Chenin Boutwell – Orange County

18 01 2008

Chenin Boutwell describes photography as her “perfect career” and if you read her interview and visit her website you can see just how passionate she is about her work both in her words & images. Chenin is one of these people that you warm to immediately and would love to meet in person! She’s had a busy year with setting up a new studio, re-branding herself, launching Totally Rad Actions with Doug and an Anti-workshop so we’re more than grateful to her for putting together an interview for DBUI and sharing her work with us.

And if you’re wondering, Chenin Boutwell really is delightful!

Chenin’s Website
Chenin’s Blog
Totally Rad Actions

How long have you been a photographer?

I’ve been shooting for about 5 or 6 years now. I’ve shot weddings that entire time!

When you graduated from law school, why did you decide to take up photography instead of following a career in law? Any regrets?!

I shot weddings all through law school. During my second year in law school, I attended WPPI and the DWF Convention – it was life-changing. I met all sorts of people who were making a living at shooting weddings and being a lawyer was sounding less and less appealing. I came home from Vegas to a message on my answering machine. It was the Public Defender’s office and they had a job for me that, two weeks before, was my dream job. I felt physically ill at the thought of working as a lawyer and I knew I would never be happy if I quit photography and took up lawyering. I promptly announced to my parents and family that I was going to finish law school, but I wasn’t going to be a lawyer. I have not regretted it for one day!

Especially during the busy wedding season, how do you keep yourself motivated & your photography fresh?

This is so hard! I get a little stale sometimes, but I remind myself that it beats the hell out of spending my days chatting with clients in their jail cells! In all seriousness, I like to give myself little challenges. If I’m feeling a bit stale, I will challenge myself to make an awesome shot of the bride with her dad, or a really cool image of the bridal party. Or sometimes, if there’s a print competition I want to participate it, I will strive to make one image that is worthy of entering. I think, in photography, like in life, you have to challenge yourself every day, or it gets really boring really fast.

What (or who) has inspired, & continues to inspire, your work?

I love all kinds of photography, so I tend to pour over images everywhere I go. I stare intently at billboards, I study magazines, I analyze the way my favorite movies and tv shows are shot. I am inspired, in one way or another, by every image that I see. But was really inspires me is how some people approach life and business. It’s no secret that John and Dalisa Cooper are my best friends in the world. That’s because they are committed to living life to its fullest and are fearless when it comes to photography and business. I am inspired by the folks who attend The Anti-Workshops (affectionately referred to as, The Anti-Crew), because they have proven that, if we help one another, we can all improve our images, our businesses and our spirits.

Do you have a catchphrase/buzz word to describe your studio and what prompted this choice?

Earlier this year, when I transitioned from being a husband-wife team to just being me, I decided to completely re-brand Boutwell Studio. I knew I wanted something that reflected my style and my personality – retro, full of life and a bit irreverent. I have always had a fascination with under-used or archaic words – words no one uses any more – and I’ve always loved the word “delightful.” It just makes me smile. So I decided, as part of my new brand, I would include the word. It’s been a great success and it’s so fun to try and incorporate it, subtly, in to everything I do.

This year, Doug, your husband, is concentrating more on different aspects of photography such as fashion. Is this a route you plan to take eventually or is your “delightful wedding photography” here to stay?

I am here to stay! One of the things I love about wedding photography is that I get to shoot real, everyday people! The thought of shooting models, or shooting for an Art Director, just doesn’t appeal to me. Doug is a rule-breaker by nature and he disliked the rules and expectations that exist for wedding photographers. For me, the rules bug me sometimes, but I prefer to subtly and gradually subvert them 😉

Tell us one way you marketed your business when you first began and one way you market yourself now.

My strategy has been the same from Day One – be a kind person, with a reputation for excellent customer service, and make pretty pictures. If you have those two things, and make an effort to get yourself out there, you’ll do just fine! I attend lots of industry parties and mixers, make an effort to reach out to new people in the wedding world, and live by those two rules. Super simple.

What do you say or do to put your clients at ease in front of the camera?

I am a huge dork. I think that helps a lot. I chat with them, laugh with them, ask them about pets/family/jobs – anything to get them to forget that the camera is there. A lot of people comment that my work is very natural and that my subjects seem at ease; I think that is just a result of treating each client like a friend and creating a playful, easy-going atmosphere at every shoot.

