Chasing Light Artistic Tools for Creatives

Photographer Spotlight for July 2018 - Jason Abbott

Nikki Harrison2 Comments
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You are an amazing photographer! Your attention to details and posing and lighting is amazing. What is your favourite subject to shoot?

             Thank you for your kind words. I love photographing people. I love the character of the human face.

 When did you discover the photography bug?

             I have dabbled in photography most of my life. Around 2006-7 I wanted to start taking images of my 3 children while they were participating in their team sports. I was a DWAC. I was one of that dad's who would complain about paying $13 for an 8X10. I would mumble and grumble "how damn hard is it to take a picture of a kid playing soccer?" Well as I found out, it is great deal harder than one would think. It looked easy because the people who were taking the photos were professionals. 

You are a full time Police Officer in Texas, how do you juggle the hazards and struggles of being an officer in this modern time, with the creativity and passion you have for photography?        

             Being a police officer today is a great deal different from when I started. It is much harder today with everything that is going on in society. I do my best to live up to my oath to protect and serve, treat people well and help give a positive side to law enforcement as I can. Take a bit more time explaining what is going on, why we do what we do. And I do my best to always remember that my job as a police officer is "What" I do, not "Who" I am. Photography is my outlet. I get to create beautiful images for people, I can turn on a POD cast, a music playlist, hell even a movie on Netflix in the background and disappear into my own little realm for many hours. It helps clear my mind. 

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Every person that knows you and spends time with you loves you. You are truly a beacon of light and a shining example of what people should be like. How do you maintain your positive attitude and fun personality when you have to see so much sadness in the world?

            Of all the questions this one is probably the most difficult to put into words. I live and work in a world that is driven by ego. I have been in law enforcement for over half my life. I have seen and been involved in situations that cannot be unseen. Having been through many difficult situations and hurdles in law enforcement has taught me to always look from a different perspective. Change my angle of view, be patient and let things develop. And a good friend/photographer Bob Bossinger taught me FBE, find beauty everywhere. The majority of people I come in contact are not hardened criminals. They are everyday people who have made a bad choice, or a mistake. There is no reason to be treated like a hardened criminal. I love my community, I love when I walk in a restaurant, grocery store of am just patrolling on duty and I hear someone call out "Hey officer Abbott". 

            One of the best things about being in the photography world is how the friends I have made come from literally all over the world, all walks of life, every demographic, rich poor. Yet we can all  sit together in a room and talk about this thing call photography. My closest friends, people who have literally dropped what the were doing and jumped on a plane to come see me in times of need, call and ask me how I am as a person long before we talk anything about images, if at all. I have had people who are considered the worlds best "Pay It Forward" to me, I feel it is my duty to do it for others as well. I wish I could name all of the people who have helped me. I say I a, self taught only because I did not a college or university and get a degree in photography. I have been guided by the best in the world, I will start with you, Renee Robyn, Warne and Paula Noyce, John-Mark Stevenson, Debbie Rogers, Melissa Williams, Tommy Cooper, Ben Shirk, Mike Long, Steve and Shelly Harrington, Sabina Cavalli, James Hodgins, Danny Rabalais, Craig Stidhem, Craig Lamere, Maria Sampaio...and SOOOO many more.

But above all else, what brings me my greatest joy (excluding my children) Karla Abbott, my true love, supporter...she is what fills all of the voids in my life:-)  

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Your photography is so timeless. How would you describe your style?

I am not sure what I call my style...I like to say I try to capture "Them".   

    What is the toughest part of your photography journey so far?

      Self doubt

      As a person who has to conduct photography as a second career - what advice would you give to the newer photographers that are juggling a full time day job and a new photography passion/career?

      Take your time, hone your craft. Master each step before rushing into the next. LISTEN TO WHAT THE PEOPLE YOU TRUST TELL YOU...Never quit. Take a break if you need but do not quit. Even of you never get branch out as a full timer...it is an art for that lets you create...CREATE:-) 

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      What is your all time fav image, and why?

