Christine Chang Photography Blog » Recent work, Photo Tips, & Random Rants by Christine Chang.

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  • Christine Chang

    Wedding Photographer. Adventurer. Ninja.

    Lover of brussels sprouts, chubby dogs, and theme parks.

    My interest in photography began in grade school. I would set up my "portrait studio” in the living room by hanging a bed sheet and shining house lamps toward it. Fast forward 20 years and today I am living my dream as a worldwide photographer based in Los Angeles.

    Here you will find some of my recent work along with adventures, personal growth, and other random banter.

Last week I had an open Q&A on Facebook.  THANK YOU to everyone who participated.  I’ll be having an open Q&A on Facebook again in the near future in case anyone has any more questions!

1.What’s the best camera for a beginner photographer?

My first DSLR was the Canon Rebel and I loved it.  I used it for a couple years before switching over to the Canon 5D.  I think the Canon Rebel with a 50mm1.8 lens is a great starter set.  More info about this topic here.

2. What are some tips you can give a subject to help out the photographer?

People tend to freeze up when there is a camera pointed at them.  The best thing your subject can do is relax, and as a photographer, it’s up to you to make them feel comfortable.  Talk to them.  Build Rapport.  Being photogenic has nothing to do with the way someone looks, but how they feel in front of the camera.  If you have trouble getting people to relax in front of the camera, ask yourself “Am I comfortable giving direction?.”  If you aren’t, people will pick up on it and in return they won’t be comfortable with you.  Here are 7 tips for Photographing People.

3. What inspired your deep passion for photography?

How do I put this? I AM ONE SENTIMENTAL SAP.

4. What lens would you recommend for an engagement shoot?

The two lenses I use during an engagement shoot are the 50mm 1.2 and the 70-200mm 2.8.  I feel like an engagement shoot is more about the people versus the surrounding, so I don’t think a wide angle is necessary.  If I had to pick only one lens to bring with me to an engagement shoot, it would be the 50mm 1.2 or the 24-70mm 2.8.  More on my favorite lenses here.

5. Sometimes when I take pictures it comes out too dark or too bright. Can you give me some tips?

If your pictures are too dark, you are underexposing.  If they are too bright, you are overexposing.  Shoot in manual mode and you will have complete control over how dark or bright your pictures turn out.  If you shoot in any of the Auto modes (Auto, P, Av, Tv), the camera is going to give an automatic exposure that can sometimes not be what you want.  Digital cameras nowadays come with a light meter inside the camera so you can see where your exposure is.  Here is a video I made that explains how important it is to learn to shoot in Manual mode.

6. Are you single? If so go to the next question.

Yes.

7. If single, does shooting weddings make you want to get married more or less?

I like weddings.  I am drawn to them.  It’s fun.  It’s a celebration.  People have different ideas about what love and marriage mean to them.  I have a pretty clear idea of what it means to me, and when I see a couple celebrating their love the way I think I’d celebrate it, that’s when I think it would be really cool to get married.

8. I am focusing on wedding/portrait/lifestyle photography. If I have a 50mm 1.4, do you think it is necessary to get a 24-70mm as well or do you think the 50mm already covers your midrange, and I should just focus on a Wide Angle like a 16-35mm or 20-35mm on a full frame?

If you plan to shoot weddings then I would recommend getting the 24-70mm 2.8 as well.  I used that as my primary lens for a few years.  It’s great for mid-range and sometimes, when you are shooting something as unpredictable as a wedding, it’s good to have more flexibility.  If you get the 24-70mm then you can probably hold off on getting the 16-35mm 2.8.  I used to have the 16-5mm and stopped using it.  Then again, I’m just not a wide angle user.

9. How do you stay organized (and healthy!) with all of your events, travels, blog posts and still keep a great social media presence?

Organization does not come easy to me.  It’s the artist in me.  The main things I do to keep organized:

– I don’t overbook.  It’s actually a rule I give myself now – to not shoot more than 2 weddings per month.  It gives me more time with my couples and I’m able to work on business and engagement sessions in between without getting stressed out.  I’m all about quality, not quantity, and for that reason I shoot less and charge more.

– I hire people to do the things that I don’t like or I’m not good at (i.e. bookkeeping, graphic design, etc.)

– I have a dry erase calendar on my wall that maps out the major events for me.  I’m old school –  I like to see the whole year (really big) in front of me and neither Google Calendar or an iPhone can do that.

Blogging and social media take a lot of time.  Lucky for me, I like doing it.  Every Monday and Wednesday I devote my afternoon to writing blog posts.  As for updating, I use HootSuite to update most of my social media platforms.  I’m pretty self-expressed so it comes natural to make time to share things I like on Facebook.  If Blogging or social media is not something you enjoy doing, I would hire someone to take care of it.

