02.11.09 Photography

FAQ : Reader Questions, II

H
appy Mid-Week! Today I drove to the gym...to run on the treadmill. At the time, it made sense, but when I came home JD asked why I drove someplace to run when I could've simply stepped outside for the same thing. Dumbfounded, I stupidly replied, Sanjay Gupta...I like watching him on CNN when I run...so there.

In light of my profound question answering ability, I thought another FAQ Post would be just what I needed to restore my brain cells. Like always, I hope these posts help just one person. I don't think my answers are profound or awesome, they're just answers from my personal experience as a wedding photographer.

Courtney asked:
The main reason for contacting you is for help (hopefully). For some reason I can't seem to get my images to look as smooth and creamy as yours which is the style I'm striving for. I'm sure it has everything to do with nailing the exposure in camera, which I'm really trying hard on, but I know some of it has to do with post processing also.

Yummm, smooth and buttery. Thanks for making me want a croissant...my thighs hate you! ;)
To be honest, 98% of the time I am NOT doing anything in post-processing to achieve this look. I'm somewhat skeptical using retouching tools because Photoshop is not my forte. When I have used skin enhancements, my subjects look like generic Barbie and Ken dolls, with their skin looking like plastic or saran wrap. And that's just plain weird. If I do use a action, it's Totally Rad Actions's Pro Retouch. That action is simply divine and--when used with a low-opacity brush--can achieve nice results.
Like I've mentioned before in the FAQ posts, I shoot wide open all the time. When shooting at f/2.0 or less, skin naturally looks so beautiful. Clean, fresh, and young. Also, it totally helps if the client's skin is naturally pretty...then it just makes me look like I'm doing something cool...when I'm not. ;)

Pablo asked:
I have a question and would like to see what your opinion is. I been taking photos for about a year now and I want to start making it a business but I don't have a lot of experience doing weddings. What would you recommend me and how do I get more clients if I don't have a big portfolio to show customers? Thank you in advance.

It's hard for me to offer advice because I'm not very experienced. I mean, there are probably tons of more qualified people to answer this question (if you fall into this category, please feel free to leave advice in the comment box), but I'll just explain how I gained experience.
When I first started, I joined OSP Photography Forum, which--no doubt--was the BEST for a burgeoning photographer like myself. I learned everything I know from that place and the members so painfully awesome! :) I got really involved in posting questions and answers and I made cyber friends. These friends later invited me as their second shooter for local weddings. Some photographers would allow me to use the photos in my portfolio, others would not. Either way, I used every experience to learn and watch how seasoned pros worked. I photographed every and any weddings (regardless if I was paid) and I built my portfolio with their help. I owe them everything!

Christina asked:
I am trying to figure out if you are cropping your images or not? I know alot of photography forum sites are preaching shoot wide and crop later, but I wonder if this is a motto of yours as well?

Hmmm, maybe I'm a newbie, but I've never heard of shooting wide and cropping later. Call me crazy, but I try to shoot the photo as close to perfect as I can. Not that I'm saying the photo is perfect at all, but I'm at least trying. I could never imagine cropping all my photos to ensure a certain look, but more power to those who prefer this method. The only cropping I ever do is if my photo is tilted in such a way that it makes my eyes burn. Or want to climb out of their sockets. Sometimes I shoot in the weirdest positions so if the photo is tilted muy crazy, I'll crop a tad. Other than that, no cropping for me! :)

Kayleen asked:
My main thing I was going to ask was do you ever feel like down the road you'll regret not finishing law school. I mean, UCLA Law School is so prestigious and I know the competitiveness to get into secondary schools and you made it!

No. No. No. No. No. No. No. Never. No. Never. Never. No. Never. Ever
I don't regret my decision one bit. Actually, there hasn't been one day when I don't thank God for steering me clear of what I thought was the Safe and Predictable Path. I still have nightmares I'm sitting in law school and a professor employs the Socratic method to call on me. The scene is always the same. He calls me out and I: 1. Melt into my chair, which means I have four legs; 2. Scream so loud fire comes from my nostrils; or 3. I sit still enough for the class to think I'm a mannequin and the only thing missing is my Summer Clearance sign.

