Y’all this is a post I am so excited about — I get to introduce my favorite local photographer and one of my good friends to all of my readers. Jasmin is the brains and creativity behind JLT Photography here in Charlotte. Not only is she so skilled when it comes to photography, but she is also so kind. She has taken more photos than I can count of me and of my entire family — and she is amazingly talented at both. Her no nonsense {in a good way!} personality helps to get the perfect shots, but at the same time she is patient when it comes to shooting little ones! And maybe best of all, she’s a great teacher! I’ve been trying to learn the ins and outs of my DSLR {off auto! gasp!} and she has been so helpful with my never-ending {and often repetitive} questions.

So without further adieu, here’s Jasmin …

the interview.

tell us about yourself.

Jasmin Thompson here, but you all probably recognize me as @jltphotography_clt – if you’ve followed Lauren for any amount of time! I am originally from a small town in South Carolina near Myrtle Beach named Murrells Inlet. I grew up on the water and I’m obsessed with the beach, like I could literally go everyday and not get sick of it. I moved to Charlotte in 2010, after graduating from the University of South Carolina with a degree in retail / fashion merchandising and quickly discovered I didn’t want to stay in retail as a career choice. So now, I work full time for Premier, Inc. as Performance Partner supporting hospitals and healthcare organizations in their efforts to improve the quality of healthcare, while simultaneously reducing the cost. Easier said done and there are a ton of details that I won’t bore you with. Truth be told – if you ask any family, closest of friends, or even my husband what I do, no one will be able to tell you.

Speaking of husband, I’ve been married to my hubs for 3 years, we’ve been together going on 8 years. We have a 13-month-old daughter, Lillian, a 4-month-old puppy, and an 8-year-old dog that kind of hates everyone. Needless to say, we’re a little busy and our house is a circus most days, but life is so good! I’ve always been super outgoing and the kind of friend that people go to for the truth, even if it’s something you don’t want to hear (but probably need to), which is probably why Lauren and I get along so well. I am a serious homebody that loves a good pinot noir, basically any kind of dessert, and binge-watching Law and Order: SVU. Who am I kidding though, I can’t binge watch anything with a 1 year old…

What led you to photography? Why do you love it?

I’ve always been interested in photography! I started to really love it a few years ago and became obsessed with it after my daughter was born. Once I got engaged, I would scroll Instagram for photographers, scour Pinterest for poses and outfit ideas, constantly refresh my photog’s Facebook or Instagram for the smallest sneak peek and print out every single photo from sessions to make photo albums. I had a beginner camera and had no clue how to use it, but after Lillian was born; I knew I wanted to get more serious about photography and really commit to learning the art of shooting and refining my editing style.

As moms, 99% of the time we’re the ones behind the camera (or camera phone), which is wonderful…for everyone else. But think about it, if you’re the one behind the camera – you’re not “technically” a part of the memories. Recognizing this, it drove me to commit to photography.

I love photography for some many reasons but mainly, it’s because of my families! I know how special the days and moments are even if your child is losing it, which happens 98% of the time by the way. There are always sweet moments in every session, even if it’s not the perfectly posed, smiling picture you saved on your Pinterest board. Also, the thought of having your work hang in houses every day and eventually being passed on to family members is a huge honor and it’s not one that I take lightly.

What camera do you use to shoot with?

I started with a Canon Rebel T6i with a stock lens and knew absolutely nothing about it. After Lillian was born, I started playing around with the settings more since I was using it to take her monthly growth pictures. I watched YouTube videos and browsed Pinterest for articles for beginner photographers and such. I also had a photographer that became a friend who was willing to answer all of my ridiculously dumb questions.

Once I got comfortable with my camera and lens, I bought a 50 mm, f/1.8 lens – which was kind of a game changer. I shot a bunch of free sessions I booked from a Charlotte Mom group on Facebook and found I was actually pretty good at this whole photography thing. At that point, all I could think about what photography (like fell asleep thinking about it) and I knew I wanted to do this for real. I pulled the trigger and upgraded to a Canon 7D, Mark II and bought a new lens. I went to Biggs Camera near Uptown and they were phenomenal! They are so helpful and knowledgeable there.

What lens do you use most often?

My favorite lens is definitely my 85mm f/1.4 Art Lens. I call it the “big boy” since he’s a little heavy, but man is he worth it. The sharpness is insane and the bokeh it creates is absolutely beautiful. I wish I could shoot everything with it, but sometimes it’s too much zoom for some scenarios! I do most of my shooting with my Sigma 35mm, f/1.4 now.

Do you have advice for novice photographers?

