the' burgh...

sitting at the airport, waiting to fly out to Pittsburgh for this amazing couple's wedding.  
36 hours in the city, 1 wedding, 1 family shoot, 14 hours of shooting, 7 hours with friends, and at least 2 favorite restaurants. 
can't wait.


faq for photographers #1

Remember this?  Well, the time has come.  Here we go!

What camera do you use?  The short answer?  Canon 50D.  Upgrading soon to Canon 5D Mark II  (woot!).  The long answer?  My experience, hours behind the camera, and "eye" (as some people call it) is much more of an asset to me than any camera ever could be.  As my husband says, you can play Jimmy Hendrix's guitar, but that doesn't mean you'll sound like him.  So, you want to take fantastic pictures?  Start with your point and shoot.  Wear it out--outgrow it completely, THEN buy the fancy camera.  And completely outgrow that before you upgrade.  Equipment does not a photographer make.  :)

What lens do love to shoot with and most prefer to use?  Keeping the above in mind, I absolutely adore my Canon 24-70mm F2.8 L series lens.  It is on my camera 90 percent of the time.  I also love my Canon 50mm F1.4.  My most exciting and "fun" lens?  The Sigma 10-20mm.  It's so fun to play with, and I love the distortion of the wide angle.  See the second picture below for an example...

Canon 50D, Canon 24-70mm F2.8L

Canon 50D, Sigma 10-20mm F4.0-5.6

What is your typical post-processing process?  I could probably write pages and pages about this subject, but I'll try to keep it short and sweet.
1. First things first, I try to get the shot as perfect in camera as I can.  I shoot all in manual mode, playing with the settings until I get it just where I want it.  I try to get the crop as dead on as possible, and if I'm extra ambitious, I'll even set a custom white balance.  This first step is crucial to my post processing, because it speeds things up considerably.
2. Import to Adobe Lightroom.  Sort, export as Raw files.
3. Open in Camera Raw (an add-on to Photoshop).  Do all my quick fixes--exposure, white balance, black compensation, straightening, etc.
4. Open in Photoshop, run the usual actions, and tweak whatever needs to be tweaked.
5. Save.
6. Open, automate batch with black & white action.  Tweak.
7. Save.
8. Import retouched photos to Lightroom.  Export one last time "web ready."
...that's a lot, right?  I know.  Time consuming, but worth it.  And, in all those steps, I've created three different sets of pictures for my clients.  Color, Black and White, and Web.  With all that being said, I've done a few full batches of photos almost exclusively in Lightroom (with the exception of the black and white set which I do in Photoshop).  Lightroom is definitely faster.  Biggest drawback?  No layers.  No actions (there are presets, but I prefer actions).  Not as much control.  Choose your poison.  :)  The photo below was edited all in Lightroom, but I'm completely happy with the way it turned out.

See the difference from beginning to end?  

What is your favorite edit program? What is your favorite tool/feature to use on your photos?  I guess I already answered the first part in the previous question.  Photoshop, hands down, is the best editing tool for photographers (in my opinion, of course).  My favorite tool lately is new to CS5.  Has anyone used the Puppet Warp tool?  It's so amazing!!  You should really try it out. Here, I'll show you: 

photo by my mom.  she's the best.
See? I'm skinnier (if only it were that easy).  And it looks pretty dang natural.  Don't you think?

Many of your photographs have a "soft" element to it, do you get this end result through photoshop edit or your manual camera settings?  Good question.  I've thought about your question a lot.  I've never really considered my photos to be "soft" before.  But, I can see it now that you mention it.  I think most of it is camera settings.  I try to keep my ISO as low as possible, and sometimes I have to bring my aperture down quite low to achieve that.  The low aperture makes wide open focusing more difficult, but it also gives the photo a softer look.  The other element you're probably seeing is the skin softening tool I use.  I have to give a shout out to Totally Rad Actions for the ProRetouch action.  It's the bomb.  You should try it.  Wanna see what it does?

Yeah.  It's that good.

How do you prevent your pictures from redirecting to blogger when you click on them?  Well, to be honest, this wasn't intentional, but I guess that is kind of nice.  I'll tell you. 
1. Upload to photobucket.
2. Paste the following HTML code into the HTML section of your editor:

Be aware, the width number is variable depending on how wide the body of your blog is.  I did some tweaking to my blog template, and made the body a little wider.
3. Post the direct link code from Photobucket into the "URL" section.
Not rocket science, but it works for me.  By the way, I hear Flickr is better for Photographers.  I have an account, and I'm considering posting everything from there, but I haven't taken the time to figure it out.  Just sayin'. 

What is your work schedule?  How do you balance mommying and photography?  Well, this is the question of the day. I think my biggest realization from day one to now is no matter how much photography lights up my life (which is does), it is a JOB.  If you are delivering a lot of shoots to clients, you have to consider yourself a working mother.  And, being a working mother--balancing family, clients, church, work, and down time--is tricky.  Very tricky.  Right now, I'm busy.  Very busy.  And my laundry, among other things, suffers because of it.  DJ and I are thinking outsourcing is the way to go.  I don't feel comfortable outsourcing any part of my photo process, or my Mommy time, but I feel perfectly comfortable outsourcing the cleaning.  :)  I always shoot in the evenings, and I retouch as often as I possibly can.  I get up early (like 5am early), head off to the gym, and come back and work until Mack is up and at 'em.  We play, play, play, and Mack goes down for a nap.  I try to never let a napping moment go "unworked."  Then, I work for a little bit after DJ gets home.  I put in a little time after Mack goes down, but I try not to spend too much time because there are other things in my life/around the house that need attention as well (you know, like my marriage and stuff... oh yeah, and cleaning up dinner :) ).  I think this is an evolving process.  Things are getting busier for me as a photographer, which I love and am absolutely ecstatic about, but it requires a new balance in my life.  One thing will always be true though.  Nothing is more important to me than this little guy.  I mean, look at him.  I just wanna squeeze him. 

photo by my amazing brother, stevie.  

Well, that's it.  I hope it was helpful in the least.  Have more questions?  Feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email, and I'll get them in the second installment.  
You guys are the best.  :)