When did your interest in photography begin?
My father and grandfather both enjoyed photography as a hobby. I knew from an early age that I wanted to do something creative when I "grew up." I became much more serious about photography when I was in college, working towards my B.A. in Graphics and Fine Arts.
When did you decide to make photography your profession?
I had always had photography as a hobby and often did odd jobs for friends and family. It was after our daughter was born and my camera sat dormant for a while that I worked up the courage to put myself out there and work towards becoming a professional.
What were your biggest hurdles when you started your photography business?
Understanding that I was not going to start out at an expert level was a challenge. I knew what I wanted the end result to look like, but I didn’t know how to get there. I knew what I wanted the client to receive, but I was unsure of exactly how to create that product. Looking back I understand that there is no learning in your comfort zone. At the time it felt like failure, but in reality I was coming into my own as a photographer.
What is one piece of advice you wish someone would have told you when you were starting out?
I remember reading articles about “finding your style”. When I was just starting out I struggled with this. I followed a lot of really great photographers and bounced all over the map with trends in editing. I had to trust my own instincts to find my style. Secondly, I wish someone had told me to spend as much time learning about the business of photography, that way you are prepared. Setting up a business structure is a must. Making goals and keeping track of everything is vital to starting a business that will last. My goal is to create portraits that clients will love, but it cannot be achieved without a business sense. Getting to the final image is a long process, and while the shooting and editing is why many people get into photography, it is only a piece of being a professional. Working with people and creating relationships is as important as the artistic side.
Are you full time or part time right now?
I am part time. I work a day job, that I love, as an art educator. Through the day I paint and draw with kiddos and in the evenings, weekends, and summers I shoot portrait photography. The two lend themselves well to each other and allow me to be creatively fulfilled yet challenged.
Do you shoot natural light or studio light, and why?
I shoot about 70% natural light with families and seniors. I shoot about 30% of the time indoors with traveling studio lights for newborns and head-shots. I love directing poses in natural light because of the rich colors that can be achieved. I also love the set up of studio lighting because of the convenience it provides for clients.
What changes would you like to see in your business over the next year?
I would love to continually see growth in my client base. I am focused on marketing myself to customers that are seeking my brand and style of boutique modern photography. I feel what makes me a professional is being able to take control of a session and convey my expectations to each client.
What software do you use to edit your images? And what do you like most about it?
I start in Lightroom and cull each session. I love Lightroom for this! I usually cull through a session 2-3 times until I am satisfied with my numbers and selection of poses. Then I batch edit with some minor fine tuning. I am a huge proponent of getting it right in camera, however there are always small things to adjust in RAW image files. From this point I switch over to Photoshop CC and hand edit. I love that I can batch process using my own actions. This has sped up my editing time ten fold.
What motivates you to pick up the camera and shoot?
It is an instinct really, I go through spurts where I am busy with sessions, editing and business stuff and then there comes slow spurts. Having a toddler means there is always something of interest to shoot. I have recently found a love of Lifestyle photography with my 35mm lens. I enjoy capturing memories of our everyday lives.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I would love to have a small studio space in the future. A place to have studio lighting set up, as well as a spot for clients to come, hang out, and really enjoy the process of working together. I hope for business to become more fluid, to gauge my year in advance, to have more control over scheduling and shooting. I hope to keep taking classes and connect with other photographers that I admire. Oh and to become super successful...of course!
About the Artist: Amanda is a portrait photographer and art educator, located the beautiful hills of Morgantown, West Virginia. She is married to her awesome husband, Jeff, who is her partner in crime, and they have a sprouting 4 year old daughter, Avery. Amanda loves all things photography! Visit Amanda on her website, along with her Facebook, twitter and instagram pages.