December 18th, 2007
I get lots of the same questions from other photographers, so I thought I would go ahead and combine them all in one place! Here we go…
1. What equipment do you use?
The cameras I work with are Canon 5Ds (both Mark I and Mark II), which is in my opinion the best camera in the world for weddings and portraits, and is easily considered the industry standard for Canon digital shooters.. As far as lenses, I have TONS but my favorites are the 50 1.2, 100 2.8 macro, 35 f2, 45 TS-E 2.8, and 70-200 2.8, all from Canon. I use Canon 580 EX flashes and a Canon ST-E2 to fire them.
2. How do you light your images?
I try to use natural light whenever possible. I find that it is much more attractive and produces gorgeous colors and contrast. However, when natural light isn’t enough or I just want to get a little more dramatic, I also use off-camera flash, usually mounted on lightstands and set at a 45 degree angle. It’s hard to explain, but basically I don’t want the flash pointing straight at the subject or at their side, but rather somewhere in between. Sometimes I will also mount a flash on a light stand behind the subject to add a little rimlight. I almost never put my flash on my camera. I just don’t like the look of bounced flash. I also don’t diffuse my flashes, they are all direct.
3. Do you shoot RAW or JPEG?
Both. I shoot entirely in RAW, basically as a “just in case.” Later, after the shoot, I determine whether it’s better for me to edit the RAW or the JPG images. If I prefer to edit the RAW files, I convert them using Adobe Lightoom. If I like the in-camera files, I extract the JPGs from my RAW files in PhotoMechanic and edit those. I prefer this method because it allows me to have the security of RAW while getting all the great color, contrast, and vibrancy of an in-camera JPG.
4. What is your post-wedding workflow?
First I divide all the images into categories – Bride, Groom, Ceremony, Formals, Reception – and edit each category individually. I open all the RAW photos up in PhotoMechanic, use color tagging to select the best images, and then I either convert those using Adobe Lightroom, or I extract the JPGs using PhotoMechanic. Once I have gone through every photo, I upload to Exposure Manager and send them off to the client!
5. Do you use any actions or special programs?
I rarely use actions anymore, but when I do, I use Totally Rad Actions (mostly Oh Snap!, Pro Retouch, Get Faded, and Super Old Skool), Kevin Kubota (I own all his packs, but I mostly use Daily Multi Vitamin, Vignette, Magic Sharp, and Vibrant Glow), and KJImages’ Outdoor Pack (mostly the Boring Old B&W and Sepia). Most of the time I run these actions and then go back and tweak them or lower the opacity. I also use the Art History brush in Photoshop A LOT.
6. What albums and album design software do you use?
I use PhotoJunction for album design. There’s a bit of a learning curve and it’s a bit buggy but it works for me. For albums, I mostly use Forbeyon, and I highly HIGHLY recommend them, and I also use WHCC press print books for small albums needed within a week.
7. Do you need any assistants or second shooters?
Not right now. I have a handful of second shooters and assistants that I LOVE and work really well with. However, when I do need a little extra help, I usually go to Flickr or TexasPhotoForum.com. I typically only accept assistants or second shooters who also shoot Canon. Sorry, Nikon folks!
8. Have you had any formal training?
Not really. I took a few classes in college, but they were very low level. Most of what I know I learned on my own from reading books (I recommend Scott Kelby’s books), websites, and blogs, and working with photographers whose work I admire. I also shoot a LOT, which I think is the number one way to learn. The more you shoot, the better you’ll get, that’s all there is to it! I also force myself to shoot in Manual mode as much as possible.
9. Where do you get your poses and lighting inspiration?
I draw my inspiration primarily from high-end fashion and bridal magazines. I have a huge box of magazine tearsheets of images that inspire me, and I look through those images before each wedding. I try to take images I really love, figure out what about them is so attractive to me – composition, posing, color, lighting, etc – and then incorporate that into my own style.
10. Can I ask you something specific?
Due to the huge amount of e-mail I get on a daily basis, I can’t promise a response to specific questions. The best way to ask me a question is through my formspring page. If you would like to discuss wedding photography in-depth, I do offer weekend and wedding weekend seminars, where we sit down one-on-one to discuss your business. If you’re interested in this, please contact me using the “CONTACT” link above.