Ask Us Anything Part II: Questions Answered

1. Anon asked: I’m new to film and am having trouble understanding how to do all of my setting without having an image to look at like with digitial. How do you know how to set a film camera to get the best result? Thank you! Hi there! The best way to get consistent results on […]

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1. Anon asked: I’m new to film and am having trouble understanding how to do all of my setting without having an image to look at like with digitial. How do you know how to set a film camera to get the best result? Thank you!

Hi there! The best way to get consistent results on film is to use a meter and meter consistently. When you “get it right,” do the same thing over and over.

 

2. Turiz asked: How awesome! I have two questions. 1) How do you deal with “writers block”, or in better words, loss of ideas/motivation? 2) around what time in your career did you feel like you had found yourself in your style of photography. When did you feel like your niche? I kind of feel lost sometimes, but nonetheless I LOVE what I do! 

Great question! Give yourself challenges or personal projects. For example, go out and photograph 10 strangers. Document a local disappearing way of life. Try and capture a moving portrait of someone in three to five photographs. Three years ago, I picked up my first film camera for a wedding. I was as happy getting those film scans back as I was when I went on vacation with my wife in Egypt for a month. Anything that makes you that happy on a regular basis is more than likely your calling! Styles are constantly evolving, and you never want to allow yourself to become stagnant, but we probably comfortably settled into our style about a year ago after constantly shooting personal projects.

 

3. Dani asked:  I absolutely love how you “pose” your couples! What is your best advice for getting couples into their most natural state and capture those organic moments?
Give couples actions to perform, but also give them space. We’re wary of letting our personalities interfere with them and we like to give them room sometimes to just “be romantic” and “fall in love with each other again.”
4. Tianna asked:  Being fine art photographers I know so much of that just has to do with how you see the world and capturing it more organically. What advice would you give for someone trying to break away from the more traditional style of photography wanting to move into fine art?
Hi Tianna, Shoot something that connects with you, shoot to tell stories, and embrace your own creativity. “Turn off” Pinterest & Instagram and be inspired by music, by nature, by your surroundings, or by a painting.  Embrace your vision and when you shoot, don’t just capture but create beautiful images.

5. Kimberly asked: What light meter would you recommend buying? I’m just starting to dabble in film and I’m so excited to start and can’t wait to learn. 

Hi Kimberly, we use a Sekonic L358. Enjoy your film journey!
6. Casey asked: How do you afford to shoot film so much?
Hi Casey, film is an investment, and your pricing should reflect that accordingly. Don’t shortchange yourself. But also look at it this way. Does film help you define your style? How much is that worth to you? 😉

7. Kelsee asked: When there’s none, or not enough natural light at a wedding, what specific lighting do you use? what are the best resources for learning how to use lighting?

We use off-camera flashes & video lights. The best way is to mentor with an experienced photographer or take a workshop, and even better: practice, practice, practice!
8. April asked: 1)  (Hybrid) How do you sell your film vs digital packages? Explaining the difference. 2) where do you advertise and why [and] what does your referral program look like? 3) How much is one roll purchased and developed total?
Hi April, we don’t have any separate packages for film vs digital. Thus, no explanation is necessary. If someone likes our style, they’ll book us.We don’t advertise anywhere with the exception of one or two blogs that match the style and aesthetic of our photography. We don’t pay for Google Adwords or SEO help. We don’t have a “referral program.” We concentrate on consistently creating beautiful images and providing excellent experiences for our clients, and referrals naturally come.
This is the cost of one box of 5 rolls of Fuji400h. One roll yields 16 images on a Contax 645.  $37.50 divided by 5= $7.59. That one roll developed and scanned adds another $18-21 usually. Shipping all of the rolls to the lab overnight and having the negatives sent back also costs something, but let’s say it’s about $30 per roll, though some labs do offer loyalty programs. On an average wedding, we shoot between 45-60 rolls, and this year we’ve photographed 32 weddings. Film is an investment, but for us, it’s worth it!
9. Liz asked: Do you present the final wedding images to your client in person to see their reaction + up sell any additional product or just post them their images and why? And do you provide prints of all images as you shoot hybrid along with the digital file of ALL final images? Please keep doing these #askusanythings! X
Hi Liz, We do not usually meet clients in person, and we do not upsell any additional products. We have way to much fun shooting weddings, but if clients are interested in buying albums through us they may and many do. We do provide prints for our clients though as well as high res files of images from the wedding day; the cost of this is incorporated into their collection price. Glad you enjoyed!

