Hello Storytellers! My name is Marilyn Quisenberry. I am a stay at home mom of two beautiful daughters; ages two and six. I picked up my first DSLR about five years ago because I wanted to document my family. To this day, that is what I mainly do and love. Since I’ve started my journey, photography has become so much more to me than just a creative outlet. As someone who suffers from anxiety, photography has also become a source of therapy, allowing me to channel my feelings into art.
A lot of my photos are taken from inside my house, around my neighborhood or at local parks. I often shoot at locations that are not only easily accessible but are also places my children feel comfortable to play and be themselves.
I’m not one for posing (not that I don’t try.) It’s simply just too hard with rowdy kids. So,I often give them an activity and just sit back and wait for a moment to happen. People often comment that my kids must be natural models which is the furthest from the truth! Sometimes, I’ll take sixty photos in hopes that just one or two will be worth saving!
Because I like shooting inside my house, my favorite type of light is window light. It’s an extremely accessible source of light because it is easy to find and its directional. I will often wait till the light is at its softest and photograph my children from different angles to see how the light falls on them. By simply adjusting the curtains, I can play with the amount of light coming in. I also, love to photograph right at sunset. I find that the light is at it softest, lending colors to be richer and the light more golden.
I shoot with a Nikon D850 and my favorite lenses are the Nikkor 70-200mm 2.8 and the Sigma Art 35mm 1.4. I use my 70-200 for outdoor photos and my 35mm for indoors. I usually shoot at an aperture between 2.8 -3.2 because I like the background to have a bit of blur. Also, with kids that like to move around it can be challenging to shoot any wider than that.
I like to edit in both Lightroom and Photoshop. I do a lot of my “base” editing in Lightroom which is where I will correct white balance, adjust exposure and play with the hue, saturation and luminance sliders. I prefer the layout of Lightroom versus ACR. Lightroom is what I started to learn with and because of that it’s easier to have a speedier workflow.
Photoshop is where I like to get creative. I urge any photographers who have yet to edit in Photoshop to try it out! I believe Photoshop is a crucial tool for photography simply because of its abilities. I often use photoshop to remove unwanted objects, correct skin and add overlays and textures. I’m a fan of Jessica Drossin’s Illumination overlays and textures for Photoshop. I often use them to add depth and richness to my photos. I also prefer to sharpen my photos in Photoshop as well.
When Hello Storyteller reached out to me to ask, if I would be interested in writing a piece for their blog, my immediate thought was what tips or helpful insights do I have that I can share with other photographers? Honestly, I still feel like I have so much to learn and I don’t have any cool editing techniques that you can’t easily find off YouTube and probably done by someone better. However, I do think there are a few realizations I’ve come to learn over the years that have helped me grow as an artist.
Whether you’re a professional photographer or a hobbyist the distinction has nothing to do with the quality of your work.
If you are a fellow hobbyist or someone starting out in photography, please don’t think you have to be a “professional” in order to take amazing photos. I used to struggle with being a hobbyist because I felt that the term “hobbyist” came with the immediate assumption that the quality of my work was of lesser value than that of a professional. It made me want to jump into the business side and take on clients. But, if I had a photography business, I would run it into the ground. There’s a lot more to being a professional than taking a good photo and getting paid for it. The business side of photography is demanding and its okay if it’s not for you. Let your work speak for itself and don’t worry about the labels.
Don’t let the number of likes and comments, you get on social media validate your work.
I get it, I really do. It feels SO good when you share something online and a flood of likes and comments hit your page. It also sucks when it doesn’t. However, if you judge your work solely on the number of “likes” you get on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll never get to truly enjoy YOUR work.
The content of an image matters more than its technical aspects.
In my opinion, the ability to story tell and evoke emotion matters more than if you achieved tack sharp focus. There was a time where I was so focused on making sure my photos were sharp, no blown out highlights, proper exposure, etc., that I forgot what story I was telling. I ended up with a lot of lack luster photos . My photos were missing something and that was me, my story. How you visually story tell, is what makes your photos unique. If you get too hung up on the technical aspects, your creativity can suffer.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed photographers bully other photographers. It saddens me to see so much nasty competitiveness in the industry, especially towards new photographers. Ever see someone post a photo in a group, asking for CC, only to get ripped apart? Everyone starts somewhere. Choose to be the person who uplifts others rather than to tear them down.
Wear a sheet mask while editing.
Ever been up at 1am editing? If you need an instant pick me up, try putting a cold sheet mask on your face. Instant rejuvenation! Also, computer screens can dry out your skin too, especially if you’re going to be editing for long hours. A facemask will help keep your face moisturized and help keep you alert.