Meet Chelsea Hudson, a Canon shooter who uses her right eye. She shoots in JPEG using mostly Aperture priority, but is currently transitioning over to fully manual mode. She uses all kinds of actions, but she modifies them to suit her processing style.
Describe the moment you decided it was time to pursue this as a career?
There wasn’t really a moment, but a succession of moments. The clincher was
when a friend came over to my apartment in Berlin, Germany and walked in the
door and said, “We think you need to do this as a business and I will make
you a website in exchange for some maternity and newborn photos.” I said,
“You have a deal!” I had been really into photography for some time since
moving to Berlin. Europe is definitely a great place to get into something
artistic like photography. I had my first daughter there in Berlin and
strangely enough (not really) my photographic interests started to focus on
a little human being more than the neighborhood palace or funky downtown
buildings. My husband offered to be my business manager, and my first real
client offered to design a website for me. I took these as green lights and
I have not looked back since!
40D – 400 ISO – 1/1000, 7.0, 50mm
What is one thing you’ve learned so far that has proven most valuable?
Shoot what you love, and learn to shoot well. Focus on technique (not
technicalities) and not on acquiring the latest gadgets, gear and software
as you progress and learn. Practice, practice, practice… and then practice
some more. Unless you consider OpenSourcePhoto a school, I have never had
any formal education regarding photography. I am still learning… but I am
not depending on a certain action, piece of equipment, or upgrade to help me
“get there.” I shoot to capture the human connection, when shooting people,
and God’s creative genius when I am shooting nature or architecture… all
of the post processing is to enhance what is already there, not create
something from nothing. I cannot create emotion via an action or texture, I
just have to know how to use the equipment that I already have to capture
the moments people give to me.
20D – 1600 ISO – 1/640, 2.8, 100mm
What makes you different from everyone else?
I don’t know that I am that different than many other photographers. I DO
know that my clients tell me that I make them feel comfortable, real,
relaxed and at home. I have had clients show up to a shoot nervous, uptight,
dreading “taking pictures” (have to admit, most of these are the guys), but
have left with a smile, relaxed, and saying “Hey, that was actually really
fun.” My goal is to capture my clients in their real lives, real skin and
real moments…. and they have to be comfortable and relaxed to be able to
give me those moments. Its a beautiful dance of
sorts – I strive to make them comfortable with themselves and with me and then they relax, laugh, giggle, kiss, hug etc… and then I get to capture those moments digitally and in turn give them
back those very moments via timeless images that they can relive over and over. Its truly a beautiful thing.
20D – 400 ISO – 1/320, 2.8, 85mm
Who is your one favorite up-and-coming photographer?
One?? No can do. I will give you a couple of them. 🙂 They are not up and
coming, but certainly fantastic. You just featured them on this blog a
couple of weeks ago – the Chansons (
http://radiantphotographyaz.com/radiant_life/). We live in the same metro
area, and are planning to meet up in person, finally, soon. But I have been
admiring their work for awhile. They are a husband-wife team that seems to
encompass all that is required for an INCREDIBLE future in the photography
and design world – technical smarts, artistic genius, personality, love of
people, and the list goes on. One of the things I admire most about them, is
how they feature someone or some organization that is giving back in this
world. They give a portion of their shooting fees to these
people/organizations each month. That is impressive. That is one of the
reasons I think they are going to go big… because their vision is not
limited to themselves and their own work, but it encompasses so many others.
I hope to have a similar feature in my business in the near future.
20D – 200ISO – 1/640, 2.2, 85mm
One item you can’t live without?
Your best bokeh image and why?
40D – 400ISO – 1/640, 2.8, 85mm
I so love this image…. it is hanging as a large canvas on my
daughter’s wall. It absolutely screams of the innocence and preciousness of
the early years.
Why did you want to be included on The Bokeh Pot?
I have to admit, exposure and networking. I am new to the Phoenix area and
am building my business and presence here slowly but surely. I have actually
seen several local photographers featured here and hope to meet them
sometime in the near future as well. I love this blog and love learning
about so many in the industry and I am excited to be featured as well!
Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret is an all-time favorite
Anne of Green Gables, Three Amigos, Blood Diamond, Amistad, Ghandi, Dumb
and Dumber… hey, I am well rounded.
20D – 400ISO – 1/1600, 1.8, 85mm
Where do you find inspiration?
