paying it forward.

Yesterday, a photographer reached out to me after just shooting the D.C. Hendrick’s Gin event, similar to the one that I recently shot in Chicago. Apparently the promotions company that handles the account had mentioned they liked my photos (HOORAY!), and he sent the following email…

Hey Jill,

My name is (we’ll say, *Matt*), and I just shot a Hendrick’s event here in DC.  They mentioned really liking the shots you took at their event in Chicago, and I was hoping you could give me a little insight on the actions you used on those pictures and anything else you did to touch them up.

If this is uncouth, let me know, but any help would be appreciated.


After looking up “uncouth” on (I’m a photographer, not a wordsmith!) I was beyond excited to share my knowledge with another photographer – like so many other photographers had done for me over the past year. I’ve built my entire business by learning from others. Learning what is industry standard, studying other’s workflows and adapting it to work for me, applying new techniques that I’ve read about in photography forums. Yes, I put the work in and my vision is my vision, but I apply everything I’ve learned to create something that is completely Jill Tiongco Photography. I realize Jill Tiongco Photography wouldn’t be where it is today without the help of all the photographers who generously offered their experiences to me. So why wouldn’t I happily pay it forward? Here’s how I responded…

Hi  *Matt*,

I’m happy to help! I’m a firm believer that we as vendors need to stick together in this industry and resorting to purely competition shows more inadequacies than strengths. I hope the information below helps and if there’s anything else I can do for you in the future, please don’t hesitate to ask 🙂

 I’m not sure what the light situation was like at the events in D.C., but here’s what I did at the Chicago events.

 I shot at 500 ISO, using a Canon 420EX pointed upwards (occasionally pointed downwards at the ground to bounce the light up underneath the character’s faces to create a more mysterious, eerie look), at about a 1/250 to 1/320 shutter speed. I primarily shot during the event with my 24-70mm 2.8L (in hindsight, I wish I would have used a 35mm 1.4 during the event), and I also shot details with a 50mm 1.2L.

 As for post, I wish I could give you a set of actions that I used, but I manually created a look that I liked, applied to all the photos, and adjusted if necessary. Here are the basics of what I adjusted using Lightroom 4:

–         Exposure, contrast, post-crop vignette

–         Increased clarity more than what’s “natural” looking, also increased luminance

–         Decreased saturation about 25%

–         Sometimes added slight grain

That’s really all I can think of right now. If you have questions on any of this, please feel free to follow-up.You can also see my photos from the Chicago Hendrick’s Events at Or read my blog post at

Good luck and I’d love to see your photos when you’re done.


And although his response was short and sweet, I think he was delightfully surprised and appreciated it…

Hey Jill,

This was by far the most helpful email I have received in a very long time.

Thanks for the help!

I’m so glad I could help him, and in case any of you want to see the photos that were produced using the techniques listed above, you can check out my blog post from the Chicago Hendrick’s Events, or see the full gallery here.