{photography} FAQ2 : How Do I Choose a Good Photographer?

1. How do I choose a photographer for my photoshoot?

  • What kind of photoshoot are you looking for?  Are you looking for a photographer to photograph a documentary, wedding, portrait, newborn, family, business event, headshot, landscape, sports, nature, animal, pet, food….  While all professional photographers should be able to produce technically accurate images, a wedding photographer would not know how to soothe and pose a newborn baby for a newborn baby photoshoot.  A landscape photographer would not necessarily have experience and know how to pose a couple on their wedding day.  A documentary photographer probably would not know how to pose a 35 week pregnant woman for her maternity photoshoot.  Depending on the genre of photoshoot, you need to do some due diligence and research to find a photographer that is trained, experienced and knowledgeable about that particular genre of photography.
  • What is your budget?  Are you looking for digital files to post on social media?  Are you looking for wall portraits to hang in your home?  Are you looking for fine art on hand torn paper mounted under museum glass?  Each product commands different prices based on the photographer you choose – professional or amateur.  Professional and amateur photographer fees do not generally adhere to an industry standard because – how do you price art?  However, there generally is a direct relationship between how experienced a photographer is and price.  The length of experience, talent and financial overhead of a professionally active photographer, type of fine art products offered will usually command a higher price.
  • How important is technical accuracy to you?  Whichever photographer you choose should produce a technically accurate photograph.  What is considered technically accurate will be covered in the last blog in this FAQ mini series.  In short, how important is a photograph with accurate true-to-life colors with the main subject(s) in sharp focus to you?  There is a direct correlation in price with how capable your photographer is in capturing a technically accurate image and therefore will affect your budget.

2. What is the difference between an amateur and professional photographers?

  • Amateur photographers are portfolio building, developing their expertise in learning to shoot with their camera in manual mode, to compose and finding their personal style.  They may shoot in manual mode, possess a great variety of camera gear but lack the experience to compose aesthetically or they may have the creativity to compose but unable to produce their vision technically in camera.  An amateur photographer may often rely on their image processing software instead of their camera (filters, Photoshop, photo editing apps etc…) to create their raw image.
  • Professional photographers produce technically accurate, artistically beautiful photographs that sing with a personal style in camera and can produce a variety of products, most notably prints that are worthy of being displayed under museum glass.  Photoshop or photo editing software is typically used as a professional photographer’s finishing (not creation) tool.  Images produced by a well seasoned professional photographer can expertly capture emotion, tell a story and speak to you through their images.
  • Professionally active photographers are professional photographers who run an active business and incur financial overhead costs.  They have a business license, pay for proper insurance, attend continuing education courses, pay for professional association membership dues, pay state, federal and sales tax, may own or rent physical retail space and hold themselves accountable to a higher industry standard in terms of how to ethically treat clients.  These photographers will command a higher price due to business overhead, professional membership fees and the professional boutique experience that is offered.  For instance, Mint Purple Studio® is a professionally active photography studio.  We pay taxes, have insurance, belong to the PPA, is a lifetime member of Click and attend continuing education classes every year.  Our clients normally spend a higher amount per session for a professional photographer plus a custom boutique experience knowing they are protected by insurance with the knowledge that we hold ourselves accountable to a high standard of client conduct.

3. Conclusion

  • To summarize, finding a good photographer depends on a) what genre of photography you are looking to capture, b) your budget, c) how important technical accuracy is to you and d) the type of service and warranty/insurance you wish to have depending on the type of photographer you are willing to hire!
  • Happy Photographer hunting!  <3

{photography} FAQ : How Can I Learn Photography?

Recently, I have received many questions from what camera to buy, how to find a good photographer to questions on how to learn photography! Each question builds upon the answer of another so I decided to create a mini FAQ blog series.  There are tons of way to learn photography, tons of cameras to choose from and so many wonderful photographers out there.  In this first post, here are answers to how I would personally approach the questions but keep in mind these are not necessarily set in stone for you!

