September 2016 Q&A – Kirstie Marie Photography Mentorship

September 2016 Q&A

September 02, 2016

I have a entry-level kit camera and lens. Which should I upgrade first, the lens or the camera body? 

Upgrade the lens first. High quality glass will make a huge improvement in your images! Lensesare a longer term investment because the technology isn’t constantly changing. And then, when you are ready, you can upgrade your camera body and use the same lens!

If you were to upgrade your camera body now, once you are ready to purchase a lens you may be tempted to upgrade to the latest and greatest camera all over again.

Once you have finished a shoot with someone how soon do you present the photos to them? Do you let the client see the photos raw or do you edit them all before presenting the photos?

After our shoot, I will post a few previews on social media over the next 1-5 days. Within 3-4 weeks, my client will have their full gallery emailed to them. Every single image is edited — I’ve never delivered a RAW image.

Can you show us some edited and non-edited photos?

 Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 7.23.26 PM Logan-57

 On most edits, I increase exposure and contrast, lift the darks, drop the shadows, and then increase saturation and the hue of the green tones.

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 Sometimes, I also need to correct the white balance or green/magenta tint.

 On an image like the one above, I intentionally underexposed because the sun already set and there wasn’t much available light but I needed to keep my shutter speed high to capture the motion.

 I touch up black backgrounds in PhotoShop. You can find a black background tutorial I wrote here.

What is the key to 3/4 conformation shots? Do I need to get lower to the ground or angle more to the shoulder?

 For most conformation shots, I try to be at or below the withers… which puts you in an awkward half-squat. If you stand straight, you will be shooting down on the horse and making them look smaller. Another key is the lens you are using. The longer the lens (i.e. a 400m), the less distortion there will be. The shorter the lens (i.e. a 35m) the more the horse’s proportions will be distorted.

What information do you include in your welcome packet?

 My welcome packet contains a note from me, clothing suggestions to compliment your body type/skin tone, suggestions on how to coordinate with others (if it is an engagement session or family session), and what to wear to compliment your horse. It also includes how to prepare your horse and yourself for the session. Then I set expectations about the process after our shoot and the products I offer!


Do you give advice or help style your clients?

 My welcome packet goes through a lot of styling advice, but most clients will text me their outfits if they are unsure of what to wear. I am happy to help as much (or as little) as they would like me to!

 You mentioned being prepared for any setting, even high noon/sun…which always trips me up, no matter how hard I try! What’s your strategy for that situation when shooting both person & horse? Just overhead shade? If so, how do you avoid green cast (or do you just fix when processing)?

At high noon, I look for any shade I can get and lead my subjects right to the edge of it. I would recommend that you practice this a lot — maybe even taking 10 minutes worth of pictures in full sun every afternoon! There have been a few occasions where I’ve shot from sun rise all the way past high noon. Those long shoots are helpful in learning how to move with the light and adjust as it slowly changes!

 How you capture action shots with your 85mm?

 I crop. A lot.

So, the question here is how I capture action shots since I don’t have a zoom lens. If my subject is walking straight towards me, I walk backwards to keep the same distance between us. If my subject is running towards me, I use a continuous back button auto-focus and hold the back button down with my thumb while I fire off the shutter with my index finger. When my subject is far away from me, I crop in to get my desired composition.

I am able to crop significantly without compromising (too much) quality because the file size of the D750 is large. I keep my shutter fast and my ISO as low as I can to reduce noise as I crop in.

SmartPak Horse Magazine Cover Editorial by Kirstie Marie Photography_0004 SmartPak Horse Magazine Cover Editorial by Kirstie Marie Photography_0005 SmartPak Horse Magazine Cover Editorial by Kirstie Marie Photography_0006 SmartPak Horse Magazine Cover Editorial by Kirstie Marie Photography_0007 SmartPak Horse Magazine Cover Editorial by Kirstie Marie Photography_0008

What are your Lightroom export settings to get your gorgeous, crisp photos?

