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Crash Taylor Interviews Jasmine Star


This week Crash Taylor welcomes Jasmine Star. Star is a photographer that I admire big time. Her photography rocks but more importantly she is one super cool human being. She was voted as one of the top 10 wedding photographers this year by American Photo magazine. I love her imagery; it's clean, emotional and definitely captures beautiful moments in time. Star is a photographer who will continue to push the boundaries in our profession with her love for life and passion for the still image.

I could go on for days about Star but I'm sure you want to read the interview. Enjoy, it's brilliant. I'm really looking forward to cruising out to OC one day to photograph a wedding with my friend Jasmine Star.

Hi Jasmine,

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Tell us a little bit about Jasmine Star?

Well…I like any type of chocolate, can spend all day at the beach, and spend too much time writing for my blog!  Oh, and I have an amazing dog, Polo, and a fabulous husband, JD.

Where is home?

Orange County, CA.

If you could live anywhere on this awesome planet where would you build your dream home?

I’d build my dream home in Laguna Beach, on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I’m happiest when staring at the sea and Laguna is a perfect fit for my personality.

What is your current state of mind before we continue with the interview?

I’m content.  I’m typing on the floor of my office and my dog is curled up against my left arm.  JD is working downstairs and the sun is shining.  I’m content.

Did you go to school to study photography?

No.

How long have you been a photographer?

Three years

How long have you been a wedding photographer?

Three years

What or who got you started in wedding photography?

I was at UCLA Law School and I was truly depressed at the prospect of me becoming a lawyer.  For so long, I thought it was what I wanted, but I had a hard time admitting I was wrong.  During school, my mother had a relapse with brain cancer and I took a medical leave to be with my family.  During that time, my boyfriend proposed and we planned a destination wedding in Hawaii.

As I searched for wedding photographers, I completely fell head over heels with photography.  When I found my wedding photographer David Jay: www.davidjay.com, I knew it was a perfect match.  His imagery moved me, challenged me and inspired me.  Shortly after returning from my honeymoon, I made the decision to leave law school and pursue my dreams of being a photographer.

How would you describe your style?

Fresh, young, and fun.

How many weddings do you average per year?

25-30

Do you have a few images you can share with us?

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What type of cameras do you shoot with?

Canon 5DMarkII

What is your favourite photography accessory, other than your camera?

My Shootsac – www.shootsac.com

If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?

50mm, 1.2.  This lens has changed the way I shoot and how I see a moment unfold.  I adore shooting wide-open and if I was able to shoot an entire wedding with it, I would! :)

What lighting equipment do you take on a shoot?

I’m a natural light photographer, so I don’t use my Canon EX 550 Speedlight other than at an evening reception.

Can you describe how and when you use flash, video light, reflectors and natural light during a wedding?

To be honest, I’ll shoot with natural light until the very last moment I can.  I love the realness and the raw imagery natural light produces, so I’m flashless until the evening reception…and yet even then, I’ve been known to shoot at ISO 2500-6400 to salvage a perfectly good moment without the use of flash.

What is your favourite computer/editing accessory, other than your computer?

My favorite editing accessory is  www.imeem.com.  This site helps me get through the day while listening to great tunes.  Sitting at a desk all day can make one lose her mind, so this music site is just what the doctor ordered!

How important is Photoshop in your final images?

I view Photoshop the way I view salt.  It’s the perfect way to flavor a delicious meal, but too much salt can ruin the main course!  ;)

What is your most used Photoshop tool, plug-in, action set etc.?

I use Kubota Actions, you can read more about how I use them at this link:  http://jasminestarblog.com/index.cfm?postID=403 and Totally Rad Actions at this link: http://jasminestarblog.com/index.cfm?postID=412.

Are you a MAC or PC lover?

MAC

Do you plan on buying any new equipment and if so what do you have your eyes on?

I’ve been itching to play with the 35mm, 1.4.  I primarily shoot with the 50mm, 1.2, 85mm, 1.2, and the 24mm, 1.4, but the 35mm seems like it would make me very happy!

I use Queensberry albums, what wedding albums do you supply your clients with and do you design them yourself or outsource the design?