  1. What and which camera should I buy if I want to learn photography?
    • A camera to a photographer is like a paintbrush to a painter.  It is a tool and not definitive of what would produce a good photograph or photographer.  If a painter does not know how to stipple or use other important paint techniques, would an expensive paintbrush help?  If a painter has no vision of what he wishes to compose for his painting, would an expensive paintbrush make up for lack of creativity.  The same answers apply to whether or not to buy an expensive camera.
    • To learn photography, I would personally buy an entry level mirrorless or DSLR camera with manual shooting capability. Mirrorless cameras are small, easy to carry around and can perform well in many environments.  DSLRs are larger but the handling can feel more sturdy.  My first DSLR was a Canon Rebel but I now photograph with two Sony mirrorless cameras –  the Sony RX1 and Sony a7r – both of which are first generation models of their line.  Newer models exist but I love some of the features retained in the older Sony mirrorless models that are not available in the newer models like the RX1’s built in flash and the super small size of the a7r while offering lens interchangeability.
  2. How can I learn photography?
    • Daily Practice. More important than the camera itself, I would set aside time and commit yourself to learning how to shoot in manual mode as well as composition for whatever camera you buy.  Photography is a combination of art and technical shooting. Learning to shoot in manual mode is the technical component to being a good photographer while learning to compose is the creative component to being a good photographer.  There is no way around it.  Good photography skills as with anything takes time, continuous effort and constant practice.  I completed a Project 365 (photographing daily) for three years before considering my technical skills acceptable at a professional level but even now I still feel that I can practice more!
    • Online Communities. Joining a supportive and encouraging photography forum can help with keeping you inspired to shoot and practice daily as well as offer many resources like workshops, mentoring, critiquing opportunities. Here are a few of my favorite forums:
      • Click & Co.  This is an online forum that began as a small group of moms wanting to capture their children’s every day.  It has since grown into a super supportive community rich in knowledge of all things photography for the novice to those in business for years!
      • illuminate.  A substantive forum for learning about light and documentary style photography.
      • Creative Live.  Founded by Klenna Klosterman whom I had the pleasure of meeting at a newborn photography conference recently.  The encyclopedia of workshops for all genres of photography!
    • Accredited Associations.
    • Mentoring.  Mentoring is invaluable and key to really refining your photography skills.  Mentoring can be found almost everywhere from reaching out to your favorite photographer through Facebook to online forums and networking at photography conferences.
    • Photography Conferences.  Depending on what genre of photography you are interested in, there is a probably a conference for your genre.
      • Click Away.  An incredible photography conference for many genres of photography covering a variety of topics from style, composition, light to capturing emotion and technical camera use.
      • Baby Summit. A Conference for newborn baby and maternity photography that covers posing, lighting, processing, video and much more.
      • Real Life Photography Conference for Women.  The name speaks for itself!

{photography} Luminous Endowment Grant Winner

“In the order of nature we cannot render benefits to those from whom we receive them, or only seldom. But the benefit we receive must be rendered again, line for line, deed for deed, cent for cent, to somebody.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson (1841)

In 2009, I left behind a cushy six figure salary job in the legal industry and went a little eccentric by completing an intensive graphics design program at New York University. In 2010, I began freelancing as a custom toy and graphics designer under the name of Mint Purple Studio. By 2012, I began portfolio building as an amateur photographer despite what seemed like an impossible feat to be distinguished (because everyone was buying a DSLR and calling themselves a photographer). But as cliche as it sounds, I kept following my heart. Mint Purple Studio expanded two years later into a professional newborn and portrait studio (as in we are federally trademarked, pay sales taxes, licensed, have insurance, take continuing ed classes etc…

In 2016, Mint Purple Studio joined Professional Photographers of America as an active professional. While I am incredibly thankful to have awesome clients and absolutely love what I do, the academic in me wishes that my photography work can bring change to our society. That spark for change inspired me to apply for a grant from the Luminous Endowment to propel a deeply personal photography project.

On April 16, 2017, the Luminous Endowment notified me that I won their China Grant. The coming months will be super busy putting together a manuscript and searching for a publisher. It is a small first step and I am beyond thrilled at the chance of being able to work on something that can “pay it forward.” This year, a record six of eight grant winners are women. I am so humbled by the honor and so thankful to many who encouraged and supported me along the way! Please do keep this maniacal mom in your prayers for the road ahead!

You can view the winning announcement here and read about my winning photography project entry here.

