Meet Erinn-Dehn Austin (E.D. for short). E.D. and her husband focus mostly on maternity, family, children, and senior portraits. Erinn shoots Canon using her right eye. She shoots RAW in manual mode and can’t live without Red Leaf Studios Retro Actions.
Describe the moment you decided it was time to pursue this as a career?
When I married my husband he was already an established wedding photographer, but I nudged him to try lifestyle portraits as well. After a while it became clear to both of us that while doing a family or kid session I was setting up the shot, telling him how to frame it, and he looked at me one day and said: “why don’t you shoot it.” I’ve been stuck on photography ever since, we are a perfect fit.
What is one thing you’ve learned so far that has proven most valuable?
Shoot. In the beginning I was always so worried about capturing the “perfect” shot, that I missed those shots by trying to wait for it. I believe the “perfect” shot finds you, you just have to be ready with your finger on the shutter!
What makes you different from everyone else?
I am constantly evolving. Sure I have a style that is my own, but I constantly change what I am doing to fit the subject I am shooting. I think this helps me capture a family, a personality, or even a relationship the way it really is. I love to tell stories, whatever that story may be. I believe it shows in my portraits.
Who is your one favorite up-and-coming photographer?
So many photographers inspire me. There is so much phenomenal talent around. If I had to choose one it would be my husband, Chris Austin. He is such a talented wedding photographer, and we work so well as a team. He is the reason I am a photographer, he has taught me so much.
One item you can’t live without?
My 50mm 1.4. It is my favorite portrait lens.
Your best bokeh image and why?
My husband got me a photography book of Vanity Fair portraits for my birthday, and since I have always been more into “picture” books I’d have to say that it tops my list at this moment. If you are looking for a great book for inspiration, that is a fabulous place to start!
I am a huge fan of movies. My all time favorite would be between Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Super Troopers, totally random but they capture both sides of my personality.
Where do you find inspiration?
In nature, in my family and friends, and in the work of other talented photographers. It’s funny that I can’t even drive down the street without seeing the potential for a great shot on the side of the road. I have said numerous times, “Oh I wish I had a bride on call.”
What do you think is the most valuable aspect of your business?
My clients. My clients are much more then subjects in front of my camera, they are my friends. These families let me into to a very meaningful and special moment in their lives. I share a part of them, and I am forever thankful for those moments. Without my clients I would not have my wonderful shots. They also are my best advertising, I do not advertise, I am strictly word of mouth, and my favorite words are “my friend referred me to you, I loved her family portraits…”
Do you use a second shooter?
My husband and I are both on shoots. I am the primary shooter, unless he has a wonderful idea. It takes a couple of us on a family or kid shoot to wrangle the rugrats, keep them laughing, and occassionaly get them to look at the camera. It is good training for both of us for parenthood someday!
How would you recommend that someone wanting to second shoot with you go about getting the gig?
Call me. I believe 100% in mentoring others and helping them develop their trade and style. I also learn a lot from other shooters. You real miss out on so much when you think you have learned everything there is to know.
If you could second shoot with anyone, who would it be?
Carrie Sandoval. She is my superstar of newborn photography. In my opinion there is no one better in her specialty then her. It would be a dream come true because I love to capture newborns, but I have the most problems with keeping them happy and asleep. Her pictures are flawless and tell a story so perfectly.
Are you a member of any organizations and have you won any awards or been published?
I am a member of WPPI and OSP. I was also recently published in The Bump magazine with one of my maternity portraits. I was so psyched because I am a HUGE goal setter, and one of my goals was to be published within a year. I made it right under the wire! I am not really in this business for the awards or recognition. It is quite an honor to be recognized for my work, but I find the greatest rewards come when my clients are thrilled with their portraits.
What did you have to do to actually take the leap? Did you have any hoops to jump through?
Getting over my fear of actually charging to take someone’s picture. I suffer from being a perfectionist and very hard on myself and my work. It took me a while before I actually felt like my work was worth getting paid for, even if everyone else knew it was. It is tough when you are your own biggest critic.
Do you have suggestions for others trying to make the transition?
Believe in yourself. Never miss and opportunity to shoot. When I started out I shot everything and everyone (my friends loved it). Most importantly for me, don’t think when shooting, feel the shot. My favorite images aren’t the technically ideal shots, but they are the ones where I felt something, and I think that feeling reflects in the shot.
What is the biggest or most creative thing you do/have done to draw new clients?
That is hard, because I got into this business in a very difficult time in the economy. Families are struggling right now to get through the month, without thinking of investments like photography. I have really become economical and lowered my prices significantly. I want to make sure that everyone has a great portrait of themselves and their loved ones, not only those that can afford it. The money is great, but if you are in this business for the money alone, you are in the wrong business. If you shoot portraits, you have to be in it for the people, for the connections.
What’s your idea of the perfect photographer networking “date”?
I love the group Trash the Dress shoots my husband and I plan. At least 20-30 photographers come out at a time, accompanied with amazing hair and makeup artists, and gorgeous models! We pick a fun location, and everyone just grabs a girl, or couple and heads out. Photographers come from all over the West and bring their favorite props, lighting, etc. It is very informal and fun. The group shoots are also a phenomenal way for newbies to meet people, and learn from other photographers on lighting, posing, and composition. I love to see all the creative ideas each photographer has!
Anything else you would like to share?
I am always willing to share, and I love questions. Please feel free to contact me if you just want to chat, or if you have a techincal or artistic question!
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