I use Leather Craftsmen albums, and I outsource the design.  I realized early on that designing an album isn’t enjoyable for me, and because I decided early on to only do things I wanted to do, outsourcing became a viable option and I’m happy with the results.

How do you feel about cropping an image?

I’m neither for or against it, but I don’t crop.  I realize it’s advantageous for many photographers, but it just isn’t my thing.

I choose photographers for these interviews because their work really inspires me and gets my creative juices flowing, hence the interview. What gives you ideas and inspires you to create such amazing imagery?

The sky.  The ocean.  W and Vogue Magazine.  Renaissance art.  The elderly couple walking in the park.  The sun.  Blender Magazine.  Architecture.  The fabric store.  Window displays.  An art gallery.  Light.

Inspiration is everywhere and I believe it’s my job to create a quilt of what I see, I touch, and I feel for which to drape my clients.  A patchwork, if you will, of my mind’s eye to document their love for eternity.

What has been your most memorable assignment and why?

JD and I shot a wedding in Costa Rica over New Year’s and it was one of the best trips of my life.  In addition to having an fabulous couple host us and invite us to document their special day, we were able to experience some of the world’s most amazing beaches, eat amazing food, and experience a beautiful culture.  It was a trip full of fabulous memories!

If you could shoot a wedding with another photographer who would it be?

Crash Taylor, of course!  ;)

Do you have an assistant/2nd shooter that accompanies you on wedding assignments?

Yes, JD is my permanent second shooter.

How many images do you average per wedding and how many do you usually present to your clients?

Between both shooters, a wedding will likely yield about 2,500-3,000 images, but a client will see 800-1,000.

Where would be your dream destination wedding?

I want to shoot a wedding in New Zealand…oooh, it sounds so dreamy!

How do you make the bride and groom, bridal party etc… feel relaxed in front of your Canon 5D Mark II?

I try to make people laugh and I’m 100% myself on a wedding day.  I talk to my clients and somehow in the process, they relax and just enjoy spending time in each other’s arms.

Have you ever had anything go wrong at a wedding and if so, how did you handle it?

I'll never forget the time I ripped my pants while shooting a wedding.  I knew the pants were too tight, but because I wanted to prove a point to my ego, I wore them anyway.  As I was shooting the bride's shoes, I bent over and felt a cool rush of air kiss my bum and I instantly heard a RIIIIIIP!  I nearly died.  No, really, I stopped breathing long enough for me to have a heart attack.

Luckily, I wore a long shirt, so I buttoned my suit jacket, and pulled the shirt as far as it would go.  I'm sure I looked like a hot mess, but I finished shooting the wedding without a hitch!

Moral of the story:  Always pack an extra pair of pants.

What are your favourite three images you have shot recently?  Can you describe their creation in regards to location, lighting, composition, camera settings etc, also your thoughts when creating the images and what they mean to you?

Favorite Photo Information:

0001:  f/1.4, 1/80, 1000 ISO.  24mm, 1.4 lens.

This photo was taken at a recent wedding and I love the simplicity of the moment.  They’re unaware of my camera, but posing for another…all while acting silly and enjoying their wedding reception.  I adore candid moments like this!

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0002:  f/1.2, 1/40, 1600 ISO.  50mm, 1.2 lens

I love this photo because it tells a story of Cori and Eli’s love.  They married in Costa Rica and had a small destination wedding.  The day was perfect and as the evening passed, they spent most of the night in each other’s arms.  It was perfect.

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0003:  f/2.5, 1/1250, 100 ISO.  50mm, 1.2 lens

There’s nothing more I love than laughter.  I simply can never pass a photo opportunity when a couple is mid-laugh.  There’s something quite fabulous when a couple shares a hearty laugh on their wedding day!

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What do you feel is the most challenging thing about photographing weddings?

Anticipating a special moment.

A wedding photographer who inspires you?

Jose Villa – His work is timeless, breathable, and totally his own.

A website and/or blog you visit often?

www.gofugyourself.com - Because Fugly is the New Pretty

The first photographer that comes to your mind and why? 

Amy Wenzel –  www.amywenzel.com

She’s an amazing portrait photographer based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but this past week she received news her husband (only 27 years old) has brain cancer.  Her strength and faith has made me respect her so much and I’m honoured to call her a friend and peer.

The last workshop or seminar you attended and why?