Christine N. asked:
The question I have is about outsourcing. I keep hearing about outsourcing your back ups, your editing, your printing, everything. Could you recommend some companies that do outsourcing? I work full time to pay bills (not doing photography) and my time is really special to me and it would make my life so much easier if I didn't have to run to the local print lab or spend time raw processing.

Great question! There are a ton of companies who'll help you run your business as hands-off as you'd like it. Of course, everyone has their own preferences, so be sure to find the right fit for you.
I don't outsource backing up. That is such a vital part of the process that I'd like to be in full control.
If you'd like to outsource your raw processing, definitely check out Photographer's Edit.com. It's such an awesome and dependable organization! If you'd like to try out their services, you can get a 20% DISCOUNT on your first order by typing in star at checkout.
I'm in the process of switching my print fulfillment services to Smug Mug Pro and I'm working on customizing my ordering gallery to be truly reflective of the Jasmine Star brand. Whoop, whoop! More info on this move soon...
I outsource my album design to Albumesque and my clients are always happy and satisfied with their wedding albums. I've maintained I'm a photographer, not a designer. I want to free myself from focusing on my weaknesses and channel my energy into my strengths and finding ways to give back.

And because posts are always better with a picture, here's a sneak peek at a fun engagement session I shot yesterday...


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Katie - I have SmugMugPro to fulfill my ordering as well, so I can't wait to see what you do with it. My struggles has only been shipping and packaging but maybe I can default for it to be shipped to me, I am not sure. Can't wait to see what you come up with :)  08.18.09 - 10:09am
Arielle Haze - I love TRA, but I do not what Pro-Retouch is. I don't have that one. Would you be kind enough to help point us in the right direction? Thank you :)  03.11.09 - 9:16pm
Leslee Mitchell - Jasmine-i absolutely LOVE your answer to the question about law school!! After I took the bar I made a promise to myself that NO MATTER what happened, who it happened to, REGARDLESS of what the circumstances were or weren't I WOULD NEVER NEVER EVER take another bar exam. If anybody has ever wondered, yes it's as bad or worse than you've always heard. One more LOVE is your outsourcing answer. Dane Sanders would be SO PROUD!!!  03.10.09 - 2:50pm
Adam - Jasmine- re- SmugMug- I know what you mean (I've been using smugmug pro for close to 2 years). Their customizability (is that a word?) is really great, and their customer support is stellar. I know how important the site/blog look is, and would love to see the SM site when it's up. Please oh please, give me a yell when it's rolling! Mine is a bit hackey (no banner etc, etc...) but it's a work in progress. I assume you have someone taking care of the design for you? If so I would covet their contact info! Thanks! and have fun at WPPI! www.photobby.com  02.17.09 - 11:57am
Lindsey - Thanks for the answer! I had 3 shoots this weekend, so I practiced shooting like that! Of course, I had some bad ones, but I think I'm getting better shooting wide open! Your pictures are always amazing and your advice and answers always helpful!!!  02.17.09 - 7:33am
cassandra m - Can't wait to hear more about Smug Mug...I love their green hair photo in their bio...it reminds me of St Pat's Day in Savannah...ha.ha. lol.  02.16.09 - 8:32am
Jasmine* - @Lindsey (and others): Don't focus on the nose if you're shooting wide open. That'll definitely create a soft look around the eyes. I always focus on the eyes!! That's a major key! Also, if I'm standing at a little bit of a distance, and the subjects are on the same focal plane, they should both be in focus. I hope this helps! :) @Adam: I'm actually working on moving everything over to Smug Mug PRO. It's different than the standard Smug Mug in that a pro lab can be used (Bay Photo Lab), and galleries can be customized with my logos and branded the way I see fit! :)  02.14.09 - 10:26am
