I am honored to present the answers to 10 questions submitted to Jasmine Star. Her answers are honest and fun! And she is such an incredible wedding photographer.
I hope you enjoy and learn from her…
I will show the reader’s question in italics and then Jasmine’s answer below it:
Whoot, first commenter!?! My question is: What would you suggest is a first step and/or a good resource for branding. I am overwhelmed, and a little petrified by the subject. I need to set up a blog, and a business card, and don’t know how to make it consistent. A -I don’t have the moolah for a company. Am I going to have to spend time learning how to do it myself? Sounds easy for some, but for me, I’m not THAT computer savvy. This step has been keeping me back from the next step in my business, and that is pretty bad. Any advice appreciated! Thanks to you both.
Because Jessica was the first commenter, I wanted to be sure she got her question answered…I love first commenters! 😉 To be honest, I don’t ever, ever think you should try to do your own logo. It’s quite painful if you’re not a designer and you’ll likely end up with a logo that looks homemade and a tad unprofessional.
When I first started, all I had was a couple Washingtons, two pinto beans, and a bag of flour to pay a graphic designer. Really. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I HAD to invest in branding from the beginning. So, I forwent new lenses and a camera to invest in my brand. And it was so worth it.
I found my first graphic designer at my church. I mentioned to a friend I needed help, and she put me in contact with a guy who just graduated from art school. We spoke about my desires–and my budget–and came to general consensus: I’d pay him $300 to design my logo and business card, as well as shoot his headshots. Now, $300 was A LOT OF MONEY to me, but I saved and invested in what I knew I needed from the beginning. Here’s my first logo:
Since designing my logo, the graphic designer has gone to to start his own clothing company and is doing very well for himself! Makes me feel kinda good that my investment paid off quite well for me! 😉 Here’s my current logo, which is a far greater representation of me:
I actually designed the entire thing myself…but STILL had a graphic designer tweak a few things for me. Why? Because graphic designers just know how to make my ideas prettier. And I’m totally down with that!
I’d like to know what brand of bag are you carrying in your group shoot at WPPI!
I shoot exclusively with the Shootsac ( www.shootsac.com), and it’s changed the way I photograph…I LOVE IT! I’m a single-camera shooter and the Shootsac carries everything I need. This is all I take for an engagement session, and all I carry at a wedding (although my handsome assistant carries the large gear bag).
Jasmine, I am a huge fan of your work and I love your blog! Anyway, my question is about your awesome slide shows, where do you get your music? You always seem to find the perfect song for each session.
Thanks for keeping me inspired! You rock Girl!
To be honest, I’m a music junkie….and I blame my father!
I actually spend time researching and finding the perfect song for a couple. My slideshows are a vital component to my business, so I take the time to ensure they’re a true reflection of each shoot.
Top Three Ways I Find Music:
1. Shazaam. This is an application on my iphone. Whenever I’m out in public and I like a song I hear, I hold my Shazaam application to the music source and it’ll tell me the artist and song title. Amazing! I go home and I buy it immediately.
2. Imeem. If you visit www.imeem.com, you’ll find a vast library of music and playlists created by other people. While I’m editing, I listen to playlists and tag my favorite songs…which later make their way into my slideshows.
3. iTunes. Yes, good ole iTunes. I’ve spent many a day on that site and it just never gets old for me.
Hi Jasmine, I heard you talk on the Free to Succeed Tour and was amazed to hear that you had “never picked up a digital camera before.” But then you proceeded to say that you shot film for years and even had your own darkroom. Why do you claim that you were a novice and all of a sudden, overnight success when you had SLRs and shot film for years? Don’t you feel you’re misrepresenting your experience and abilities? The digital learning curve isn’t THAT big that a film shooter would be unable to master a digital camera in a reasonable period of time.
Yes, it’s true. I never picked up a digital camera before starting my own business. But I do need to clarify that I didn’t shoot film for years. In fact, I shot film my last semester in college. So, roughly three months of film action. And as far as the darkroom is concerned, I never had one…if I could only be so lucky!! The “darkroom” at my college was a converted broom closet (for real), but I made it my own because I loved being in there.
And while I’m sure the digital transition might be easy for most, I was entirely self-taught with my film camera, and entirely self-taught with a digital camera. I’m not that smart, so I think it might have taken me longer than most. If you have any tips for newbies, please be sure to pass them along in the comment box. The last thing I’d want to be is a misrepresentation, so I hope this answered your suspicions.
First off I love your work and how you basically gave it all up to follow your passion. I too would do the same they if I had it to do all over again and would have discovered my passion early on in life as you were so fortunate to have. Can you tell me from a behind the camera perspective, what are the 5 most important things you did to develop your technical skills as a photographer?
And I’m being TOTALLY serious. When I first started, that’s all I ever heard…and I hated it. I wanted there to be some magic equation or book I could read, but it doesn’t exist. Nothing in the world substitutes practice and hardcore shooting. When I got my first Canon 20D, I practiced ALL>THE>TIME! I’d practice for hours learning how to shoot manually with a chair in my dining room, with the orange tree in my backyard, with JD and Polo. Practice and shoot shoot shooting is the only way to get better.
J* You are such a Diva for sharing your knowledge and inspire us all! I just had one question, during this tough economy, How has that changed your pricing or has it? Would you suggest lowering it or not during this down time for us photographers? Ok that was 2 questions, oops!