The last workshop I attended was David Jay’s Freedom and Slumber.  I was a featured guest and I had a blast hanging out at his awesome home in Santa Barbara, CA.

What photographic organizations do you belong to?

Eeek!  I know I should belong to some, but I don’t.  I feel like I’m breaking some rules for unorganizationized!  ;)

One way you market Jasmine Star Photography?

I market myself primarily through my blog, as it’s the best way for me to connect with my clients and readers.

Do you advertise? If so where?

No, I’ve grown my business via Word of Mouth advertising.

How important is an awesome website for your business?

On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s a 17.

If not a photographer, I would have liked to be a marine biologist studying the great white shark. What would you have been?

Realistically, a lawyer.  Unrealistically, a writer.

I realize that each great photographer has a particular penchant or love for photographing a particular subject whether it be nature, portraits, sea or landscapes, shadow and light, etc. as a result I would love to have you talk about and share whatever images you feel appropriate of your own private obsession in the magical world of photography.

I know this is oh-so-very lame, but I take weekly photos of my dog, Polo.  He makes a regular appearance on my blog and people have come to know him as a part of my business and brand.
Some photographers take photos of landscapes and nature, but I’m inspired by happiness.  And Polo makes me uncontrollably happy.  Which is why his furry face is often my favorite photography subject.

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Is there anybody or anything you would love to photograph?

If it’s fun and fabulous, I want to photograph it, plain and simple.

When I was 2nd shooting I was picking everybody’s brain, I still am actually. That’s why I love these interviews so much. Every interview I learn something that makes me a better photographer. What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue wedding photography?

I’ll steal a quote from my good friend Mike Colon www.mikecolon.com :  “Jump and the net will appear”.  When I first started my business, Mike told me to jump.  I was scared, doubtful, and nervous, but once I made the decision to follow my heart and take a risk, the net appeared.

We know that each of us has someone or something, which inspires our life and work. Can you tell us the true basis of your inspiration?

I know it sounds cliché, but I promise it’s the truth.  My basis of inspiration is God.  I photograph people because we are all reflections of something great and beautiful; something far beyond our understanding.  I’m inspired by people because they are merely small divisions of God.

Is there anything you would have done differently during your photographic career?

I wish I took more risks.  And I wish I didn’t stress out so much in the beginning.

Name a photographer you would like to take a portrait of?

Annie Leibovitz.

If you could be invisible for one day with your camera...

I’d photograph President Barack Obama with the First Lady and their children.

I’ve learned the most from…

My Dad.

What talent would you most like to have?

I’d love to be able to sing.  I’m quite terrible, actually.

Something you’re still learning?

How to say NO

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My high school sweetheart and husband, JD.

What is your greatest fear?

Being alone.

Something that is overrated?

Coffee.

Something you’re saving up for?

My dream house in Laguna Beach

What item do you wish you had designed?

The Apple Computer.  Obviously!  :)

If you could have lunch with anyone who is famous who would it be?

Oprah.  I hear her chef is ah-maz-zing!

Where you'll find me on a Friday night at 9 p.m.?

Usually tucked under JD’s arm at a movie theatre, just after finishing a delicious dinner.  Friday nights are Date Night, and going to the movies is one of my favorite past times.

Who would play you in a film (movie) of your life?

Me.  I’ve always wanted to give acting a whirl!  ;)

First thing you would do if you won the lottery?

Rebuild my father’s church…he’s been a pastor for many years and his church needs a major facelift.  Hey, God, please help me win the lottery so I can build you a nice house! ;)

Which five words would your friends use to describe you?

Loyal, funny, driven, honest, and caring.

What ambition have you not yet achieved?

Write a best-selling book.

What would you like to be doing in 5 years from now?

Shooting, blogging, writing…professionally.

And the last question, if you had one wish…

I’d never have to say goodbye.

Oh one more, if someone said ‘how can I be the next Jasmine Star?’ What would you say?

Don’t ever aspire to be someone you’re not.  You’re entirely and uniquely amazing, so always aim to be the best version of yourself at all times.

Your readers can find out more about me:

Website:

www.jasmine-star.com

Blog:

www.jasminestarblog.com

Twitter:

www.twitter.com/jasminestar