Terra Dawn - I love you FAQ posts!! Wonderful answers! And oh how I luuuuurv Totally Rad Actions. Fabulous...fabulous....fabulous. Thanks again for all your giving, Jasmine!!   02.13.09 - 6:07pm
Ashley - I love, love, love your FAQ posts! The information you share is so helpful and you remain so true to the idea that everyone has their own style and their own preferences and that this kind of diversity is a wonderful thing. Thanks again!  02.13.09 - 1:21pm
tish - yes, i echo the other questions about keeping so much in focus when you shoot wide open...and yet you must not be standing at a great distance if you don't crop.   02.13.09 - 12:00pm
Mag - hi.. Same question as Lindsey! really good question!   02.13.09 - 10:11am
Stephanie Stewart - Hi Again! I have the same question as Lindsey below, about keeping so much of your image in focus when shooting wide open. Am I missing some setting in my camera? Or do you just have to make sure whatever you want in focus is on the same "plane" with each other? Thanks for the continued help!!  02.13.09 - 9:16am
Adam - So stoked to hear you plug SmugMug! I've been shooting non-pro (nice day job, makes it hard to shoot full time) for two years and using SM from day one! I love the ability to customize their site/your site. I don't hear them mentioned much so I was kind of thinking they were more a semi-pro or amateur org. but not if your there! Wicked cool! Thanks for banishing any lingering doubt! As a side note, I have NEVER had a bad print from them! They always look stellar! (any raunchy prints are totally my fault!) And They are great for hosting images for blogs! www.photobby.com Blog link in name.  02.13.09 - 8:03am
Lindsey - Question: When you shoot wide open, how do you keep so much of your subject in focus? When I show 2.0 or lower, I seem to focus on a nose and the rest is blurry or a face and the body is blurry. How do I keep my entire subject sharp with only the background blurring?  02.13.09 - 7:20am
Mag - Hola Jasmine! you are an absolutely fabulous photographer! There are so many photographers out there but only a small percentage really standout and you would be one of them. It helps that you are totally nice and genuine; the niceness even comes out in the photos you take. The video is wonderful -a really nice memory.   02.13.09 - 5:28am
Nancy - Okay I'm visualizing that lady singing the bacon song. Or the spatula scene from what movie? Trivia time. So much fun checking out your blog.  02.12.09 - 7:29pm
chandra - I know you won't, but don't ever regret not finishing law school. I did finish, and I practice law, and I often regret the debt I incurred to be an attorney, when I would love to be doing what you are doing! Keep doing it for all of us :)  02.12.09 - 4:44pm
Alfred B - Did I just read correctly that you're moving print fullfillment to SmugMug?!?! I'm on SmugMug and was planning to leave as soon as my plan runs out but is there something in the works that I haven't read up on? Glad I caught this! Time to investigate!  02.12.09 - 3:24pm
Zach Volker - Jasmine, do you use color correction from your printer or print as is? Thanks!  02.12.09 - 2:10pm
Sherri Winstead - It's always a pleasure to see those successful in the industry (any industry) help others and/or answer questions in this way. It's a blessing to be doing well yet remembering the all time saying of "remember where you came from". It keeps us humble and keeps us real. I like the realness I see in you when I read your blog. Thank you.  02.12.09 - 10:46am
The Fabulous Claudia - Thanks J* for the post!!! ;)   02.12.09 - 9:45am
Meg - In regards to question one- best thing I ever did for my images was buy good lenses! I used to say equipment doesn't matter... and it doesn't when you are first starting out- but owning lenses like the 50 1.2?? You'll see a world of difference.  02.12.09 - 9:04am
Stephanie Stewart - I loved your answer to the question about if you regret not going to law school. Thanks again for this FAQ post - so helpful! I know I'm not the only one who is helped out by you on a daily basis! Thanks!  02.12.09 - 8:41am
Lesley - Jasmine, thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom. I really appreciate it. :)  02.12.09 - 8:21am
Dawn B - Oh, Lordie! Nothing like a good ole' fried egg! By the way, I live for your FAQ posts!!!  02.12.09 - 8:17am
