*WILL WORK FOR FUN! Your questions about life, love and photography, answered.

Do you want to know more about a particular technique?  Are you curious about purchasing a particular camera or lens?  Do you ever see an image and wonder “how do they do that?”  Ask away, I will do my best to answer anything you can think of, or at least find someone and direct you to who can.  I enjoy all of the email I get, and do my best to answer each of them as accurately as I’m able.  So, I thought, “why not try and open this up so that everyone can enjoy and benefit?”  As summer comes into focus, I’m finding my time being stretched in quite a few different directions, juggling projects and life, so let me know what you are interested in and I’ll do the leg work.  Hopefully we can all learn something along the way!  Go ahead and drop a comment below, or email me and I will answer them/showcase them as they come in. Read on…

To get us started, here are a couple excerpts (used with permission) from a couple emails I’ve received… thanks and let’s keep it going!

From dd1087 (Dave):

“When using legacy lenses on a micro four thirds camera, what is the best technique to getting everything sharp while manually focusing?”

Well, regardless of the format (camera) you’re using, manually focusing can be challenging, especially when we’ve become so accustomed to fast, accurate auto focus.  I find that studying up a little to understand exactly how DOF (depth of field) is controlled is a good one.  Based on the relationship between the lens aperture, subject distance and format, any situation will have variables.  Check this link, which allows you to input your variables, and will show you the area in focus (or DOF) based on sensor/film size, focal length, aperture and distance to subject : http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

As far as actual technique, it depends on the light/exposure settings, desired effect and shooting situation.  If you want to capture street scenes for instance and want to do so somewhat candidly, many shooters will establish the hyperfocal distance (maybe I should put a post together on how to do this :) ) and with a smaller aperture (f/11- f/22 or so) with the lens set to the hyperfocal distance, you can maintain a deep depth of field and not have to worry about focusing from shot to shot as most everything which is an established distance from the camera will fall within the DOF and in turn be “in focus.”  For shallower DOF (when using larger apertures) for use in artistically blurry shots (see bokeh, etc) then it can be a little trickier as your working DOF is much shallower.  This is just something that you’d need to fine tune.  With a static subject, try using live view and zooming in to achieve focus where you want it, and with moving and or breathing subjects, it’s a matter of practice.  I tend to pick a point of focus (like an eye for instance) and do my best to focus on that, exhale, and gently, but firmly press the shutter button taking care to use my left hand (arm firmly braced against my body or a wall, etc) to keep the camera as steady as possible.

The basic laws regarding depth of field are going to show us that the closer our subject is to us, the shallower our depth of field is.  Also, the larger the aperture setting, the shallower the depth of field is.  While the larger the sensor is, the shallower the depth of field is if you frame the scene the same way.  One tricky thing about sensor size is that if you were to put cameras with different sensor sizes on a tripod from the exact same position, using the same lens and focusing at the same distance, it’s actually the smaller sensors that have a shallower depth of field!  I wasn’t sure about this until I’d done a little experimenting myself which I explained in a post HERE where  I explain the basics about sensor size, crop factor and field of view.

From Sarah:

“I’m interested in getting into wedding photography.  I’ve seen some of your comments on flickr in the wedding groups and wanted to know more specifically if you have any books or resources you’d recommend.”

Well, wedding photography can be one of the most challenging photographic tasks a photographer can choose to take on.  Firstly, there is a lot of competition on every level and finding your niche, and really understanding your business model can be key to succeeding.  It is kind of a cliche, but look for wedding photographers who might need a second shooter and/or assistant.  Trying to learn on the fly with weddings can be tricky if not disastrous.  Being a one off event, there are no re-dos and watching a seasoned vet ply their trade can be invaluable.  Many shooters getting into weddings also seem not to understand the actual cost to the photographer.  Shooting for 6-8 hours on the wedding day is only a tiny fraction of the actual time it takes to plan for, gather and purchase the necessary equipment, meet with the clients, process the photos, host them on a website, design and order albums/prints/etc.  Take into consideration income tax (if applicable), insurance, software and hardware investment, gas, driving time, processing time, website costs, album costs and living costs… How much do you need to make to live on, or make it profitable?  Rarely can a shooter “make a living” by charging $500 or even $1000 for a wedding.  Also, one thing that seems to be very common now a days, is issuing the shots on a disk.  While I’m not fundamentally against this, keep in mind how valuable this is.  It is almost the same thing as, in times past, a photographer handing over their negatives.  You lose any possible print sales, album sales, etc and really shouldn’t be “included” in a lowball wedding package in my opinion as it completely devalues your time, effort, experience and skill.

Research and talk with as many local wedding photographers in your area to see what they charge, how they shoot and any tips (if they’re willing to share).  Keep an eye on the quality of their, and your photography to see what choices a perspective bride and groom might have for the cost.  There is no single answer as there are so many variables, but for me (and the few weddings I’ve agreed to shoot) I’ve been meticulous in researching and discussing with my clients to make sure that A) our styles mesh and B) expectations are on the same page.  There is always negotiation to a certain extent, but I feel too many wedding shooters are pricing themselves out of an actual living by agreeing to shoot weddings for so little money just to “gain experience.”  Again, I’m not saying charge $10,00o for your first wedding, but I’d suggest to assist or find someone who is fine with a new wedding photographer, to “gain experience”.  Nothing more harmful to your reputation as an angry couple who feel they were misled.    As far as books, I don’t really have many recommendations, but I know there are a lot out there.  It’s not a wedding book so to speak, but check out Henri Cartier-Bresson  “The Decisive Moment” which is more to do with capturing that fraction of a second which is really important for shoots like weddings.

