Category Archives: photography

Photography Answers

shot1I wanted to type this post up today to help update people on what is in my camera bag and a few thoughts on the “whole being a photographer” thing…

First off, a little disclaimer here. I do not claim to know it all… I have so many areas I need to improve in, business being one of those… I do what works for me and it may or may not work for you. I am thankful for the ability to do photography but will not lie, I do get burned out some days…(Which typically happens when I overbook myself.)

So first few Q&A questions I get asked a lot.

1. When did you start your business?
- Answer: 2007 shortly after Taite was born.

2. What camera did you start your business with?
- Answer: Canon Rebel XT with a 50mm 1.8 Lens

3. What camera do you use now?
- Answer: A Canon 5D Mark III – purchased it last year refurbished from Canon USA.

4. What lenses do you use now?
- Answer: 50mm 1.4 Canon, 28mm 1.8 Canon & a 85mm 1.8 Canon. Thats it. Would love more, but can’t afford any right now.

5. What camera bag do you use?
- Answer: I use a few depending on the location. For wedding’s I shoot with an old Tracy Joy shoot sac style bag. I can’t really link to any for sale. Tracy Joy is a photographer and no longer makes the bag I use… I love it though and paid very little for it. Thankful to have gotten one before she stopped making bags.

For every day shooting with clients I use either my Epiphanie Belle Bag (a review) or my Emera Tote Bag (also a review). Feel free to google both ;-)

To those curious where I review: I do all that on She {hearts} It.

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6. How did you get started?
- Answer: I first started by finding some willing friends to let me photograph them. I charged very cheaply, maybe $50.00 a session… and really the only reason I was charging was to raise money for better gear… at that point in the game, it wasn’t about making a living… it was about gaining experience through trial and error. After I got a few friends under my belt, I began setting up a website and prices… I believe my start price was $75.00 a session and included images on disc. Mistake btw. One thing I have learned is if you start doing that from the get go, eventually when you get better and realize you cannot support your family with a $75.00 session and no profit post-session & you raise those prices… you will face lots of unhappy clients who would have previously known you as “the free disc photographer.” Lesson learned, I suggest if you do want to give a disc with your sessions that you factor that into the cost right off or sell the disc in addition to a session for a small rate. You can always raise that rate as you get more experienced… make sense? :)

7. What do you charge now?

- Answer: I charge between $125-175.00 for a single session. If clients want to purchase a disc its an additional $400.00. Yes clients pay it and should. I remember when I priced myself after moving to Atlanta having such a doubt in my mind about charging basically $525-600.00 a session. I didn’t think I was worth it or good enough… but I also realized each passing year of doing photography, I felt burnt…. and weary with my business. I didn’t want to do it anymore…. and I realize now it was because I devalued myself and worked countless hours for very little. While so many think photography is nothing more than showing up, snagging 50-100 photographs and burning them to a disc… what is not considered is the communication time with a client… the travel cost… the time spent on location… the time spent at home putting and refining a blog post, posting images to facebook… touching up photographs, creating private gallery for client, touching up specific photos even more for client, ship cost, disc cost, branding cost… it all adds up and the $500+ price tag is well worth it for amazing portraits IMO. Can I afford me? Right now. No… but we each have to budget what we can afford… and if I was not a photographer, I know I would be the type to go to a small mall studio or find a new college student willing to brave taking my family of 6 portraits at a nearby park. I know the quality though would not be professional, they’d simply be, photos slightly better than an average joe could take and that really is what most want. Investing in portraits, professional ones, does cost money. We all invest in what we feel is important to us… and we all pay for what we want. If someone wants a huge TV that cost over $1,000… they save up and pay for it, because they want it. So in short, if someone wants the style photography you offer, they will pay for it… and YOU my dear photographer are worth it. You are worth the talent and the time spent from your home. It is a creative passion but it is also a job that supports your family.

You can view my print prices and such on my website if you are curious on that too: www.andrea-wood.com

Can you tell I am preaching to myself? :)

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8. Do you shoot in manual? If so how did you learn?
- Answer: Yes I do, 100% of the time… even with the kids :) – I learned how in high school. Took a basic photography class and the rest is history. Once you begin shooting manual and understand what it involves, its just a matter of practicing and getting use to adjusting your shutter, aperture and so on easily, without much thought. I can switch my settings so fast now that I don’t even have to look. That wasn’t the case 7 years ago when I started ;-) – confidence with that has def. been acquired more with time.