You and your husband have put together one of the most talked about action sets amongst wedding photographers. What is it about Totally Rad actions that sets it apart from the rest?

I could talk about these for days! The set evolved out of our daily workflow. People started emailing and calling and asking questions about how we achieved certain looks in Photoshop, so we decided to make the actions available to other photographers. When we created them, we had never seen or used any other action sets (we’re very do-it-yourself!), which I think is a real asset. We created a set of tools that can be used at different strengths, that can be combined, that can be customized by each photographer to create their own “look” – the Totally Rad Actions aren’t your typical “throw a filter on it and call it a day” actions, they are a tool designed to help each photographer bring his/her images to fruition.
They are also damn fast for workflow! I shoot and process roughly 45 weddings and 25 portraits a year, do all my own retouching and free-hand design albums for every shoot. I could not do it without the TRA!

What action in the set do you use most?

I love Boutwell Magic Glasses – I think it’s so much better than simply sharpening and adding contrast to your images. I also love the Black and White Actions – I feel like my black and whites have really improved with the actions.

Can you show us some recent before and after images using this set and tell us which actions were used?

You, Doug, John and Dalisa Cooper run the Anti-Workshop. If someone were deciding which workshop to attend, why should they consider the anti-workshop?

Let me first say that The Anti-Workshop is not for everyone. It’s for photographers who know how to use their gear and know how to run a business, but are just looking for that extra little sparkle in life, photography and business. The Anti-Workshop is very intensive and we ask photographers to really step outside of their comfort zone; we ask them to push their work, to toss away any judgment of others and themselves, and to give 1000% for 3 days. It’s so incredibly rewarding to see people experiment and play and make friends. I am really proud to say that we have formed a little family – the Coopers, the Boutwells, and The Anti-Crew – and that everyone, including myself, has really improved their lives and their art. It also helps to have a healthy tolerance for alcohol and punk music.

Do you take time out to photograph for yourself? If so, what kind of things do you tend to shoot?

I wish I had time…. This year has been a tough transition and has left very little time for any personal work. I think, honestly, teaching is what I do for myself. I get so much from teaching The Anti-Workshop, and from those little opportunities to meet/help/learn from other photographers.

What advice do you have for photographers just starting out?

Be true to yourself! If you are truly genuine, decisions about what to shoot, how to shoot, how to brand and market yourself – all of it – becomes so easy. Plus, it sucks to be constantly trying to be someone else. I have a saying that I use almost daily – “whatever package you come in, put a bow on it!”

What advice do you have for photographers who have been in the industry for a while now?

I would tell more seasoned photographers to toss aside their feelings of entitlement, competitiveness and complacency and to step it up. There are new and better photographers coming in to the market every day and they will put us out of business if we don’t learn to share with them, connect with them and be challenged by them. A rising tide raises all ships….

Have you made any new year’s resolutions for your business? in your personal life?

Have more fun. Recycle more. Spend more time with the people I love.

Which photographer would you like to shoot with for a day & why?

Ooooh…. so hard. Probably David LaChapelle – I love his color, his intensity and I have a feeling it would be a party.

Here are some of Chenin’s favorite images from 2007:

And finally we asked Chenin to show us a set of images from one of her personal favorite weddings of last year:


Divine Light Wedding Photography: Brian and Briana Elledge – Florida

10 12 2007

Looking through Brian & Briana Elledge’s website there was a modern & fresh vibe both in their photography and about themselves. They aim to capture moments and people’s personalities, not just photographs and their website states “After all, what is life if you cannot see people for who they truly are and for who they want to be”.

Many thanks to Brian & Briana for their interview, images and patience whilst we collated their work!

Divine Light Website
Divine Light Blog

How do you keep yourself motivated & your photography fresh?

Briana: Luckily for me, I am inspired by the people I meet. I stay motivated by
stalking the websites of my photo heroes, coming up with ideas for fashion
shoots, and spending time with other artists in our community. Sometimes on a
shoot, something will just go off in my mind and I am determined to make it
happen, this may take a few shots, but when it happens, its worth it.
Othertimes, the best times, is when I notice something, and I have a millisecond
to capture it, and I actually do! These shots, these are the ones that stay in your
mind and your heart and you can feel the emotion deep inside.

