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POTW March 8 - 14: crystalahale!

Posted by on Mar. 8, 2009 at 3:17 PM
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crystalahale (ME!) is the Photographer of the Week!

Feel free to ask questions (about photography or my life), give CC, or ask for shots from my life!

A little about me:

My name is Crystal Adrianna Hale, and I'm 27 years old until August! I have been married to Brian, my highschool sweetheart, for 2.5 years, and we have a son named Vaughn who is almost 2 (May 7!). We actually found out we were expecting our first child on the morning of our wedding, which was also Brian's birthday! It was quite a big day. :) We will start trying to conceive our second child around Vaughn's 2nd birthday!

I have always loved taking pictures, and even considered majoring in photography in college, but went in another direction and didn't get serious about learning photography until my husband bought me my first DSLR in 2006. I have soaked up all the information I could from that moment until now! I started taking clients in 2007, at first offering free sessions for portfolio-building, as I'm sure you have all done, or will be doing as soon as you feel comfortable! I am finding myself in kind of a catch-22 right now, with not much time to devote to photography clients, while at the same time realizing that the more clients I can take, the fewer hours I would need to work in my day job... My goal for this year is to get more disciplined about creating and distributing printed business advertisements to increase my client volume. I just need to suck it up and be BUSY this year so I can build a client base and become able to drop some hours at my day job.

I work 60 hours per week as a nanny for two wonderful boys. They are 8-year-old twins and I have been with them for the past 5.5 years. The "older" twin is an amazing, precocious, active, and intelligent ball of energy! The "younger" twin is a sweet, affectionate, hardworking boy with autism who is just smart as a whip! The majority of my work week is spent working on the younger twin's therapy and homeschool programs, which is very, very challenging and very, very rewarding. My one day per week with the older twin is more relaxing and spontaneous. Their parents are great employers and friends, and my sister-in-law works as a nanny for them as well, so I get to spend quite a bit of time with her, which is great.

Those are the basics about me, I guess! Feel free to ask me anything you're interested in knowing! Here are a few favorite shots. I'm working on not always posting the same favorite shots... LOL... but please pardon me if you've seen them a million times before. :)

My son...

a few clients...

(I make tutus, too :))

and a couple of nature shots...

Ok, I think that's quite enough for now!

Can't wait to hear your questions... :)

by on Mar. 8, 2009 at 3:17 PM
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Replies (1-10):
airforcewife058
by on Mar. 9, 2009 at 12:48 AM

This is great getting to know you on a more personal level...Love this idea of photographer of the week! Ok a few questions....What camera do you shoot with and any accessories (external flashes, studio lighting what editing programs?) Have you ever taken any classes in photography or are you completely self taught? How much editing or post processing goes into your photos? Can you post any pics from when you first started learing so we can see how much you hav advanced? Can't wait to hear your responses!!!

RASL30
by on Mar. 9, 2009 at 8:50 AM

Awesome!  I second the PP's questions!

miggo5
by on Mar. 9, 2009 at 10:13 AM

Beautiful pics.  I am also wondering the answers to the above questions. 

kelly132
by on Mar. 9, 2009 at 10:28 AM

I love your pictures!!!! I am curious about your studio. I am wanting to start one and have no where to start and I love the way your pictures are lighted and the backgrounds. What suggestions would you have for me to get a studio started?

beastie_bchick
by on Mar. 9, 2009 at 12:43 PM

WOW I can definatly say you can go ahead and quit your day job ; )


crystalahale
by on Mar. 9, 2009 at 9:54 PM

What camera do you shoot with and any accessories (external flashes, studio lighting what editing programs?)

I shoot with a Nikon D50. I would love to upgrade, but I feel that I need to be making more of a profit before I put even more money into my business! My obstacle to that is just TIME! lol I just need to bite the bullet and deal with it... As for accessories, I love my speedlight when paired with the ABBC (www.abetterbouncecard.com) and PS CS2. Other small things... remote shutter release, tripod, and magnifying filters. I rent time and equipment from a friend's studio when I need it - White Lightning strobes with umbrellas, backdrops, posing tools, etc..., and also have a set of hand-me-down continuous lights. I really hate them, but I can use them in a pinch when combined with my speedlight. Those photos just take more brightening in PP and I don't like to do that for quality's sake.

