FAQ : Reader Questions X

he last time JD was in Scottsdale, Arizona, he was there for a start-up company he worked for when we first got married. He traveled extensively and his absence made life feel extra lonely, but he continued to work for the company because he believed it held the keys for a bright future for us. He'd come home and recount stories of new restaurants or a cool deli he visited on his business trips and he promised to take me back one day. I politely smiled, but hoped we wouldn't be going back for someone else's company. I wanted us to go on our own, to be free from outside expectations and demands.
Today, I'm writing from our hotel room in Scottsdale happy to report the food has been just as good as JD recounted!

As we drove up the 51 Freeway, I turned to JD and asked, Can you BELIEVE we are here?! Together?! We're incredibly stoked to be shooting a wedding tomorrow, and I am honored to share in such a special day with the bride and groom. Until then, however, JD and I plan on living from outside expectations and demands.

I worked on a FAQ post on the plane ride, so I hope it helps at least one person. Like usual, I don't think I'm right, cool, smart, or some type of sage...I'm simply answering questions the best I can and I hope they help! A few of the questions were emailed from readers, and others were pulled from my Facebook page...

Julie asked:
Thanks for your recent post on shooting group formal photos at weddings! I'm curious what f/stop you use. Do you shoot group formals wide open with apertures like 1.8?

It's funny because I received this question a lot after I blogged that post. While I love shooting wide open, I definitely do not shoot this way when shooting group formals. I don't have a hard and fast rule, but I usually keep my aperture somewhere between f/4.0-5.6 (depending on how many people there are, and their formation) for bridal party pictures, and I keep the center focus on the bride

Wilamena asked:
I have a hard time coming up with things to blog about. You blog everyday without missing a beat and I can't help but wonder how you do it. Do you have any tips on making my blog a little more personal, especially if I don't have too many shoots to blog about?

Oh, Wilamena, welcome to the club! I struggle coming up with fresh content quite often, but I come to believe the blog is an integral part of who I am, and my business. My best piece of advice is not to think too much about what to write, think more about how to write it. Writing a story about a recent trip to the grocery market sounds mundane, but if you care about what you're writing, readers will care too. I also have bi-weekly topics (like Kisses&Disses and FAQs) that make blogging a little more manageable. Furthermore, use your blog to share with others who you are. Do you like the QVC channel? Love cleaning your bathroom tiles with a toothbrush? Have a pet rock collection? Use your blog to showcase different components of your life to further define your character. Trust me...if you write, people will read.

Sarah asked:
Last weekend I shot a wedding and it went well except for family pictures. There was no where to shoot the groups and I felt stuck. Do you ever struggle with this and how did you handle it?

Yes and yes. I can think of two weddings rather recently when I had to make the tough choice of moving large groups of people because of harsh light/mediocre background. In both situations, the light was way too strong (once sidelit, the other backlit), and I struggled with what to do. It's often difficult to make a decision and move a large group of people, but I definitely think it's in everyone's best interest. Most brides think it's of utmost importance to have formal photos at the ceremony site (under an archway, or at the end of the aisle) and while I don't mind this, I will kindly offer another option and explain the light would be better elsewhere. Yes, this is tough to do...but my brides hire me because I'm a professional and they trust my opinion.
In both aforementioned instances, I wanted to melt when I explained to the bride that the traditional photo location wouldn't work, but both brides were so supportive and I'm happy with the final results. And if I'm happy, I've come to believe my brides will be too! :)

Faraz asked:
When framing, how much space should I leave along the borders of my frame so that I can crop the photo for different print sizes and still be safe?

You know, I have to admit your question make me think long and hard about how I shoot. Then I got a little worried because I don't think in aspect ratios, I think in moments. I love shooting on the fly, so if a client orders a print later and a portion of the photo is cropped, I've learned to live with it because the aura/essence/moment can still be felt. Freeing yourself from thinking of how the photo will be ordered will allow you creative freedom and I think your clients will love the photo any way they order it.

Mike asked:
How much time do u spend on your images?

This is an interesting question because I don't spend too much time on my images in Photoshop. I definitely stay away from over-processed, action influenced images, so I use Photoshop as a tool to refine my style, not define my style...if that makes sense. Every picture is different, but I don't usually spend more than a couple minutes on an image. I know there are some photographers who roll their eyes and despise my approach, but every artist is different and I prefer to shoot images really close to how I want them straight out of camera. If you're working with a picture you already like, Photoshop should be used to make it better. There's commonly held beliefs that photographers can 'fix' an image later in Photoshop, but I'd kindly disagree with that approach and encourage newbies to hone their skills as photographers, not Photoshop artists.
Having said that, if you'd like to read more about what Photoshop actions I use, you can click HERE and HERE for detailed posts relating to this.

