29 April, 2008

Dear Natalie.

Read the actual Dear Natalie letter here.

Here we go!

- How and when did you get started?

When I was about 12 or 13 we went on a family vacation across the country in our motor home. My Daddy put me in charge of the photography for the trip. It was an old, crap camera. I shot roll after roll after roll of film. When I got it back from the developer. . . I felt like crying. I can still remember the physical pain in my chest over how awful the pictures were. Fast forward about 8 or 9 years. I get married and Daddy gives me a Sony Cyber-Shot 5.0 Mega Pixel camera as a wedding gift. Hoot hoot! Kids came, love for photography grew. Splurged on my first dslr, Nikon d70s, 2 years ago. I still shoot with that camera to this day. . . although my new love affair will begin in about a week when my Canon 5d arrives! I'm drooling over this camera!!

Ok, so basically I had my first professional job exactly one year ago next week! It was a wedding that a friend of mine referred to me. I was SO freaked out of my mind and SO excited all at the same time. And well, a year later, here I am. Painfully in love with my kids, my husband and my job as a photographer.

- What software do you use to post-process your photos?

Up until about a month ago the only software I used on my photos was Apple's Aperture. It's a great program! I basically just used exposure and contrast adjustments, very minor ones. . . so basically I probably could have just been using Iphoto. . . anyway, about a month ago I purchased Photoshop CS3. I figured it was time to play with the big dogs.

- Are there certain "actions" or "presets" that you use on all of your photos? {They always look so dreamy and whimsical.}

I have a few feelings about "actions." They should be used SPARINGLY. Not to say not to use them. I do, I use them. . . I've created one* that I love and use pretty regularly. The problem with actions is that they make it tempting to mask poopy work rather than enhance work that is already superior. If you're not careful, Photoshop has a tendency to make for lazy photographers. You'll find that you stop learning and pushing yourself to improve your skills because you know you can just "fix" your mistake afterwards. There's nothing WRONG with that mentality per say. . . I really do feel that a good image is a good image is a good image. PERIOD. I say that all the time. But my personal passion is for PHOTOGRAPHY not PHOTOSHOPOGRAPHY. I want to get shots that rock SOTC (straight out of the camera). I don't really enjoy ploppin' it down in front of the computer for hours editing a crappy shoot to get it up to par. But that's just me. I'm sure that there are people out there who feel the same passion for photoshop that I feel for photography and they go crazy with it and LOVE it. Cool. To each his own.

* The action that I created and use frequently was totally a fluke thing. My sister-in-law Heather was trying to explain to me how to create an action. I fiddled around with it, couldn't figure it out, so just went back to editing. . . the suddenly I realized that I was actually recording all the steps I was taking with the image I was working on. . .and before I knew it an action was born! I named her Contrast, because all she really does is slightly lighten the image, add contrast and burn the edges a bit. Small Kine. I'm planning a post entitled "All About Actions" that will go up soon, either here or on DPS. I'll give you the scoop on how to create your own actions, what's out there for purchase, and what you should keep in mind before you buy.

- How much time do you devote to editing your images? {That is so draining!}

Editing used to take me forever. . . yes VERY draining! Well it used to take me no time at all actually. . .then when I got photoshop about a month ago it started to take forever because I didn't have a darn clue what I was doing. I think I was trying to do more to images than I actually wanted to. Now that I've simplified and gotten a system down. It really isn't so bad at all. Maybe a little bit under time for time for a regular session. . . like an hour shooting a 45 min editing. . . something like that. For a wedding it totally depends on what the couple is paying me for.

- What type of PC do you use?

I'm a mac girl. A PROUD mac girl.

- What's in your bag?

For the last year I've been shooting with a Nikon D70s. My primary lens (like my 99% of the time lens) is an 18-200mm. I LOVED it to learn on. Very versatile. I also have a 105mm that is A.MAZING. I'm starting my equipment overhaul next week, so I'll do a "What's in YOUR bag Natalie Norton" as soon as the transition is complete! Stay Tuned.

- Other than your camera, what do you bring with you on your shoots?

Energy. I do my best to rise to the occasion. I'm often wrangling crazy kids at shoots. . . and I need every ounce of zest for life I can possibly find to stay on top of things. I know this may sound silly to some, but I try to remember to pray before every shoot. I take my job VERY seriously. I want to do the VERY best I can, every time. I know that I'm at my best when I ask for help from God.

Oh, and a stool, and a 5 in 1 reflector that I VERY rarely use. I don't know why I even bring it. Ha ha!

- Do you always shoot in RAW?

YES. 100% yes.

Ok one and all. . . there's the scoop. Feel free to ask follow up
questions in the comments below. I'd be glad to do a follow up post.

Happy Shooting!




Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you did this post. You answered many questions I had for you. :-)

A year as a pro? Wow, you can pat yourself on the back for what you've accomplished.

BTW - if you want a buyer for your 18-200mm, it would look great on my D40. ;-)

shelly said...

This is WONDERFUL, Natalie! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this! I have watched you grow into an AWESOME photographer....and I'm especially grateful because you're the mother of our beautiful grandsons!! Keep these posts coming -- I'm learning so much and getting inspired with my own photography all over again...after all these years:)

Aditya Rao said...

wow... great story!!!
and yes, RAW is cool.. and Photoshop Lightroom for processing.... :)

I click with d80 and kit lens 18-135 mm...love it... :)


{Erica} said...

agree 100% regarding the actions. However, I have my own recorded actions set to defog and color boost my pics and just batch process them. They are slight changes and it saves me a lot of time!

Loved that you touched on the fact that you don't need to have photoshop to edit pics...if your picture is a good quality shot to begin with you really need just minimal changes. I used PS elements for a long time until I decided to splurge and get CS3, but could've continued using elements. It's good to let others out there know they don't need to make that big of a purchase if they don't want to.

And totally dig that you said "small kine" in your answer. :)

taryn said...

natalie, thank you for taking the time out to answer all of my questions. i look forward to reading more posts like these in the future!! again, thank you, thank you!

Karen Long said...

Natalie thank you so much for the answers... I'm just now starting to figure out what all those buttons are for on my D80 and to know that you just started as a pro a year ago gives me SOOOOO much hope! I just about fell out of my chair when I read that! Girl, you ROCK!

Heather said...

I do have a question- I'm 98% sure that you can't interchange Nikon/Canon lenses, or even film lenses for that matter. Is this true? Somewhere in my storage I think I have a pretty cool Nikon film lens (not SUPER old), but could I put it on my Canon 30D? Do you know anything about that?

Natalie. said...

Yeah. . . sorry Heather. . . alas. . .

Annie Link said...

I so happy. I so proud of you!

Annie Link said...

Call me quick. I want to talk about your mainland trip . . . I've been doing a little scheming. have you booked your tickets yet?

Erin said...

This was very fun. It is always interesting to see how other people got started.

I'm Crackerjack said...

Natalie, thank you for the post. I am so appreciative that you always give the dirt so readily. I'm a huge fan.

Natalie. said...

Well CJ, bless your little heart! Trust that the dirt will continue to roll from here . . . in a good way. . . hmm. ;)