting published. Maybe one day, it’ll be about organizing workshops. I tend to embark upon the new stages of my career tentatively, only when I feel I’ve been around for a while. I’ve seen people enter the world of wedding photography and shoot right up to the top, and in the beginning, I would try to dissect what they were doing, but in the end I always find, that the the thing that ends up working best for me, takes time and patience to cultivate. Luckily, I’m in a position that I’ll be here for a long, long time, to see what becomes of my years of experience!
Kay: 1) I previously read back through your archives & see that at one point you used to shoot with Nikon before switching to Canon. I’m a Nikon shooter myself but am not heavily invested (yet). For the past few months I’ve been debating switching over to Canon – so my question is: are you still happy with your decision or have you at any time regretted the switch? 2) I just confirmed my first wedding & it is a destination wedding. Anything you wish you’d known when you shot your first destination wedding specifically? Special considerations, tips?
1. Haha. this is like a Mac/Windows debate. I would tell you swtich to Canon and don’t look back, because for me it was one of the best decisions I ever made. It depends on your priorities, though. Nikon Pro Cameras are focus faster, the flash system is efficient and reliable, the apertures on available lenses are smaller. I’ve heard though, that since I’ve switched, they’ve introduce some lenses comparable to those on the Canon line. But, in the end, for me it just came down to color. I would shoot Nikon, and the image would be noisy and muddy, and even shooting JPG there was always so much work to be done to the image. Mind, this was when I was shooting with the D200. Someone took a picture of me with their 5d, and I literally came home that day and put all my Nikon stuff for sale and switched. It was the color. The reds, oranges, and the skin tones. Yum yum. Now when I shoot with my 5D Mark II and my 50mm 1.2, I upload my JPG’s and they just look so beautiful, I don’t have to edit them at all. I love it.
2. Congrats on your first destination wedding! When I started shooting destination weddings, I kind of saw them as vacations. Not good. I ended up spending more money than it was worth to shoot the wedding in addition, being unable to to book another wedding that weekend, or anything in the days that I was gone is also part of the cost. As things are adding up, this year, 9 weddings that I’m shooting are destination weddings. For our wedding in France last year, it was difficult to be there and not want to drink a lot of wine and eat a lot of expensive cheese, which, I have to admit, we did do a little bit of. I’ve always thought of doing destination weddings the most perfect way of seeing the world, and I can still do that, but I restrict my vacation attitude for only the ones that occur in extraordinary places. Hence spending 6 weeks in Asia. So for all the destination weddings we book this year, I allow myself 2 that are vacation like, and the rest are business as usual. Also – be wary of elevators in under developed nations – I’ve been stuck in a couple!
Wes -Yesterday my first 120 film was developed by a local lab. I really like the raw but finished look. But now I’m wondering, did you noticed any differences between the developing done by Richards or your local lab. I’m thinking about sending my film overseas:) Crazy, I know ! thnx Wes
I would be careful about sending your film overseas – they xray in customs! I found this out when I was contemplating sending film home from India. You could try it with a roll you don’t really care about, and it might not matter if it’s less than 800 ISO. Richard’s is the best.
Kimberly – I just discovered your blog. Amazing work! I am just getting into photography and shoot with a Canon Rebel XS. I find that a lot of times my images are super sharp. Is it the lighting? Lens? Me? Any secrets to proper focusing?
To be honest. I have no idea. But I have found the Rebel to be pretty overly sharp. There should be somewhere in your settings where you can set the sharpening on your images. And proper focusing – it is what it is. It takes practice, and gets better as you upgrade your equipment. I shoot wide open almost all the time, and I would say about 40% of my images are in sharp focus. But sharpness does depend on equipment, lighting, focus. I have a callous developing on my thumb from pumping my focus button every weekend for 8-10 hours.
And, it’s always better with a photo. Here’s a preview of Glory and Avery’s Hong Kong wedding!!