What kind of camera should I buy? I can’t tell you what to buy, but I can tell you what I use. I’ve used Nikon and Canon gear and I prefer Canon. I love the image quality, the crispness of the images, the colors, the low light compensation. I shoot with a 5D Mark iii and Mark iv, but I honestly think any DSLR body can get you started. It’s a lot more about the experience level of the person holding the camera than the camera itself. That being said, lenses can help a lot, too. I love the 50mm and the 24-70. Start playing around and see what you like!
Why is hiring a photographer so expensive? I’m glad you asked! It’s expensive because we’re a business and we incur other costs besides just paying for the camera. Here are just a few annual costs photographers have: the Adobe Suite, computer updates, external hard drives, cloud storage, memory cards, seamless backdrops, lighting equipment, props, insurance, lenses, flashes, website yearly hosting and domain costs, accounting services, legal fees for photography contracts, workshops and classes. Not to mention the time and expertise you are paying for when you hire a photographer. A lot more goes into it than people think.
What’s the difference between an iPhone and a DSLR? Don’t get me wrong, you can take awesome pictures on your iPhone. But not quality ones. I use my phone every day to capture the city and document the world around me. But to really get quality images, I use my DSLR. There are so many more pixels and the file is so much bigger on a professional camera, so you can do more with the image. Higher quality and more options for lenses and depth of field creates more room to explore and experiment. But at the same time, start exploring with photography on your phone if you don’t want to buy a camera just yet. It’s supposed to be fun and creative!
How can I get the blurry background on my photos? That’s called Bokeh. You can learn all about it and how to get it on my article right here.
Do I need to learn manual mode on my camera? Yes! I think that Manual mode is key to understanding your camera and photography. You have a lot more room for creative expression if you are aware of the technical side of photography and can adjust it on-the-go. I learned by playing around with my camera, but a good place to start is with YouTube tutorials (or Linda.com if you have a library card!). When you know how to change the lighting, white balance, ISO, aperture and shutter speed on your own, you can be really sure you’re creating the types of images that you want. In my experience, learning more about my camera has only helped make my images more fun and creative!
Is editing photos important? I think it’s the crucial second step after shooting the image itself. To me, capturing the shot is a special art that takes practice and intuition, but editing that photo to your final vision is like sculpting the final details of an art piece. I use it to remove unnecessary elements from the shot, be it distracting spots in the background, wrinkles on a shirt, or cropping out space that doesn’t add to the focal point of the shot. Then I fix the white balance and adjust the color, usually making the shot more vibrant and punchy. The last thing I do is smooth out skin, whiten teeth, remove stray hair, and any other soft adjustments to enhance the subject. That might sound pretty simple, but it’s taken me years and years to perfect my editing style and find a balance of enhancing without overdoing.
How do you get paid to do photography? It’s a long process that won’t happen overnight. First you need to build a portfolio in the area that you want to produce work in. That might mean doing free or trade shoots with other vendors. For example, when I first moved to NYC, I produced styled shoots for wedding photography to build my portfolio. I got makeup artists, florists, and dress designers to lend me their products or skills in exchange for the photos to add to their portfolio as well. Other times I did free shoots for people to build my portfolio and gain experience. Once you feel you’re at a point where you have the knowledge and skillset to charge people, start doing it! Talk to other photographers and learn their pricing structure so you have something to base your rates off of. Increase as you become more skilled. It might take a few years, but your client base will grow as you do!
Is being a photographer hard? Yes and no. But mostly yes. It’s a career that you have to be really passionate about, and it will take a lot of work to be successful. I put in work almost every evening and weekend because I want my photography business to succeed. I reach out to potential clients and collaborators every week because I want to progress my brand. I shoot day in and day out and edit every free chance I get because I want to get better. So I guess no, on the surface being a photographer isn’t hard. But wanting to be a great photographer is. You have to put in the work to see results.
What do you use to edit photos and do you make your own presets? I do a base cull and edit in Lightroom and then I do all my final retouching in Photoshop. I generally make my own presets, but I also have some from photographers I like that I play around with on occasion. Presets are really nice when you have a lot of photos to edit at once–like a wedding for instance, but I like to mix things up for beauty and styled shoots. I find that I usually have a bit of a vision when I bring the raw photos into Lightroom, and I explore from there. Once I find a color and balance that I like, I’ll apply the preset to the batch and then go in and do adjustments per image.
How do you get the perfect shot? There’s really no perfect shot, just the right movements at the right time. I think being patient helps. For example, when I shoot concerts, I usually have an idea of the type of shot I’m looking for, and then I just wait ready to shoot when the artists is moving around stage. Framing is key for good shots, as well as being able to change the exposure in camera quickly. Being skilled at Manual mode really helps with this. Also, practice helps. As many times as I’ve gotten a really cool shot, I’ve also missed the shot because it was out of focus or overexposed (this happens with concerts a lot) or I just framed it wrong. The good news is that the more photos you take, the bigger chance you have of getting “the shot.”