10. Fiona asked: How did you guys get started in the business of wedding photography? Did you second shoot before you started/how did you go about finding opportunities to do so? Thanks so much! Love your work

Hi Fiona, Thanks for asking and for the feedback! We love photography and we love working together. We connect with our client’s love stories very strongly because we had to work so hard and for so long to be together ourselves. We did second shoot a lot though before we branched out on our own. We just asked if we could assist some other photographers, and eventually went from carrying bags to shooting.
Just ask! The worst that could happen is they say no… and then you can ask someone else! 🙂
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11. Mary Anne asked: The tones in your images are so lovely. What type of film are you shooting with? 

Hi Mary Anne, thanks! We mainly shoot Fuji400h, Kodak Portra 800, and Ilford 3200, in that order. Sometimes I (Mike) also shoot Kodak Tri-X 400 for fun, too. For most of what you see on our website and our blog, it’s Fuji400h 120mm film.

 

12. Emily asked: With being film shooters do you ever take images into photoshop or do you do it all in the darkroom? What is your best advice for getting gigs as a second shooter?

We do some post-processing digitally to our scans when it’s necessary in Lightroom or Photoshop, but barely, and it is mainly limited to retouching skin or a slight adjustment in temperature. Communicating with our lab scanners and exposing properly helps us get most of the work done before we get our film scans back from the lab. Our best advice would be to reach out to another photographer local to you or to a community of photographers and ask. Ask in the spirit of genuinely wanting to help the other photographer; don’t simply go along to build your portfolio, but to genuinely support the other photographer and learn. Building your portfolio is important but building long-lasting relationships with other photographers is equally important and can even lead to referrals for your business (not to mention friendships with like-minded photographers). 

13. Michelle asked: I love your wedding photography! Do you use mostly natural light?

Hi Michelle! Thanks! We love natural light and use it whenever we can. We also feel it’s really important to be experienced with artificial light sources, even if you choose not to let them define your style. At wedding receptions, we use a mix of flash and video lights. But yes, we love natural light and especially love it at sunrise and sunset.

14. Alicia asked: Ooo this is so awesome, lots to ask! 1. What, if any, portions of a wedding day do you shoot digitally and why? 2. When getting your film developed, do you have a color profile you typically request or have you developed your own?   3. This one might not be clear, but I’ll give it a go: When I am shooting film and am using a light meter, should I ever change the exposure compensation on the actual camera? Or would I only need to do that if I was trying to use the meter within the camera body. I just cannot find any information if that actually affects the film or is solely for metering purposes!! Thank you guys SO much — this is the perfect Christmas gift.

Hi Alicia, awesome questions! 1. We try and shoot film whenever and wherever we can, but sometimes digital is just the better medium to convey the story of the day. Scenarios include wedding receptions after dark, extremely dim churches, or dark rooms on dark cloudy days with very little window light. 2. We definitely developed our own color profiles. The best way to develop your “profile” with a lab is simple communication. Labs – Photovision, Richard Photo Lab, The Find Lab, etc. etc., all have extremely communicative staff that work with you to try and nail the look you’re going for. If you’re getting back scans you’re not satisfied with or find yourself editing them a lot, give the lab a call and try to communicate what you’re not satisfied with. As you work more and more with a lab, the scanners working on the other end will know better and better how to nail the look you’re going for as long as you are exposing consistently. 3. If you are shooting in manual mode and using the meter, then you shouldn’t have to change the exposure compensation on your camera. We pretty much ignore the in-camera meter on our Contaxes and rely on the Sekonic l-358. Some 35mm cameras have more reliable meters though, so if you’re shooting with an EOS 1-v and want to try shooting in AV mode, we’d suggest erring on the side of overexposing with your meter.