Brian: Motivation and creativity are for me like feul in a car. After a lot of
projects and shoots my tank is running pretty low so unless I take some time to
reflect on other artists work, both photographic as well as others, its hard to
keep things fresh. Like Briana, I enjoy blog-stalking and going to local openings
and galleries to just keep my mind’s eye current and of course, inspired.

What (or who) has inspired, & continues to inspire, your work?

Briana: My love for photography began when I was an art major in college. I
believe that my study of art has influenced my work in many degree’s. It
influences how I see whats on the other side of my lense, and how it makes me
feel often comes forth into my work.

My favorite photographers include The Image is Found’s Nate & Jaclyn Kaiser in
California, DQStudios Dave & Quin Cheung in Canada, and David La Chapelle. I
also stalk the Trash the Dress and of course Don’t Box us In blog’s on a regular

Brian: Lately for me the most prominent things to inspire my work have been
music and the change of seasons. I have recently been inspired by the way
eastern culture and religions apreciate the different seasons as not only different
climate changes but as different stages of life. So lately when the weather
started to turn cold and as winter approaches I feel a renewal and freshness in
my life and I think it shows in recent work. Also music is very influential in this
process as well for me as it just reinforces the direction of my thoughts and

Show us your favorite image that you’ve shot so far this year & tell us
what it is about this image that makes it special to you.

Briana: this image is was shot pre-wedding in anticipation. I love it because I
feel like the bride looks like she is glowing both inside and out. To me, she looks
like she feels her own beauty, as well as the beauty of the moment and the
moments to come.

Brian: the image below was taken during a trash-the-dress shoot and I love it
1st of all for the model’s body language and positioning as well as the point of
view of looking directly down on her which I feel is very unique and not often
seen. And then in post-production I took it a step further with the addition of
layering textures giving the dress and the rest of the image a very ethereal,
mystical feel. Some may say that its over produced but I think its just right.

It’s coming up to 2008, do you have any resolutions for the new year with regards to business? or personal?

Briana: business & personal hmmm. In regards to the business we are planning
on upgrading our equipment and adding some lighting equipment. We would like
to increase in the fashion shoots and are inspired by the way some of our photo
hero’s creatively use lighting to make some incredible images.

Brian: I concure with Briana. We are going to step up our game on the
production side of things to go in a more fine art/fashion direction. I want to bring
other artisitic elements from other genres into ours and see what happens.

What advice do you have for other husband and wife photography teams?

Briana: BUY TWO CAMERA’S! We have 2 but we didn’t always. My biggest
advice would be to assign roles and communication. Let one of you capture the
main images during the ceremony and the other capture the photojournalistic &
candid ones. This will add a new dimension to the wedding and create a sense of
depth to your bodies of work.

Brian: Communication! That’s it.

One thing your client should know about you. One thing photographers should know about you.

Briana: one thing I would like my clients to know about me is that I love people.
After saying that it is important to me that my clients understand that no two
people are alike, and that is what makes them beautiful. As a photographer, I
view my shoots the same way, each one is beautiful and each one is different.
One thing photographers should know about me, I am less interested in
perfection than I am in reinvention and the ability to capture human emotion.

Brian: I have very high expectations of myself and others…but mainly myself.
So when there is a shot I want I will push it until its right. Same goes with other
aspects of the business as well.

Show us a photograph by another photographer that you would have
liked to have taken & tell us why.

Briana: This is one by my photo heroes The Image Is Found. Everything
about it just screams, , exactly. The first time I saw it I was
speechless. The composition, the expressions on the couple’s faces, the use of
lighting, post – processing magic, and there is an incredible level of depth to this
photo that just blows my mind.

Brian: The image below by Jesh De Rox, a photographer
doing amazing photojournalistic work as well as adding depth and spirit through
experimental processes. I like his work and this image because I feel when you
ad to an already great image by adding texture or colour variations it makes it
more of a work of art in the traditional sense as being touched by your hand and
changed or altered by you. It reminds me of working in the darkroom and the
magic of the chemicals and how they bring an image to life and the sometimes
accidental greatness that comes as a result on occasion.

