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Photography Advice: Questions from Julie T.

I get a lot of emails from people who want advice! As much as I love to help, I am not always able to respond to every email in detail. It could easily take up hours of my time a day, and I don’t always have the time. So I’ve decided to start a new section to my blog–Photography Advice! When I do have time to respond to an email…and then also have time to blog…I’ll post the questions and answers from the emails. I figured it will help you guys out, plus also save a little time as I can direct people back to this section when I get repeat questions. So here is an email from Julie T. from, oh, you know, a few months ago, that I finally have the time to respond to.

1) If you could tell me one thing that you wished you knew starting out…(business) what would it be?
Oh goodness, you hit me with the hard questions! I can’t think of one thing in particular. It’s a growing process that takes time and stages. If I had tried to implement business strategies and solutions I currently use in the beginning of my business, I would have failed. You have to take each stage in stride, and constantly reevaluate what you are doing, how you are approaching your business, your prices, etc, to keep yourself in line with your talent. It’s hard to evaluate yourself, but you have to. And you can’t just say “oh, that’s good enough,” you have to humble yourself and always be on the lookout for ways to improve and learn.

2) How long did it take for you to truly consider yourself a “Professional Photographer”?
3-4 years. I called myself a “semi-professional” until I felt comfortable enough to finally declare myself professional. I preferred to be very honest about my abilities rather than talk myself up and set myself up for failure. I think it is absolutely essential to NOT over-sell. You are who/what you are, and you always need to find clients who want who and what you are right now. And let’s face it, there is a huge learning curve in photography. There is absolutely no one who starts and is professional quality on day 1. We all have so much to learn, so you have to be at a point where you feel comfortable with your talent to consider yourself a professional. It will be a different time period for everyone. I know a girl who picked up a camera for the first time, and less than a year later was turning out the most professional, beautiful photos. That is not common, but it can happen! Also, from a legal standpoint, you are not liable for damages, mistakes, etc if you are not posing as a professional. If you make it very clear that you are NOT professional, people can’t sue you and take you for all you’re worth. Once you become a professional, business insurance is a must.

3) If you could only have 2 lenses, which ones would they be and why?
I love my 24-70 2.8L. It was the very first “nice” lens I purchased. When I bought it, I still had the Canon xti as my primary camera, which is similar to putting a king on a wild boar. But boy did it make my wild boar take some sweet photos (with my guidance, of course). I have now had that lens for 4 years and it is still my most versatile lens. The second is the 50 1.4 (or if you don’t have the money to spend, it’s little brother, the 50 1.8). There’s a huge difference between the 1.4 and 1.8, but the 1.8 is a GREAT lens for the beginner to start playing around with the wide range of aperture. I used the 1.8 for about 3 years before upgrading to the 1.4. The difference is amazing, but I still think the 1.8 is a great starter lens.

4) What has helped you the most in learning about light in photography?
Practice. Nothing in this world can compensate for practice. It takes hours and hours and hours and hours and….you get the point. It takes a lot of practice. I see a lot of photographers who want to jump in and skip the necessary time it takes to learn, but no amount of book-smarts can take the place of practice. Yes, you can learn a LOT through online tutorials, books, and seminars–I know I have! But you have to spend a lot of time practicing to become comfortable enough with the principles you need to use in every session.

Hope that helps you guys out! Thanks for the questions, Julie T!
-RM <3

If you have questions you’d like to see featured in the Photography Advice section of my blog, please email me at {info @ rebeccamanneyphotography . com}. Due to time restrictions (I’m a one man show over here), I will not be able to respond to every inquiry, and many responses will be delayed, but I’ll do my best!

david - March 30, 2012 - 8:46 pm


Thank you for being you! Keep on doing it!

Quick technical question:
Is the (signature) bokeh of your pictures a result of constant 85mm use or post-edit work?

Flawless–I can’t tell the difference either way. I’d really love to know the answer to this riddle though- It’s bugging me! hahaha

Also, I am jealous of your idea to donate the “Agape” session.
Great word.

Much thanks,
David Reagan

Rebecca - April 3, 2012 - 7:30 am

Hi David! Thanks for your kind comments!

The bokeh in my pictures is all in-camera from using a large aperture (generally f/2.0 or f/2.5). I have a 50mm prime lens and an 85mm prime lens with which I achieve this effect. I always shoot with a very narrow depth of focus, which means you have to be right on with your focus point or you miss the shot completely (which I do sometimes). But it’s worth it to get the effect I’m going for!

As for the Agape Sessions, anyone can offer those! I wouldn’t feel like you were “stealing” my idea if you did something similar. I’d be happy to be the inspiration for another such program! :)


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