LOL Thanks darlin! To be honest, three or four months ago, I wanted to change my pricing. Badly. I wasn’t booking at the same rate I was last year and I was worried. Very worried. Jd and I had a serious conversation about what we should do and he was firm in his belief that we should stick it out and stay true to our goals for growth. I worked hard at procuring higher-end weddings, so to lower my prices would be two steps in the wrong direction.
Like always, JD was right. Yes, it’s taken me longer to book weddings, but we’re right on track for the year and I’m beyond thrilled with my clients for the year!
I would like to echo Tracy’s comment and find out more of how you direct people you are shooting. I find myself telling people to ‘act natural’ or ‘pretend I’m not here, just be yourselves’, yet oftentimes they still look stiff and uncomfortable. What do you say or do to set them at ease and allow you to capture those beautiful moments?
Hmmm, this is a little tough to answer…only because I’m not even sure if I do anything other than be myself. Perhaps that’s key. Being yourself puts your clients at ease. For the first ten minutes of every shoot, I talk with my clients…I feel them out, and listen to what’s being said in the in-between. I work hard to figure out who they are and how they love. Once the ball gets rolling, I just try making them have fun and be fabulous. I do this by:
1. Making them laugh!
2. Giving them things to do with their bodies. If you’re clients look uncomfortable, it’s because they are! I always ask myself, How can I make them look like they’re having fun? The answer is usually an idea that I try to make work. Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t. If you’re clients don’t have anything to do, the shoot will likely be boring. And who wants that?!
3. Show them what to do. This is really important. If you say “Be natural” or “Have fun” you’re clients will look at you like you asked them to lay an egg. Who has fun on command? Who is natural on command? SHOW them how to be natural…SHOW them how to have fun. You’re the director of the shoot, so you gotta make things work. Can I get an amen? 😉
Hello Jasmine, I’d like to know how much direction you give your clients. DO you prepare the posing in advance or does everyone shows up and you improvise?Is there much preparation involved for you? Thanks
This made me laugh…perhaps I SHOULD be preparing in advance! 😉
There is no preparation or planning on my part, as I prefer improvisation. If I planned everything, it may look too contrived, so I definitely stay away from thinking too much. Besides, thinking makes my head hurt, so I just don’t do it.
Jasmine Star has been a favorite of mine since her old blog days, the inspiration she provides is unmeasurable for those just starting their wedding photography business. She started doing a FAQ series of posts that answers a ton of your posted questions. Here’s the link to her FAQ posts. http://www.jasminestarblog.com/index.cfm?q=FAQ&x=24&y=12
-Enjoy and be duly inspired!! Chris, YOU ROCK!
I have ALWAYS wanted to ask Jasmine if she shoots an entire wedding alone, or if JD helps, or an assistant. Shooting a big wedding (large wedding party) at a big venue is so much work and I’d love for her what she does and how she manages.
JD shoots with me at every wedding. There’s no way I’d ever want to shoot a wedding alone. I’d be so lonely I’d likely sit next to the groom’s grandma and cry from boredom!
So, this is how it works: I shoot the entire wedding as if I’m shooting it alone. And JD shoots everything I can’t see. He shots are just so darn beautiful because they are 100% photojournalistic and he often captures my favorite images. Basically, I serve the meat, and JD serves the veggies, mashed potatoes, and salad. He completes my meal…..awwwww! 😉
How do you get them to “smile with their eyes”?
I show them! If you need help learning how to smile with your eyes, watch a few episodes of America’s Next Top Model with Tyra Banks and you’ll be a pro in no time!
Hi J*! I’m interested in learning more about your workflow. So once you get your RAW edit back do you process through Lightroom and pick photos to add actions to in PS? What’s your workflow routine? Thanks J* you are a rockstar!!
I think this answer will be WAY too long to get into, but here’s a basic breakdown:
1. I outsource my raw processing to Photographer’s Edit – www.photographersedit.com
2. While my files are being outsourced, I keep the files I want to work on myself. These are the files I want to use as portfolio pieces, blog photos, and slideshow images.
3. Once I blog the images and slideshow, I upload a Favorites folder to an online gallery.
4. Photographer’s Edit uploads the edited jpegs to the online gallery
5. The event is released to the client.
The lovely people at Photographer’s Edit are offering a 20% discount for first time users if you’re interested. At checkout, just type in jstar as the promo code and it’ll be discounted!
I’d love to know what your all-time favorite lens is….the one that is “always” on your camera? Thanks!
Hands down, it’d be my 50mm, 1.2. If I could shoot with one lens for the rest of my life, this would be it. If you’d like to read more about my lens preferences, check out this link and I hope it’ll help: http://jasminestarblog.com/index.cfm?postID=448
Since it appears all of the questions I thought of have been asked I will go in a different direction.
– What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
– When you go out in public on a non-work day, like maybe a quick run to the grocery store, do you ever go out in your grubby jeans/clothes with your hair/makeup not in the best shape? : ) I do that and I get flack about it all the time from my mother. She is a much more proper lady then I.
Okay, Sharon, you and I are going to be fast friends…I JUST KNOW IT!
Favorite flavor of ice cream? Anything that starts with B and ends with EN&JERRY.
If I go to the grocery store with makeup, it’s a miracle. No, really. Most days you’ll find me in Lululemon workout clothes and flip-flops. You’d think I’d like to get all gussied up for a big trip to grab oranges and toilet paper, but NAH. I prefer the I-just-rolled-out-of-bed look…I’m sure it’s so becoming!