Even I am constantly learning but the first piece of advice I would say is take your camera off auto, more to come on that. It gives you so much more freedom with your shots and makes the biggest difference!

Next, just PICK UP YOUR CAMERA AND SHOOT! You can learn the fundamentals off YouTube or by reading articles, but it is so much more beneficial to pick up your camera at least once a day and just shoot different things. Change up your lighting situations, go outside, stay inside, shoot at night, try and photograph your dog or kid that is constantly moving, etc.! Change your shutter, f/stop, and ISO independently of each other to see what effect the changes have. Learn the rule of thirds, but don’t get stuck there! You can learn a lot about the way you would shoot by analyzing the types of photos you like, but don’t be afraid to be yourself! Lastly, invest in a good lens when you feel ready. It makes all the difference in the world!

Speaking of taking your camera off auto, give us a simple “how to.”

This is probably the most terrifying, intimidating and overwhelming thing for folks, at least it was for me… but it is absolutely necessary! You will have to learn what shutter speed, f/stop, and ISO all are and how they work together:

Here are some things to consider and remember, first being – even I am still learning but this is how I find things easiest to think about:

* Shutter speed: This is how quickly or slowly your shutter opens and closes. Shutter speed is shown in a fraction of sorts i.e. 1/20, 1/250 or 1/1000 but what helps me remember is thinking about miles per hour. Stick with me here… if you’re traveling at 20 mph, you (and your shutter) going pretty slow, this means that your shutter will be open longer and therefore let more light in. Sounds great right? Well, it can be – but your subject (or your hands) have to be completely still. If you’re shooting kids, forget about it – they’ll be a one big blur. If you’re traveling at 250 mph, you’re going fairly fast and then 1,000 is very, very fast. So, in contrast, the quicker your shutter is opening and closing, the less light that will be let in. You will be able to freeze time with a quicker shutter and moving objects. In summary:

o Smaller shutter (1/20): longer the shutter is open, more light, cannot shoot movement (without getting blur), useful in darker settings or indoors

o Faster shutter (1/1000): small amount of time your shutter is open, less light, can “freeze frame” movement, great for bright and full sunshine conditions

* F/stop or Aperture: Aperture is pretty much a hole in your camera’s lens that lets light pass through that you can make wider or smaller. This also affects the depth of field that your camera sees and the numbers work the opposite way that you think they should here! Not confusing at all. A low f/stop of say, 1.4 is a wide opening and a shallow depth of field. This is great for darker conditions and detail shots. Using a low f/ stop is not ideal for groups, but great for 1 – 2 subjects and gives you the bokeh affect, or the blurred background everyone loves! A higher f/stop of 16 is a small opening and wider depth of field, this is ideal for sunny days and group shots, but you do lose the pretty bokeh affect for the most part. In summary:

o Small f/stop: Wide opening, shallow depth of field for great bokeh, for use when lighting is darker, and ideal for detail and up-close shots

o Large f/stop: Small opening, wider depth of field for group shots and sunny days

* ISO: I have no idea what ISO actually stands for, but this is the measurement of sensitivity to light in your camera. As a rule of thumb, I’ve heard its best to keep your ISO as low as possible and change this in a last resort effort to get the exposure right in your shot. As you increase ISO, you also increase the “noise” or grain you get on images. Some cameras handle higher ISO’s better than others, so do your research if you know you’ll be shooting in low light frequently. Low ISO’s are great for bright, sunny days and as the lighting situations get darker, you will need to increase that number, but I always adjust my shutter speed and f/stop before touching my ISO! In summary:

o Low ISO: 100 -200, sunny days and bright light situations

o Higher ISO: 1000(ish) and above, indoors and night shooting situations

If you are a beginning photographer and want to bounce questions off of me, I am happy to help. Photography is always on my mind and I LOVE talking about it. It’s been insanely beneficial for me to bug my photog friends with questions and scenarios! It’s about community over competition.

Thanks to Lauren for having me over on the blog and thanks to you for reading!! Hopefully, I will see y’all in front of my camera soon! XO, Jasmin

A huge thanks to Jasmin for taking the time to pop over to LC Style Report! I hope that y’all will take her advice and take those DSLR’s off auto — it really is a game changer. And so much fun to learn how one thing can change another and how even slightly different light makes a huge difference! And if you’re in Charlotte, I highly recommend having Jasmin shoot you or you family — I promise you won’t regret it!

Now tell me, do you own a DSLR? Have you ever considered owning one? What’s your favorite thing to photograph?

xo, LC

all photos by Jasmin of JLT Photography

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