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you have been?

Briana: if I weren’t a photographer I would loved to have been a model,
unfortunately , I’m 5’1’’ so that’s not very realistic, truthfully, I have always
wanted to be an artist, and that desire continues to push me to create through
my images.

Brian: Well you see, photographer is merely one thing on my list of careers.
Being creative and in a prefession such as photography it frees me up to pursue
other endevors and paths. All in the name of keeping things fresh. If I had to
pick one of the top of my head though, either lumberjack or pilot.

Gisela Prishker – OC, California

1 12 2007

Gisela Prishker’s slogan is “Sensual, Striking, Fashionable” and she definitely lives up to all three. Gisela’s interest in photography began when she was only 14 and she has become an accomplished photographer in the fields of editorial, wedding, portrait and fashion. Gisela’s first language is Spanish and she is an avid member of Foro de Fotografos.

Gisela’s website
Gisela’s blog

How do you keep yourself motivated & your photography fresh?
I am always motivated by my family, friends , love & new places and I do visit galleries, museums and love driving around getting lost and I let my mind fly. I keep my photography fresh by doing what I am most passionate about Photography. I test a lot, I try a new lens every time I have a shoot, I always try something new, I do break the rules all the time and love it. Something very funny happened to me last week I gave a talk in LA for Professional Photographers there and I saw everyone motivated and inspired by my talk so I got home and I couldn’t sleep in stayed up until 5am , doing work , networking, reading and some more work , so I realized I got inspired by myself I thought that was too funny. Those who know me know I am so hyper and a bit crazy.

What (or who) has inspired, & continues to inspire, your work?
I fell in love with photography at a very young age 14 and since then I knew I wanted to be a photographer like MaryEllen Mark or Anne Leibowitz or a great Artist like Frida Kahlo, so I guess Im very inspired by Frida Kahlo’s life , I also get inspired when I travel, my favorite place to be in Naples thats why I go 6 times a year I cant stop loving it, I love California too and feel very inspired here.

What do you say or do to put your clients at ease in front of the camera?
Be yourself , have fun and get crazy no one is watching you , just me. I make them run , walk ,sing & laugh. My shoots are so much fun I get crazy when I am working I feel the glow in my eyes. I just love what I do and people feel that. I guess Im not afraid to fall in love with my subject , they know how passionate I am. That’s why they hire me.

What was it that first drew you to take up photography?
I was a model and won Miss Photogenic in a pageant but those pic where horrible so I said I bet I can take better picture so I did start taking pictures with a point & shoot camera and they were better , so in High School i took a Photography class and then got my first Pentax K 1000. I love that camera , and the dark room and all that good stuff , so I started shooting at lunch time , my studio was The ladies Restroom yeah my shoots started at $40’s. That was great time testing models and making money and doing what I loved so everyone that sees me know they ask so Are you still a model? or you became a photographer? All the people that knew me then know what I most passionate about.

What advice do you have for other photographers that are stuck in a rut creatively or with their business?
Have fun doing what you love , if you do what you love and feel passionate about it money will come. It’s all about enjoying life to the fullest doing what you truly love. I will say be yourself, don’t try to copy someone else. Each individual is so unique. Don’t be afraid to be different & take risks. Business wise Im still learning about it but the best thing i do is to create a good buzzzzzz. Wowwww people with your work. Word of mouth is your best advertising. I have only been here in California a month and I had several shots already, not bad for being new to the area.

One way you market your business.
I keep it simple word of mouth, attending to net working events, and keeping good relationships with other photographers.

One thing your client should know about you. One thing we should know about you
I am driven by passion I do photography because its my first love, I love Red and love tacos , If you hire me for sure we will become great friends its all about the connection, I love making people feel great, laugh and have fun. I’m so fascinated with my life yes I guess I love myself too much, I’m imperfect.

If you were planning on having a photo-shoot, who would you want to photograph your portrait & why?
Anne Leivowitz, she is great, or Robert Morrell. He knows me well and i adore him, who wil shoot my future videos? Hakim Sons Film – I love Shezad he is awesome.