15. Kat asked: I’d love to know about the feathers in your logo. Is there a story behind them?

Hi Kat, the logo is made up of two quill pens, which represents how Carina and I began the adventure our love story has been. 11 years ago we, after 6 months of writing each other as teenage pen-pals, I called her up in Germany from across the Ocean in the USA and asked her to be my long-distance girlfriend. Luckily, she said yes! Our correspondence didn’t stop there though… we still have boxes and boxes of handwritten letters we wrote to each other.

16. Kelly asked: My question isn’t related to film, but I’d love to know how do you best network or what do you do to reach your target audience?

Hi Kelly, we found that the best way to “network” is to simply be genuine, helpful people with fellow wedding professionals, in so far as we are able, and never take advantage of anyone. It sounds cliche, but it’s just that simple. The best way we have reached our target audience is by sharing sessions, real and styled, that reach our target audience rather than sharing “everything.” Selectivity is one of the hardest lessons to learn as a photographer, but it’s also one of the most liberating.

17. Robyn asked: Tell us about the Leica M6. What is it exactly and what are the advantages over the Contax, etc? What lens have you shot with on it?

Hi Robyn, The Leica M6 is such a fun and amazing little camera. I borrowed one recently from a friend for a session (it was my birthday present from him and my wife, who organized it), but I am not familiar with it enough to offer any real advice. I will relate our first impressions: it was a LOT of fun, it’s extremely quiet and unobtrusive, and paired with the right lens it has incredible bokeh. It takes some getting used to as far as focusing goes, but once I got the hang of it it was easy to focus. I shot a 35mm summilux on the m6 body. It will probably be our next camera purchase.

 

18. Michele asked: Oh, so so so cool! Recently, I took your advice from April (this blog) http://www.michaelandcarina.com/tag/canon-elan-7/ and snagged an elan 7 off ebay for $30 shipped with some cheap film. I am going to get it developed quickly so I can see if it works. However, I want to get some better film. What would you suggest to purchase? If things go well, could I then upgrade to another Canon for a little higher quality camera that I could still shoot my my L series lenses in autofocus? And, thank you for being so open and fabulous. Merry Christmas!

Hi Michele, What a neat gift for yourself! That’s great! There are tons of great choices out there; I’d recommend experimenting with them to find what works for you. Kodak Portra 400 and Fuji400h are good places to start. Also Portra 160 is a beautiful film to shoot as long as you have enough light. Portra 800 has noticeable grain, but it is not as bothersome as digital noise. My favorite black and white 35mm film is Kodak Tri-X 400. A better Canon film camera that will work with your L lenses? The best Canon film SLR is probably the EOS 1V. Merry Christmas to you too!

19. Payal asked: Awesome idea. How have you grown your business since the beginning?

Hi Payal, just trying to give the best service we can to clients and other wedding professionals while never losing sight of why we do what we do – a passion for the art of photography.

20. Heather asked: Your work is beautiful! Best tip for getting the wedding party to interact?

Heather, thanks! Try giving them actions to perform, in succession. For example, “Bridesmaids, look at the bride, linking arms,” (feel free to step in and with permission, make adjustments), and usually they start laughing naturally because they are staring at each other. Then, “Everyone look at the camera” while they are still smiling and laughing. Then ask them to walk towards you while linking arms and holding their dresses. If you do this with confidence, and in succession, your subjects usually can react well to your direction.

21. Lindsey asked: I love this idea! I’d love to pick your brains. 1) What advise do you have for a photographer struggling to bring in a clientele in a small town (pop 8000) with so many other photographers available? 2) Marketing. How. What. What works, what doesn’t. How do you reach your target market and plant it in their heads that they want you? 3) Education. What online workshops, if any, do you recommend? Thank you so much for your time and I look forward to your replies!