I often find it traveling… anywhere, anyplace. If I am stuck in a rut in
my portraiture shooting, I will go for a hike in the mountains behind our
house and look for inspiration in the desert. If I have been shooting alot
of nature/travel/fine art, I get really excited and inspired to shoot a
newborn session or a senior session. As far as people that inspire me, my
friend and fellow photographer, Alyssa, inspires me to no end. She is an
undiscovered gem in the photography industry, and she probably prefers to
stay that way for now… what with her SEVEN children and all. You can get a
little bit of a taste of her creative genius on her blog (
http://www.xanga.com/kiddosphotos). She inspires me on so many levels,
photographically and beyond.
What do you think is the most valuable aspect of your business?
Everyone and I mean everyone wants the images on cd/dvd. I offer them at
this point, built into most packages. I am ok with that. I have been on both
sides of the debate and at this stage in my life and business, this works
for me, and apparently very much so for my clients. At some point, I may
change to another pricing/product strategy, but for now, this is working for
Do you use a second shooter?
Many times, but not always.
How would you recommend that someone wanting to second shoot with you go about getting the gig?
Email me, talk to me, show me a good website and/or blog with their best
images. Buy me some coffee and you get the gig. No, I am only kidding…
really, just talk to me and we’ll see what we can do!
If you could second shoot with anyone, who would it be?
me ra koh. Would give my right arm for that chance. I respect her art, her
life, her family, her business sense… I would love to second with her, and
even more-so, sit down and just chat with her for an evening, you know,
after the 14 hour wedding day. 🙂
Are you a member of any organizations and have you won any awards?
Does OSP count?? I did get a couple of images selected in the recent
contest. Didn’t win, but sure felt honored to even be a finalist! I am looking into WPPI and also PPA this year.
What did you have to do to actually take the leap? Did you have any hoops to jump through?
I started the business in Europe, so transitioning into the business here
in the USA has been a process…. still a process, so I will get back to you
on that. Other than the normal things, I think getting a blog and website to
feature your work is a huge step in the right direction.
Do you have suggestions for others trying to make the transition?
1.) Practice, practice, practice. 2.) Don’t be afraid of shooting some free
sessions (of your own choosing) to build up your portfolio or referral
network. I have done several of these since moving to a completely new city
with no contacts. It has paid off with the referrals and foot in the door
with the various networks of each of these “free” clients. The important
thing is that YOU choose who to offer the shoots to. I don’t respond to
those who ask me for free shoots. And when I have done a shoot for free, it
is usually as a gift of some sort so that the word doesn’t get out that I am
that “free” photographer. 3.) Be wary of doing “deals” for friends. My
exceptions to this rule is A. a percentage off, across the board, for a
certain group I am connected with (maybe a mops, church, work group,
whatever), B.) referral discounts, and C.) a service exchange (occasionally
and only if it is of equal benefit and use to both parties). If I want to do
something special for a friend, I do it for free when I can. But again, it
is offered by my and not requested by them.
What is the biggest or most creative thing you do/have done to draw new clients?
Nothing really. Any suggestions 🙂 I rely solely on word of mouth and the
Are you for or against advertising (paid or free)? If for, who have you had the most success with?
I paid for a local newspaper add once and didn’t see anything from it. I
could see how being featured in a magazine could be extremely helpful, but
blogging and word of mouth seem to be the best bet.
What’s your idea of the perfect photographer networking “date”?
Food, drinks, great conversation and a shoot together… official or just
Anything else you would like to share?
As a stay-at-home-mom, photography has provided such an essential creative
outlet for me. I need it in my life to help keep me grounded and sane in
this stage of life. It is such a gift from Above to me right now. My two
little princesses, ages 1.5 and 3.5, keep me hopping to say the least. I
unwind and refuel by meeting new clients, shooting with them and capturing
priceless moments and then coming home to process those moments. It is
therapeutic for me. I love it. I love seeing life through my lenses…. your
life, my life, my children, our world around us. I love being able to freeze
moments in time and enjoy them over and over and over. I love what I do and
I do it as much for me as I do for my clients. I like to encourage any new
mom to find what energizes her, inspires her and provides that outlet she so
needs and just go for it. Make room in your life for it. Everyone else in
your life will benefit… especially you. 🙂