I asked Ai to interview me, a photographer.
- How did your photography journey begin?
I began my photography journey when I was just a young kid, I would steal my mom’s film cameras and run into my bedroom and set my dolls up in my windows and take pictures of them. I will share those here.
I was about 5 years old when I took these.
I got my first film camera on my 6th birthday in 1997! I got a little digital camera at 13 in 2004 after saving up my first $90. I then bought a Nikon Coolpix in 2010 and brought it to a camping party where it was stolen out of my tent. I was devastated by that. I got my first DSLR in 2011 when I was finishing up college and did some free shoots for friends. The following year, I decided to go to Ireland and needed cash for my travels after my car broke down so I sold my camera. In 2015 I purchased another DSLR and started doing photoshoots for donations only. I went full-time as a business owner and professional photographer in 2017.
- What subjects or genres do you most enjoy capturing through your lens? Is there a particular type of photography that you specialize in?I love photographing births the MOST. Unfortunately, it just was not a sustainable income, and being on call 24/7 was exhausting. I immersed myself in births and became a doula and one time I was even a midwife assistant. I hope to offer this again one day. My current love affair is photographing people in love. Couples, engagements, elopements and weddings.
- Could you share a memorable or challenging experience you’ve had while on a photography shoot?A recent challenge I had was a groom at a wedding who had just broken his ankle days before the wedding. We had a very limited ability on poses. I was really worried, but I was able to get super creative! I like a challenge!
- What equipment and gear do you find essential to your photography work? Do you have any favorite tools or accessories?I used to rely on my prisms and my copper pipe a lot. They create really beautiful effects with backlit images. I often only bring them to weddings where that kind of lighting presents itself! My current camera is the Nikon z8 and my favorite lens is the 35mm! For flash I currently use a Godox tt685.
- How would you describe your personal photography style? Are there any photographers who have influenced your work?I have always loved and admired documentary-style photography. The relaxed and unposed photographs always drew me in. I wanted to create those kinds of photos and images for my friends and family, so I started to learn how! I can’t say any particular photographers have inspired me, as so many have inspired me along the way in different ways.
- In the age of digital photography, how do you approach post-processing? Are there specific software or techniques you prefer?I have been an Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop user for many, many years. There isn’t any other software I use for post-processing. I like to keep things as natural simple and authentic as possible. I use Lightroom for my preset and light tweaking such as removing people from the background or some brushwork. And for more advanced editing, like head swapping, I use Photoshop. I really love the new Ai edits Photoshop offers now, it saves me a lot of hassle and time!
- What advice would you give to aspiring photographers who are just starting on their journey?Do not give up. Don’t quit. Keep going. Learn your lessons, keep practicing, and keep taking photos. The only photographer you should be competing with is the photographer you were yesterday. Take lots of bad photos. Do not copy people. Do not steal photos from other photographers and post them as your inspiration. Do not get upset when clients do not follow your image use directions or edit your photos or doesn’t tag your business. It’s never worth it.
- Do you have a favorite project or series that you’ve worked on? What made it special or meaningful to you?
The most meaningful work I ever did was loss photography. Families who do not get to take home their children alive deserve these photos the most. Capturing and loving on babies every little detail is an honor to me. I know how important that work is for families and that’s why it is the most meaningful to me.
- How do you stay inspired and keep your creativity flowing? Are there certain rituals or practices you follow?
I stay inspired by taking breaks and not overdoing things. I like to look on Pinterest right before a photo shoot to get an idea of something new to try. When it comes to editing, I always bounce around from session to session so I do not get stuck editing one face for too long. I also like to try new editing techniques as well to keep things fresh!
- Photography is often a balance between technical skills and creative expression. How do you navigate this balance in your work?Creative expression for me is just the way I approach my work, clients and sessions. I always try new and unique ways to get people to open up a little more for me and to show me some real emotions. I do not like point-and-shoot and smile and click or shoot and burn. I love to genuinely give people the best possible experience with me. I make sure people get the full investment and more!
- In what ways has photography enriched your life or changed your perspective on the world around you?
This is a loaded question for sure. Photography has quite literally changed my entire life as I have made it my whole career. Being in this career path has shown me that a lot of online content is fake sadly. A lot of beautiful pictures on the internet are so edited that they are not even close to what the original scene even looked like. I also have learned that a lot of people look a lot like me, a real human with real textured skin and real flaws. And lastly, my perspective on the world has changed because I see how in love people really can be, and that brings me joy and purpose. Check out some of my favorite photos from across the years below!