How did you become a Photographer?
Ahhh the most popular question. I guess I’ve always been a photographer but I never thought I could earn a decent a living off of it. I remember stealing my parents’ polaroid as child and taking pictures when they weren’t looking. In high school I had a little Sony point and shoot camera that I used to take conceptual portraits of myself for MySpace. (Yes, MySpace!) In college I bought my first DSLR and started taking pictures of friends. Word got around that I take pictures and one day realized I needed to start charging or I'd never have any time to myself. Everything just kind of snowballed from there!
Which is your favorite lens? Why?
So far it’s been the 50mm, which I love for its versatility. My first 3 years in business I used primarily the 50mm (1.8 to 1.4 to finally 1.2 when I could afford it.) But I just got the 85L and I’m kind of obsessed with it. The 50 will always have a soft spot in my heart though.
When you go in one of your travels, what all you take with you? Why?
If I take my camera, usually the 35L because it captures more scenery. Honestly though, you’d be surprised at how much an iPhone is capable of. When I travel, carrying all my equipment can be more of a hassle than a pleasure and it takes away from really enjoying the experience. Nevermind the anxiety that something might happen to it. Usually when I’m in the moment it’s a quick iPhone shot, edited in the VSCO app and slapped onto Instagram or wherever. Later, I go back and print my favorites and hang them around my office. A picture is about a moment. The equipment is just an afterthought.
Among the gadgets that you own, is there something that you wish you hadn’t bought? Why?
Not really. My best advice though is to buy a proper tripod the first time. Spend a little more and it’ll save you money in the long run. I used to spend so much money on crappy tripods till I finally got a nice one and now I don’t have to worry about my camera falling over or buying another tripod for a while.
What do you want your viewers to take away from your work?
Well contrary to what you might think, I don’t want them to think ‘Oh that’s great photography’. Of course, if that’s something they pay attention to and realize then that’s the a really nice compliment, but the greatest compliment is knowing that I captured a moment that really means something to them. That’s the real reason why I do all of this. For people to look back on their pictures for years to come and be able to relive the day with their children, grandchildren, great-grand-children etc. someday. (And by then those kids will be making fun of me because they’ll be taking pictures with their eye contacts or something!)
Whose work has influenced you most?
Probably Jonas Peterson (www.jonaspeterson.com). He started out as a writer then one day picked up a camera and has been doing weddings ever since. I’ve always thought I would end up a writer which is why I have a bachelor’s degree in English but that took the back burner when my photography took off. I love how Jonas puts his heart and soul into his pictures and whenever I read his writing it’s both thought provoking and hilarious, just like his pictures. You can tell he truly cares about every one of his couples and he also lives my dream of traveling full-time for work with his family. Whenever I need a burst of inspiration I just look at this website or social media. He's doing a 365 challenge right now on Instagram where he takes all those pictures with his phone and they're still mind blowing. I just love him!
What kind of tools do you use for post processing? Explain your work flow.
I used to do everything in Photoshop, which I still do some of, but I've had a few friends turn me onto Lightroom which has cut my time on the computer considerably. I’ll do the portrait portion in Photoshop so I can be more precise and the rest in Lightroom to make sure all the colors and lighting are consistent. It’s seriously a lifesaver! I’ll continue to do portraits in Photoshop and take my time with them because really that’s what the whole day is about --the couple and their love for one another. If a bride has a breakout on her wedding day I don’t want her to worry about it because I'll get rid of all that stuff in Photoshop (Lightroom's spot tool can only do so much). And that’s not something she’d want to remember so it doesn’t have to exist. Sometimes film is better that way because it doesn't show all the imperfections but for now, I'm all about the digital.
How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?
I have many friends who are also great photographers. We help each other out a lot. And when we work together we learn from one another. Everyone’s got a different system so it’s always fun working with new people and seeing how they do things. When I first started out though, Google was my BEST friend. There’s a lot to photography. It’s part technical, part customer service, part marketing. I have different people I look up to for each of those things and just soak in as much information as I can from wherever I can get it! Last but not least, practice practice practice! There’s no better way to learn something than by actually doing it.
Among your works, which one is your favorite? Why?
Gosh, way to put me on the spot. Well I definitely have at least one photo I die over from every wedding but I have to mention this one that sticks out in my mind… It was at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. They have this massive plane hanging from the ceiling and underneath it is this large empty space with wood flooring and my couple is directly beneath the plane. It’s such a simple image but I see it as completely conceptual. It combines my love of traveling and my inner hopeless romantic. I can’t wait to find the love of my life and travel the world together.
What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
I really had no expectations! I just did what I felt I was destined to do and it’s worked out pretty well so far. If anything, I wish I would have had the guts to start when I was younger. Maybe I’d be where I wanted to be by now but now’s not so bad either. I have no regrets. :-)