Mark Ridout – Ontario, Canada

19 11 2007

With almost three decades of experience, Mark Ridout has worked as a photo journalist for major newspapers and magazines, with major advertising agencies on corporate accounts and on special assignment for corporate clients. He maintains a strong passion for wedding photography and has become one of the most sought after photographers in Central Ontario with many of his images having been published in print media. Mark’s work is breath-taking and distinctive and to simply call it eye-catching would be an understatement.

If you want to give yourselves a visual treat, check out some of Mark’s exceptional personal work in his Blurred Vision section on his website.

Mark Ridout’s Website

How do you keep yourself motivated & your photography fresh?

i am always pushing myself to improve. i often spend a few hours a week surfing the net, reading magazines, always looking and admiring other artists work. I want to always be trying something different in regards to lighting, composition, subject

What (or who) has inspired, & continues to inspire, your work?

I really can’t say that there is one photographer or person that inspires my work. Each event that I shoot I try different techniques. I return home, load the images and improve on what was taken. If I made a mistake and the image looks good I spend the next few minutes trying to figure out what the hell I did 🙂

Show us your favorite image that you’ve shot so far this year & tell us what it is about this image that makes it special to you.

This image was shot late in the day, early evening on a dock at a resort in Cuba 2007. I just love the sky although I wish now that the groom had brought up his hand and given her a little more lov’in! It’s special to me because the bride is my daughter.

How important is post-processing in your final images?

It is important to me as it allows myself even more creativity after capture. All of the images on my current website have had my mojo added in one form or another. The weddings that I deliver will not get the same treatemts other then the ones that I want to highlight.

It’s coming up to 2008, do you have any resolutions for the new year with regards to business? Or personal?

i have never been one to make resolutions business or personal. I did mention a few weeks ago to Chantal that I would cut ice cream from my pleasures to loose a few pounds. Keep in mind that there are more overweight people in Canada than average-weight people. So overweight people are now average. Which means I’ve already met my New Year’s resolution 🙂

One thing other photographers should know about you. One thing your client should know about you.

One thing other photographers should know about me is that I like to have fun while shooting. I keep a relaxed demeanour and go with the flow. Nothing fazes me or shocks me that i haven’t seen in the 26 years of shooting weddings.

One thing the client should know about me is “I accept cash”

Having looked at your website, you seem to shoot a lot of your own work rather than just for clients. Do you set yourself projects and if so, do you have any current projects?

My website does show alot of other work. I decided that when i was having this custom site built that I wanted my clients to see that I was well rounded. I just don’t shoot brides but many other subjects that interest me. It gives them a larger view of my work. I don’t really set projects to shoot but am fortunate to shoot weddings around the glode. It’s on those days off after the wedding that I can venture out and shoot whatever interests me in that location. It is a great way for me to unwind from the wedding. My Cuba gallery is an example of this.

Which photographer would you like to shoot with for a day & why?

that’s a toughy……..if I can only pick one then it will have to be Chantal my wife. She has second shot with me numerous times and this past season shot three weddings solo. Why?…..because i want to shoot fewer weddings and have her at the experience level where I can stay home on the weekend sipping Shiraz and smok’in Big Fat Cuban Cigars ……I’m amost there! 🙂

Jeremy Lawson – Southwest Missouri

14 11 2007

Definitely creative, definitely unique, definitely talented… that’s Jeremy Lawson in a very small nutshell! He also happens to be an international award winning photojournalist and has quickly become one of the most sought after photographers in the Midwest. His photography is edgy and fun and his work is a superb blend of fashion, art & photojournalism.

Jeremy’s Website
Jeremy’s Blog

How do you keep yourself motivated & your photography fresh?

When I am really in the zone, it feels like music. I can even get a little tingly like pins on my face and hands. That is what makes love what i do but, Being motivated and fresh all the time is sometimes tough. I love what i do, and i want to do something new and exciting for everyone. Its hard mostly because i have a very short attention span, with a location or a style or whatever, My stereotypical male “conquer and move on” attitude doesn’t help either. I tend to get really lucky with my subjects though. My different style tends to attract different creative people and that can make it easy. But when I am stuck I look for inspiration in real life. Even on images that are not true to life at all, like my latest session with Steph and Dan (view my latest blog post). The ideas come from real life feelings or true to life stories. Sometimes a session can be based on a personal story from the couple or from a simple general human emotion. Sometimes I just try to find a word or a phase that represents my subject and build off that, and try to express my feelings visually. I also really appreciate photography in all its forms. I dont like to shoot exclusively in one style or just like one style of photography. Thats why one shoot can be so different from the next. You really have to go out and explore. Discovery can be the greatest source of inspiration.

