This is my first ever tbt.. I’m taking a look back at how it all started back in 2010 with so many examples of my first work! I also wanted to take a quick minute to provide more details about my background, my thought process, etc. for you to get to know me a little bit better. I do realize that “About” page is missing from my website. I thought about writing how I love my family, job, traveling, friends, clients, new adventures, nature, art, Friday night dinners…but that wouldn’t tell you much about me, would it?
Back in 2010 my husband got me my first camera for my birthday. Brand new Nikon D90 and 2 lenses: Nikon 50 mm and Tamron 17-50 mm. I was never interested in nature or subject photography and after carefully reading the manual and clicking some shots of flowers with different settings, I moved right to my favorite subject – people. Being surrounded by beautiful friends, I had my hands dirty right away.
This is my very first photo shoot in Schenley park in May 2010:
Following by my 2nd, 3rd, etc. You may also notice my embarrassing experiments with the watermark 🙂
I was really drawn to beauty and high fashion photography as an art form. I had a little bit of modeling experience, which helped me in posing people tremendously! It’s funny how sometimes things happen in our life for a reason we don’t know yet. I wasn’t really good at modeling, but enjoyed being a part of this art process for a few years. Once I picked up the camera and could be in control of the process myself – I got 10X more out of it!
Image Credit: http://www.ashleegrayretouch.com/
I also had my Godson around to practice all the time! Let’s just say that his toddler years were well documented!
I was very fortunate to be offered to use a studio from one of the great local photographers after summer 2010 was over.
Next half a year I was learning lighting… reading a lot, listening to workshops, experimenting. It was during my 2nd year of my MBA program at Pitt. I was going to school full-time and concentrated in finance. Needless to say, I have never planned to be a professional photographer, but got carried away once I started discovering the craft and experimenting with what I can create.
It’s interesting to look back and analyze the choices we make and the way we learn. I never photographed a lot. With the exception of few photo shoots I wasn’t able to find – the examples that you see in this post are pretty much all the practice I had. Every photography book tells you to practice and shoot as much as possible when you are starting out. That wasn’t the case for me: for every hour I shot – I spend 2X as much time analyzing what I did right and wrong. That increased even more once I started shooting weddings. I had notebooks of graphs and tables with self-criticism. Everyone learns differently.
Everything happened fast: from May 2010 until December 2010 I’ve worked with so many amazing make-up artists, hair stylists, models, got published in some fashion and fitness magazines.
Shoot for a fashion magazine:
It was insane! Nika, Anastasia, April, Brittney, Ashley, Caitlin, Cindy, Jason, Mary, Andy, Katie, Maria, Lexi, Christina, etc. – thank you everyone who was a part of it.
By January 2011 I stopped shooting fashion and beauty and started getting inquires for weddings and portrait work. I was able to find a few shots from my first 4 weddings.
Searched all my hard drives, but couldn’t find a single image from this wedding 🙁
Well, I fell in love with shooting weddings. Candid moments, family bonding, unexpected situations and lighting and connection between newlyweds – all of those things were lacking in fashion/beauty photography for me and I was able to find them in wedding world, meanwhile incorporating a little bit of beauty and fashion flair into my wedding photography approach. I think that I am also very lucky to have such amazing brides. I could easily enjoy casual conversation or sushi + wine night with every one of them. That definitely makes my job more pleasurable. My grooms are OK also 😉
After my 3rd wedding I visited a local bridal show, which was a huge disappointment for me (although I did meet some very nice couples there!). Its style didn’t coincide with mine and I decided that this was first and last time I advertise myself. I took a very simple approach back then and I’m still loyal to it: if I’m truly good – I should have enough demand organically through the word of mouth. I applied the same approach to my growing strategy – I pretty much reinvested all the money I made on photography back into business on education and equipment for a few years. No matter how much I wanted to buys a particular lens – I haven’t spent a penny from my daytime job. Otherwise, how would you know that this new venture was worth the investment?
I was trying to set the limit for number of weddings I take – at that time I didn’t feel comfortable taking a lot and wanted to dedicate the majority of the time to learning.
I believe that I made the most progress during 2012 wedding season. I wasn’t a rookie anymore and at the same time I had so much room to grow.
I was trying to define my style. I was drawn to raw emotions and candid moments. That was one of the main reasons I loved weddings. On the other hand, I really enjoyed creating artistic pictures. I could even get cool international awards for 2 different styles from the same wedding! Am I an artist or documentary photographer? I am still torn between those 2 styles and often let my couples lead me on what direction they prefer me to focus on.
Almost forgot to mention…My love for artistic images has its roots in my background. As a child, I was enrolled in art school for 10 years, where we did everything from sculpture to painting. I had AMAZING teachers! They focused on the classical approach for the most part and taught me how to see the light, colors and composition that no photography book or seminar ever will! I could honestly say – I wouldn never be on the same level where I am right now without the strong foundation those people gave me. They were brilliant! I still oil paint from time to time but never went for bachelor in art as my classmates did (might be a mistake of my life, who knows? 😉 )
Until last year (2014) I wasn’t planning to make the photography my full-time job. I was working 2 jobs for 3 years and kept an open mind about it: trying my hardest in both directions and see where my life takes me. Finally it made a choice for me 🙂