Happy Friday!
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Malou - Great FAQ! I was already following your tutorials! Great work your doing and thank you for all your great tips!  05.20.14 - 2:13am
Angel Pope - "And if I'm happy, I've come to believe my brides will be too! :)" That could not be more true! I must be my own worst critic. And if I can make it to the point where I am consistently happy then I will certainly have some ecstatic clients!!! As always, you inspire!   01.06.10 - 5:29pm
jun - "I know there are some photographers who roll their eyes and despise my approach" I was surprised when I read this line. I can't believe there would be anyone who would do that. I really like your style. Natural light most of the time and moment driven. I kinda like your point as well to shy away in photoshop as much as possible.  12.26.09 - 5:43pm
Becky - I love that you don't do much work in photo shop. I struggle so much with this. I've learned to shoot clean and then I come into the wedding market and I have brides pass me up because they want more vintage/photoshoped images. I must admit I have been selling my soul to the action devil.  10.28.09 - 9:51am
Meredith - Thank you so much for offering these Q&A's! They are so helpful and I love your honesty!  10.25.09 - 4:18am
arielle joy - Thanks for taking the time to do these super helpful FAQ's for us Jasmine! You're the best!  10.23.09 - 7:20am
Christina - I love your photos! And your answers are so helpful to us newer photographers. Its nice seeing an experienced photographer give advice and encourage new artists.   10.22.09 - 11:01pm
Keri Welch - These posts are so helpful for us new photographers...thank you!  10.22.09 - 8:01pm
Mike - Thanks Jasmine for answering my question! I've been a fan for awhile and appreciate your input. Keep up the Awesomeness!   10.21.09 - 10:50am
Sandra Yu Photography - J* Ditto on the blog struggle. I will take your advice to heart. I will believe "If I write, it; they'll come"  10.20.09 - 9:38pm
Susan - So awesome - thank you for the info . . . love these posts!  10.20.09 - 8:37pm
amanda thiessen - These posts are my fav!!! Thank you!!!  10.20.09 - 11:53am
Mark Daams - Your FAQ posts are very interesting to read. I always learn something I can use. Thanks!  10.20.09 - 5:03am
megmanionsilliker - i just love your style. period.  10.19.09 - 1:31pm
Stephanie Stewart - Love your FAQ posts! I truly do learn something from each one, and from about each post, seriously! So thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I love what you say about not over-processing and the advice for coming up with blog content, which is one (of many!) aspects I need to work on.   10.19.09 - 9:52am
Yaeko Photography - Hi Jasmin, thanks for sharing. I love your blog. I appreciate your work. Natascha  10.19.09 - 4:00am
Brian Fletcher - "I definitely stay away from over-processed, action influenced images, so I use Photoshop as a tool to refine my style, not define my style" - Great advice for any new photographer!  10.18.09 - 10:44pm
Genoveva Wayment - thanks so much for answering these questions! my photography website   10.18.09 - 10:44pm
stephanie - can tell you enough how much i love FAQ DAYS! i always learn something new!   10.18.09 - 8:29pm
Malia - Thanks Jasmine! I love your answer to that last question! Your photos are always beautiful and natural and never over processed! Love it!   10.18.09 - 1:40pm
Rima - Thanks for sharing J* I found it very useful. I spent my past weekend reading your blog from previous years. Your work and charisma is infectious, I would love to meet you some day, hopefully you'll do a workshop in the UK, I'll be the first one to sign up!  10.18.09 - 12:31pm
gina - thanks for sharing your talent. we all learn so much from you.  10.18.09 - 11:15am
michelle cunningham - you know what jas ... congratulations on getting to a happy place. isn't it awesome when we can look back and say.. wow... we've come a long way!  10.17.09 - 9:40pm
Jenna - Hi Jasmine. I was wondering if you had any advice on camera equipment? Starting out I am having a hard time deciding which camera is the best. What lens do you find most benifical? I feel like there are 100 avenues and 1,000 ways to turn! You sure are on the right road! You are a truely talented photographer and I enjoy following your blog. Thanks for your time.  10.17.09 - 8:50pm
Amy - "I know there are some photographers who roll their eyes and despise my approach, but every artist is different and I prefer to shoot images really close to how I want them straight out of camera." And this, my dear, is a big reason why you inspire me and why I think some day I can do the same. ;)  10.17.09 - 7:22pm
