How did you get started with photography?
It all started so long ago. I just remember all of us kids standing around the kitchen table at our first house when a mystery package arrived. My dad looked at it and said "oh, this one's for Julie." I opened it up and it was an old battery operated automatic film camera. I took it everywhere, around the yard, on field trips, taking way too many awful photos of the same thing ending up with rolls of film full of trees, skies, blurs, exc... My dad was a wedding photographer but he was also born with Choroideremia (a deterioration of the eyes) that progressed from the age of 16 and has been legally blind for almost as long as I can remember. At the age of 12, he gave me his old film Nikon that he shot weddings on. I learned everything I know about photography on that thing and took it everywhere. I entered contests with it, photographed friends, took it on camping trips and forest adventures. When I was 16, I sold almost everything I had to purchase my first digital camera-- including the old film Nikon from my dad (I still don't like to think about the fact that I sold it because it makes me cry). That began my journey to truly finding myself as a photographer, shooting with friends almost every weekend, bringing crazy concepts to life, and really kickstarting my passion to create. I like to believe I'm living on my dad's legacy as a photographic creator.
Nikon or Canon & What gear do you use?
I don't believe in the war on Nikon/Canon. If you ask me I will simply roll my eyes and say the only reason I shoot Nikon is because that's what I was given and once you start investing in 1 brand it's silly to switch over. They are both incredible and you will be fine with either. I shoot with a NikonD750. My favorite lens is my Nikon 35mm 1.4 and I shoot just about everything on that lens alone. I also have a Nikon 24-70mm 2.8 that I use for travel and wedding ceremonies and a macro lens that I use just for ring shots. I prefer to work as light as possible so you will never see me carrying a ton of gear.
What camera do you suggest for new photographers?
I'm no longer recommending specific cameras. There's way too many out there and frankly, I'm really not that tech savvy to tell you which one is going to make you a great photographer. I will tell you though, get one that has a manual setting, and learn it. The key to taking great photos, is learning the in's out's of your camera and why light does what it does, and how to work with changing shadows and speeds. I do always say though, that if you want to send me a link to the camera you're looking at, I'm totally willing to check out the specs and give you my two cents on wether it's a good purchase or not!
Ft: Some of my favorite work I shot in 2013 on a crappy crop sensor NikonD90
Did you take classes/is school necessary to become a photographer?
I did not take any classes. I am 100% self taught with both shooting + editing. It was completely trial and error over the last 13 years for me and I can almost completely guarantee you that if I went to school for photography I would not be a photographer right now. I strongly feel it would have squelched my passion and put me in a box which is why I opted out. Some people are different though. I'm better at hands on, taking time, working by myself. Some people need that teaching/project assignment approach and that's totally ok! Is it necessary if you want to be a professional? Absolutely not.
Do you have a favorite photographer/who is your biggest inspiration?
One of the first ever photographers to who really inspired me to create was Alexandra Sophie. It was the first time I had ever seen work that felt truly magical and it was like peering into a whole undiscovered world (her newer work is more fashion oriented but if you scroll to the beginning of her Instagram you will see what I mean). My most current inspirations since my style has truly developed are Hunter Leone, Irene Rudnyk, and Bella Kotak. I would like to say I'm a mix of all 4 with a little spark of my own.
How do I find "my style"?
What concepts/generes keep you awake at night day dreaming? That's probably your passion :)
Where do you get your ideas from/where do you draw your inspiration from?
Most of my concepts spark from either a piece of clothing, a location, or a quote. I see one of those things and I will start envisioning an entire story/character in my head around that one thing. I'm also greatly inspired by music, directors like Tim Burton + M. Night, nature, outer space/the sky, vintage finds, fantasy movies/books, words, and alone time-- day dreaming keeps my brain on it's toes.
Favorite editing music?
I love instrumental music and movie sound tracks. Some of my favorite composers are Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore, + Peter Gundry, and my favorite Pandora station that I have on almost all day every day is the "Helios" station. My favorite editing songs right now are:
-Solar Sailor (Daft Punk)
-Rebirth (Cash + Ferven)
-Beyond This Moment (Patrick O'Hearn)
-Divenire (Ludovico Einaudi)
-The Morning Room (Helios)
Where do you find your models/MUA's/How do I get vendors to collaborate with me?
Alot of my "models" are just friends, or people I admire online. There's also plenty of resources on social media where you can find models who want to collab with photographers for free trade. I found my favorite MUA at one of my first weddings years ago. We hit it off and have had a successful creator-ship ever since! Although you can find plenty of Hair/MUA people on all different social media platforms. My tip for collaborating with other vendors is to send them an email. My outline for vendor collab emails look a little something like this:
-What I'm doing
-Why I admire their work
-Why I think the shoot would benefit from their services
-What I expect of them
-What they get in return
-Samples of my work/publications
-Possibly a Pinterest mood board
Then you wait for a response and see if they want to work together or not. I've heard people say they're afraid to reach out because they're afraid of being shut down but really, the worst they can say is no, and you move on and find someone else who peeks your interest for a collab.
How do you get the backgrounds so blurry/how do you make your images look so magical?
I shoot basically everything with my aperture at 1.4-- that gives the ultra blur/gorgeous bokeh many of my photos have. 90% of the time I'm shooting with the sun behind my subject which gives everything a magical golden lining. Camera tech aside, I feel idea/mood is super important for that magical vibe! A solid concept, gorgeous/out of the ordinary wardrobe, and most of my models have professional makeup done which gives them that luminous glowing magical skin.
Biggest word of advice to new aspiring photographers?
Practice. Practice, practice, practice. When you aren't booking client work, book yourself-- assign yourself projects/concepts. Get together with friends and learn how to pose/work with people. Shoot at least once a week/every other week. Challenge yourself on your own time and fine tune your craft. That way when you have clients, these things you may struggle with will be polished, and become an effortless 2nd nature.
You finally fulfilled your dream of being a full time photographer! What now?
Reach new goals! I suppose my biggest goal right now is to do more destination/out of state work-- mostly weddings. I also want to get back into self portrait photography in my own time. But my "dream-big-probably-impossible" goals are to make most of my income as a creative/fantasy photographer. I'd also love to become a vacation photographer and travel all over the world with clients, photographing incredible portraits of them on their adventures. I absolutely believe both those things are possible. Everything changed for me when I started telling myself I could literally do anything I could dream up.