My boiled down advice would be:

  • Research your local market.
  • Establish your “style”
  • Understand your gear inside and out as conditions change rapidly during weddings.
  • Write up a business model (how many weddings would you have to shoot and at what price to make a profit considering your overhead over a year/season, etc)
  • Make sure you have a back up camera… if something goes wrong, you need to keep shooting!

From VIN:

“I’m new to using Photoshop.  Any tips?”

VIN’s email might be my favorite :)  Photoshop is one of the most amazing tools for digital art and photography.  You could dedicate a lifetime to learning every little intricacy involved.  Most people don’t have time to do so, and there are a lot of great resources online for techniques, tips and freebies.

For me, I took a couple classes taught by a certified Adobe specialist and I couldn’t be happier with my decision.  I have since been comfortable having that foundation to work from, to explore and experiment which then just opens the door to a whole new world.  There are also great PS books out there that do a good job of walking through some of the fundamentals.  A couple of my favorites are:

“Down & Dirty Tricks”  by Scott Kelby

“The Adobe Photoshop Layers Book”  by Richard Lynch

“Adobe Photoshop One on One”  by Deke McClelland (series designated by version, CS2, CS3, etc)

Another option once you get the basics down is to research a NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) membership.  It’s not exactly cheap, but you get magazines with very intensive tutorials, the ability to download the files used in the tutorials, and discounts on all kinds of gear, software, books, access to online content, videos, etc.  Of course, you could just buy the magazine at your local mag store (each issue is $10) and use your own photos to get started.

I’ve got a few articles with Photoshop tutorials as well, which are, as always, free ;)

Floating in Photoshop, how to Levitate in Photos

Selective Color Use in Black and White

How to add a Vintage Look 

Free Contrast Pop Action

Free Photoshop Bleach Bypass Action

…and there are others which you can find via the “postprocessing techniques” and “software tutorials” category links at the top right of the page.

Keep them coming, I’d be happy to try and help answer, and would love to hear your suggestions to help supplement my answers!

Comment below (remember to check back, or subscribe to the thread so you know when I answer), or email me photosbytyson [at] gmail [dot] com

As always, happy shooting!

Tyson

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5 thoughts on “*WILL WORK FOR FUN! Your questions about life, love and photography, answered.

  1. Great to see my question on the blog! Thanks for your answer. Having already shot a couple weddings though, I feel like I’m forging ahead and wonder how best to price packages and services. Is hourly the best way, taking into consideration the time spent after the wedding as well? Any ideas?

    Thanks as always!

    Sarah

    • Hi Sarah,

      That was quick!

      Glad to hear you’re getting the experience under your belt. Regarding hourly rates, I think you could do that, and certainly should account for all hours involved in your average wedding shoot, but to offer an hourly rate might be tricky. If you do break it down to an hourly rate, I would make sure to outline exactly what the hourly rate offers, and my first reaction would be to say “for photography only” (no prints, files, albums, etc) as a part of an a-la-carte type set up which I’d account for post processing and somehow showcasing the images on a website which would enable them to see, and purchase their images. I think the idea of setting up package rates, with print/album credits, etc could be a more complete way to price it (maybe at a ‘discounted’ rate from your a-la-carte offerings with your ‘discounted’ rate being your base rate, charging up from that for your hourly a-la-carte hourly rate). Firstly I’d suggest to establish your bottom line. A simple way to start to do that is to take all the money you have invested in gear/computers/software/website fees, etc and find out how much you feel you will have to spend or invest over a year period (taking into consideration that cameras should last for more than one year, etc) that are directly applicable to the ‘business’ and add any other overhead costs you can think of that are going to be repeated (minimum milage per shoot, rent for an office/studio, advertising/promotions, electricity bill, insurance, etc). Then, with that annual “cost” established, divide that by how many weddings/jobs you would anticipate booking for a year. This will give you a very rough cost per job as it were. Of course, if you’re only shooting three weddings a year, the number will be very high, but if you feel you could book 20, then it may start to give you more room (this is where a business plan comes into play). After dividing your annual cost by the number of shoots, anticipate how much time you’d spend on each of those shoots taking into consideration meetings beforehand, any extra shoots (engagements, etc), post processing time, album layout, ordering, etc and start by multiplying that amount of hours spent by what you feel you should earn per hour (averaged out between shooting and all the leg/post work). Subtract the per/project cost from this hourly accumulation “price” and you’ll have a very rough margin established. Of course, this “price” will be subject to a couples opportunity cost and they’ll shop this around compared to other photographers. In my market, taking into consideration the comparable photographers out there in my area and the amount of shoots I’d need to do annually to have a functioning, profitable business, I’d have a base package price of about $1200-1500 for a wedding which would be for just my photographic services and the images hosted on my website (no prints, albums or files). Taking into consideration my overhead, I’d need to shoot about 20-25 weddings at this price to pay my bills. So, for a quick and dirty exercise, let’s say I charged $1500 and booked 25 weddings at this price. My (pre tax) gross total income would be $37,500.00 and (without divulging too much of my personal info,) I’d say about a third of that would be dedicated to my “cost” leaving me with about $25,000 (again, pre-tax) to live on (paying bills, feeding myself and family) which it would barely do for a year. 25 weddings a year would be a lot of work, but probably my bare minimum to break even at this rate. There are many variables to take into consideration, but there is my simple (albeit longwinded) answer :)

      Good luck with it and thanks for letting me use your question.

      Tyson

  2. Pingback: *Establishing Hyperfocal distance! You mean like manually focusing? «

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