 Most of my photos I export out of Lightroom are set to 10″ on the short side and 300dpi.

I don’t sharpen my photos at all – the crispness comes from my 85m lens.

 Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 7.46.22 PM

 How do you set your camera so your photos are so warm-looking before you post process?

 I shoot with manual white balance! Shooting in Kelvin lets me control the temperature in every single scenario! Check out this article on FStoppers for more help 🙂

I start at about 6500, take a picture to test settings, and adjust as needed.

 Do you have any recommendations for a good starter film camera?

 When I started with film, I didn’t start on a “starter” — I jumped straight to the Contax 645. A lot of people will go get an old, cheap Canon or Nikon 35m (depending on which system they shoot) so that they can use their current lenses! I don’t think the model will matter very much, as long as the camera is functional. Then load yourself up with 35m film, put your favorite lens on the camera body, and go!

 Personally, I don’t own a 35m camera yet. But I hope to soon 🙂

Belinda McFadden-217

When you shoot film, do you go in and retouch the images through a software still?

 Absolutely. PhotoVision Prints delivers my film scans as JPGs via Box. I download them, back them up, and then bring them into Lightroom. I might make a few minor adjustments to color as I cull through them and then they get exported with the rest of the gallery. From there, every picture goes through PhotoShop for retouching (if needed).

 What has been your best marketing tool thus far?

 In terms of leads, Facebook has been my number one lead source. I spend the most time on Instagram and I spend the most money on t-shirts, but Facebook has been a huge workhorse for me and continues to be the source of most of my leads.

Victoria Leen-18

 What do you usually wear when you shoot?

 It depends! Especially on the weather. If I know I will be in a field and I’m afraid of snake/bug bites, I wear riding boots and jeans. Otherwise, I wear leggings or shorts with tennis shoes. Sometimes in the winter I wear cute tall boots with jeans or leggings under them. No matter what, I need to be comfortable and very flexible. Most shoots I’m rolling around on the ground, too, so I need to be able to get dirty.

 What are your tricks in getting a horse’s ears up?

 I won’t shoot a horse without an assistant for ears!! First, we start by grabbing attention with motion – any moving object (including people walking around). When motion wears off, we try to grab attention with sound. When sound no longer works, we move to food. All horses are food motivated so we will use hay, grain, treats, candy – anything! My biggest piece of advice is to give the horse ONE thing to look at. Do not overstimulate the horse or give the horse competing places to give attention.  My assistant Jake’s biggest piece of advice would be “it is all about the element of surprise.”

 How do you find opportunities and connections? How have you met your clients?

I started by taking pictures of friends. When I tagged the pictures on Facebook, I was introduced to their friends and my business grew organically by word of mouth referrals and social media introductions. Now my clients might come from social media, mutual relationships, features they have seen in magazines and blogs, Google, etc.

Hannah McDonald-15

 How do you START shooting film? What is the workflow like?   

I bought a film camera (like I said earlier, I went for a Contax 645 but any Nikon or Canon 35m will do), bought some film, used a light meter app on my iPhone (you can also use your digital camera to meter light), and then watched YouTube videos to learn how to load my film. My very first roll I used on two of my friends, who agreed to model for me. I took the film to a local lab (huge mistake… the photos looked terrible, hahaha) but I should’ve shipped them to PhotoVision.

You get the scans back as JPG images so you can manipulate them however you want to in Lightroom or PhotoShop. I back up the files and try to learn a lot by studying my scans, but you can also call your lab to have them answer any questions at all about exposure.

Shoot film is very fun. It causes you to slow down and put a lot of effort into composing each image. It is expensive to make mistakes, but you learn from them much quicker!

Where do you typically order prints from?

 White House Custom Colour

 Mackenzie Preston-114

Have more questions? Follow KMPLearn on Instagram to ask more questions for the next Q&A installment!