Lindsey, that’s what this blog is for! 1. You’ll find that no matter where you are, and no matter how big or small your town is, there will be other photographers available. And that’s awesome. You’d drive yourself crazy really quick if everyone in your town wanted to book you! Instead of concentrating on what others are doing, first consider: Who is your ideal client? Then: Does my portfolio reflect the client I want to attract? Does the experience I offer reflect the type of experience my ideal client expects? Make your portfolio, your brand, and the experience you offer irresistible to your ideal clients. Establish positive relationships with other local professionals, including photographers. Also, don’t limit yourself to your town. There might be a nearby city (I say nearby, one of our favorite places to shoot is almost a 3 hour drive) with tons of clients waiting to connect with you. 2. The best marketing is word of mouth, and that is generated by giving clients (and fellow professionals) amazing experiences from consultation to delivery, not only on the day of the shoot. 3. Education: we actually offer online mentoring sessions! We are also planning a major workshop for 2015 – more on that coming soon! Aside from that, there are tons of great resources on Creative Live or you could reach out to a photographer whom you admire and ask their fee for mentoring.

 

22. Maya asked: Thank you for doing this! really appreciate it. Love your work. I – How do you work with your lab and establish a color profile? 2 – Do you mix film stocks ? How do you achieve your consistent look? 3 – What are you rating your film stocks?

Hi Maya, As we said, communication with the lab is important as is properly and consistently exposing your images. When you shoot something and it turns out pleasing to your eye just keep doing that over and over again. You’ll gradually get better and better and develop a unique style. We mainly shoot fuji400h outside, Portra 800 indoors. Fuji400h we rate at 200, Portra 800 at 500-640, Ilford 3200 at 1250.

23. Evo asked: What’s your style?

Hi Evo, In three words, elegant, timeless, and natural.

24. Daytona asked: What’s the most important investment you’ve made in your business? 

Hi Daytona, as for the most important investments, probably education first, and brand second. (Note we also consider investing in film = investing in our brand).

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M  E  N  T  O  R  I  N  G  

We currently have 5 spots available for Skype or in person mentoring in February 2015. Book by December 31st, 2014 and save $100.

Mentoring session includes intensive Q & A, portfolio review, and business coaching.

Email us at info@michaelandcarina.com to reserve your spot.

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W  O  R  K  S  H  O  P 

U  P  D  A  T  E

There’s an announcement coming soon about workshops in 2015 with Michael and Carina Photography. Keep an eye out at the beginning of the New Year!

Until then, M & C

 

  1. Jennifer

    December 17th, 2014 at 9:56 am

    What a great wealth of information. I love this!

  2. Brea

    December 17th, 2014 at 10:10 am

    So many great questions! I love that you took the time to answer them all so thoroughly.

  3. Caitlin

    December 17th, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    omg this is awesome! so great that you did this!!

  4. Mary

    December 17th, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Oh, this is just wonderful!! Thanks for always being so kind and helpful in assisting others! I am eagerly awaiting workshop information!! Woot woot! xo

  5. Laura

    December 17th, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    So many great questions answered and I love those images in the cotton field!

  6. Natalie

    December 17th, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    So many amazing answers!

  7. Dani

    December 17th, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Such great advice!! I love how genuine all of your responses are. So many great questions!!

  8. Alicia Lacey

    December 17th, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    Thank you for taking the time to thoughtfully respond to each and every one of our questions! I loved reading this and appreciate the time you take to share your knowledge with all of us!! 🙂 🙂

  9. Kate Ann

    December 17th, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    I think it is great that you have an open Q&A! This is fantastic advice!!!

  10. Maureen

    December 17th, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Love all your answers! I’ve been wanting to try film for a while now.

  11. Ashley

    December 17th, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    This is great advice! Love your advice on taking pictures of strangers when in a slump.. How challenging and fun!

    I am absolutely LOVING watching your business flourish and you guys setting yourselves apart! You do such beautiful work!

  12. Renee

    December 17th, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    What an amazing post! You guys rock and I love that you were penpals!

  13. Becca

    December 17th, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    So many great questions! Booked marked this so I can be sure to go through them all!!

  14. Lauren C

    December 18th, 2014 at 12:06 am

    It’s so generous of you guys to offer up your knowledge and experiences in an open Q&A like this! Such great info!

  15. Kathy

    December 18th, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Great questions and answers! So much info!

  16. Josh Gooden

    December 19th, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    So many great questions answered! Really love that you are giving back.

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