        A photo of my daughter I took one day when she had just come home from soccer practice. I was still learning how to use my camera and it was finally tack sharp. I had it made into a 16X20 canvas. She hates it, but It was my first images that came out the way I wanted.  

        If you could have one Photography related wish, what would that be?

        To be able to make a living in photography...not famous, not filthy rich, paid well, happy and content:-) 

        Where do you hope to be in 3 years?

        Simple things....be better at this than I am now:-) 

        You can see more of Jason's work here:

        https://www.facebook.com/jason.abbott.94

        https://www.facebook.com/jasonabbottphotography/

        Photographer Spotlight for June - Cheryl Walsh

        Nikki HarrisonComment
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        You are an amazing Artist, your images are breath taking, whimsical, story telling.. all the things that make my heart happy. How do you continue to switch things up to tell a different story every time?

        Thank you for telling me that my work makes your heart happy.  Selfishly, I started it to make my heart happy when it wasn’t but I’m thrilled that it has resonated with so many people.   I want to create work that adds a little beauty to a sometimes ugly world and tells a story that can help you escape even if it’s for just a few minutes.  While my images tend to be light and pretty, the story they are telling is often heavy and dark.  I wanted to create something that would cheer me up.  Inspiration comes from everywhere, including the wonderful artists I collaborate with. The models and mermaid tails, crowns, gowns, faerie wings, wigs, swords and those artist’s own stories all help me find my voice.  I have a fairly new piece that is a retelling of the Syrian story of Atargatis, the first mermaid.  Most tales and legends, like the Roman and Greek gods and goddesses, were passed down by men, like Homer.  My perspective is that there might be another side to the story, perhaps the women’s version of the story that is quite different from the version we’ve heard. For every broken heart there is usually two sides of the story.  I’m looking to tell that other version of the story.  That’s far more interesting to me.  

        What started you down the road of underwater photography as an artform?  

        It’s all about the process and experience of being underwater.  In the water I’m not distracted by other people in the studio.  It’s quiet, there’s no bright light, everything moves in slow-motion and the colors are more vibrant and saturated.  I can’t think of a better environment to create in.  It’s so peaceful that I don’t even have to breathe.

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        I think you and I started printing around the same time, you print large format and market to interior decorators to sell your pieces to their clients. How is that going? 

        I recently sold a series of mermaid images to a gentleman who is on the Forbes billionaires list.  The art has been installed on his yacht and he and his wife are thrilled to have magical images to enjoy.  I’ve done very well using Kickstarter to sell prints rather than having a traditional online store.  That way I know how many prints to make and can do it all at once.  Honestly one of my biggest problems is that I really don’t know what I want to do.  I’m doing well enough that I can keep doing what I’m doing while figuring out what my end-game is.  My work doesn’t fit into the traditional fine art photography world and yet I’m not sure if I want to be selling at a table at Comic-Con (where I love buying art directly from artists every single year). My life is in transition and I can’t see my future clearly so it’s hard to make a decision about what I really want.  So right now I’m focusing that angst into my work and creating.  It was always very important to me that I do my own printing so I’m creating my own work. Making a great print always eluded me until this past year when I met a print master, Eric Joseph of Freestyle Photographic.  He changed my life in a matter of minutes.  I had done every single thing I was supposed to do to create a good print but I always failed.  That feeling of failing at printing made me feel like a total failure as an artist. I went to his office in Hollywood, gave him a usb with one of the images I couldn’t print, he put it in his computer, made one single print and handed me the most beautiful print I’d ever seen.  All I could do was cry.  He taught me what a really great print is and how to create it.  He is the only person I’ve ever met who teaches the art of printing in a way that I could completely understand and do it myself.  It really is life changing.   I have been studying under him ever since.  Even though I’ve seen plenty of great quality prints, especially at WPPI print competition, I didn’t really know what made a great print great.  For reasons that I will never understand, he doesn’t charge for his classes so the knowledge is there for anyone who wants it.

