These pictures are from a day we spent exploring Morocco's Ourika Valley a few weeks back, and it's a day neither of us will soon forget. It was probably the most difficult hiking I've ever done, and it was also probably the coolest mountain range I've ever seen. The photos only semi do justice to just how red the earth is in this part of Northern Africa, and they also only semi do justice to just how loose that earth is, giving way in a matter of seconds every time you think you've gotten your footing or grabbed onto a chunk of clay that definitely will not come free. I slipped multiple times, got pretty scraped up, and followed Porter's exact steps for the last few leaps to get out of the canyon (I think I would still be in there if I hadn't). While this particular section of the Ourika Valley definitely isn't for someone looking to take the low-key scenic route, it was absolutely worth it. We went back in the next day purely because the sunset makes the colors go from hues of red to pink to orange in a way we knew we probably would not come across again. Morocco was good to us...
But this post isn't meant to be about that! A couple days ago we did a Q & A in our Instagram Stories, and while we got a great response, those things disappear after 24 hours so I wanted the questions we answered to have a permanent home here. If you saw our story, this post is going to be super repetitive and you can stop reading here. If you didn't, here were the questions we received over Instagram last week and our best shot at giving in-depth answers:
Question 1: What camera & lens do you use & recommend?
This is the question we 100% get the most often. We shoot with a Canon 5D Mark IV and a Sigma Art 24-70 mm F2.8 lens. We highly recommend this kit. It's super versatile and basically all we use when traveling. We also suggest renting gear until you know what you love to save on cash and help you to learn what kind of DSLR you're most comfortable shooting with.
Question 2: What does ethical fashion mean? / How do you guys define ethical fashion?
For us, ethical fashion will always mean sweatshop free brands that know everyone in their supply chain is earning a living wage and that are providing their workers with social, economic, and educational opportunities while also paying special mind to the needs of our planet (that's a mouthful, I know!). We find the Nisolo Shoe's video on their about page incredibly helpful in giving people a visual aid for what ethical fashion is & does. Check it out if you want to learn more!
Question 3: What apps do you guys use for post production / editing?
Post production is just photographer lingo for editing photos or changing their lighting settings once they're in Photoshop or Lightroom (usually) on your computer. We edit all of our photos in Lightroom. We don't use filter apps and have just developed our own editing style within that program over time. It's just our personal preference over Photoshop.
Question 4: Will you guys ever sell your own Lightroom presets?
As of now, we don't see ourselves ever selling our presets. We think purchasing them is kind of a band-aid and that single filters never actually look that great on a huge range of photos with different lighting scenarios, composition etc. We think encouraging people to buy ours would mislead the people purchasing them into thinking that they can just throw a filter on and presto their photos will look exactly like ours do. We've seen this happen many times when big instagrammers sell their presets as a "quick fix" to their followers and, to be honest, we think it's kind of scammy and that giving tutorials or suggestions on how to get better at editing within your own style is much more valuable to those learning.
Question 5: What steps did you guys take to get better at editing / what editing tips do you have for someone just learning how to use Lightroom?
We think the best steps to better photography and better editing skills goes in these steps. This is, of course, personal preference but this is the approach we suggest new photographers take.
- Step 1: Learn how to shoot in manual. Find some YouTube videos that teach on this and spend a lot of time practicing nailing your settings for different lighting scenarios. Also, make sure you'r always shooting in RAW not JPEGS!
-Step 2: Master white balance correction. Learn whether you like your photos warm or cool, but know when you've nailed setting the warmth and tint to the white items in the photo being "true white." If the whites in your photo look pinkish or yellow or blue it will skew whatever other edits you end up doing to your photo and give the end result a less professional look (in our opinion) learn to recognize perfect or almost perfect white balance on-sight.
-Step 3: Selective edits, use them, love them, almost never be done with a photo that has none of them. Editing really starts to change a photo when you start to edit parts but not the whole, like the sky maybe or a particular building, or maybe just a single ray of light. Once you master applying selective edits to your photos they can change drastically and you can really start to achieve your personal look. You might like dim backgrounds or bright ones, subjects that fade into the setting or pop, but you can't figure out any of that without mastering selective edits. Look up more about them on YouTube!
