Asked + Answered.

This was fun. I think we have a lot we can learn from each other, so this is something I will probably do again. And since every post is better with a photo, Happy Halloween from my family to yours. Hope it’s filled with Rainbows and Unicorns. :)

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Q: What’s your favorite color? Do you have a collection of anything? If you could do anything for a day what would you do? Who are you dying to meet and why? 

A: My favorite colors are all shades of yellow and various shades of olive green. But there’s not a color that I really despise. (Except yellow on cars. Seriously, please stop.)  I do not collect anything besides camera gear – I hate clutter. So no Curio cabinets filled with Precious Moments for me. ;)

If I could do anything for a day and be good at it – I’d be a musician. Or a back up dancer for music videos. Dead serious. I really just want to be on the sequel to Pitch Perfect. Hrm. Someone I want to meet? Jason Mraz will be a top placer here. I might be his biggest fan on the planet. Will Ferrell is next.

Q: Favorite Ice Cream Flavor?

A: If I’m at Baskin Robbins, World Class Chocolate, hands down. If I’m somewhere else, some sort of chocolate peanut butter goodness.

Q: What photo editing software do you use?

A: I use Lightroom 4 and Photoshop CS6. But I use LR 98.999% of the time.

Q: How did you get started in the photography business? Formal training? Apprenticeship? Self-taught? Combination?

A: Well, I use to be an onlooker – an oooohhhh and aaaaahhhhh-er when I would see beautiful photos. So I bought a camera with zero intentions of becoming a photographer. And I took pictures while I walked my dog in the afternoons. And I was hooked. No formal training. Lots of late night research, lots of trys and fails. TONS of fails. And somewhere along the way, pieces began to fall together and here I am.  I had full intentions of being a successful business person with cool suits. But now I’m totally happy just wearing sweatpants doing what I love. :) It sometimes still feels weird when I say I’m a photographer. Sometimes I just don’t feel worthy. There are so many crazy talented people in this industry that call themselves the same thing.

Q: You’ve said before that the people you meet doing photography make it so special. Tell us about how that particular aspect has changed you!

A: By taking a photograph of someone else, I can not only show them a new piece of themselves, but I get to share a piece of myself too. My clients rock my world. We start out as strangers and we leave as friends. It’s the most fulfilling emotion I’ve ever felt. Connecting with what is inside of them, that’s what I strive to do.

And on another hand, I’ve met so many other photographers that have left a stamp on my path forever. Amazing friendships, roadtrips, coffee dates, advice, mistakes, and lessons learned – those experiences continually mold the person that I am. We are all connected. And I get a high from that.

Q: Why did you become a photographer?

A:I think this happened as an end result of being curious. Curious of people, of places. Of different cultures and different family structures. How we are all so beautifully different. Photography lets me explore these in depths I could have never imagined.

Q: Favorite midnight snack?

A: Nutella, straight out of the jar with a spoon. And any variation of cheese. :)

Q: If you could spend the day with any one photographer, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

A: Confession: I don’t know about a lot of big photographers. I mean, some I do, but I’m mostly clueless when it comes to the industry as a whole. I’m just over here dancing to the beat of my own drum. LOL But off the top of my head, Sue Bryce because I think she’s funny as hell + her personality rocks pretty hard and Jinky Art because they make magic out of everyday life. And Jeremy Cowart for his humanitarian heart.

Q: If you had 24hrs to do whatever you wanted to do money not an issue what would it be?

A: Hrm. This has been the hardest question to answer. I’ve come back to it several times without a specific thing to say. So the best I’ve got is I would want to spend it somehow combining photography + a humanitarian effort. Giving everyone at the soup kitchen a new home? Yeah that would rock. Changing someone’s life through the combined efforts of other – not because they have to, but because they want to. That’s what this world is all about to me, so it would definitely take a meliorist direction.

Q: You mentioned recently on one of your photographs that it was 22 shots stitched together, can you explain this? As a novice photographer what do you think is the one thing that took your work to the next level, technically speaking that is… Equipment, software, technique? I know u are always learning, what is one thing you would like to get better at as a photographer…. again technically speaking.

A: My stitched together photo was one of the few I was pleased with. And still want to make it better. So many fails the world will never see here. LOL But it was done using the Brenizer Method, which you can read about here: http://ryanbrenizer.com/2011/05/brenizer-method-instructions/

As far as advice getting to the next level, get out there and shoot. SHOOT and SHOOT. Know your camera inside and out. Be a master of light. Light is so important, it’s everything. Read. Make a goal each week and keep trying it until you get it. After that, the rest comes. I’m about 1/2 way through this book – I just got it this week. Read it. Zack gives you no-bullshit answers to many different related questions. He knows his stuff. He’s kinda mean but mostly funny. Go get it, right now.