katelyn - yay for not over-editng! I think that happens oh so often to photographers who have just been introduced to actions. I know I definitely went through that phase! They're great in moderation but controlling them is key. @claudiahung: I understand your reasoning but I also think an image's composition should be accurate before say, an 8x10 is printed. If I always left extra space or a border "just in case" they ordered a 8x10, my composition wouldn't be inspired by the moment but rather by a future print order. I think don't anyone is saying that chopping a head off is acceptable...but framing an image and nailing the composition should be done in the moment, don't allow extra space just for printing purposes and sacrifice awesome composition. Looked at your site, loved it!  10.17.09 - 2:34pm
Hannah - Hello! I just thought for those of you that have Wilamena's trouble I would give you a couple ideas... One thing that is extremly helpful is to do a photography challenge. Right now I'm doing a 30 day photography challenge and it always gives me something to blog. Another thing, is if you just did a shoot but don't have all the images ready, you can do a "sneak peek" for your daily post. Well, I hope this gives you some ideas. Hannah  10.17.09 - 11:44am
Serendipity Photography - Yes, I agree that coming up with the content for the blog is hard -- but I think you do a superb job!! :) Great work too!  10.17.09 - 11:43am
Kristy Cefalo - Thanks for posting these answers. I feel so much better about the decisions I make as a photographer. I really feel strongly about maintaining my creative freedom rather than worrying about cropping. I shoot what I see.  10.17.09 - 10:07am
Mandi - Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. You are such and inspiration. I too shoot for the moment, especially with my lifestyle photography. I love the freedom to be creative and I find you really get to catch those intimate moments.  10.17.09 - 9:34am
Amanda - Hi! I've never commented before, but I did have one question. Would you be willing to show a before and after shot? As in, what one of your images looks like straight out of the camera and then after post processing. I'm sure your images look great SOOC, but it might give a little hope to those of us who are strugging along.  10.17.09 - 9:19am
Tiffany Wirth - Just another newbie fan wanting to say THANKS! As always your advice is extremely helpful and inspiring. Thank you for being so open about what you do and how you do it, especially with Photoshop and the equipment that you use.  10.17.09 - 7:27am
Therese Beth Photography - As always, great advice! Thanks for sharing with us.  10.17.09 - 7:05am
Linda Sherrill - Thanks for another great blog subject (s). You inspired me on your anniversary to write a blog about mine...check it out if you'd like..  10.17.09 - 6:23am
Feuza - I always love these and thi s one was extra nice! thank you   10.17.09 - 5:41am
Paul - When you can't think of what to blog.. keep answering questions:-)... I love these posts...!  10.17.09 - 4:35am
CReid - Hey Jasmine Thanks for the knowledge, in particular Wilamena's question regarding blogging. Thanks for inspiring us Photogs. Regards, Carl   10.17.09 - 2:56am
Alexandra - Oooh I love seeing FAQ blog posts! Thanks a lot Jasmine :)   10.17.09 - 1:31am
Lisa H. Chang - Hey J* This post is great ~ very helpful. Thanks for the story about moving groups for formals. It's great to see how professionals approach issues like this :)  10.17.09 - 12:02am
Trevor Dayley - Wonderful post as always. I have started and ended a blog a few different times just because I didn't feel like my writing skills were near J* levels! Thanks for inspiring me to try it again, and like you said just "care about what you're writing" and "share with others who you are..." Sounds simple enough. Now time to get it going again...  10.16.09 - 10:05pm
Claudia Hung - Whoa! As much as I love Jasmine I'd have to disagree with what she wrote about framing. Really? As a professional photographer, shouldn't we be thinking about composition and framing? I can't imagine trying to ask a client to live with a photo of someone's head cropped off because I was "thinking in the moment" and say "Hey, but you can still feel the aura!" I'm not suggesting that we should be over thinking the issue of how much trim is going to be cut off and whatnot but I imagine that it's much like any other technical aspect of photography: Familiarize yourself with it so that it becomes a part of the way you shoot instead of getting caught up in the technicalities. Make it a habit to give yourself some space around the edges for trim or make sure you cover off a "safe" shot first before you do creative things with cropping. This is how you free yourself from over thinking and allow you to shoot with creative freedom. 2 cents. c.   10.16.09 - 8:37pm
