Your Questions | My Answers

You asked.
I listened!

A few months ago I said I’d write a blog post with any questions you may have – at the time the ‘conditions’ weren’t met so it was never written!  Now, as a recognition of 1001 likers I thought I’d go ahead with answering your questions 🙂

I would like to start though with a disclaimer!!  With letting you all know that I’m not particularly knowledgeable with the technical side of photography.  I learn/shoot mostly through practise, trial and error (lots of errors!) and based on whether I (not others) like how something looks.  This last point is a work in progress – because it is flattering to shoot for the recognition and accolades of others.  But I have found that if I shoot emotionally I end up falling in love with those images so much more.

Something very important to remember: photography is subjective!

So any tips I share on settings, editing and the likes are often not the best nor the right way to do things.  I, myself, am constantly learning – and have a long way to go before I am comfortable with my own abilities or knowledge.

q) Which is better…Nikon or Canon?  
a) Honestly – both are equal!  I know, I know…this might mean I’m not siding with ‘Team Canon’ like I should be, but I’d have a kit of each if it were viable 🙂  Many many years ago I actually started with a Nikon D100 which I adored.  I decided to upgrade to a D200 and had issues with my particular camera.  At that stage I just loved taking photos, but was not serious about becoming a photographer, so with a heart laden with guilt for ‘betraying’ Nikon I downsized and switched sides –  to a Canon 450D with kit lenses.  I still have this camera (which you may recall seeing my daughter now using!).  From there I’ve progressed to a 7D, then a 5Dmkii & just a few months ago upgraded to a 5Dmkiii.  All of these upgrades were because of features I required as a professional photographer!

q) What’s my favourite lens?  
a) I currently have two:-)  My 50mm f1.2 & my 135mm f2.0.  That being said, my most versatile lens hands down is my 24-70mm.  It was on my camera for 95% of our holiday in Canada, and I also used it for my piano shoot! 

q) Shoot mode?  AV, TV or manual – what do I prefer?  
a) I shoot solely on manual.  I have tried AV a few times and just couldn’t co-ordinate my  brain & fingers 😉  It still requires manual adjustments, so there’s no right or wrong answer here!

q) Favourite quick point and shoot settings in manual when there’s not time and you only have a second to capture the shot?
a)  This is where I probably do things very wrong!  
I like to shoot wide open, so my aperture is ‘normally’ set to the widest f stop of the lens (so f2.8 on my 24-70).  
My ISO is generally on 200.
White balance is on auto (because I shoot RAW this is quick to adjust when editing).
Then it’s just a matter of reading the light meter and quickly adjusting the shutter speed to suit!
May I add that this certainly doesn’t always work – I still take a LOT of dud images!!!

q) How do I decide on the correct settings for different lighting situations (bright sunlight, overcast etc)?
a) Like I said in the previous question, I like to shoot wide open.  So that is normally my starting point.  Of course, it depends WHAT you are shooting that will alter that.  One person is great at f2.8.  A few people not so much (at least, if you want them all in focus!).  A landscape (which I make NO claims to being a landscape photographer), you normally want the whole scene in focus, so you need a higher f stop.  If it is overcast and there is not enough light, increase your ISO. 

q)  Tips on taking candid family shots?
a)  Family photos are not my strong point, which is why I no longer offer them.  So I can’t really offer any great insight!  My style though, leans more towards the candid moments rather than posed portraits, so it is just a matter of encouraging family interactions.  Get them to chat about things that make them laugh – something funny someone said.  The silliest thing someone has done etc.  Get them to bring favourite toys.  Be prepared to be silly yourself to get them to laugh naturally!  

q)  How do you photograph 5 kids?
a)  When it’s my own – with a LOT of moments of frustration, hair pulling (my own out, that is) & a touch too much yelling!  If it’s family photos of us, I am ‘that’ mother – trying to get the kids to stop being silly, look at the photographer, smile nicely, stop annoying your brother…and then in every photo I am the one talking or not looking 😀
So, if I’m photographing someone else’s children, it’s easiest to send mum & dad away for a break and spend time interacting with the children on their own!