On staying healthy:

-I meditate, I do yoga, and photography is kind of a work out in of itself!  It is pretty physically intense carrying around all that equipment.  I’m also a generally healthy eater.  My priority is taking care of my mind and what I put into my body.  If I’m good there then I can perform well in all other areas.

10. I want to buy a new camera but don’t know what to look for exactly. I’ve only ever used Nikon products and was wondering if Canon would be better, also how to tell what cameras would be better than others without having to buy them all try them out.

The best thing you can do is go to a camera store to play with the different models.  You can also rent cameras and lenses.  I shoot with Canon because that is what I’ve always shot with.  Whether it’s better than Nikon, that is up to each individual.  I honestly think that Canon and Nikon are both strong brands and you can’t go wrong with either of them.  The first DSLR camera I had was the Canon Rebel with a 50mm 1.8 lens.  I loved it.  More about this topic here.

11. How did you get to work with celebrities?

I’ve gotten most of my celebrity gigs through event planners and publicists, and I’ve met most of these people at casual parties or through friends.  One of the event planners who gets me a lot of celebrity gigs I got to know because I applied to work for her when I first moved to LA!  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a photographer so I went on Craigslist to look for day jobs.  I interviewed at this event planning company and got turned down for the position.  The office manager saw my photos and told me that I should be taking pictures (thanks Lauren!).  A few months later she called and asked if I was available to shoot a celebrity party.  From that day I’ve been one of their go-to photographers.

12. Do you have an agent/representation?

I do not, but I have thought about getting a publicist recently.

13. Where do you see your business going? Do you have a business plan/goal?

I see myself continuing to shoot weddings (mainly destination!), teaching photography, writing a book, and doing seminars.

I’m not a huge planner but my ultimate goal in life is to travel the world, eat good food, take pictures, and have wonderful shared experiences with others.

14. How did you get started in photography?

My mom bought me my first SLR camera for my birthday.   As soon I got that thing, I did not put it down for days.  Eager to learn, I shot anything and everything.  Nature, food, my new adopted dog…I would even set up “fashion” shoots with friends.

It wasn’t long before I decided I wanted to do this as a job.  My friend Linda (thank you Pinda!) helped me build a website.  I went on Craigslist to look for gigs and offer my services.  I made business cards.  I printed up photos, put them in an album, and showed all my friends and their friends.  I had “gallery exhibits” at home.  My goal was to basically let the world know what I was doing and establish myself as a photographer.

Shortly after that, the referrals started to snowball, I moved down to LA, and now here I am.

15. What would you recommend for a good bridge camera, for those of us who don’t need a DSLR (read: don’t want to lug around a heavy kit) but want better than a point-and-shoot? I’ve been looking at the Nikon P510, but it doesn’t have threads on the lens for filters… I’m mainly focusing on landscape/scenery/macro photography.

Unfortunately I’m not familiar with in between camera models.  Besides my SLR cameras, I have a Lumix LX-3 point-and-shoot which I LOVE.  It has a Leica lens, the ability to shoot in Manual, and superb macro capability.  I love it.  But again, it’s a pretty basic point-and-shoot.

16. How/when did you know you were ready to switch from fun/hobby/photography-for-free/practicing to actually turning it into a business?

I had an “aha” moment while I was working at a restaurant 6 years ago.  That’s when I decided to go full time with turning photography into a business.  You can read more about that aha moment here.

17. What are your thoughts on 3rd Party lenses and would you recommend any that are equivalent to Canon L Lenses…say for someone a bit more on a budget?

I’ve only had one 3rd party lens made by Tamron and it was . . . ok.  Someone once told me that it’s best to buy components from the same brand because they are “made for each other.”  Kind of like shampoos and conditioners.

18. What is the best way to get your name out there?  I need more clients but I’m coming up short on finding some.

Word of mouth and social media are the two methods I use. After I started photography, it took about 2 years for word of mouth to really start snowballing.  Friends of brides from weddings I had shot previously began calling.  It takes a while but after it starts rolling, it really starts rolling!

Blogging is very helpful for my business.  I promote my blog posts through Facebook.  Facebook is one powerful tool.  Post photos, interact with people . . . use the heck out of it!

19. What are some of your favorite go-to post-processing/editing adjustments and functions that you make sure to always use when you are editing? Any other editing tips? Do you feel every single photo you take needs to be touched up at least a little?

My editing style has changed a lot and I’m sure it will continue to evolve.  I do all my editing in LightRoom.  With each photo (if necessary), I will straighten and crop, adjust exposure and contrast, and usually add some yellow (I tend to favor warmer tones).  If I want colors to really pop, I boost the vibrancy.