9. What is your favorite thing to shoot?
- Answer: Off the cuff events probably. I love spontaneous sessions… If I had more of me to give and a schedule that allowed it. I would strictly shoot events, births and weddings. I do however adore maternity sessions and couples. I oddly enough have grown fond of newborn sessions too… ever since I decided to give up being someone Im not and start shooting newborn sessions the way I felt comfortable doing. I also really enjoy photographing for Boba. All the images in this post came from sessions I shot for Boba last year. I adore photographing moms wearing their babies I guess ;-) – it really is such fun! I wish I could do it every month.

10. What do you edit with?
- Answer: Currently I mainly use Lightroom 4 for Mac. I also use Photoshop Elements 9.0 for a few other things… I have Photoshop CS5 as well but rarely use it. I started my photography business with Photoshop Elements 6… so I suppose I use Elements more because its more “familiar” to me. I have not felt CS5 did much more for me, so I have stuck with what works. My editing is light… I try to keep processing minimal as I think less is more.

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11. Do you connect with other photographers?

- Answer: Yes! I think one of the biggest mistakes photographers make when they start, is they become stuck up. Is that the right terminology ? You don’t want to connect because you don’t want competition? or you don’t want to connect because you are fearful you may loose a client to the other person? Obviously other photographers are your competitions… but I believe each photographer has something to offer and we should each learn and grow from each other… not shun or hide. I love connecting with other photographers and have no problem at all helping new ones. Be confident in who you are… I am thankful for those photographers I got close to in NC when I began this journey… who befriended me when I was the newbie… loved on me and guided me. I will be forever thankful to them… and miss them greatly!

I suppose thats a good place to end :)- Mad props to Coleen Verner – my dear friend and also a amazing professional photographer in my area. She took all the behind the scene photos in this post.

Website-ing?

All I have done the last 2 days in my free time is work on websites and catch up on e-mails (So behind!)

From editing this blog.

To editing my photography site (its under a total Reconstruction), to the photo blog.
Its been determined I should show more photos like this on my photo site ;-) – I have been told this is called Chimping ? Had to laugh at that.

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Chimping or not, I am polishing my business a bit… I have been a bit burned out with my photography lately and have to reorganize and set my prices a bit more firmly. When you do this for many years you realize the value in your time and work you put into your business. It is definitely a learning experience and something I am far from perfected in yet… but im trying.

Ive also been helping a friend start up a fitness site…

… and now, editing a website for Caleb. Oh yes, Caleb. He is 9 yall. Will share more on this later and why I am cool with it.

Lets just say, between all that and NORMAL stuff… home school, house keeping, laundry (the pile in my kitchen is ridiculous). It has been very busy. Forgive any lack of blogging ;-) – I am trying to keep up with that too and get this blog off the ground a bit. Oh and have you heard? Atlanta is suppose to get hammered again with snow. What is up?! I am hoping that is just a bad weather report and we will enjoy 70 degree weather again next week.

Photoshopping Faces

This week has been so heavy for us… I had to blog something fun. Well fun to me :)
The morning we took these photos *below), things were “okay” – Reed was the only one with stomach issues at this point… no one else had been sick, so we were for sure we were in the clear. Esp since it had been 2 days since Reed threw up.

WRONG.

That night Taite threw up.

The next morning Owen.

The next night Travis.

Then Caleb…

… and in between all this Reed has had MAJOR diaper issues :( – not cool..

I have some how avoided this bug so far…

Ive been drinking TONS of water kefir…

Lathering myself in Essential oils…

Taking supplements from Native American Nutritional’s. Which is where I get my oils. More to come on that later btw… hope to have some discounts for everyone! They have been the most amazing company. Thankful I found them.

and washing my hands NON STOP…. SO much so my hands are actually cracked and bleeding in spots…

Still, I am thankful we were able to snag some family photos prior to the chaos of it all… and these will be photos I cherish.

First I will post the photoshop fun ;-) – and then below those ill post a few more photos from the session.