Stephanie Greenwell - By the way, your site IS NOT terrible! It is beautiful, tasteful and again, AWESOME!  02.12.09 - 8:01am
Stephanie Greenwell - You are so giving! Thanks for the inspiring and incredibly useful info--I soak up every word as if it's the last time you'll post!! :) Also, voted for your site, didn't even want to look at others! Even if your site was Terrible, I'd still vote for you b/c you are so awesome!!!  02.12.09 - 8:00am
Yvonne LeBrun - Thanks for the FAQ... must try harder... must resist the urge for fried eggs... must run more...  02.12.09 - 7:54am
crystalyn - jasmine, you are awesome. i love your willingness to share. i just talked to a friend of mine last week and she told me she's giving photography a try and that she contacted you and you have helped her so much. i admire how much you are willing to GIVE. p.s. so do you outsource your editing?  02.12.09 - 7:52am
Simply Modern Weddings - oooh that egg looks so yummy right now!  02.12.09 - 7:34am
Amy Starks - Your willingness to share is much appreciated! :)  02.12.09 - 6:50am
Carrie Johnson - Jasmine, your blogs are so inspiring and hilarious and motivating! And your photography, oh goodness. I love everything you post. Thank you so much for sharing the FAQ. I'd love to get into photography one day and when I do I'll have you to thank for much of my accomplishment.  02.12.09 - 6:48am
Jamie - Thank you for all of the help that you give to others. Your photos are wonderful!   02.12.09 - 6:34am
Mary Marantz - dude!! I have that same nightmare ALL the time! The socratic method was the WORST! It's either that or I show up to take an exam in intellectual property law, except that I forgot to go to the class all semester! and then I wake up and think "no no no never never never!" How great is this life now!!  02.12.09 - 6:17am
Holli True - Hey Jasmine! I am switching to Smug Mug, too! I am so excited to learn more about how Showit Site and Smug Mug are going to unite!! :) I love your FAQ posts, they are resourceful and help me in more ways than you can imagine. Thank you!!  02.12.09 - 6:04am
Jackie Beale - eeeeeek! I hate fried eggs. I love love boiled eggs, with lemon :) Anyway, I was reading some stuff last night on using the back focusing button and how helpful it is in different situations rather than pressing the shutter button halfway to focus. I wanted to ask you if you use manual focus all the time, or do you use auto focus and the back focusing button feature??? Thanks a million Jasmine :o)  02.12.09 - 5:26am
Melissa M - You are single handedly shaping my career. Thank you for sharing all of your fabulous insight!  02.12.09 - 5:15am
Kristin Mizo - I don't know why I come to this blog...you never give out any information! J/K...I don't know what that dude was talking about yesterday! Thanks so much for posting these.   02.12.09 - 5:02am
Kelly - Eggs at an engagement session? This intrigues me! I'll be back to see!  02.12.09 - 4:58am
john waire - that egg looks damn good :) great advice jasmine.  02.12.09 - 4:13am
Lisette Gibbons - Hi Jasmine, I adore your photography. Stunning! I was reading your Q&A and noticed that you always shoot wide open. My question is how do you cope with the shallow DOF and keep the objects sharp? Also, what ISO do you use? I never seem to be able to nail this, especially when photographing my three children. There's always one out of focus. Thanks for your input.  02.12.09 - 3:06am
Seini - Your the best Jaz! Thank you for all the insight!  02.11.09 - 11:22pm
joshus k - Great info, thanks J*  02.11.09 - 11:11pm
chatti - i've been thinking about smug mug cause the other one i want is just too darn expensive and maybe not practical right now. thanks for taking the time to answer all the questions. where did you get your business cards done?  02.11.09 - 10:27pm
Danielle Wang - I'm excited you're making the move to Smugmug! Because I can say I did have a tough time using, er, your other print services site. I'm just saying...  02.11.09 - 10:06pm
jesi haack - i love your answer about the law school question. your story rocks. way to keep it real.  02.11.09 - 10:01pm
Laura - Hi! I love your photos, and am a regular visitor. I am shooting my first wedding in June, and am wondering if you have any tips at all? I saw your excellent advice about shooting wide, but do you have any others?  02.11.09 - 9:28pm