jen - Thanks for sharing tips with us!! it is helpful to get ideas!  10.16.09 - 7:28pm
Erika - I can't believe you are in Scottsdale and we are not getting together!! Oh yea maybe it's because we have never met. :) Thanks for another fabulous FAQ post and enjoy your time here in the desert.  10.16.09 - 7:04pm
Lydia - I love these FAQ because I feel like I'm getting inside your head for just a moment and uncovering a treasure trove of wisdom!  10.16.09 - 6:28pm
Dawn Regan - Thank you so much for taking time out of your very busy schedule to post FAQs, Jasmine. It's like opening a Christmas present anytime I see that you did an FAQ post! Yay! Thank you, thank you, thank you!   10.16.09 - 6:11pm
michelle sidles - Thank you!! Your response to the last question about editing was so refreshing! I was thinking random thoughts earlier today and I had a fleeting thought that there is this impression that if you're not a great photoshop artist then you're not a great photographer. (this is MY impression). However as I have practiced/practiced/practiced I'm nailing my images in camera more and more and don't feel compelled to do a bunch of PS work to them. Your response is very appreciated. :)   10.16.09 - 6:07pm
Sherry - Thanks for being a rockSTAR. ;D ;D (I think I'm so witty. But not really...)  10.16.09 - 4:36pm
Lana - I was just thinking this morning, gosh I hope Jasmine does another FAQ soon!!! Thank you Jasmine, you actually answered a question of mine in here and your constant generosity with your talent and expertise is sooooo appreciated. Have a great weekend!  10.16.09 - 4:11pm
Jennifer Brotchie - Jasmine, I learn soo much from these posts and I truly appreciate them. I like the way you think and it continues to inspire me with my own business. Like Oprah said the other day, "You manifest your own reality." You being in Arizona with JD is proof that it can happen, it can manifest.   10.16.09 - 3:58pm
Marissa Rodriguez - LOVE FAQ!!! So awesome of you do do one of these while on the plane when you could be doing something totally different! Thank you!   10.16.09 - 3:09pm
Life with Kaishon - This was so interesting. I am glad you are in Arizona and I hope you have a wonderful, wonderful time!  10.16.09 - 2:59pm
Karen Sumner White - Thanks for the post - I am a longtime photographer who is just about to start blogging and I need all the help I can get! And a HUGE thank you for reminding everyone that the "I'll fix it in Photoshop" attitude is one they need to drop and spend time learning how to get it right in the camera! I love the amazing things that you can do to enhance an image in Photoshop, but a bad photo fixed in Photoshop is still a bad photo!  10.16.09 - 2:57pm
Annie @ Marry You Me - Have fun in Scottsdale! That's where I'm from - my family used to own what is now The Sanctuary on Camelback!! If you like adorable lunch places check out Arcadia Farms. Delish and a local legend.  10.16.09 - 2:48pm
Nicoracle Photography - Oh J*, just when I couldn't stand another moment of counting the minutes until the weekend hits you saved me with a nice long post full of your humble wisdom. Thank you so much for being such a rockin' lady- there are so many photographers out there like me who owe you big time for sharing yourself with us. You always challenge me to try to be a better version of myself. Thank you.  10.16.09 - 2:45pm
Karen R. - Hi Jasmine! I spend a lot of time in Phoenix (friends, family, etc), and don't know where you're shooting tomorrow, but if you have time while you're in Scottsdale, go visit the Phoenician on Camelback... WONDERFULLY gorgeous location. I believe they do brunch on Sundays ... massively expensive, TOTALLY worth it (we go there for Thanksgiving every year and the diversity is amazing, even for vegetarians like me -- and you!) Have a great time, hope all goes well and ENJOY!  10.16.09 - 2:40pm
Katie Whitcomb - I love your FAQ's. I was just thinking of emailing you about your inspiration for blogging everyday. I have incorporated Vendor Spotlight's and links to websites like J.Crew of things that I like to show my bride ideas. As wedding professionals, we get asked all the time of who we recommend or for advice because we've "seen it all". To our clients, that makes us that much more special. Thanks for the post. Katie  10.16.09 - 2:37pm
Jennifer O. - I love reading your blog, it's very inspiring!   10.16.09 - 2:34pm
Larry Reeves - Welcome to Arizona! Thanks for this post...awesome. I couldn't agree more with you on the last point...if it needs 'fixing' I toss it.   10.16.09 - 2:32pm
Kare - Thanks, J; Happy Friday, to you, too! Can't wait to see shots from tomorrow's wedding!  10.16.09 - 2:27pm