I used to use some pretty heavy presets on my photos but as of the last couple years I have lightened up on using them. I like the feeling of timeless, classic photos. When I was starting out I bought presets from Jules Bianchi.  I used some of her presets as a starting point (i.e. Jules’ “Vintage Bright”) and adjusted the settings to my liking.

My recommendation to using presets would be to go easy on them.  They do make your photos look cool and different, but sometimes I feel like they can be a little much.  They can look fake and very “graphicky,” if that makes any sense.

Not every single photo needs something done to it.  Now that my photography skills are much stronger, I like to shoot like I’m using film.  Post-processing should be used like make-up, used only to enhance.

Also, try your best to keep your editing consistent.  Style will develop over time. :)

20. Do you ever doubt yourself?  Your skills & talent?  If so, what do you tell yourself to overcome that feeling?

If I ever say that I never doubt myself, I give you permission to punch me in the face.  I absolutely have insecure thoughts.  The “story” that I had growing up was that I was never good enough.  With everything I did, it could have been better.  Those thoughts created my reality.

Although I know now that it is not true, the conditioning stays.  Thoughts will creep into my head.  Did I take enough pictures of the details at the wedding? I hope the clients like the photos . . .
Thoughts are involuntary and they happen to you just as your heart beats and your lungs breathe.  I’ve learned how to separate thoughts so that I can quickly recognize that it’s not the truth, and then I laugh it off before it takes over and becomes a negative feeling/emotion.  I’m a total personal development junkie and like to work on these things.

On the contrary, I also get frequent thoughts that I am pretty darn awesome! 😀  I let those thoughts stay.  I’ll look at my work and give myself a high-five.  It’s a good feeling.

21. What is your secret to building your clientele?

Word of mouth, blogging, and being authentic.  Being authentic can be one of the hardest things to do.  You are vulnerable, not everyone is going to like you, but the amazing thing is that you become a magnet for everything that you want in life.

My clients tend to be: laid back, fun, and maybe a little quirky.  I love them. :)  I only post things that I like on my blog and on Facebook, and the people who call me are ones who have a similar interests.  Some people ask if I ever get bridezillas and the answer is no.  Never.  The bridezilla is not attracted to me.  The way I take photos, the way I run my business, the way I blog . . . the bridezilla doesnot like to hire me.

In the beginning, I felt like I had to go find clients.  I wanted to impress people.  I cared and was worried if I could attract customers.  Since letting go of that I haven’t even had to try to get more clients.  They just call me.  Funny how that works.

Being authentic is 110% effective (and worth it!) for building your dream clientele.

22. What time of day do you think is the best lighting for outdoor shots?

The hour before the sun sets.  If it is overcast, then any time of day.  Overcast is some of the best natural light you can have.  It’s like a giant soft box.

  • Eric B - August 13, 2012 - 10:51 pm

    I’m really glad you did the Q&A. Personally, it helped me quite a lot. Feeling inspired!

  • cindy - August 14, 2012 - 7:30 am

    thanks for the inspiring post, christine! i’ve read some of your previous posts before :)

    did you learn photography and editing on your own or did you enroll in a program? i have no background in either (only an eye for beautiful things and a passion for doing something creative as a career) but it is something i’d like to try out as i am very interested in the photo-styling pre-wedding pictures for couples.

    any direction you could offer would be much appreciated. thank you!

    – cindy

  • Wendy - August 14, 2012 - 3:58 pm

    Thanks for the post & your blog is very addicting & inspiring. On a side note, do you have any recommendation on forums?

    Cheers,
    Wendy

  • […] ☺ I can write a novel on this subject! You might find some of your answers in my last Q&A here. When I start giving lectures and workshops, these will be the first subjects I […]

  • […] Advernturer. Life Lover.Photographer. Advernturer. Life Lover.See the answer to #10 in http://www.christinechangphotobl…   The thing I really would like to make more time for is my dog.  I play  with […]

I took a trip recently with my dad to Bali.

I walked into his room one evening.  He had fallen asleep.  Tom & Jerry was on tv.  He would always watch it with us when we were kids.

I love the bond we have.  That we can travel together.  That nothing has to be said.  Things are just . . . easy.

Happy Birthday daddy!  I love you.

Every Monday and Wednesday afternoon, I meet up with friends to work out of a café.  It is our adult version of a study group.

Some reasons why I like working on location with productive peers:

-It gets me out of the office (which I like call my “cave”).

-It is inspiring to be around other people who are working on their own projects (and other people in general).

-It gives my week more structure.

