I’ve been lying low for awhile now, but I’m alive and kicking. : ) Sometimes I just need a break from all things media. It helps me refresh.
Now, on to June’s installment of Photography Friday with the ever so lovely, Shannon Sewell.
I am so happy to have found Shannon. I didn’t share this in my first post, but I have to tell you guys about the way I “found” her. She wrote me to sign her son up for my summer workshops for kids. She didn’t mention being a photographer herself, but I noticed her website name in her email address and decided to take a look. Ten minutes later I had to all but slap myself to snap out of the trance I was in. I quickly wrote her back and told her how much I had enjoyed perusing her work. Hopefully you all have checked it out by now and are excited at having some of your questions answered. I know I am! : )
I’m sitting in my quiet office in do mode. That always comes at the end of the day when errands are done and kids are in bed. Lots of late nights around here ; )
For a little background …
When did you learn you loved photography?
I’ve always appreciated it but it wasn’t until I had a subject (my son) that I was passionate about and realized that I could use all my creative energy to be my memory keeper AND make something beautiful in the process.
When did you launch as a professional photographer?
I started my business in 2005.
Miel asked: I’d love to know how to go about submitting editorial work to magazines and publications. How did you get started with that? And just because … what is your favorite word? Favorite color?
A lot of publications have submission guidelines on their website/ the editor’s page of the magazine. You can simply email the editor with a link to your work as well. I have done that and also been very lucky to have some editors come across my blog and ask to use my work. Favorite word… lovely. Favorite color… does white count as a color?
Yvonne asked: When you launched as a professional was it at the urging of family/ friends or more of an internal personal calling? How did you go about building your portfolio and clientele? I ask because I’m trying to break away from photographing my own kids and attempting to move to non-family members to photograph. I’m very shy and I’m not sure if I have the ‘correct’ personality to pursue this hobby as a career option, but I so love photography.
Completely the urging of friends. I was scared to death! My business has always been built on word of mouth… I have fantastic friends that supported me and said very nice things to their friends. I am also really shy… as long as you can connect to your clients one on one, they will spread the word for you. No self promotion necessary ; )
Sharon asked: What camera do you use? What is your favorite lens when shooting your clients? What post-processing work do you do to your final images? Where do you get your inspiration from for your shoots?
(note from Jessica … Nichole has some fabulous actions for Elements. They are what I used when I was first getting started.)
Kim asked: OK, so I’m probably the only one asking non-professional questions, but I want to know what is the best lens to use for a mom who wants to take really, really good pictures of her kids and family. I do not have a full frame camera, just the nikon d60 and a 35mm 1.8. Also, is Photoshop Elements all I need to make a picture look good as far as exposure, white balance, black and whites, etc.?
I love prime lenses… the sharpness, the bokeh… I love the 85 but have also used the 50 & 35 as well. They are all great portrait lenses! I have never used Elements but as long as you have a way to adjust curves/levels & sharpen your images, you have all the basic elements you need.
Carol asked: I am also just a mom photographer! When you are on a shoot how do you set your white balance? Some people talk constantly about these cards and then others never mention them. Also, I’m curious if there is a set of basic steps you go through in Photoshop for every picture you edit.
I almost always use AWB… in studio I will use a gray card since lighting doesn’t change. I just don’t trust myself to remember to change my white balance as light changes outside! I do run the same basic steps on every image… sharpen, nichole’s action, levels… & that’s about it. : )
Hope asked: What is the best way to really learn the art? Any books or workshops you recommend?
Get out there and play and practice and experiment and then do it all over again. I’ve only done a handful of workshops and each has been very specific in an area I felt like I needed to work on (One Light Workshop, Jesh de Rox- both FANTASTIC).
Sherrie asked: How do you stay so creative and come up with your prop ideas? They are all so awesome and interesting – I love love love your work and truly admire your gift. Was photography a natural talent/gift or was it a process of learning and developing your skill. Also do you have your go to tried and true lenses or have several depending on the setup?
I am constantly looking for new concepts to shoot- whether it be a place or a prop or something as simple as a color. I have always been creative… before photography I threw myself into interior design (probably where a lot of my themed set inspiration comes from) & I think photography has just lent itself to being my creative outlet. I primarily shoot the 85 1.2L and 35 1.4L lenses.
(note from Jessica … the 85 and 35 are the 2 lenses I mainly use, too. : )
Lauren: It looks as though you spend a lot of time and money on props and client’s clothing accessories. Do you buy props often? Do you buy accessories for your clients or do you ask them to buy certain items? How often are your shoots planned around what the client is wearing? Do you ask your clients to bring their own props? Where are your favorite places to buy props, backgrounds, and floors?
I do spend a lot of time on those things. I am always looking & picking things up so I have it stockpiled for current and future shoots. If I have something that I think will fit a client’s personality or style I will incorporate it in their session. I will definitely look for inspiration in a client’s home or clothing & will use anything unique as a jumping off point for ideas for their shoot. I don’t have any go to places for buying things… always on the hunt for something new : )
Annie asked: I want to know how long it took you to define your style and when it started to reflect in your branding, blog, site, and marketing. You can definitely distinguish your photos from other photographers’.
Being a creative professional, I want to always push the envelope, but it is hard for me to narrow down a distinct style! It definitely took a couple years. I went through trying to appease clients and do what everyone else was doing in the beginning. It was a pretty quick process in narrowing in on my style once I decided that I wanted to do it though. Only putting what I loved on my site and making sure I shot certain shots during a session just for me let me showcase my style and attract clients that were after that. And shoot for yourself… passion projects are perfect doorways to passion work.
(note from Jessica … for more on this topic check out the article I wrote for MCP Actions)
Thank you for your kindness! Sooooo glad we connected. : )
for past Photography Fridays check out …