I try to answer as many questions as I can, but I don’t have enough time to answer everything! Here are some questions I get asked a lot (A lot of these answers are copy and pasted from other places in my tumblr)
What camera/lens/equipment do you use?
I currently use a Canon 5D Mark II and either a 50mm 1.8 or 35mm 2.0 lens. I also use a remote timer and a tripod
Do you use lighting equipment? How do you light your shots?
I do not use any lighting equipment, but will probably start using strobes soon. I’ve used reflectors in the past, but generally just shoot during the golden hour (first and last hour of sunlight) when the light is best outside. For indoor shots I’ll just use random lights I have in the house.
How do you focus on yourself?
Well I usually put something where I’m going to stand, focus on that, and stand there. A lot of people use a wireless remote which is a lot more effective probably
What lens do you use most often?
Lately Ive been using my 35mm 2.0 a lot, but I also use a 50mm 1.8.
How do you take self portraits?
I use a tripod and a remote timer (something like this, but make sure the one you order is compatible with your camera!). So I go to location with any props I need, and I preplan as much as possible. So figure out the outfit, props, composition, etc as much as you can before you shoot. With the remote timer, you will have to manually focus. I know a lot of people use a wireless remote, and you can use autofocus with that, but I don’t have experience with that so I can’t explain that well. To focus, I set something where I will be and focus on that. To focus accurately I turn on live view so I see the image on the LCD, then I digitally zoom (the + magnifying glass button). Move to the item youre focusing on, then focus. So if you are shooting wide open (like a 1.8 or something), it will be easy to mess the focus up. So take a lot of test shots. Stand in the position, take a photo, then zoom in on it and make sure you are in focus when you look close up. Keep repeating and adjusting until youre in focus Ok, so if youre using a timer like the one I linked to, here’s how it works. Basically its an advanced version of the 10 second timer that comes with your camera. With it you are able to set any amount of time until it starts shooting, any number of shots, and any interval between shots. So for example, you can have it wait 20 seconds, then shoot 15 photos with 4 seconds between each shot. One reason I like this more than a normal wireless remote is because you don’t have to hold it and worry about seeing the remote in your shots. This way you can do a lot of shots that would be really hard otherwise. Like if you are in water or something, you cant hold your remote under. Once you shoot a set, take a look at them, readjust if necessary and try again if you need to. If you’re going to composite anything, you can shoot that too. Not sure what to say about that, because it completely depends on the concept. Just shoot until you are happy with it. Sometimes I will shoot a couple hundred photos until I’m happy with it, so don’t get upset if it doesnt work out at first. Sometimes its good to break away from your original plans and to improvise a bit. I also often expand my photos with the brenizer method. Basically after I shoot the photo with me in it, I take shots panning all around where I was. So Ill shoot above where I was, below, and all around. Then when I edit, I stitch them all together to get a wider frame. Of course I could have just moved the camera 20 feet back to get the same view, but this way I get a more narrow focus, high resolution (which means I can print big in high quality) and I can crop the final image however I want without worrying about it being low resolution. And not sure what else, thats pretty much it!
How do you edit colors in photoshop?
I use curves in photoshop. I usually grab my darks (lower left dot) and move it a bit up and to the right. Then I actually up the contrast a bit on the rest of the photo. Kind of like this:
After that I usually switch from RGB curves to Reds, and often make the darks (lower point) more red and move the curve around until I like it. And same with the Blue curves. If I move the darks one way (like more blue) I move the lights to be more yellow.
What is your editing process like?
I usually expand with the brenizer method to get a high resolution, do any compositing or whatever if I need to (too vague to expand on), then use selective color and curves to edit colors.
Did you/Are you studying photography?
I have not, I’m completely self taught. I was going to college (but took not photography classes) and dropped out to pursue photography!
How long have you been taking photos?
I first picked up a camera in February 2011
How old are you?
I am 21
Where do you live?
I currently live about 40 minutes from Chicago
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I’m inspired by old horror movies, music, empty spaces, old film photos, life experiences, light, fashion magazines, abandoned houses and the way things decompose, nature etc.. I like to sometimes listen to a song and match the atmosphere in a photo. And trying to make every part of the photo match with the scene. So everything fits together in a perfect moment
Can I take photos with you?
Maybe, but lately I’ve been super short on time! If you model, feel free to message me
Why do you take so many self portraits?
I started taking self portraits because I had a camera and nobody to take photos of. Self portraits are also very therapeutic for me. It’s a good way for me to relax and vent. I also enjoy spending some time alone, and self portraits are a good way to do that haha. I do love taking photos of other people, I just don’t have the chance very often.
Why are most of your photos untitled?
I worry that titling work cements it into only my interpretation. My work means something to me, but it won’t necessarily mean the same to some one else. Especially for work that is very specific and personal. I think leaving work untitled adds to the mystery. It makes the image more ambiguous and allows you to freely interpret it as you would like.
How do you make a living? Should I pursue photography?
I’m living off my photography (although I don’t make much at all). Was selling prints before I left on the trip, and I am starting to work with galleries and do licensing and stuff like that. It definitely depends on your situation, I’d say go for what you enjoy. Maybe try charging for events or senior portraits or weddings or whatever to start making money with it. Before doing this full time, I was working as a pizza delivery driver and spent all my free time shooting, and trying to make a living with photography, and only left my job when I felt comfortable with that!
What advice do you have for aspiring photographers?
Don’t put your camera down, keep practicing. Take photos every day. When you take a photo you like, figure out what you like about it and work towards implementing that more in your photos. When you take a photo you hate, figure out what you don’t like and try to avoid that. Read books on photography, thats how I taught myself to use my camera. Practice with photoshop or lightroom or something. Even if you wont edit your photos much, messing with colors can make a huge difference (I always use curves). There are so many good websites for learning photoshop. I like Phlearn.com. Sketch out ideas and plan an much as you can before hand. The more I plan an idea, the more it will look like I imagine it. Pay attention to light, I almost always shoot in the golden hour. Constantly be on the look out for interesting locations, etc. You will begin to see everything as photos. I always pass people on the street and think “wow, I want to take a photo of her” or I’ll go in a room and think “The light in here is amazing” or see an object and think “I want to use that in a photo”. And at that point, it becomes more natural and consumes your whole life haha