Megan Beth - Oh how I love the FAQ....woot woot  02.11.09 - 8:16pm
Julia Brown Photography - Jasmine, I love these FAQ posts where you take the time to answer a portion of the questions you get. I so appreciate it and maybe in your next FAQ, you could address this issue. I've always wanted to know how you and some of the other OC photographers shoot a wedding by yourself. Do you shoot alone, how do you manage this alone, or does JD help you? Thank you so much!!   02.11.09 - 8:15pm
Carol Lin - Thank you thank you thank you for sharing all this informative, well, information! You are super awesome and I love all your posts :) They are very helpful and so grounded in genuiness (I guess I'm making up words now too!) Keep doing the beautiful work, Jasmine! Thanks! Carol  02.11.09 - 7:46pm
Kelly - Thank you so much for all of the fabulous (and much needed) info!!! You are so awesome to answer questions so honestly! I can't wait to see your next post :)   02.11.09 - 7:44pm
Matthew Saville - Go, Smugmug! Jasmine, I can't WAIT to see your customization theme for your Smugmug account. I'm sure it'll be gorgeous! Let us know when it's up. And hey, are you on the DigitalGrin forums, with DJ and everybody? Kinda small wedding photography scene, and mostly beginners, but at least they don't fight like elsewhere! Take care, =Matt=  02.11.09 - 7:12pm
Heather Broom - Thank you sooooo much for your FAQs posts! I love that you are so incredibly talented, but yet you remain so humble about it. Your answers are profound and awesome and don't let anyone tell you otherwise :).  02.11.09 - 6:51pm
Tarah - Jasmine- You're so amazing you can make a pan of eggs look like a hawaiian sunset! Thanks for the fun information and I love your FAQ blogs! can't wait to see more of the engagement session!   02.11.09 - 6:43pm
Nicole Haley - Muchisimas gracias, Jasmine*!Your FAQ posts are little rays of sunshine. Incase you can't hear us all shouting ...thank you so much.  02.11.09 - 6:39pm
Katie - Jasmine, you are a breath of fresh air amidst a bunch of snotty/"too cool for anyone unless they are my groupies" OC photographers that just want to make bank off of the information that they most likely learned from another amazing photog like yourself. :) One side question...do you use Lightroom or are you strictly a PS girl?  02.11.09 - 6:39pm
Deb - Question for your next FAQ (if there is one :) - Do you have a studio location and, if not, where do you meet with clients?   02.11.09 - 6:11pm
Sheila - Ok, it's official. I am now a bonafide Jasmine* stalker. You are amazing. Your photography is amazing, and the fact that you give such honest sensitive feedback is unbelievable. Your hatred of law school is hilarious! My husband is a lawyer, loves it, but HATED law school. Thank you so much for being such an inspiration!!  02.11.09 - 5:51pm
john p. - thx for the sick info. you got something going on here.  02.11.09 - 5:26pm
Audrey - Jasmine, I flippin love your FAQ posts. They're incredibly helpful, but not boring to read, like most things really informative. :p Please keep them coming. Thanks!  02.11.09 - 4:52pm
Tracy Grant - This was very informative! I know some who would charge just to have coffee and discuss this :>) Your compassion is inspiring. Thank you.   02.11.09 - 4:43pm
Abby - Jasmine!!! You are the best. I love your FAQ's b/c they are so honest and open... and not to mention completely helpful. Keep them coming  02.11.09 - 4:32pm
Meghan - I, for one, absolutely love your FAQ posts!! They help me out a great deal, I hope to someday put this all in practice haha.  02.11.09 - 3:59pm
Christine - Wow, so am I like famous now? Ha ha ha. Just kidding. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my question! Your advice is always awesome :) Can't wait to see more of that engagement session. I'm just wondering, did they make you breakfast or did you make them breakfast? lol.  02.11.09 - 3:56pm
jeramy - i absolutely love eggs. i make the best eggs. i do...nice range.  02.11.09 - 3:46pm
Navy Sou - Mrs. Star...you are heaven sent! Thank you for the valuable information! It is much appreciated!  02.11.09 - 3:33pm
