And Happy Pancake day! After the LIVE chat, we got so many awesome emails & fb comments (thank you guys SO much for that!) and a few follow up questions. So we thought we’d make today’s Pancake Session a hodge podge of those so that everyone can benefit. We hope you enjoy!
Mallory asked: First of all…the live chat was FREAKING GREAT! I am curious still about one thing that stood out to me and that’s how you guys are incorporating the use of inspiration boards for engagement shoots…can you elaborate on the process? I know you said you have them tell you how they met, etc. to get a basis for ‘their story’. So, then you put together the inspiration board based on that, and they are responsible for getting the outfits/props to fit in with the theme?
Hey Mallory! Exactly! I’ll look at all their answers to how they met, how they got engaged, what they like to do together and where they shop to see if there’s a common theme running throughout. Or just something that jumps out at me that both feels like them and would make a good concept for the shoot. From there, either myself or Julia will put together a board around that theme with ideas both on what to wear and some props they can bring. One thing I would say, is that it doesn’t need to be too heavy on the props. We did a recent shoot in NYC where the main prop was just a bunch of roses, and that was awesome! It’s just something to add a vibe to the shoot, and to give them something to interact with/do with their hands. In the email with the design board, I’ll briefly explain the overall vibe and then I’ll get specific. I’ll say, “So we would love it if you were wearing something like this, this and this. And if you can pick up this prop and that prop to bring with you that would be great! We already have x and y, so we’ll be sure to bring those.” And using the board, I can tell them where they can find those things. “That dress in the top corner is from J.Crew and the cardigan below it is from Target.” They of course don’t have to buy those exact ones, but this way they can if they want. And if there’s something that I really want to make sure makes it into the shoot, I’ll just add an “If for some reason you can’t find one of those, just let me know & I’ll see if we can pick one up. Because I feel like that one definitely needs to happen! :)” So that way, the boards are getting us all on the same page with the vibe and also creating a shopping list of sorts to make sure the theme comes together.
Cydney asked: What is the best way to go about becoming a second shooter at a wedding? Did you go around asking different photographers or did someone ask you? Thank you so much for your time and that live chat. It helped me out a bunch!
Well, for me (M) I had my own second shooting opportunity built right in, in that I just started second shooting for Justin. He got his first second shooting job when he filled in for a friend from school who couldn’t make it one day. And from there people just started recommending him. If it were me, I would start going to a photographer’s group like PUG every month. And just put it out there that you’re looking to second shoot/assist. I feel like photographers are ALWAYS looking for someone to help out, so that would definitely get the ball rolling. And then I would make sure from that very first job, that I was doing everything to exceed all of their expectations to be the best second shooter/assistant possible. Because then they’ll recommend me to other people. Julia wrote a great post on thinking like a second shooter HERE, and I think it’s definitely worth a read before you second shoot for the first time! You can also check out her second shooter’s survival kit HERE!! :)
Irina asked: I know you two mentioned that when you first started out, you rented a lot of stuff. But what kind of cameras and lenses did you begin with? Did you [both] have pro equipment from the beginning? Or did you begin with pro-sumer equipment and then as you got more and more clients you invested in pro stuff? I only have a couple semi-pro lenses and at this point, I feel like they are holding me back. I’ve lost so many decent shots because the lenses, though it looked like they focused on my tiny LCD screen, weren’t focused at all when I looked at the image on my computer. The lens I use for the zoom shots is a 55-200 f4, which is okay in terms of the bokeh it produces, but doesn’t perform well indoors and in low-light situations.