These photos btw we took at like 9:30am before the snow began to rapidly melt. I asked my neighbor to be my living tripod. I pre-set the cam and she did great. SO thankful she was willing ;-) – the boys did well too… although like any family with lots of little ones… snagging the perfect family portrait is not always something you can capture without a little help… Sometimes you can get it without doing this, however in this particular case, photoshop came in handy :)


Here is the original photo:

Take Notice of all my kids faces :)

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Here is my 2nd edit:

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As I looked at the 2nd edit, I realized Owen looked a bit strange.
The original photo he was straining his neck… so it looked kinda skinny…
I had photoshopped his head off of a “single shot” of him that will be posted below…

I decided to photoshop his head/neck and hair off of another shot and it worked better.

So here is my final edit:

To the untrained eye, you wouldn’t be able to tell. At least I don’t think ;-)

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Not to shappy huh? Oh how fun it is to own photoshop. Btw, if you don’t want to fork out a lot for photoshop CS, the more professional version. DONT. I edited every one of these in Photoshop Elements 9.0 – way more affordable. In fact you can find old versions of photoshop elements super cheap on ebay. I highly recommend it.

WHY admit this?

BECAUSE. :) ITS REALITY. I tell many of my clients, the perfect family portrait doesnt always come naturally hah!!! the best ones honestly are the in-between moments you don’t meant to even capture. I don’t want moms out there to think I have these perfect kids who smile perfectly in every photo to feel discouraged about their own kids. This is my evidence perfection isn’t always the case ;-) – but I am thankful for resources to make changes if I feel the need for it, hehe. My boys though, over all, despite missing the “shot” – did great this particular morning. They don’t fight me much when I request their cuteness for a portrait. They know it makes for a happier mommy in the end if they do well and obey.

Now onto the rest of the family shots I snagged.

Thank you Victoria btw for taking the above shot! I truly am happy with it, even if my kids faces didnt all work at once ;-D

The shot btw with all the boys lined up didn’t have any photoshopping done. :)

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& for curiosity sake, these photos were taken about 25 feet in our backyard, by the bushes near the trampoline :)

The view from my kitchen window today. Ooooo so pretty. The snow hides all the kids toys in the yard!

Outfits btw. Not perfect… but work. I have really begun to examine our clothing situation. We are blessed y’all. I mean seriously, we have more clothes than we know what to do with! People have given us so many boy clothing items its probably a sin if you think about it. We have so much and others have so little. This week we got rid of a TON. I still have the bags of clothes btw, if anyone local wants to go through them. Mostly boys 3/4/5T and 6/7. A few 6-12mo. stuff will be in the bags too. Less is more IMO… and buying new rarely happens now. Im huge on thrifting. Reed’s shoes cost me $1.25. Caleb’s shirt was $2.95. Taites was given to us by someone years ago, for Caleb. Owen’s was from my mom as a gift. Reed’s, no idea where it came from but we did not buy it. His scarf, my mom made. My entire out fit was so cheap. My tops were under $1.00 each, including the belt. My jeans were from TJMaxx, I think I paid $6.50? Off season of course. My leggings were $5.00, from years back, my boots were $19.00 from a few years ago too (To pay that much for shoes is a splurge for me. I loved them to much not to buy them, they seriously are my fav shoes. I wear them almost every day, so comfortable! From RUE 21). Travis’ stuff to was very inexpensive and was something we had already. His sports coat we paid $2.00 for at a thrift shop in NC years ago.

My point. THRIFT :) – reuse. Make what you have work. Doesn’t take a fortune to make something look good and go. I put all of this together in under 10 minutes that morning. I love how it turned out!

Enjoying it, your way.

Alright readers. Im going to write a post, that hopefully will not offend past clients of mine as well as photographers. Or anyone for that matter. Not at all my intention of what I am about to write about. So keep that in mind :)

SO here is the deal.

Im a photographer.

Yes. Most know this…

I am a professional. So I consider myself :) – and years ago I did as well… but if I’m truly honest, I can now see that I WAS NOT then :) – just thought I was. Its just part of the growing process in this field I suppose. Thinking you are hot stuff when in reality you probably are far from it. I was far from it once. I still feel that way many days… and I do have so much more to learn in the field of photography.

One thing however that I am realizing, is my ability NOW to see and do what I want, the way I want…

berryWhen I started my business, one area I dug into was photographing newborns. Yet I remember… shoot… after shoot… after shoot, truly disliking the entire process that was involved with that sort of session. It felt so forced… and awkward.

