We are a community, are we not? I would have never gotten to where I am today if not for those who have mentored and walked along me. They have given generously and freely. I’m grateful for their patience in my pestering questions, allowing me to hold reflectors, walking me through post-processing, and second shooting. Thus, here are some things about my work process and thoughts:
- What I shoot with:
I like gear. I’m a gear junkie. But I also know that the gear does not make the photographer. My best lens can’t compose an image for me, or know how to deal with extreme lighting conditions. I have to do that. But good gear sure helps.
I started off with a Sony A-200. Then went to Canon 40Ds before going with my Mark IIs. Do not pretend to be a professional if you are not. However, if you are, you owe your clients professionalism in providing them with the best in the most challenging and adverse lighting conditions. And don’t we know that churches and reception halls are probably some of the most adverse lighting conditions you can get yourself in :).
- 2x Canon 5d Mark II w/ battery grips
- EF 24-70mm 2.8L
- EF 70-200mm 2.8L IS
- EF 16-35mm 2.8L
- EF 85mm 1.2L II
- EF 50mm 1.2L (Favorite close portrait lens)
- EF 35mm 1.4L
- EF 100mm 2.8L IS Macro (For ring shots and details)
- 2x 580ex Flashes
- Pocket Wizard Mini-TT1 and Flex TT5
- Boda Lens Bag
- What’s one piece of advice for a new photographer?
For aspiring photographers, the best thing you can do for yourself is to go out and shoot. Expensive gear doesn’t do anything for you if you don’t know how to use it. Learn to shoot in manual! Learn to control every aspect of your camera. When the pressure is on, the camera needs to simply be an extension of your body. Know it like the back of your hand. Read up on theory, but knowing the relationships of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed in real life can only be learned from shooting real things and people. I believe that you shouldn’t go out and buy a new piece of glass until you know exactly what you’re looking to create with your camera. And to do that means you need to know the limits of what you currently use. Limits can only be tested through shooting.
- Should I go to school for photography?
Sure, if you got lots of money and time. I don’t believe that you need to. (Though I do believe you need to know your camera and the basics of photography… only to break the rules :). If you’ve got that much money on your hands, give some of it away and get some good glass (lenses) with the rest. I’ve met many brilliant and wonderful photogs who never took a single photography class. Then again, I’ve met some who have. One of the biggest things you can do for yourself is to find someone who will take you under their wing. That kind of learning can’t be bought in a classroom. Try following some photogs you like. Study their work, and incorporate it into yours. That’s how we learn, until we develop our own style.
- What do you do for post processing?
I shoot in RAW. Tweek in Lightroom, edit in Photoshop, then it goes back into Lightroom. My actions are more conveniences than absolutes. Every picture is different. How could there be an absolute?
- How do I start/run a photography business?
That, my friend, is a question that is far too big for this page :), not that I have the perfect formula. Much of it has to do with your personal style and priorities. Every photographer does it differently. Some run large-scale enterprises, outsourcing their editing. Some make their money on prints and albums. For myself, I want to keep this as an art. I edit everything because it’s my art. This takes a lot of time. I’ve tasted my limits and have set boundaries on what I find to be a prime balance between business and art. I believe in grace and service. I believe in relationships. I believe in giving. All those things will be a part of your business plan if they are important to you as a person.
- What kind of computer should I get to edit with?
Check out this blog post I put up about that.
- Any last thoughts?
Give credit where it’s due. We are not islands, nor are we successful without the help of others. With that said, my friends Dan Chen and Scott Jarvie have both been instrumental in my life as a photographer. They have both given of their time and energy, leaving an indelible mark on me. Most importantly, who they are as people and how they’ve approached photography got me to think and ask questions. Thanks guys :).