Putting the “AQ” in “FAQ”

A couple weeks ago, I got hooked up in the “Ask me a question” Formspring meme that was going around, and you can see all my answers (and ask me more) here. While I didn’t get as obsessed with it as some photographers … *cough* Jonas Peterson *cough* … it was a lot of fun and a great way to answer some of the burning questions people had. But the list is long and filled with questions that are either technical or sometimes silly, so I thought I would put some of my answers that readers might be interested in right on the blog. These aren’t exactly frequently asked questions, since most were just asked once, but close enough.

Is there a point at which you will think “I’ve arrived” in the photography world, a goal to reach “before you can rest”?
Photography isn’t a destination. It’s a journey. I don’t want to rest, I want to take pictures.

What do you remember about yourself when you were a child?
I was definitely shorter. And precocious.

Been a fan of yours since your early days on flickr. How do you stay healthy? And what do you do if you’re sick on a clients wedding day?
It’s important to me to stay healthy. In more than 100 weddings, I’ve never had to miss one for any reason (there are very good emergency plans, but it is very important to me not to have to use them). I try to get a decent amount of sleep. For me that means at least six hours. In college I was always sick because I slept about three hours a night.

Also, I get a good deal of exercise.

Are you a “stuff junkie” or an “experience junkie”?
Experience junkie. If I were a stuff junkie, I wouldn’t keep breaking it.

How do you get people to so such cool stuff on the dance floor?
They’ll do it. All you have to do is be unobtrusive enough to be in front of them without them noticing or caring.

What happens at your client meetings? Spill some tricks!
It’s mostly just pleasant conversation and watching slideshows, and when they ask a question I answer the seven they haven’t thought of yet.

Do you dance at all your weddings?
Only if my friends are getting married … then it’s ON.

I read that you said you deliver 100 images per hour, do you feel that delivering hundreds of photos detracts from the end users satisfaction when going through so many photos?
No. I deliver a front page of my 75-100 favorites, so people don’t have to view the full set unless they have a reason to. I like to photograph as many guests as possible, because they were important enough for the bride and groom to invite and pay for.

Could you describe the post-processing you usually do on your images in a sentence or two?
I do way less than most shooters, because I don’t want my post-processing to be trendy. Quite often it just looks OK right from the start. But sometimes I really love a picture and just like to finesse it a little. I also have a default tone curve that I shoot in or apply afterward.

Thoughts on diffusers? I’ve noticed some great photogs use them and others just bounce.
I don’t use them much, but really it’s all just about understanding light, and using the tools that make it looks how you want. Lots of diffusers turn flashes into bare bulbs, which can be useful but I’d rather not have it on-camera.

Thank you for the #haitirelief comments!

I still have to do the final tally, but thanks to the attention of so many I will be donation hundreds of dollars to Water Missions International, a charity with good presence in Haiti that focuses on the crucial issues of clean water and sanitation. If you’re interested in taking more action, Charity Navigator lists them as a very well-run charity with low overhead.

I will keep looking for ways to help and I hope you do the same. Also, as my friend Charlotte Geary pointed out, at times like these unrelated charities tend to suffer, so remember to keep supporting yor favorites.

Thank you!

On being a “green” wedding photographer.

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I’m a pretty bad marketer. I know it. That’s why it took me years of sitting around, seeing other people successfully brand themselves as “green” wedding photographers without thinking about it until, about five minutes ago, I realized I’m pretty much the greenest wedding photographer I know. How many other wedding photographers choose not to own cars? (It actually makes more sense in Manhattan to rent every time I need one for a shoot, but that means I don’t drive unless I have to).

My office generates a staggeringly little amount of paper. All of my contracts are online. I only give DVDs on request, because DVDs go bad eventually and litter landfills. I give flash drives, with instructions on how to back up photos forever on one’s own hard drives — or, if clients are into it, I provide the online servers for full digital delivery. No mail planes, no torn envelopes, ta-da.

Even my staff, including my brand-new intern (more on her later), comes into the office via mass transit. Albums are made with recycled materials when possible, and my studio requires minimal energy to heat and cool.

We’re pretty darned green here. Who knew?