I’m back! After a longer than planned absence due to a very unfortunate reaction to a tetanus shot – the things I do for trips to Africa!! – I’m back and ready to sit down and answer all of your questions! If any question is not listed below, it’s because the answer was addressed. And yes, that’s right – ALL of your questions!!
Kim Kaylin asked:
I would love to know your preference of lenses during the ceremony, and any positioning tips you may have of where to locate yourself for certain parts of the ceremony. Also, any advice you have on difficult lighting situations, especially during the ceremony, would be greatly appreciated. any tips on how to direct more traffic to your site / blog, or just more business in general.
At the moment, I’m trying to get my lenses down to a simpler science. Currently I employ the works of my 50mm 1.2 – MY MOST FAVORITE LENS!!, the 24mm 1.4, the 135mm 2.0, and the 45mm 2.8 t/s. I shoot with all of them during the ceremony, each for a different purpose. I use the 50 the absolute most, it’s the sharpest lens I’ve ever worked with and it’s just the right working distance for me. Images from this lens are so saturated and yummy and lovely, were it not for small rooms and crazy dance floors I would consider shooting only with the lens, and no other. I LOVE IT! I use the 24mm to shoot more photojournalistic shots throughout the whole day, and for the ceremony, too. Also use it for wide sweeping shots of everything that I can fit into the frame that moves me. I use the 135 for close ups of the groom watching his bride come down the aisle, the bride’s face as she makes her vows, etc. And yes, I stand right smack dab in the middle of the aisle – only for a moment long enough to grab those shots and quietly and quickly move out of the way so as not to disturb the moment. Here’s the thing – and it’s something I gleaned from my own experience as a person, walking down an aisle towards the man I love most in this world, that there really wasn’t much that could distract me from that purpose. My mother said our photographer was running all over the place, but I didn’t notice her for a second. Within that notion I work within what I feel is appropriate. I am getting paid the big bucks to get the shot – and it’s more important to me to get the shot, than it is to nurse my discomfort of being in the way at any point in time. Just be quick and nimble! Get in, get out, get it right! I’m everywhere – behind the officiant – unless otherwise directed not to be – in front of the groomsmen and bridesmaids, standing, squatting, sitting, lying down (all in a dress, folks!), in the aisle, in the balcony, on the stairs – and also respectful of my surroundings. I’m moving guests out of the way, especially the one’s with cameras who try to get in my way. Uh uh. No way. I’m the professional here, and I always get first dibs!
Difficult lighting… I have to say recently I’ve been very inspired to say there are only difficult lighting conditions if I try to work against the light, or the capabilities of my equipment. I just got a video light that I use for dark time portraits, and for the reception, I’m using one off camera sunpak flash with a pocket wizard, combined with the bounce flash from my camera, OR just a bounce flash. Depends on where I am. I bring everything with me, so I’m ready for anything, but sometimes the Sunpak just doesn’t make it out of my bag. But at the end of the day – if it’s yellow dark light – let it be yellow and dark. Thats what it looks like. If I just let light look like what it looks like, then it’s not difficult anymore.
Traffic… BLOGGING!!! Blogging is an amazing and powerful force. Network with other wedding blogs – get your work and your name out there! Read those wedding blogs, and decide where you want to be. Then submit your work (always send a link first)! The more you look at wedding blogs, the more you will understand what you are looking for. Here are the five most influential blogs/sites in my business:
With the help of these blogs and sites that featured my work last year, my blog stats jumped from 1600 a month to 5000 a month, and then in November jumped from 5,000 a month to almost 10,000, and I’m still on the way up! And I’ve never spend any money on advertising unless it was in support of a blog that I really loved, and I always forget to carry my business cards (not on purpose!). Blogging made my business happen. Blogging made me book 30 weddings in the first four months I was ever a photographer across the country and abroad. I am sometimes a little late but NEVER behind on blogging and reading other amazing blogs that I love.
Now that that’s covered, there were a few repeat questions, so I’m just going to assemble for my self a little interview from those other questions that were asked.
how did you and husbone meet and fall in love?
Where is your favorite place that you’ve shot a wedding?
Hard to say. Probably here: http://www.punambean.com/blog/?p=354 or here: http://www.punambean.com/blog/?p=362
Who do you use to process prints? Do you design your own albums or outsource?
I use a combination of labs, but mostly WHCC, and a local lab, here in NY. And Raya of the wonderful pinkpenny.com, is a godsend. Her designs are always exactly what I want them to be – she’s amazing! I couldn’t recommend Pink Penny enough!!
What do you use to process prints?
Photoshop! And the wonderful magically amazing Totally Rad Actions 1 and 2! Actions really taught me how to use photoshop. I would toggle them, so each part of each action would run one at a time, and experiment with layers and settings. I highly recommend, if you are looking to hone your photoshop skillz, to buy an action pack and break it down. I am, however, a person who learns by taking things apart, and it really worked well for me. I’ve never taken a class, never read a book. Actions are where it’s at, and Totally Rad actions are the best, most useful sets I’ve ever used!
Could you possibly be any more adorable and enchanting – you and your husbone?! seriously!
Well, yes. I think we could be. We are currently working on it ;).
From Ashley Star:
How did you get into photography? How did you improve?