What (or who) has inspired, & continues to inspire, your work?
Jesh de Rox is really great. Jessica Claire. 2006 WPJA photogrpher of the year. Carlo Carletti. Just to name a few. I really appreciate people that can “see outside the box” When something is happening, not just creating. When I am really connected to a client or to a situation its like a high almost, Zen or something. I really appreciate that about some photographers, and I can see it in their work.

What do you say or do to put your clients at ease in front of the camera?

I think people feel nervous because they think I expect something from them that they don’t think they can give me. Like they have to be models or something. I used to try to make them loosed up right away, but then I found that I got a lot of real genuine emotion out of nervous people (mostly nervousness) and they tended to cling to each other more. I also try to not to be a photographer, I am one of there friends and we are all going out to be stupid with the camera. Once they settle down then we can get a little more serious and do some other things.

Plus I also do all my sessions in my underwear.

Show us your favorite image that you’ve shot so far this year & tell us what it is about this image that makes it special to you.

My favorite image would have to be this shot from a wedding i did this summer. it has more of a sentimental meaning to me, although i really like the image. When I first started shooting. I had no experience, no mentors, I was pretty much clueless just and doing my own thing. Then one day I ran across this site called the It was an organization dedicated to photojournalism, which was what i seemed to be doing at the time. The work and of people on this site really inspired me. It was my first real look into professionals doing wedding photography. That was several years ago. But I aspired to that hoping that one day I might (in my wildest dreams) be like these people. The organization denied my membership for years until one year they accepted me. Then I started winning top 10 placements in the many of the contests. I was so excited. Just this past contest I received my first 1st place award for a photo in the weather category. This is the image. It makes me feel so honored to have a place next to these other phenomenal photojournalists.

Do you have any personal photography projects?
I have several actually, the one I am starting work on now has a local focus. Its called faces of downtown. Both famous and infamous people that, if you work or live downtown Springfield, you would recognize. Mostly photographic caricatures.

If one of us were getting married, why would we hire you?!

The most important lesson i have ever learned in the business of photography was not to worry so much about making people like me but making people feel liked. I think people feel like I connect with them. The funny part is, we do work for so many different types of people. But most people, no matter who they are, want to feel known and appreciated and beautiful and special . And I do, appreciate them. Not for their business or there money but for who they are and there ideas and there relationship.

As different as you may be from me. I am like you, at least in some ways. (I try to show this more than I actually say it) And even the parts of you that are different I appreciate. And I am excited to work with you. Here are some of my pictures for you to look at… Thats my sales pitch.

If you were planning on having a photo-shoot, who would you want to photograph your portrait & why?
This is tough. The biggest testament to a photographer is capturing complexity, beautifully in a single shot. I am really into Jesh De Rox right now. I think he would have to be the guy.


We usually request about 10 images from the photographers who contribute their work. Jeremy sent us a few more and asked us to decide which ones to included. We didn’t have the heart to miss any out – they’re all so creative we were sure you’d want to see them too!

Center Avenue Imaging – Colorado

8 11 2007

Shannon Kaple of Center Avenue Imaging is the first of our recommended photographers from one of our readers. Some of you may already have heard of Shannon & know her work but it’s always great for us to be introduced to photographers that we’ve not come across before. Although Shannon is a wedding & lifestyle, she’s also won a variety of awards for her documentary work. Shannon’s 12 years of experience & talent shines through in the small handful of images she’s selected to be featured on Don’t Box Us In.

