Frequently Asked Questions by Photographers
Due to the number of emails I get asking various things about me and my business, I thought I'd put together an FAQ that answers some of the more comment questions I am asked.
Q. How did you learn photography?
A. I developed an interest in photography at high school and completed a short course in black and white film photography. I loved it so much, I forgoed my dream of becoming a vet and instead went on to complete a Diploma of Photography, a two year TAFE course in Toowoomba. I then studied web (multimedia) and graphic design, and eventually ended up pursuing a career as a designer which I worked as for the next 5 years. I continued taking photos for my own enjoyment and purchased my first digital SLR (a trusty old Canon 350D) in 2006. In 2007, to help me get back into the swing of photography, I completed a 365 photo-a-day project which was the best thing I could have done. Picking up the camera on a daily basis and striving to see the world in a new way each day was just what I needed.
Q. How did you get into pet photography?
In early 2007 I met, fell head over heels in love with, and brought home a fawn Great Dane named Kaya. To document the first year of Kaya's life I decided to start a blog and post images and stories about her life, told from her perspective. The blog proved to be quite popular and I really enjoyed taking photos of Kaya and her doggy friends, so considered the idea of getting back into photography as a profession and specialising in dogs. I started out doing free shoots for my friends' dogs and built up a portfolio of work. I created a website to display my work, had some business cards printed up and I was off and racing!
Q. Please share with us the story of Kaya, your Great Dane?
Kaya, my first Great Dane, is now running free on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. At just two years old, she was diagnosed with a fast moving form of cancer that allowed us just a week with her before we had to let her go. Anyone who followed her blog will tell you she was a very special girl - beautiful, inquisitive, vain, and very, very clever. She could analyse a situation immediately and knew exactly what was going on, always confident but never dominant. She was friendly to dogs and people alike and I also swear she had a sense of humour! A natural model, she always knew her best side for the camera and was eternally patient with me using her as a test subject for my photographic experimentations. She was my best friend and muse, and I miss her dearly.
Q. Please tell us a bit about Luna?
Luna joined the family 9 months after Kaya and it was immediately obvious she was very different in personality. Serious and introverted where Kaya was carefree and friendly, they immediately became best friends, balancing each other perfectly. Kaya always used to let Luna think she was the boss, I think for her own amusement, but really it was Luna who was the follower, quietly adoring her older sister and always looking up to her. Luna did have her cheeky moments however!
Now that Luna is on her own, her personality has emerged further. She's still a bit distant with people she doesn't know, but once you're counted as her 'friend', she's always happy to see you and loves to be around you. She likes nothing more than a visit to the beach with her friends and treats it as a pack that must be kept together at all times, checking up on everyone at regular intervals and often rounding people up who stray behind! At nearly five years old now, Luna has a very silly side and at times and acts like a big puppy. She loves her toys and is always up for a game of slow motion chase, which involves you walking around after her pretending to try and get her toy while she prances along thinking she's very clever.
The photo blog that started off as just Kaya then progressed to 'The Adventures of Kaya and Luna', is now carried on by just Luna, documenting her adventures as told from her point of view. Luna is so popular she also has her own Facebook page.
Q. How would you describe your "style"?
I like to try and keep images looking natural and timeless, so steer clear of applying effects and trendy editing. I go for vibrant (but not oversaturated) colour, beautiful lighting and make sure the subject is crisp, clear and separate from the background.
Q. What kind of camera and lenses do you use?
I use a Canon 5D Mark II body. Attached is my Canon 24-70 f.2.8 L series lens (about 50% of the time), 50mm f1.4 (about 30% of the time) and Canon 70-200 f2.8 L series (about 20% of the time). The 70-200 is great for action, where there is lots of light and I can hang back a little and take sneaky spy shots. The 24-70 is a great all-rounder. I use this one mainly when working with the pet as it allows flexibility with shooting distance. My favourite lens is the 50, I love the look of the images that it produces especially at shallow apertures. I often get it out towards the end of the session when the pet is getting more relaxed and the light is fading.
Q. Which exposure and autofocus modes do you shoot on?
I like to get exposure perfect in camera so shoot in full manual exposure mode (M) about 99% of the time. In highly variable lighting conditions I sometimes shoot in aperture priority mode.
My camera is nearly always set to use the centre focusing point. I use One Shot autofocus mode when working directly with the dog and setting up shots against attractive backgrounds where the subject isn't moving too much. This allows me to focus and re-compose which results in flexibility of composition. If the subject is moving, I'll often change to AI Servo mode, which lets the autofocus track the subject.
Q. Do you use artificial lighting or flash in any of your on-location shots?
For on-location sessions I use no artificial lighting but very occasionally I use a soft white reflector to bounce light back into shadowed areas in low or difficult light situations, or if the subject is exceedingly backlit.
Q. How do you edit your photos?
I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 to download, sort and finalise selected images from a session, and also apply basic adjustments such as cropping, white balance, highlight and shadow recovery, exposure, clarity, contrast and vibrance. I am for 30 images to show the client, and up to 45 if it was a two dog session. I then export the final images as PSD files to Photoshop CS6 and run them through some custom actions I've created for further sharpening, colour and contrast. The images are then imported back into Lightroom where they sit ready for batch processing, depending on their eventual destination.
If there is something that I am missing here, please send me an email, but please be patient in waiting for a reply as my clients are priority!