Meet Rachael Earl, a wedding and portrait photographer who shoots Canon using her right eye. She shoots RAW in manual mode, uses her own Lightroom presets, and Kubota’s Magic Sharp action for web images.
Describe the moment you decided it was time to pursue this as a career?
Well, I guess it has always been the direction I’ve been heading! I started in high school over ten years ago, majored in Photography in college (graduated from ASU in 2001), and started working for another photographer in Arizona before I graduated. I started out shooting weddings on film, which is such a challenge compared to digital today! I was at a point where it was either spend a bunch of money on film equipment, or start a family. I chose to start a family at that time, which I’ve never regretted. I’m glad I didn’t invest in equipment at the time because digital fits my style so much more. I really delved into the photography biz after my second baby was born because it’s something I love, and I couldn’t stay away too long!
What is one thing you’ve learned so far that has proven most valuable?
Being formally educated in photography and working with another photographer for so long were a great foundation, but it is SO important to continue learning and growing. Attending seminars, viewing and being inspired by other photographers’ work, and getting out there and trying to grow each time you shoot are all so important. So, I guess in a nutshell, the thing that I’ve learned is to never stop learning!
What makes you different from everyone else?
That’s a hard question because as a photographer, I feel like I draw off of other people and am inspired by them so much. I guess I would have to say that I go into situations trying to think outside of the box-how would other people shoot this, and how could I make it different?
Who is your one favorite up-and-coming photographer?
Purple Nickel Studios down in Tucson. They are probably some of the most creative photographers out there-constantly wowing me with their amazing images, and super cool people in general.
One item you can’t live without?
Adobe Lightroom! I can process sessions so fast with it-it is actually the item my family can’t live without, or else they would never see me!!!
Your best bokeh image and why?
I shoot with a shallow depth of field a lot…nearly every image, but I just shot a pregnancy session that I loved the bokeh on because you can just see the form of her cute little pregnant belly in the background and the focus is on the gorgeous scenery around. The light was perfect and warm that day, and everything just came together. I love the image.
Probably still A Tale of Two Cities, which I read in high school.
That is a toughie, so I’ll narrow it down to 3: There’s Something About Mary, Snatch, and Love Actually. I love funny/witty movies, and movies with crazy awesome plots.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find a lot of inspiration from movies/tv/music, and MAGAZINES! Pretty much all pop culture. I study up on the history of photography a lot, and draw inspiration from the masters.
What do you think is the most valuable aspect of your business?
I think consistency and setting correct expectations are the most valuable attributes a photographer can possess.
Do you use a second shooter?
Sometimes-it’s kind of a new concept to me! When I used to shoot weddings on film, I would take an assistant to load backs and help with lighting, but that person would only shoot during the ceremony. I would try to make every image a good one because you had to pay to develop it sight unseen! Today with digital, you can shoot and shoot, and let a second shooter go crazy with the images because there’s no processing cost (except time!). It’s always nice to have the company and someone to bounce ideas off of, that’s for sure!
How would you recommend that someone wanting to second shoot with you go about getting the gig?
I have had a lot of people recently ask if they could second shoot with me, and what I always tell them is to come to be known and friendly in the photographic community. I don’t usually take people unless I know them and know that our personalities will mesh.
If you could second shoot with anyone, who would it be?
I’m sure he doesn’t take on second shooters, but just to be in the room with Mario Testino during a session would be amazing.
Are you a member of any organizations and have you won any awards?
I’m a member of the PPA.
What did you have to do to actually take the leap? Did you have any hoops to jump through?
It was actually kind of funny-I turned to my husband one day and said “I’m going to do photography a lot more.” He said, “Good-do it!” That was that! I had all of the equipment and had just not yet pushed myself to do it more full-time. My girls were finally old enough and good enough with babysitters that I didn’t have to worry about them as much!
Do you have suggestions for others trying to make the transition?
It definitely takes a lot of time out of your life, so be prepared and always try to balance the things that are important to you so that you’re not pulled too far in one direction or another. You also need to perfect your workflow so that it doesn’t consume you.
What is the biggest or most creative thing you do/have done to draw new clients?
I put a post up on my blog a while ago, actually a contest, for people to find a reason to get photographs done. People always get Christmas photos, wedding photos, baby photos, but why not photos just because? I’ve had that register with a lot of people, and I’m doing more sessions just because, which is cool.
Are you for or against advertising (paid or free)?
If for, who have you had the most success with? I don’t really pay for advertising-I’d rather be referred by a happy client, or have someone find my website and love my work!
What’s your idea of the perfect photographer networking “date”?
I think anytime you’re shooting together is great. In Arizona, groups get together all the time to learn and grow. I am amazed that in this industry, you can be great friends with your competition.
***Enjoy this feature? Leave a comment to let us know!***