Stephanie, your work is absolutely stunning. One of the things I absolutely love about your work, because it’s also one of my favorite techniques, is your depth of field. Do you find that shooting wide open is part of your style?
Oh gosh, thank you so much! I absolutely love shooting wide open, and I think that it’s definitely become a technique that’s defined my style.
It’s not something that I started out doing intentionally, when I first started shooting, but over time, it’s emerged as something consistent in my images. I’ve always loved to shoot up-close, and shooting wide open is the perfect way to put the focus on my clients and their beautiful faces.
Your photos are perfectly sharp where needed. What do you do to ensure you get this every time?
Honestly, it was lots of shooting, and lots of trial and error at first. But getting to know my gear really well helped tremendously. I know where the sweet spots are in my favorite lenses, and I know the settings at which my camera performs best in relation to the locations I shoot and the type of images I want to create. I’ve also switched to toggling my focus points rather than focusing/recomposing. Once I started doing this, I noticed a big change in my images. I don’t have a very steady camera hand, so not having to shift my camera after focusing was a big help.
What made you decide you wanted to be a photographer?
Sadly, I had terrible wedding photos. I was soooo disappointed in them and how they just felt “flat” and didn’t even remotely reflect the feeling of the day at all. It was almost like looking at pictures of strangers, instead of the family and friends I love so much. I’ve always been that annoying girl with the camera at our family events, and I’ve always loved taking pictures, but I really had no idea about photography. I just pointed and clicked, and even then I kept thinking, looking at my wedding photos, “Wow. Even I could do better than this.” Oddly enough, I never had a desire to be a wedding photographer, but that’s what really created the spark for me.
What do you find is the best way to promote your photography business?
Oh, it’s definitely happy clients! The majority of my bookings come from word of mouth and are referrals from clients who love their photos and are really happy with the experience they had. That’s just about the best feeling ever, knowing that you’ve given your clients something they value enough to recommend to their family and friends.
And of course, social media has been a fun way to organically promote my business. Facebook has been great for increasing my visibility to my market: my clients are sharing their photos with their friends, and their friends see them, and so on. It’s been a really good way to connect with my clients and potential clients without having to do formal,”in your face” marketing.
How would you describe your photography style?
I think my photography style is genuine, vibrant and fun. At least, that’s what I’m hoping it is! I like to shoot up close and personal, because those beautiful faces deserve to be full frame. My goal in every session is to create fun, modern, vibrant images that are authentic in the way they capture each person’s natural charm. When my clients look at their photos 20 years from now, I want them to look back and remember how they felt at this time in their lives, and not just see what the fashion trends were. I really want my clients to have portraits with feeling and personality.
How do you get your clients to relax and feel natural around you?
I’m naturally uncoordinated, so I am always giving my clients a good laugh during our session But really, getting them to relax and feel natural starts way before the session. I always want to give my clients a unique and personalized portrait experience that they can’t wait to tell their friends about. And that starts at the beginning, with the first phone call or email. I take the time to really get to know my clients before our session and to develop a great relationship, so that when it’s time for their portraits, it’s like we’re old friends.
Are you Canon or Nikon?
What’s your favorite lens?
I’m head over heels for my 85mm f1.2L lens. It’s on my camera body about 95% of the time. I feel like it’s a perfect fit for my up close and personal shooting style, and the bokeh it produces when shooting wide open is just AH-MA-ZING. My 135mm f2.0L is a close second. I haven’t had it as long as I’ve had my 85mm, and we’re still getting to know each other.
What tip would you give aspiring photographers?
I did so many things backwards when I was just starting out and made a lot of (expensive) mistakes. Looking back, the best thing I could have done in the beginning would have been to really understand the business end of things. Things like establishing solid business policies and understanding what it really takes to run a profitable business. It took a little while to realize that just making pretty pictures wasn’t going to be enough and that when it came down to it, it was actually costing me money to do a portrait session. And that didn’t feel so good. I needed a business plan so that I knew who my ideal clients were, and I needed to price myself in such a way that I could cover my cost of goods, cost of doing business, pay taxes and also make a profit. I really believe that educating myself about business licensing and taxes, identifying the type of business I wanted to create and then creating a good business framework was a turning point in growing my business. Let’s face it, the business part of photography isn’t very sexy, and it’s nowhere near as much fun as photographing pretty people. But once I started to take my business seriously, my clients did, too.
Where do you see your career in 5 years?
I dream of having a natural light studio space in the arts and warehouse district here in downtown Tucson. Not necessarily for shooting but more for use as a comfy meeting space to consult with my clients, and to do work. Right now my home office space is shared with my kids, who like to come in and do there homework while I’m working, my two big dogs and my cat, who thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to stretch out across my keyboard (big sigh!).
Where can we find you (facebook, twitter, pinterest, etc)?
I’m easy to find!
I’m on Twitter too, but I don’t really use it that much. I need to work on that!
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