With WPPI right around the corner, I started thinking about the history I have with my photography and where everything began for me. People ask all the time how long I have been doing photography and if I studied it in school, etc.. It got me thinking about all the influences I've had in my life and the hours I've poured over Youtube videos, and articles reading, classes attended and not to mention the time spent learning new techniques in photoshop and finding what inspires me. For those who ask me where I've learned my craft, I wanted to pull together the artists and business people I look up to and have shaped my career.
Jerry Holm - My main man! I took my first photography class in high school and while I wasn't into it at all (it was kinda a required credit), it was where I really started learning the basics of photography and photoshop. I remember a specific moment in watching him work where he changed a girls eye color and I thought it was magic. I remember wanting to to turn everything black and white and leaving just certain things in color. I was obsessed with this. Although I still wasn't into photography when I was learning this, the moment I got my first camera, I WAS HOOKED.
Jessica Claire - My very first photography inspiration. I was obsessed with all of her wedding photos because of the extravagant decorations and beautiful lighting. I remember a particular photo of hers that she stated almost got her arrested and reading the story behind that particular photo made me want to push boundaries and create in the unexpected. I have kept that postcard with me as a reminder to never let anything stop me from getting the perfect shot.
Lindsay Adler - I don't even know where to start with this inspiring lady. I'm pretty sure she is the reason I became a photographer. I remember attending her class at WPPI my first year and she presented one of her sessions based around kissing a frog and becoming a prince. It was so simple but yet I was intrigued on how she was able to make a story out of a few images with a sign and a few props. After that I was hooked and bought all of her books and instructional material and have attended multiple classes, in person and online. And ya'll. I still reference her books to this day. The second part of attending Lindsay's first class was being taught about what gear she used. *enter Lensbaby* I remember sitting there watching her photos flip on the screen and writing down what she used to create these images. Later at the show, I decided to go visit the Lensbaby booth getting my first set of optics. So thank you Lindsay for inspiring me then and now.
Doug Gordon - Doug Gordon is one of those guys that you see talk and instantly want to be friends with. He was so energetic and knowledgeable about what he does. He's kind of like the king of posing, but the best part is he tells you like it is. My favorite part of learning from him was he is self taught (like most of us) and because of this, he straight up says he doesn't care about the technical terms. If you can see light and know how to manipulate it, you're golden. This has stuck with me for years and when people ask me what they can do to be a better photographer, I always say to learn your light and posing. Pay attention to how the light falls on someones face or how you can move their body to extenuate the best form of themselves. The final tip that I learned from Doug, and I still use to this day, is if you can't tell where your light is coming from, hold your hand up and watch where the shadows fall. This can help so much in learning how to see light.
Sue Bryce - While Doug is the King of posing, Sue Bryce is the Queen of posing. Not only is she Australian and just calming to listen to, the way she teaches and gets you to see how the body moves is beyond inspiring. Every time I walk out of her classes, I always felt so inspired and more confident in not only my photography, but just being a women. Her approach to beauty and glamour photography is one that I hadn't seen before and when she talks about posing the female body, it's so natural and not raunchy like everything we see on Instagram. Sue is also the reason I fell in love with working with dancers. Watching the way she was able to capture such fluidity and simple beauty with just one bed sheet was incredible to watch and I knew I wanted to be able to create my own versions of what dancers are able to do with their bodies.
Jasmine Star - Jasmine is the reason I blog, or at least try too. She had just come out with her magazine Posed and watching her talk about how she spent every day writing just for the fun of it to end up being able to create her own magazine proved so much dedication. I wanted to strive to have a goal like that and while I failed on writing everyday, it helped in trying to keep my content up to what I wanted to show people, whether it was a senior session, personal work, or even just a little inspiration. Jasmine also taught me one of the most important lessons I have ever learned. She shared this story in one of her talks about how she booked a couple at sunset and they ended up being late and not able to do the session after time and money had been spent on hair, makeup, etc... She told her husband how upset and mad she was because they didn't plan well enough and all he said was "are you sure it wasn't your fault?" Taken aback, she told us how mad she was at him for even saying that, but in the end, he was totally right. Her clients didn't know that the time and lighting would be an issue if they weren't there early and because of that, she was the one that should be educating her clients more. Tell them what will happen if they don't show up on time. Explain why certain things are important to capture the perfect image, because it is our job, as photographers, to educate and not just assume clients know.
Josh Rossi - Josh's photography is the most shared images on my Facebook page because of how similar our style is. And he is one of the reasons I am able to create such cool composites. While I actually haven't seen he speak, I've purchased his membership subscription to creating eye-catching composites and my knowledge on lighting and how to create scenes shot up immensely. From capturing models in a studio setting to cutting them out and shooting a completely different background and putting all of the images together was something I never imagined I would be able to do when starting out.
Brooke Shaden - Brooke Shaden is another photographer that inspired me to think outside the box and showed me that not all photos are about being pretty and well composed. Not only did she teach me how to photograph bodies in weird shapes to create a more dynamic story, but also how to photograph a leg one way, cut it out and replace it later in Photoshop. In one of her classes, she talked about how photos should tell stories and majority of her photography don't ever contain a specific face. Because why? If there is a face in the shot, that means that person is the one in the story, but if there isn't a face, anyone could place themselves in that story. *MIND BLOWN*
Jordan Matter - If you don't know who Jordan Matter is by now, I'm so sorry... but you should go follow him now. I don't remember when exactly I came across his work, but I'm pretty sure I've watched every video, own all of his books, and partake in all the live video's he does on Instagram. Jordan's dance photography is absolutely insane and watching the energy and way he doesn't care if there's security around just makes me like him even more. Maybe one day, I'll be able to meet him and tell him thank you for constantly inspiring young people in not only dance, but photography and other art forms.
Brandon Woelfel - And my newest inspiration, Brandon Woefel. Every single photographer I have listed has their own beautiful style and when scrolling on Instagram, you can tell a Brandon photo apart from everyone else. The way that he brought color and neon to this platform is so unique and before him, I had never seen anything done the way he does it. Not to mention the way he's able to manipulate in Photoshop after shooting in weird neon lights. Brandon's style has taken the photography world by storm and the way he has shown that it is possible to shoot almost in complete darkness is a style that will forever be in the industry.
To anyone looking for inspiration in photography, I hope this helps. I know I wouldn't be where I am today without these photographers helping and shaping my art to the way I create today. And from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!
And because WPPI is next week...
Your girl is going to be heading to Las Vegas to work with Lensbaby!!! That's right! I get to work at the booth that I purchased my first set from and maybe help some people into finding their love for creating with these amazing products!! I'm so excited!! And if you're reading this and going to be attending, come say hi!!