Meet Erin, a Nikon user who specializes in portraits and weddings. She shoots with her left eye but is trying to learn using her right eye so that her nose doesn’t get in the way:) She shoots in RAW using manual mode. She loves Kubota’s Magic Sharp Action most.
Describe the moment you decided it was time to pursue this as a career?
In college I majored in journalism, so when I got out of school I applied for a reporting job at a newspaper. Part of the interview process included writing an assigned story with accompanying photos. A few days after turning in my story, the editor called me with a job offer– as a photographer, not a writer! I like to think it meant that I was an awesome photographer and not a terrible writer!
24mm, 100iso, 1/1600, f/2.8
What is one thing you’ve learned so far that has proven most valuable?
You are reflected in the faces of your subjects. A fellow photographer gave me this wise insight during a critique of my work. I couldn’t quite figure out what was lacking in my images, and he said it was my confidence. My nervousness was felt by my subjects, who in turn became less confident in front of the camera. That idea pretty much blew my mind the first time I heard it, and now it has shaped the way I interact with my clients.
24mm, 2500iso, 1/100, f/2.8
What makes you as a business person different from everyone else?
Ha, well, I am still trying to put this into marketable terms, but it comes down to my personality and experience. I’m a pretty laid-back, flexible person, and I think that shows in my work. It’s less formal and more relaxed. I’m also a former photojournalist, which has given me tons of challenges and growth opportunities (how many wedding photographers have also shot alongside the FBI and SWAT team? Now that’s pressure!). The journalism experience also means I’m trained to do more than make a nice photo– I want to tell a story as well.
50mm, 100iso, 1/500, f/1.4
Who is your one favorite up-and-coming photographer?
I would probably have a panic attack if my computer blew up…
Your best bokeh image and why?
50mm, 160iso, 1/200, f/1.4
I have photos (probably some in this article) with better technical bokeh, but I simply love how it works with the moment in this one. The groom has just whispered an inside joke to the bride, and she responded in such an emotional way. The bokeh here adds to the intimacy and solidarity of the moment.
Why did you want to be included on The Bokeh Pot?
I love seeing what other photographers out there are doing and learning, and so I wanted to contribute!
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
17-55mm, 17mm, 320iso, 1.3, f/2.8, flash
It’s a toss up… O Brother Where Art Thou, The first Matrix and Clueless. I know, I’m weird.
Favorite songs to work to?
My awesome 90’s mix!
17-55mm, 20mm, 250iso, 1/125, f/4
Where do you find inspiration?
DC is such a vibrant city; it’s almost impossible to ignore inspiration here! Historic row houses, street murals, monuments, gritty urban textures, blooming cherry blossoms, I could go on and on.
Aside from yourself, what do you think is the most valuable aspect of your business?
My talent and good business skills (something I am honing by reading everything I can about business practices!).
Do you use a second shooter?
17-55mm, 18mm, 500iso, 1/2000, f/4
How would you recommend that someone wanting to second shoot with you go about getting the gig?
Email me with a link to your work, and, unfortunately, be prepared to shoot for free. I don’t normally offer a 2nd shooter so my brides aren’t paying extra for the service.
If you could second shoot with anyone, who would it be?
That’s a tough one! I’m torn between Michelle Moore (whom like I said, I stalk regularly) and Zack Arias, who is basically the man, an awesome inspiration, and resident of my hometown.
What did you have to do to actually take the leap? Did you have any hoops to jump through?
I had to listen to my husband! After my newspaper job I worked in a private studio doing weddings and portraits. After awhile I was the unofficial manager and started to feel I had the tools to do it on my own. But I was a scaredy-cat. My husband’s encouragement and support is what really made it happen.
50mm, 250iso, 1/100, f/1.4
Do you have suggestions for others trying to make the transition?
Learn as much as you can before creating your own business. Assist, work in a studio, volunteer, read books and get critique. Some people think they’re ready and get in too deep too quick. There’s a lot more to owning a business than picking out a name and logo. I spent most of my first year filling out paperwork for business licenses, taxes, insurance, credentials, IRS notifications, etc. Not too fun!
What is the biggest or most creative thing you do/have done to draw new clients?
Joining a VIP shopping network. People with the VIP card get emailed promotions and discounts from businesses all over my area. I’m one of those businesses. Brides show me their VIP card and get the current promotion.
20mm, 125iso, 1/400, f/2.8
What are some of your weaknesses as a photographer?
My biggest weakness is that I don’t shoot for fun enough. I can see a big difference in the client shoots where I have been shooting regularly on my own and the shoots where I hadn’t been doing that as much. Shooting without paid clients helps me feel more comfortable to try super-creative, crazy things, which later I can tweak and use for paid shoots. I also compose vertically way too much, and have to force myself to think horizontally.
Are you for or against advertising (paid or free)? If for, who have you had the most success with?
You have to be for it if you want to make money, haha. I have had the most success advertising on Facebook, Google searches, and word-of-mouth.
50mm, 160iso, 1/250, f/1.4
How do you go about networking with other wedding vendors?
Make a point to meet and exchange cards with vendors at wedding shows, join local clubs, join linked in and Facebook groups with local vendors. And of course you can always email people directly!
20mm, 250iso, 1/125, f/2.8
What does an overview of your typical workflow look like?
3. Edit down images in Lightroom, ranking favorites as I go
4. Adjust color/exposure of remaining images
5. Open top 5-10 images in Photoshop for tweaking and watermark
6. Upload those 5-10 to the blog/Facebook as a preview
7. Tweak any other images that need it in PS
8. Batch sharpen everything
9. Upload to online gallery
10. Burn DVD if purchased
If the shoot is a wedding, I always wait a day between steps 2 and 3. I need to detach myself from the images a bit before I can edit objectively.
50mm, 100iso, 1/800, f/1.4
How do you stay organized?
It’s not easy, and honestly I am not the most organized person, but I try to keep both my physical and digital workstation organized by specific categories and folders. I keep lots of lists. And I love gmail’s search feature for anything that falls through the cracks!
What’s your idea of the perfect photographer networking “date”?
Good food and comfy chairs should always be involved! I think shooting “dates” are really more successful and fun in a larger group.
50mm, 100iso, 1/800, f/1.8
Anything else you would like to share?
Thanks for reading! If you’re ever in DC and want some touristy suggestions I have a lot of them!
24mm, 100iso, 1/400, f/2.8
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