Have you ever taken any classes in photography or are you completely self taught?

I don't consider myself self-taught... I have learned so much from books and other wonderful photographers in forums like this. Books, peers, and experience are my teachers!

How much editing or post processing goes into your photos?

My goal is always to "get it right" at the moment of pressing the shutter release. I don't always hit that mark, but with experience, my average has gone up. ;-) What I strive for is that each photo I open will be correct in terms of exposure, focus, and white balance, pleasingly composed, and that my DOF and motion-capturing goals have been met. If they have, I simply adjust the curves in my RAW editor, open it into PS, run any actions I want on it, flatten, save, websize, watermark, sharpen, and save again before closing. When it's time to place orders, I open the full-size file again (only one re-save after converting to jpeg), crop to the needed ratios (duplicating the image for the number of ratios needed), sharpen, save, and close!

Was that too much info? LOL

Can you post any pics from when you first started learing so we can see how much you hav advanced?

Sure! Everyone has to start somewhere and there's no shame in that! I'll post a few from when I first started in manual on my DSLR... and keep in mind that I did tons of editing at that point to get them to an "acceptable" state. I should try to upload some SOOCs, too, if I can find them...

My son as a newborn (May 2007):

My niece at 2yo (Oct. 2007):

My bro, SIL, and niece, also in Oct. 2007:

These were all taken with natural light - I think that's the first very important lesson I learned. :)

ForeverTheirMom
by on Mar. 9, 2009 at 10:03 PM

Your Pictures are Beautiful!! I absolutely LOVE the one with the baby and the tutu.

Okay my question...........If  you use lighting....What do you use? I am interested in learning about studio lighting. I have the natural lighting down. Its the studio lighting that intimadates me. Any suggestions for beginners?

crystalahale
by on Mar. 9, 2009 at 10:09 PM

Thanks!

Well, I'm afraid I won't be as much help as I would like to be! The shot on a white background was taken in a friend's studio. I rent time and equipment from her as I need it. What she does is simply rent an office in the basement of an office building. She has White Lightning strobes with umbrellas and hangs her seamless paper backdrops on curtain rods mounted to the back wall. She uses a big piece of plywood for the "floor" of the backdrop, to prevent the paper from getting crumpled against the carpet.

The shot on a black background was shot in my home. The room I use is TINY - maybe 10x10? It has big windows, but this client came too late to use any natural light. I had two continuous lights with Daylight Balanced Fluorescent bulbs, plus my speedlight pointing straight up with ABBC turned backward. The backdrop stand is very ghetto. LOL. Made from PVC pipes, with backdrop duct-taped on. I had to use a very wide angle lens (probably 18mm on my zoom?) because of the tight quarters, and due to the crappy lights, did have to brighten quite a bit in PS.

SO, as for advice? I personally prefer to shoot on-location with natural light + my speedlight (and the operating costs are considerably less!), but if you must have a studio, absolutely, 100% save up for good quality strobes! Alien Bees at least. No one is ever happy with continuous lights for long. The only reason I have them is because they were handed down to me. If you have a space in your home that you can use, so much the better, at least while you're starting out. If not, depending on your area, you might pay anywhere from $300 - $1000 a month to rent space for a studio.

Good luck!

Quoting kelly132:

I love your pictures!!!! I am curious about your studio. I am wanting to start one and have no where to start and I love the way your pictures are lighted and the backgrounds. What suggestions would you have for me to get a studio started?


annettenikole
by on Mar. 10, 2009 at 1:48 AM

hey!  Loved reading about you!  I just wanted to say I love your photos... the kids always look so sweet and almost angelic in them :-)  Oh, and I love your help and CC... just reading what you write about others has helped me to grow!

Mom2SavRynShai
by on Mar. 10, 2009 at 12:16 PM

Your photos are amazing! I just can't wrap my head around getting the right settings, I hope eventually I can and I can get some amazing shots like yours.

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