PRACTICE. I’m reading this book right now, called Outliers, by Malcom Gladwell. I’m only part way through, but I read something in it that has been on my mind for a few days. It’s called the 10,000 hour rule. In annals of history, all of the greatest minds, richest people, and most brilliant geniuses had one thing in common. All of them were met with the extraordinary opportunity to focus on their work, from a very young age, for a total of approximately 10,000 hours of incessant study, obssesive poring, and utter immersion before they had they world shifting breakthroughs. Thinking about this, I realized I was afforded an amazing opportunity, as well. When I decided to be a photographer, Husbone and I were broke for a really long time. We had NO money, and I didn’t have a job, and I was just obsessed. So, everyday, for literlally – no joke – 12 hours or MORE a DAY, I was poring over amazing photography that I searched for far and wide, and found, among my favorite wedding, portrait, landscape, fashion, and commercial photographers. It was so much fun, I never even realized what I was learning, instinctively taking in the notions of composition and proper exposure. I was so lucky not to have been distracted by anything else – there really was absolutely nothing else going on in my life except that I wanted one thing more than anything else in the whole word. To be a photographer. To achieve some world shifting breakthrough with my own work, to make a powerful impact on people the way photographs have made an impact on me. I see something that moves me and I think – I want to do that, too! And so, the obsession begins, and I try to master on thing at a time. And to answer your next question, Ashley-
Does your husband always help you? Is he a photographer as well?
YES he helps me out a LOT. Sometimes as a photographer – he’s actually a musician – but mostly as my comfort, foundation, love and supporter. I told him I wanted to nix my Nikon gear and start over with Canon. Well, didn’t mister man at the expansion of his credit line take me on a dream trip to B and H, and buy me everything needed? He is an amazing man. I am blessed to have him.
What is your favorite tool in Photoshop?
Layers! Layers are the most powerful thing ever! If you don’t know what they are or how to use them, Google it! That’s how I learned!
have you found if specials (like Christmas Special Sessions) work?
I don’t do any such thing. Just never got around to it!
what do you do to give your images that distinct, sharp POP they have?
It’s different for every image, but I love Select-o-Pop in the TRA2 set. And I nail my images in camera, and especially when shooting with the 50mm 1.2, I really don’t have a lot of work cut out for me!
how best to use natural light… and what kind of flash/accessories do you use?
Natural light – let it be what it is! I like to take advantage of harsh shadows in hot sun, I love to shoot in the fog, with backlighting, without backlighting. I just shoot in all of it, and I’m usually exposing for the brightest spot in the frame – and if that means silhouettes, then so be it! I use the:
Sunpak 380 flash
Lowell iD light
Canon 580 EXII flash
From Andy Bean, Banjoist:
What are you doing later tonight?
Waiting at home for you, Mr. Bean.
And how do you feel about the television show Lost?
Now THIS is my kind of question. Umm… I hope I don’t offend anyone by saying… I feel about Lost, the way I feel about photography. NO JOKE. I read Lost blogs – it’s really the highlight of my week (barring any pictures took). If you are like me, there is a place you can go. It’s call DarkUFO. I avoid the spoilers and embrace gasping surprises. I revel in the literary analysis. I salivate when there are new posts about the last episode. If anyone ever wants to meet up and chat about Lost, I will sooo buy lunch!
I was wondering if you find yourself doing more artistic effects in the post process than just the beauty of the shot.
Kind of like how smt asked:
do you always have the final look in mind and go for that in post processing or do you sometimes try different techniques to see what is most flattering?
Most of the time, I know exactly what the image will look like when I bring it home. I do a little tweaking within that, because I am a rabid perfectionist, but I do artistic edits, and I have them in mind when I make the picture.
how do you have your camera set-up in the menu? Things like color temp and picture style?
I don’t know, really. But I do shoot JPG’s, low saturation and contrast – bumped down a notch for each. Most of the time I use Auto White Balance, but I shoot entirely manually. There might as well be no other shooting option!
Galaxie Andrews asked:
I love shooting in outdoor and in natural light but i’ve recently been trying out indoor and it’s not turning out to well. =[. I absolutely loved your photos from the event with all the light bulbs in the ceiling… what camera is best for this type of lighting? and with what settings?
by the way – amazing name! See above for a video light, and I shoot with a 5d (mark I). With the video light I’m at 200 – 400 iso. At the reception, I’m at LEAST bouncing at an angle with my flash, usually just behind and to the side, to get nice, directional light, like this:
This method has worked in most spaces I’ve shot in. If there’s no where to bounce, then I have my assistant either follow me around holding a white sheet of paper at and angle behind my head, or I pull up my little white card. Sometimes, I even bounce off the ground:
did you go to photography school or are you self taught?
Self Taught all the way!! I’m not really a school person. Never did well in it and don’t plan on going back full time ever. But I am interested in taking some photography classes to expand my knowledge about film and other alternative photo processing (tintypes!! I really want to learn how to make them!). Unfortunately I was out of town for the Ambrotype class at ICP. Next time!!
…You made it to the end! Thanks so much everyone for your interest in my work. It’s so amazing to know that my work is reaching a lot of people, and I hope you find this little ditty helpful in your journeys!