Happy Lunar New Year 2017 of the Chicken

The Lunar New Year of the Chicken is fast approaching on January 28, 2017!  The chicken is the tenth animal of the twelve Chinese horoscope signs. At Mint Purple Studio, our golden chickens Gumgaijai (金鷄仔) and Gumgailui (金鷄女) are running around creating all sorts of fun mischief.  Why are all the honey jars in the Studio empty?  Stick around for later posts and the chickens will tell you their character story soon.  For now, Gumgaijai and Gumgailui want to spread some sweetness with wallpapers, wall hangings and a printable DIY red envelope template (great for kids) to welcome the coming of Lunar New Year 2017!  Each design contains lucky Chinese greetings which are translated underneath the image.  Please do kindly keep our watermark intact to uphold copyright and trademark regulations should you use or share Mint Purple Studio’s images or files.  Thank you!

金鷄迎春 literally means the golden chicken welcomes spring and has a meaning similar to “out with the old and in with the new”

Download Gumgaijai and Gumgailui 2560 x 1600 Wallpaper HERE

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鷄年報喜 wishes upon the recipient of this greeting an auspicious event during the year of the chicken 

Download Gumgailui’s 2560 x 1600 Wallpaper HERE

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鷄年如意 wishes the recipient of this greeting smooth sailing during the year of the chicken

Download Gumgaijai’s 2560 x 1600 Wallpaper HERE

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金鷄賀歲 literally translates to the golden chicken celebrates the new year and wishes the recipient of this greeting a happy new year of the chicken


Download Gumgai Family 2560 x 1600 Wallpaper HERE

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鷄年吉祥 wishes the recipient of this greeting luck and longevity

Download Gumgaijai’s printable wall hanging HERE

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鷄年大吉 wishes the recipient of this greeting great luck in the year of the chicken

Download Gumgailui printable wall hanging HERE

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鷄鳴富貴 wishes the recipient of this greeting great fortune and wealth in the year of the chicken and literally translates as the chicken is calling out for great wealth

Download the Good Fortune printable wall hanging HERE

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雞 means chicken!

Download the Golden Rooster printable wall hanging HERE

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鷄年吉慶 wishes the recipient of this greeting an auspicious year of the chicken

Download the Gumgaijai printable 8.5 x 11 inch Red Envelope Template HERE

If you would like to shop our FULL line of Lunar New Year character design products, please check out Mint Purple Studio’s character shop on CafePress!

2017 Thank You Giveaway


Happy New Year!!!  

Mint Purple Studio is in it’s 7th year of designing, 4th year of family photography and somewhere along the way we managed to gather friends from all over the world.  To thank you and give back to our friends, I would like to ring in 2017 with a Thank You Giveaway – a one year Click Magazine subscription to one lucky winner.

I blogged about Click Magazine in my holiday swag post and absolutely LOVE it.  Friends often ask where my creative inspiration comes from, how my images are so crisp, what camera I use and why.  Well, many of those answers come from formal classroom instruction but often also come from reading Click!

The magazine writes about all things photography related, is super inspirational and the articles are written by some of the best female photographers in the photography industry.  The best part is you do not have to be a professional photographer to absorb the magazine material.  I started out reading Click because I just wanted to take better photographs of my babies many years ago!  If you love gorgeous photography that is authentic and truly captures the here and now, you want to be reading Click!  (Just a note, I am not being sponsored by Click for this giveaway.  I genuinely adore Click that much and know any photography lover will too!)

Here are the rules to enter:

  1. Follow our social media accounts here and here (if you haven’t already!)
  2. Gain an extra entry by sharing with a few friends (or many. . . <3) under any image on our our social media accounts
  3. Gain a triple entry by sharing with any expecting mommy friends under any baby image on our social media accounts
  4. That’s it!
  5. The giveaway will end taking entrants on Sunday night 11:59pm, January 8, 2017
  6. The winner for our 2017 Thank You Giveaway will be announced Monday afternoon, January 9th, 2017 <3


Terms (just some legal stuff) : 1. Entrants are open only to individuals 18 years or older.  2.  I would like the opportunity to give the magazine subscription to a non-professional photographer so if you are a professional photographer (own a photography business), please let others have the chance to win this beautiful magazine.  3.  Print copies will be delivered only to entrants residing within the United States mainland.  Any international winner will receive digital copies only.