People wanted props…. costumes… weird positioning of the baby… you know, yoga poses? Im sure you all have seen those. Their everywhere. People wanted babies balancing on beer bottles and other non-baby friendly objects… I think the only NON baby type object I honestly like are some baskets/bowls… but that be about it.

I remember feeling the pressure that I NEEDED to do those things and use those things, because that is what “other” photographers were doing.

Why did I feel the need to do what others did?

We all know that the original is always better than the copy.

Yet session after session I strived to do something and be someone in my photography, that I clearly was not.

It resulted in a “Newborn Fast”…. For almost a solid 2 years I steered clear any time someone asked me to do a newborn session. I wanted nothing to do with them….As cute and cuddly as those newborn babes were, the idea of doing those forced shots, hammered my creativity.

Until recently…

I have had SO many request the last year 1/2 to do newborn portraits. SO much so that I knew saying no would ultimately hurt my business… so many awesome new families contacting me to photograph their precious babes…. and yet part of me didn’t want too… because of that dread I had in the past with the “pressure” to be a “type” of photographer I wasn’t.

I shot a newborn yesterday… one of the most adorable and well mannered lil dudes Ive shot in some time… and he brought me a new hope into the world of newborn photography. While I have had a few other sessions prior to his that sparked this as well… his has won me over. Finally :)


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I truly enjoyed my time with this family and photographing this baby… and while at times I felt that creative mental block hit me… I put into my mind, to just be me and do what I felt was naturally suitable for the situation I was in.

I love shooting in a families home… capturing moments on their sofa… in the nursery… nothing fancy… no big props… no weird yoga poses… just them and their precious baby…

ED9A3725The point of this all being said.

To encourage those who are new to this business….

To be you.

Stop trying to be a photographer you aren’t…

Seek your own creativity.

One of the things I have found completely suicides my sessions, is when I browse other photographers work and attempt to “recreate it” – don’t do that. It honestly never works for me. EVER.

Be who you are. Don’t hide your personality… don’t hide your life from your clients either. I love being able to tell my clients I am a mother of 4 amazing boys… and that my husband is a Cop/Pastor :) – and so on. I love being genuine with them and hopefully helping them feel comfortable around me… which in the end makes for a better session and better relationship with the client.

Hopefully this made some sense. Forgive me for the lack of blogging. Life is kicking my tail these days.

*And to my friend Rebecca, who may read my blog still ;-) – I love love love Kenna’s newborn pics, even if we did shove her into a strawberry and let her cry LOL!!!*
*To those who don’t know TOUCHED PHOTOGRAPHY *the photo at the beginning* was my old PHOTO NAME I used. A client told me one time that it made them think of the song “I TOUCH MYSELF.” Weeks later, I rebranded and changed my entire name and business site. So learn from me.. Just use your name ;-) SO much easier.

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You btw can see some more photos from this baby’s session on my photo blog :) HERE

Photo-toby-yo

Alright, this week/weekend has been filled with lots of work.

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I had to do a few sessions for Boba (love them – my photos btw are all over their website, go look! so cool..), I also had to photograph a sweet family of 3 in Atlanta, my sweet friend and amazing artist Melissa Baker and her family and to finish our former neighbors family.

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Despite rain and cold temps, it worked out and I feel it was a successful week of shooting.

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All this work obviously came with sacrifice… Thankful for a husband willing to help me watch my dudes as well as allowing me some me time – where I was able to go thrifting… as well as letting me sleep in friday morning. I needed it.

I spent the rest of the afternoon with the boys today, wading through a creek with a baby on my back in my boba. Pushing kids on the swings in the backyard… cutting the boys hair…. giving baths, organizing summer clothing into tubs (finally finished that), cleaning up the kitchen and office/toy room… and now the dudes are enjoying some veg time in front of the TV as I relax a bit before the bed time routine begins.

Never a slow moment here… but thankful for a smooth and day that did not bring injury or sickness :) – Thank you all for those who have been praying for us!

To end – a couple photos of the cat :) – cause well, he just so happen to catch my interest today as I cleaned the kitchen. He decided to walk the rail on the back deck. Silly cat, had he fell, it would have been a 30 plus foot drop, ouch!

We’ve kinda settled on a name. His shelter name was Yoda, we are thinking of renaming him Toby. Hard to break “his first name” tho ;-) – we find ourselves still calling him Yoda. Time will tell which one sticks. He’s a sweetie tho!

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