Leah - I am going to start using Photographers Edit! I'm so pumped to have that help! Also, I love adding my "edge" in photoshop to some of my faves, so it allows me to do that as well before letting client see all of the finals! Eets Vonderful! (And now I sound like my own info-mercial!) Hilarious  02.11.09 - 3:16pm
Danielle - You should give Fox News a try sometime. :) You might be pleasantly surprised. By the way, you're an inspiration and I sincerely enjoy your blog.  02.11.09 - 3:10pm
Mandy Sroka - Mmmmm....yummy egg and lots of sweet information. Thanks for sharing!  02.11.09 - 3:09pm
kate - wtf...the egg is getting engaged? haha, you're crazy :)  02.11.09 - 3:05pm
Linda Truong - Thank you so much for your help... You are such an inspiration to many. Also, you make friend eggs look awesome! :D I'll actually go fry an egg now... Mmmm  02.11.09 - 2:52pm
lucy - I know fried eggs are scary...I like poached better. & I also love smugmug.  02.11.09 - 2:52pm
Kim - that shot looks just like my breakfast except it's missing fresh ground pepper.  02.11.09 - 2:51pm
Stacy - Have I told you lately that I really like you? LOVE this shot from your e-session . . . it's exposed so well and it's creamy and buttery and awesome. :)  02.11.09 - 2:32pm
Michelle Hamstra - I'm learning SO much from your FAQ's. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer all these questions! I have a question that I haven't found an answer for on here yet. How in the world do you shoot wide open all the time!? I have tried but I'm getting such a shallow DOF that nothing looks nearly as in focus as your work. (I am using Kubota's Magic Sharp for that extra sharpness too!) Thanks Jasmine. You're really inspiring... and the only blog on my Google reader I can't pass by!  02.11.09 - 2:32pm
nena - You are so giving to other photographers! I hope you are given back things in return from the universe! =-)  02.11.09 - 2:32pm
Sharon - I love your FAQ posts! I'm going to go check out your outsourcing links! I'm not there yet, but good stuff to know about for when the time comes!  02.11.09 - 2:15pm
Erica Velasco - Seems like a lot of pros are moving the Smugmug...interesting. I think I want to outsource some of my editing...it takes too much time and I work full time as well. Ugh...now I want an egg =)  02.11.09 - 2:07pm
Ashley Rose - Jasmine, I love you. You are soo amazingly helpful :) really really sooo appreciative of these posts! You are my hero ;)   02.11.09 - 2:05pm
Kate Callahan - Thanks for sharing : ) And I second Smugmug. I LOVE it. It's easy. It's great. The print quality from both labs they use are top notch. And their customer service is fabulous. Makes my life sooo much easier.   02.11.09 - 2:00pm
JJ - Fried eggs scare me.  02.11.09 - 1:57pm
Lydia - I just love FAQ posts! Even if I've already heard the answers, reading them one more time solidifies them in my mind! And you are such a tease! I'm dying to see how that picture fits into an engagement session!  02.11.09 - 1:57pm
Joan Solitario - First...I'm thinking... what does the egg photo have to do with an engagement session!!?!? Whatever it is.. you sure made me want some scrambled eggs! Second, thank you for sharing! I hope you win the blog contest!  02.11.09 - 1:54pm
Marissa Rodriguez - Thank you for sharing, especially the answer about law school. That only goes to show how much you love what you do! I hope one day I can feel that too! Thanks again for sharing, I love these posts!  02.11.09 - 1:48pm
Sandy - Do you shoot everything RAW?  02.11.09 - 1:48pm
jason - I love all your posts, Jasmine. But these FAQ's are absolute gems. Thanks for sharing your and wisdom.   02.11.09 - 1:46pm
Kayleen t. - Thanks so much for your FAQ posts! I love em!  02.11.09 - 1:42pm
Paula Emery - These are my favorite posts! Thanks again for letting us in and sharing what you know!  02.11.09 - 1:36pm
Sara Goetz - Thank you SO much for sharing. I love reading your blog, and I am so excited when I see my RSS indicate that you just posted something. Your insight helps me so much. Thanks again! Sara  02.11.09 - 1:31pm
courtney - Fun Insight!! Thanks so much :)  02.11.09 - 1:31pm
Candace Prokopets - I love these posts! I learn so much. Thank you for sharing your experiences and insight into the industry. Not all photographers are that generous. Can't wait to see more from the engagement shoot!  02.11.09 - 1:23pm
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