-I get new ideas from peer input.

-I can order yummy food and eat it while I work.

-I get my blog posts done for the week.

It’s great and I highly recommend it! :)

I love taking engagement photos in a different city.  There is so much to explore and it just feels . . . different.

Danny is from Chicago and Maggi is from San Francisco.  The wedding will be in San Francisco so we did their engagement pictures in Chicago.  Best of both worlds. :)

The back of her dress inspired this shot.  I didn’t really care about getting their faces, I just wanted to see the back of the dress.  Cute details.  😉

I went to the Art Institute earlier that day and saw an awesome 1940’s photo of a couple taken from the back.  That inspired this photo.

It was hot.  Poor Danny, running in a suit.

Walking to Oak Street Beach.  The in between informal shots tend to be my fav.

I typically don’t turn many beach shots to B&W but this looked very Calvin Klein to me.  I like.

M&D – Congrats on the engagement and GOOD LUCK in Finland.  They are moving there (he plays hockey)!

  • carleigh - August 8, 2012 - 4:17 pm

    awe. i love these christine. absolutely perfect.

  • Sarah Scoma - August 9, 2012 - 9:35 am

    Wahooooooo!

  • Chrysi Filiou - October 23, 2012 - 7:00 am

    i just love your work…….greetings from Greece…..!! <3

The most common trait that I see in people who are successful is focus.

Where focus goes, energy flows. – Tony Robbins

When I say “successful” I simply mean you achieve what you set out to do, whether it is work-related, dieting, a project, etc.

When I first moved to LA I wasn’t completely focused on my photography.  I was working at a restaurant part-time and my thoughts were all over the place.  They sounded something like this:

I can just keep working here part time in case anything goes wrong.  Maybe I should go back to working at a talent agency like I did in New York. Hm, I liked doing that.  Maybe I should try out event planning.  Or maybe I can become a dental hygienist – scraping teeth is kind of fun.  I could have a regular day job and then continue to do my photography on the side.  Or maybe I should just become a full time photographer…

I wasn’t fully committed.  It wasn’t until I had an “AHA” moment one day and realized – Hey, I DON’T want to work in a restaurant anymore.  There are positive aspects of it but this is not something I want to do in the long run, so why am I doing it?  The only reason was because it was my safety net.

The next day I put in my two weeks notice and decided: I am going to do this. I am going to be . . . a PHOTOGRAPHER!  WHAT DO I NEED TO DO TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN?

That summer was financially rough for me.  The worst I’ve ever experienced, actually.  I was living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment with a roommate and eating ramen for dinner.  It was kind of sucky but I am thankful for that experience because it forced me to focus and do what I had to do to turn photography into a career.

When people ask for business advice, the first thing I tell them is to focus.  Focus, and then commit.  I see people go into things already with one foot out the door.  “What if it doesn’t work out?,” they ask.  You aren’t even giving it a fair chance if your brain is already somewhere else.  How about giving yourself no other choice but to make it work?

Too often I see people start things with no intent of finishing them.  One minute they’ll be an actor and the next they’ll be starting their own clothing line . . . and then taking pictures, and then working in production, and then fashion blogging, and then who knows.  It’s great to be a jack-of-all-trades but to become really good (and successful) at something, there must be focus.

Set out to do something and then finish it.  That is the key.

Your life is a result of your focus. -Mahanomi

  • Lydia - August 6, 2012 - 12:05 pm

    That image is trippy! Makes me dizzy lol

    It’s hard (and scary) to fully commit, to dive in head first not knowing whether there is a safety net there to catch you. BUT! I think jumping in without knowing how it’s going to work out actually FORCES people to focus – because there is no turning around.

    I’ve jumped. But I think now I need focus…and discipline!

  • Event planner NYC - August 7, 2012 - 11:31 pm

    Thanks-a-mundo for the blog.Really thank you! Great

  • krysten - August 11, 2012 - 7:05 pm

    love what i have read so far, just wanted to stop and comment on this and thank you for sharing. I saw you the other day in cafe gratitude. and heard you talking to my co worker about blogs-I too, have a blog. and learned about his clothing line as well. Just wanted to say hello and I’ll be reading :) your very inspiring and motivational and i love that, so thank you!

  • […] I had an “aha” moment while I was working at a restaurant 6 years ago and that’s when I decided to go full time with turning photography into a business.  You can read more about that aha moment here. […]

  • Maria - September 7, 2012 - 12:31 pm

    Thank you for these words! They are inspiring ( so as your work :p) and encouraging.You helped me to see clear in my mind in wish all was fuzzy and confused.I can’t agree more with what you said.So..thank’s again :)

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