What I want to become better at? Well, it’s a never ending process. LOL. That could be a book, not a blog post. :) I’ve yet to master anything by my own standards. My main goal is to stop doubting myself so much. I’m learning that it’s okay that right now in this moment, I’m no where close to  want to be, technically speaking. That I’ve come a long way, but the journey is the fun part. Sometimes it’s easy to just want to hurry and get to some point in time which is just dumb. I also need to work on my balance between work and home. I’ve gotten better, but again, I’m not there YET. :)
Q: I want to know your workflow – from start to finish.

A: Well, let’s see. I shoot a session. I come home. I import that with Lightroom. I cull through and pick my favorites of the session. I edit them, and typically batch edit. I go back through and double check for focus, anything I overlooked. I’ll bring them in to Photoshop if I have to, for cloning or healing. I edit most nights. I’m more clear headed in the evenings. And when a session is fresh on my mind I’m excited about it, my clients are excited about it. I don’t do it quick to race, to rush. I do them quick because I’m better that way. Lingering projects exhaust me. So that’s what works for me – there isn’t a right or wrong way to go about this as long as it’s working for both you and your clients.

I typically don’t shoot more than 2 sessions per day, but really prefer 1 one per day. I treat weddings the same way. Give myself time to just sit and edit a day or two after the wedding has been shot.

I have also learned the hard way to get it right in camera. There’s not much saving you can do to a really bad photograph, no matter what software you are using. So I’ll shoot until I get it right. I try not to get frustrated with myself even though I do often. Just keep doing it until you get it right. I promise you’re clients won’t be mad, they’ll thank you. :)

I try to keep to a schedule and days I answer emails. I try to take days off but don’t very often. Only because I love what I do so freaking much it’s hard to do. :)  My average work week is between 60-80 hours probably.

Q: What is the one lens you can’t live without?

A: As long as there is one on my camera, I’m happy. :) Currently I’m super smitten with my 105 2.8 Macro and 85.

Q: Which way do you put your toilet paper on the roll? Over or under….? =]

A: Whichever way it goes on. It all comes out the same. LOL

Q: What inspires you? How do you allow yourself to shine threw and show your personality in your photos?

A: I’m one of those hippie gals who just love life. I love the sun, I love the rain. And I love people more than anything. It’s what is inside of them that really lights my fire, that inspires me. And somehow by not over-thinking the process, just doing what I do behind the camera, then comes the organic piece of me you’ll see through my work. Or I hope so anyway. :)

Q: Boxers or briefs.

A: Boxerbriefs. :) And I wear my husbands to bed more than I would like to admit. LOL

Q: What do you do to unwind? What is your usual prep for a session? I know you’ve mentioned that you live on a farm, what types of animals do you have?

A: To unwind –  I’m a big reader. There’s really not much more I love hanging in the hammock with a book or on the couch when outdoors just won’t do. I’m also a pretty big fan of pedicures and I treat my tired feet to those about once a month. But for the most part a long hot shower and an early bed time will do. Or shop. :)

My usual prep for a session is rather simple. When I first started I was WAY tooo into props. More stuff I could get into a photo, the better I thought it was, which makes me cringe now. I do talk with my clients about their vision, location etc, and from there, I go with the flow. Overplanning only leaves me feeling like I didn’t get what was in my head – coming to a session with a clear mind and interacting with my clients gives me an image I’m much more pleased with.

And I should probably stop calling my place a ‘farm’, since we don’t have any outdoor animals. I live right outside of town, tucked away in the country on 30 acres of fields and trees. But I don’t know what else to call it really. LOL My little slice of earth is the most beautiful  place on the planet in my little world – I can’t imagine another place I’d want my soul to rest and rejuvenate at.

But I do have the two most adorable dogs that snuggle in bed with us everynight. They’d be terrible farm dogs though. Just terrible. :)

 Q: What is the number one mistake newly engaged couples make when deciding on poses for their engagement photos?

A: Probably over thinking their session and coming with 34534345 ideas from Pinterest. Don’t get me wrong, I love Pinterest. I encourage my clients to set up a board of things they like – their vision. Then we can both visually connect on the route we want to take their photos. Some people want a more Urban look. Some people love sunny goodness and fields of flowers. Sweet. Now we’re on the same page. But as an artist do I want to recreate the exact images that have already been done?  Nope. I want to create something that’s unique and fun to the couple. It’s totally okay to take inspiration from something else – EVERYTHING in the photography world has probably already been done. But it’s about making this art your own, and doing it your way. Come to your session with an open mind, and relax. Let the photographer do all the hard work. That’s what you pay us for. :)

Q: What’s your ‘best’ embarrassing moment that’s photography related… (that you can laugh at now…)

A: There was a time confusion on an appointment. I was set up and ready to go, however I answered the doorbell to see a beautiful family ready for photos on my doorstep. And I was in my bathrobe with a side pony tail. I wanted to crawl in a hole and DIE. Thank goodness this family was as sweet as they could be and didn’t laugh right in my face.