Center Avenue Imaging Website

Center Avenue Imaging Blog

How do you keep yourself motivated & your photography fresh?
I keep myself motivated by meeting with other photographers on a regular basis to share ideas, photograph together and exchange ideas on marketing, album design, and customer expectations. This gives me an opportunity to glean from others and also share ideas that I’m implementing into my business. This month I’ll be hosting Denver’s Photography Meet Up group that stemmed from the F-stop workshop I took in September. There has been a really positive response in the photography community and I’m encouraged to help create an environment that facilitates this type of synergy and sharing with in the industry.

I also think it’s important to give back to your community, so I volunteer my photography services for non profit organizations that help families through adoption or provide services for families with critically ill kids such as “There with Care” here in Boulder. This helps me to keep my photography fresh because I’m serving others with my time, talent and energy and not just contributing to the success of my own business or self gain.

What (or who) has inspired, & continues to inspire, your work?
Recently, I’ve been watching a lot of classic 1930’s movies, such as “Bringing Up Baby” and “The Blue Angel” for inspirational lighting techniques. I’m a real movie buff, which contributes to my understanding of lighting concepts, framing and composition. Movies such as Kurusava’s Dreams, Amelie and I am Sam are great for better understanding these ideas.

In addition, my clients are a huge inspiration to me. In the late 90’s I took two years documenting the idea of family in a small rural western New York town. This experience has carried over into my work as a wedding photojournalist, because I have the opportunity to explore the beginning stages and complexities of family dynamics through the lens of my camera. Each couple is unique in what they bring to a marriage and I’m honored to help capture this love that binds two souls.

Why did you take up wedding photography and what is the best part about being a wedding photographer?
I took up wedding photography full time right after I was married over two years ago. I was inspired by the work of my own wedding photographer, Caroline Koopman and wanted to be able to do for others, what Caroline did for us, which was capture some very emotional, moving images of the happiest day of my life. The best thing about being a wedding photographer is being able to create relationships with my clients, so that when I show up on the day of their wedding I feel like I’m part of their family. I initially began photographing weddings after I finished my Bachelors of Fine Arts in Photography, but it wasn’t until I was in love and married that my passion for wedding photography really took off.

What advice do you have for other photographers?
I would advise other photographers to become actively involved in continuing their education as a photographer. I attend seminars and conferences regularly and would highly recommend attending WPPI, or seminars offered by amazing talents like Mike Colon’s or Zack Aria’s. If you’re a Colorado resident become part of the PPC or attend the “Imaging Workshop” in May of 08.

One thing photographers should know about you. One thing your client should know about you.
Other Photographers should know that I love to share with others what I have learned, so if your new to the industry and would like to learn more, just drop me a line I would love to have lunch with you or have you shoot with me some time. My clients should know that I’m committed to providing excellent customer service, in addition to providing unique solutions to photography needs while creating romantic, story telling imagery.

Tell us three things important to you in your personal life & three things important to you in business:
Personal Life – 1. Faith 2. Husband 3.Community
Business Life – 1. Growth 2. Integrity 3. Love

Which photographer would you like to shoot with for a day & why?
I would really enjoy photographing with Thomas Roma because his work involves situations where people are caught up in an emotional experience or private moment that makes them very vulnerable and this is clearly displayed in his work. I really love his quote in Sunset Park, which are photographs from his series at public pools. He states, “I’m fond of saying that being a photographer is a way to be in the presence of the things you desire.” Love is something I’ve always desired to share with someone and now that I have, I truly enjoy photographing this desire in others.

Amorphia Photography – UK / Europe

2 11 2007

Mark Eric has asked me a couple of times now to put an interview together for Don’t Box Us In and I guess I’ve been putting it off as it seemed a little weird posting here after having been helping out on the site! Anyway, I thought Mark would probably just keep on asking so here it is!

For those of you that don’t know, Amorphia Photography is made up of me, Sofie, and my husband, Paul. He’s the technical half of the collaboration and I’m the creative & literary part so I get to fill out the interview!!

Amorphia Photography Website
Amorphia Photography Blog

How do you keep yourself motivated & your photography fresh?