So when Justin first started shooting weddings he was using the D100, which at the time was a pretty good camera and would probably be considered a pro camera. Four years later when I shot my first wedding, I inherited the D100 and Justin was on to the D2x, which was definitely the professional model. But the D100 by that time was pretty sad. :) It was a GREAT camera to learn on, but it’s buffering was really slow so I couldn’t fire too quickly. And it really struggled in low light. But I started with what I had and built from there. Once I reached a point where the camera was holding me back & not the other way around, that’s when I upgraded to the D700. In general, I believe the lenses are more important than the camera body, so that’s where I would start upgrading first. Like, I would love to see you replace that f4 lens with either the 85 1.4 (preferably) or the 70-200 2.8. Like you said, that will get you a lot more light in and much more professional looking images shooting at a 1.4 or 2.8 rather than f4 (a lot of point & shoots are f4, so shooting at a lower aperture automatically starts to make your images look different from what people are used to seeing). But on the flip side, once you have them make sure you’re working what you got. So making sure you’re practicing, practicing, practicing to be able to nail the focus at 1.4 every time. We talk to a lot of photographers who have spent a lot of money on a 1.4 lens but are shooting it at 2.8 or 3.5 or higher all the time because they’re afraid they won’t nail the focus. Which basically negates the value of that investment. Either way definitely rent a few lenses first and see which ones you like before you drop money on them!
Jessica asked: I have been told that I need a photo release that I sign for the couple to print the pics and then they need to sign one for me so I have the right to use their pics on my website, Facebook, etc. Can you recommend anything?
Hey Jessica! Definitely. So we have our model release built right into our contract, that basically says we retain the copyright and reserve the right to use the images on our site, advertising, marketing or for any other purpose we deem fit without further consent. And they have to initial that and sign at the bottom. On the flip side, when we ship them a disc we just had some square disc-sized cards pre-printed through WHCC (White House Custom Color) with our logo & studio number on them that basically say we are granting them “unlimited personal usage” to make as many prints as they want. Note though, that we’re not giving them the “general copyrights” to the image. We retain that forever as the creators of the image.
Abby asked: I’m really interested in using a simple lighting set-up like yours! When you shoot with your off-camera set-up, do you also have a flash on-camera? I know you’re using two Pocket Wizards, and that one attaches to the off-camera light with a sync cord, but what about the other PW? Is that plugged directly onto the shoe on your camera?
Great questions! For the most part we are not shooting with a flash on camera in addition to our off-camera set up. We really embrace the dynamic shadows and directional light that just the one light set up creates. However, later in the night at the receptions we will pop a flash on top of our cameras for two main purposes: 1) to create some fill as more people are on the dance floor, and casting shadows on each other and 2) to use the auto-focus assist once the lights are turned down. But with that flash on camera we are never bouncing straight up into the ceiling. Because what goes straight up comes straight back down and it creates flat unflattering light. Instead we are first turning our flash to the side and then angling the flash 45 degree. So the light bounces off at a side angle to the corner and comes back in the same way, which creates a really pretty dimensional secondary light source. And finally, to answer your second question, the pocket wizards do just go right onto our hot shoe. But we actually have the mini TT1 version which has a hot shoe on top of it as well with a TTL/pass through communication to the camera. So we can mount the mini TT1 to our cameras, the flash to the TT1 and have both on camera and off camera flash at the same time. The latest thing for us is that we have now added in two Profoto set ups that we control with the Profoto air remote, which mounts to the top of the TT1. So we can now fire multiple strobes (3-4 depending on how we set it up) at once. But that’s a whole other discussion altogether, which brings me to my next point…..
You guys spoke, and we listened! And I am SO excited to announce that our next J&M LIVE Chat, this time specifically focused on all things lighting, will be taking place on January 18th in the new year! So mark your calendars for a “brilliant” time! Har, har, har. :)
Also, we want to make sure we are covering the things you really need help with as we’re putting the material together, so do us a HUGE favor and leave your questions on anything lighting in the comment box below. Also, we are going to be bringing in a few people to be with us live in the studio who will actually get to take part in the demonstrations and practice their lighting skills (or skillz depending on how you roll). If you would be interested in coming into town to be one of those people, leave that in your comment too! Woo to the hoo.