Q: What’s your most favorite anything (person, place or object, etc) to photograph?

A: This is such a hard question to answer. It’s kinda like answering, ‘what’s your favorite kind of music?’ There is a different feeling generated with every new canvas that’s in front of me. So, I guess my #1 is people – of all sorts. There really isn’t one that trumps the other, but I do think there’s nothing more genuine than a portrait of a child. They’re honest little boogers. If they’re happy, you know it. If they’re mad, oh you for sure know that too. And I respect them for that. Plus, I’m kind of a big kid myself. One of my favorite quotes from ‘Humans of New York’ is: “My ultimate goal is to reach a certain level of adulthood where I can afford to be a child.” High five Mister. Ain’t that the truth.

Non people related – sunlight. Nothing touches my soul more than a quiet evening and a gorgeous sunset in front of me, washing away the day. The sun dancing off raindrops on a simple little leaf. (How cheeeesy does this sound? Can’t help it folks. Sorry. LOL) Those little things we overlook so easily because we’re all busy as shit just trying to get through the day. Those are my favorite little moments as a photographer.

Q:  If you could go anywhere in this world to photograph for someone, where would it be?

A: I have big plans to go abroad to volunteer. There are so many people in this world that have never seen a photograph of themselves. In my head, I’d love to spend more time outside of the United States as possible. I think I’m going to dedicate years 35-40 for this. Maybe. I don’t know. There isn’t one specific location I want to go and photograph for someone, but I do want to get away from my  comfort zone and photograph something completely different than anything I’m use to. I think that’s good for growth, both career wise and personal. To connect with someone not relying on language. That’s what I want. Really bad.

Q: What does the fox say?
Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow!

Hatee-hatee-hatee-ho!

Joff-tchoff-tchoffo-tchoffo-tchoff!

Jacha-chacha-chacha-chow!

Fraka-kaka-kaka-kaka-kow!

A-hee-ahee ha-hee!

A-oo-oo-oo-ooo!

Or similar variations of above, so I’ve heard.

Q: How did you get so many clients in such a short time?

A: Well, there’s a few reasons tied into this. And not because I rock at all, but because I’ve had to work for it, really hard.

When I first started, I spent a year building a client base. I had a little terrible website that said “I’m not a professional photographer, just practicing to be one.” I was that girl that bought a camera and started taking photos for cheap. REALLY CHEAP. Why? Because I didn’t know what in the hell I was doing. But with each new session came something else learned. Did I piss off every photographer in my area. Probably. And of course without intention. I looked up to all of them. ALL OF THEM. With time, not only did I acquire skill but I also learned that this ‘hobby’ was an expensive one. That I needed to value the industry and my time. Business models grew and my rates went up – all over time. It wasn’t an overnight process. Is this the right way to do things? Probably not. But it’s how all this came about and I learned many valuable lessons the hard way. It worked for me.

Secondly, I’m very active in my community. I’m not scared to get out there and get my feet wet. I’m not afraid to have a few sleepless nights. I WANTED this so bad I could taste it, and let that fuel me. Clients don’t show up on your doorway. They come with lots of hard hard work and some tears. Not really any blood but alot of sweat. :)  Well, maybe a little blood.

Thirdly, I’m not specialized. I’m not just a wedding photographer. I’m not just a newborn photographer. I don’t have a terribly thin market of folks that I service, I just simple love people. This makes a HUGE difference in client base. Now, is this something I would recommend? I don’t know. This industry will push you to find what you love and specialize in that – to master the art in one region. And that makes sense. There’s tons of success in that. But I haven’t found that one thing that I love more than the other. Maybe one day it will hit me, maybe it won’t. I don’t know. So I’m not rushing the process to do what everyone else is doing. I’m doing what works for me right now and just going against the grain of the photography standard. Why fix something if it’s not broken, ya know? I’m learning and evolving everyday, and I’m sure this will too.

And lastly, I get a lot of referrals, tons of word of mouth. If my current clients had an amazing time with me, were pleased with their images, they’re going to tell their friends. There is not a higher compliment than a referral – and that’s from any business standpoint. It makes me wish I were a better cook, so I could just pass out cookies to everyone.

Q: What is your most memorable photo session and why?

This one. It’s my grandfather. He’s the most honest man I know and tells you like it is. And I can see that in his face. I have a big one of these hanging in my house. :)

Q: What are your Photographer Pet Peeves? (From Instagram)

A: “Your camera takes amazing photos.” – I’m a terrible cook and a fancy stove will not help that one bit. It’s all in how you use your equipment, not how big and fancy it is. That’s what she said. :)
Here’s a funny list that makes me giggle and are totally relate able, however I don’t have too many pet peeves myself. Education is all around just what makes things roll smooth in my next of the woods.

Q: What color skin suit should I buy?

A: Green. Duh.

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elainajanes@yahoo.comElizabethtown, KY
Always ready to travel