q)  Editing techniques?
a)  My editing is constantly evolving as I learn new skills. And I still struggle with consistency – something I am continually working on!
Again – how I edit is not the best or often the correct way.
I currently edit in PS6 and use a combination of actions & actions I have created myself.  Skin tones are the most important part of image processing for me – I like clear, creamy tones…not green or too yellow & not underexposed.  The biggest part of this though, is exposing correctly in camera! 

q)  My photography journey.  Where did it begin?  Did I do a course, or am I self taught?
a)  I have always loved taking photos, but I don’t have a wonderful, inspiring story of shooting since I was 3.  Or growing up surrounded by parents developing their film in the bathroom!  I just loved taking photos!  And they weren’t particularly good ones!  
About 3 years ago I did a workshop.  I was embarrassed – by my equipment, by my lack of knowledge.  I still shot on auto, and all these scary terms they kept throwing at me – shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance….you mean I have to adjust all of these things every time I took a photo…that’s impossible!  Then and there I decided to just learn one thing at a time.  To understand it as best as I could before tackling the next ‘thing’.  At the same time I did a beginner’s photoshop course and I decided to apply the same tactic (in fact, with the volumes of things to learn with PS I still use the same tactic!).  

That year I had actually returned to university to complete my primary teaching degree.  I mean am I a glutton for punishment? Teaching?  I have 5 kids of my own…why would I want another 20?!!!  Anyway, at the same time did a handful of photography workshops throughout the year.  At the end of the year I was completely torn – photography or teaching.  I decided to do as many shoots as I could throughout the uni break…and decide at the end which I loved more.  As disappointed as I was in myself for not completing my degree (I felt like a quitter), photography won hands down!  

The following year I then decided to absorb as much as I could – workshops, google, research, practice, practice, practice.

q)  What has been the most helpful website for me as far as learning about photography and/or interaction with other photographers?
a)  Google.  And youTube.  And Facebook groups. 

q)  Why do I love workshops and which have been my favourite?
a)  Workshops are a fantastic hands on experience that helps visual learners such as myself.  I would have loved to have studied photography through a photography school, but where I live it sadly isn’t an option.  So workshops it was!   And I honestly can say that I have met some wonderful photographer friends through them.

I have a few favourites:
Creative Photo Workshops – still the workshops I’ll say taught me the basics (and more the more I went to) the best…in a fun way!
Little Pieces Photography – one of the best newborn photographers I know, but more importantly Kelly is a genuine, kind and lovely person.  I haven’t done as much newborn work as I would have liked though…perhaps I need to go again!
JinkyArt – an amazing children’s photographer, but again, it was more of her down-to-earth personality that has touched me and helped me to keep perspective in this industry.

q)  Proudest moment in your journey so far?  
a)  Delving into film – I love that it pushes me to think beyond digital.  And I love that I have SO much more to learn & improve.

q)  Favourite picture you’ve taken?
a)  This is a hard one!  I have lots…but I would have to say any from my piano shoot.  Just because it took me months of planning and it all paid off, so was worth the effort.

q)  Best advice I’ve been given?
a)  Unplug!  I spent a lot of time being discouraged thinking I’d never be as good as a lot of the photographers I followed. – sometimes not looking at all their work helps me on my own journey.  It also gives me a chance to be more creative as opposed to copying or recreating something someone else has done.

q)  Best advice you think would be good for budding photographers?
a)  Do personal work!  Hands down, it is my personal projects that have pushed me, challenged me & taught me the most.  Forcing me to pick up my camera every day.  To try and make everyday things look more interesting/creative.  
Challenge yourself!  

q)  What do I dislike most about photography?  
a)  The competitive nature of the industry – which causes me personally, to just climb back in my cozy bubble & do my own thing at my own pace!

q)  What do I love the most?  
a)  The feeling of evoking emotions.
The feeling of taking an amazing photo.  
And of knowing how.  
It really just makes me feel warm and fuzzy 🙂

q)  Most valuable lesson?  
a)  Mistakes are okay.  They are inevitable so that you can look back and see your growth!

q)  How has photography changed the way I look at and see the world around me?
a)  I LOVE this question…because it HAS changed how I see the world.  I feel like I constantly walk around with photography goggles on.  Assessing in my mind how something would look through my viewfinder.  Imagining an awesome photo.  And I watch movies, see billboards, read books etc with a different perspective now – seeing how the light changes the moods and picturing it as a still image.


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