-Step 4: The Tone Curve - this is a super difficult part of Lightroom and for me is still the trickiest. Basically its a diagonal line that you can drag in different directions and create "nodes" on to change your photos highlights, blacks, whites, and shadows, and their relationship to one another. Get in the habit of playing with the tone curve and seeing what kind of curve gives you a look you love. Hard to describe without a visual aid, so definitely go into Lightroom or onto YouTube to get a sense of what I mean.
-Step 5: Color specific saturation and hue - I see people commenting on Instagrammer's feeds 24/7 asking how to achieve certain coloration in their photos or a cohesive look to their pictures and a lot of the time the feed's they're commenting on are just saturating and muting the same colors in every photo. A lot of Instagrammer's these days are hot on saturating oranges and teals and desaturating pretty much everything else. In Lightroom you can do color-specific saturation and even change the hue of the colors present in your photo, so hypothetically, I could've made the mountains in all of the pics above look hot pink or orange just because their actual color (red) had the base for those different hues. Definitely worth digging into.
If you follow those steps I can say with absolute certainty you'll be well on your way to mastering Lightroom and having a much higher quality look to your feed.
Question 6: How do you afford to travel so much?
This is another question we get all the time. Because we're professional photographers we're able to get paid as we travel for shoots for brands or hotel websites that we photograph for, or we're able to receive free stays doing this. It definitely is a lot to travel full time, maintain a blog, and work as photographers to earn extra cash on the side, but it is definitely not just feasible but profitable if you work hard enough.
Question 7: Sustainable fashion is much pricier, wouldn't it be more realistic to just have people buying less from fast fashion labels to solve all the clothing waste?
Sustainable fashion is definitely usually more expensive. This is because the clothing is made to last a very long time. Most fast fashion labels purposefully sew their clothes to start falling apart after just six wears, so even if you try to buy less of fast fashion clothing, it's inevitably not going to last as long as you want it to. Also, while purchasing less from fast fashion stores does reduce your overall consumption, it doesn't take a stand against the ethical issues behind the sweatshop labor a lot of fast fashion labels still use.
Question 8: Do you have any advice for how to grow on Instagram?
Our top tips for this are:
1. Quality Content
2. Posting Frequency
3. Targeting Hashtags
Question 9: At what size do you start getting paid / get free stuff as an Instagrammer?
This 100% depends on the account and style, but for us brands started connecting at around 20K & we were able to negotiate payment around there as well. We never suggest people start accounts to make money, however. Start an account because you have something new or personal to contribute to this platform! It will be way more rewarding in the long run, I promise you.
Question 10: What are some of your favorite ethical brands?
Question 11: How do you pack so light for your travels?
We try to only pack things that can be worn in multiple settings - jeans that can be dressed up or down, one piece bathing suits that can double as a bodysuit, shoes that are appropriate at a nice restaurant but also comfortable enough to wear walking around a city all day - that sort of thing. If you're packing something that only works in one setting, or even only works in two settings, don't. Everything needs to be versatile.
Question 12: Do you guys know where you're headed next?
As of now our next big trip's first 3 stops will be Paris, The Maldives, & Dubai. We're still deciding where to go from there and think we'll be traveling on that leg for about six weeks through to March.
Question 13: How do you get that light leak look / bokeh into your pictures?
Shoot into the light at sunset
Have your subject stand directly in front of the sun (or move around a bit once there to get the light to bend around your subject).
Question 14: What do you do with clothes you want to get rid of / don't wear anymore if you're trying to go all-ethical?
We suggest finding a cause looking for category-specific items (like men's winter coats & boots, or kid's T-shirts). Try to donate to causes with a specific immediate need so that your clothes don't end up in a heap in a mass donation pile where it'll likely take ages from them to get to the person who needs them the most.
Question 15: Is it hard working with your spouse? I've just started off a business with mine and the balance has been kind of hard to strike? Do you have one person assigned to the "boss" role?
I think it can be hard to be with any one person 24/7 in stressful situations, but overall it hasn't been that hard for us mainly because we have very different strengths / weaknesses / interests in the same field. We allow each other to have "veto power" over one another when it comes to making decisions if we know that the topic of discussion is more one person's strength than the other one's. This is so much easier than needing every little decision to be a discussion. We're both the boss of our own areas.
Thank you for following along & hope this was at least somewhat helpful!
Anna Lisa & Porter