Frequently Asked Questions
I tend to receive quite a few similar inquiries through my website, so in an effort to be more efficient—I am not the quickest when it comes to email— I have added this list of frequently asked questions to help answer questions that are asked… frequently.
1. “Sarah, I am a big fan of your work, could I hire you to shoot my wedding/engagement/baby/dog’s birthday? … With a camera of course.”
A: I am so flattered every time someone trusts me to capture memories of their special day! That said, I do not do portrait work at this time. Photographing people is a very specific skill and my hat is off to the photographers who specialize in that field. I don’t know the first thing about natural poses and it takes more than an expensive camera and a cursory knowledge of how it works to capture well-done, compelling portraits. Furthermore, I specialize in natural light—all of my photos are taken outside – so unless you’re planning on getting married in a swamp at sunrise and I can photograph you through some bushes, your pictures from me would be mediocre at best.
2. “Ok that makes sense, but I have this really REALLY cool boat/barn/pond on my property— OUTSIDE, like you specified—and it would be cool if you came to take pictures of it for me. It’s located 100km from the middle of nowhere, can you be there in 3 hours?”
A: As much as I would like to go check out your cool thing, I’m going to have to decline this request as well. As a hobby photographer, I do have a “day-job” to pay the bills and it takes up quite a bit of my time. It does look like I travel around a lot, but that is a bit misleading, I will take 600 shots on one trip then release them slowly over a period of time. I tend to get out on a few big trips here and there, but most of the time I am very close to home. That said, I cannot commit to contract work, in the event that I get called out, or have to cancel 100 times in a row, it wouldn’t be fair to you and would be stressful for me.
3. “Alright, gotcha! You’re not for hire. What if I wanted to take pictures JUST LIKE yours? What gear do you use?”
A: Excellent question! I shoot with a Nikon D4, my go-to wildlife lens is a 70-300mm Nikkor and my landscape lens is a 16-55mm Nikkor. Some of my older shots were taken with a Nikon D90 that I had forever and a day.
“Follow-up question: why Nikon over Cannon?”
A: People tend to get bogged down in the “which camera is better” argument and as far as I’m concerned they’re all comparable, it’s how you USE it that makes a difference. My parent’s both had Nikon cameras back in the “before time” when film was the peak of camera technology. They were sturdy and reliable cameras and that’s what I grew up with, so when I decided to get my own camera I picked up a Nikon, and the rest, as they say, is history.
4. “Awesome, I just got my brand new Nikon at your recommendation! Nikon should really sponsor you! Now where do you see those northern lights? What time are they out and do you have any tricks for finding them?”
A: I agree, Nikon SHOULD sponsor me! Also, northern lights information are questions I get a lot. And it’s one of the most difficult to answer. I reside close to the city of North Bay, so I’m not exactly anywhere near the Arctic Circle. Occasionally, we get a solar storm that is strong enough to be seen in this latitude but in my experience they happen sporadically and with very little warning. There is no specific “time” or season when I’m guaranteed to see the aurora. If you are looking for a 100% chance of northern lights I encourage you to venture further north. That said, I rely heavily on this website: http://www.softservenews.com/ for all my northern light’s information. I recommending reading up on KP numbers and their viewing tips. Bookmark it and follow them on social media to receive the alerts. I only see a handful of solar storms per year, if I’m lucky I’ll get MAYBE 3 good nights when it’s clear, moonless, not 4am, not a work night and there is a display strong enough to be seen.
5. “So the northern lights are a crapshoot. Got it. But I KNOW there is a ton of wildlife up north. How do you find it? Do you bait or call the animals you photograph?”
A: I never EVER bait for wild animals. EVER. It’s wrong and I do NOT agree with it. I do my very best to adhere to strict ethical standards when it comes to wildlife photography. We sometimes try to “call” in an animal, have you ever heard my owl hoots? They are sad. If any owls do respond – none ever have—it would most likely be to tell me to shut up. I also do not enjoy sitting in a blind or hide. It’s so so so boring. More often than not I stumble upon whatever animal I photograph, mainly from the seat of a canoe. You can increase your chances of seeing wildlife if you work around THEIR schedule. Most animals tend to be active around dawn and dusk, get up early and stay out late and you have more chances of seeing something. Also if you know the general habitat of the animal you are interested in photographing, searching it out and spending time there will up your odds. Learn how to read animals tracks and look for signs like browse and poop. As a photographer, I like to get natural shots of the animals I see, so I do my very best not to disturb them in any way.
6. “That’s awesome, ethics are very important. With that in mind, I would like to use your image of the sunset over the lake for my print/website/power-point presentation project, is that OK? You will get credit for it.”
A: Ah yes, the old “we can pay you with exposure” question. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but if your project is generating a revenue, or is for a revenue-generating organization (i.e. not a charity) I am not super keen to be handing out image rights in exchange for “exposure.” I work very hard to capture the pictures I capture, and it is not an inexpensive endeavour. Aside from the cost of camera equipment, there is also travel, campsite permits, gear rentals, and most importantly food. Not to mention my time. As much as I love taking pictures and would get outside regardless of whether or not I had a camera on my person, I do put in a HUGE effort to capture these scenes. There’s miles of hiking and getting up before dawn and staying up super late and sleeping on the ground for days and being cold and wet and cramped. These aren’t complaints, quite frankly I love it, but its just a taste of the work required to get these pictures. So when I am asked to turn them over for free, it’s a tad insulting. I’m more than willing to make a deal though! I’m very fair and terrible at negotiating, so contact me and we can talk.
7. “This has been very informative Sarah, thank you! You’re so knowledgeable and pretty! I would like to purchase one of your prints, do you sell them?”
A: This is the best question so far! I do have a shop on my website: http://www.sarahphotography.ca/Shop if you would like a specific image that is not available in the shop please do not hesitate to send me an email with a link to the image and I would be happy to see what I can do. Images are purchased directly from the printer and shipped right to you, this cuts down on wait times and shipping fees. Also this allows you full customization when it comes to finishing, framing, sizes etc.
I hope this helps answer some questions! If you have something else you would like answered please do not hesitate to send me an email. I will get back to you… eventually. Thank you for taking the time to visit my website, I really do appreciate everyone’s support.