I bought my first camera, a Nikon F50 with a tin can Nikkor lens, and it seemed as though I’d been going through life without really seeing what was around me. I obviously wasn’t walking around blindfolded but picking up a camera made me change HOW I saw everything and how those things might work in an image. Ten years on and that intensity and capacity for truly “seeing” hasn’t dwindled & I think part of the reason for that is that photography is a huge chunk of my life and more importantly I shoot for myself as much as I do for my clients. I don’t just pick up a camera when I have work but if it is a job, I want the images to be special, not just run of the mill shots or the same photos I took with the last set of clients. Second-rate, average shots just don’t cut it for me. As much as my clients might love a mediocre image, I’m personally not satisfied with providing them with average work so that in itself is motivation enough to keep me on my toes. It’s also about breaking rules (as great as the rule of thirds might be every once in a while it’s begging to be broken) and setting myself challenges. Then again, it could be as simple as the fact that I still enjoy taking photographs!

I think being around others who share the same interest and passion as you do also has a tendency to rub off. I joined the Open Source Photo forum in March this year and it’s been a great source of information and encouragement so thank you to everyone who’s shared a part in that for me.

What (or who) has inspired, & continues to inspire, your work?

When I first started out as a wedding photographer a couple of years ago, I suddenly “found” all these superstar photographers’ blogs & websites online and I was in complete awe (I still am at times!) but to the point where it would frustrate me everytime I viewed their work. I wanted to be as good as them and I wanted to be that good NOW. I eventually realised, there’s a very fine line between inspiration and the pressure of wanting to emulate another photographer. Once I accepted that, I could actually move on and work on my own photography. I still admire so many people’s work though and I could probably fill a couple of A4 sheets with names if you really wanted me to!

One group of photographers that still inspire me is the company I used to work for as an art director which is called Venture. As much as British pro photographers love to hate it, it taught me so much about contemporary portraiture and completely pushing the boundaries when it comes to portrait photography. I actually miss working there for the plain fact that it was truly amazing seeing what people I worked with would come up with just when you honestly thought that was as far as you could go. Their yearly image collection is a great example of photographers not being boxed in by traditional concepts.

What do you say or do to put your clients at ease in front of the camera?

This starts way before I’ve even picked up a camera. It’s all about getting your clients to trust you and feel relaxed in your presence so once you do have that camera in your hands they are already comfortable around you. I find that some people just need that little bit of extra reassurance whilst they’re in front of the camera that what they’re doing is right or that they look good so I’ll happily give it to them and encourage them. I also tend to do a few fun & relaxed shots very early on in the shoot to make them forget the camera’s pointed in their direction. Those “fun” shots involve movement and interaction either with each other if it’s a couple, or with me & the camera if it’s a single person, rather than getting the client in a still position & posing which most people find awkward especially at the start of a shoot. I also think it’s important to get yourself in front of the camera every so often so you remember what it’s like being there yourself so you can understand your client and how they might be feeling!

How important is post-processing in your final images?

Some might actually say I post-process to a fault! For me post-processing is not about “fixing” an image but rather it’s about enhancing an already strong image. If an image is poorly composed or exposed, no amount of post-processing will redeem the photograph. I mainly use duplicate layers, blending modes, masks & curves and Photoshop’s new Smart Sharpen tool to bring out colors, textures and details which is what I did with this image below:

Image 1 (straight out of camera)

Image 2 (after 5 minutes in PS!)

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you have been?

I wanted to be a fashion designer but it didn’t help that I coudn’t draw to save my life! Picking up a camera and being able to produce art in a photographic format was my way of expressing my non-drawing, non-painting, frustrated creative side so I actually can’t see myself being anything but a photographer now!

It’s coming up to 2008, do you have any resolutions for the new year with regards to business? Or personal?

We’re moving back to Cyprus early next year, so it’ll be a fresh market for us and we’ll be starting our business from scratch again but, as it’s a relatively small place, by the time the year is out I’d like to be well established on the island as the most contemporary wedding or portrait photographer to hire! Kind of a big one, huh?

On a more personal note, I resolve to sit up straight at the computer and get to yoga classes more regularly!

What advice do you have for other photographers?

Don’t become complacent about your work. There’s always room for improvement, change & progression.

If you were planning on having a photo-shoot, who would you want to photograph your portrait & why?

Herb Ritts, but sadly he’s dead so I’ll settle for getting re-married (before I get into trouble, to Paul again obviously!) and asking Joe Buissink to cut me a deal on his prices 😉