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        I feel like there is a resurgence of art as a culture in Western Culture. More and more people are following their heart and soul and creating. Do you have an opinion as to why this is happening?  

        I think it’s always been going on.  We are more exposed to it because of social media. I’m thrilled that I get to see the work of so many amazing artists from around the world.  That brings me so much joy.  Our world is getting smaller due to technology and that makes each of us a little bigger and more important in the world.  Sharing art is an act of kindness and I’m grateful to be part of that world.

        Do you market yourself, or do you have someone doing that for you? 

        I post my work to Facebook and Instagram and that’s all I do. I don’t even do it regularly.  Not a great business model!  But until I know what it is I want then that’s all I’m going to do right now.  I have enough worries and problems without creating more anxiety for myself.  Right now is the time for me to create and make as much art as I can.

        What would you say, has been your largest hurdle, in becoming one of the most creative and  amazing underwater artist’s today?  

        It took me years to fully understand the science of underwater photography and get it all dialed in.  I didn’t want to have to deal with it but once I accepted that this is both a science and an art I was able to make great strides in controlling what I am able to create.  No one stands in my way more than I do.  I can be really awful to me.  I think that’s pretty common for artists – we are our worst critics and saboteurs. 

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        Where do you see yourself in five years?  Cliché, I know, but people are very interested in where you are headed.  

        I can’t see more than one year at a time and even that is sketchy. I thought I had my life all worked out but my path has changed and now I’m just rolling with it. My focus is on creating new and interesting work that fulfills me.  I have a creative project scheduled for this summer that I’m really excited about. It’s super-secret so I can’t share any details but it’s all I can think about right now.  The way I see it, I have a long way to go before I’m really very good at what I do and that just takes hours and hours of practice.  So my goal is to get more practice in.  I’m planning on getting a pool heater so I can practice in my off season.

        If there was one thing you could say to your younger, just starting out self, what would that be?  

        Calm the f* down!!  Stop worrying and just do.  It doesn’t matter if your work sucks.  It will never get better if you don’t actually physically do it.  Sit your ass on the bottom of that pool and start by practicing holding your breath for as long as you can.  Baby steps are just as important as the big stuff.  You can’t learn anything by worrying about it. Just do.

        Where can people find/follow you Cheryl?

        Website:  CherylWalsh.art

        facebook.com/CherylWalshPhoto

        instagram.com/cherylwalshfineart

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        BIO: In an overwhelmingly chaotic world, Southern California based underwater fine art portrait artist Cheryl Walsh finds her inspiration in an atmosphere of peaceful solitude.  In the depths of her underwater studio, she works with the quiet currents that slow down time, bring vibrancy to colors, and leave her subjects virtually weightless.  The liquid atmosphere, invisible but ever present in the reflection on the water’s surface, is a mirroring of the duality that personifies life.  Her underwater portrait fine art photography is described alternately as old-world painterly and photo-realistic, traditional and surreal. Combining the science of working underwater with the art of photography, she utilizes vintage and avant-garde fashion on dancers, models and clients to tell a dream-like story in each of her fine art series. Along with her Southern California based Fine Art photography, Cheryl runs a successful High School Senior portrait business, AltSenior Photography.

         

        Thanks so much for contributing to our community! Thank you so much for having me J I’m honored to be included in a group of such hard working creative people.

        Photographer Spotlight for May - Sherry Hagerman

        Nikki HarrisonComment
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        You are an amazing Wedding Photographer, your images are breath taking, but even more than that, you are really successful at the business end.  What was your “ah ha” moment in making this a successful career?

        I never had an ah-ha moment. I actually started my company and hit the gates running. I started my company during the middle of my divorce. I had a 6 month-old and a 2.5 year-old. Being single with two small babies did not leave room for failure. I threw my heart and soul into my business immediately. I made so many mistakes, but I learned and grew from each and everyone. 

         

        I know you value education, you invest in your trade continuously. Would you say this is something that is missing from some of the less successful career photographers?

        Education is everything in our industry. Technology, business and trends are in a constant state of change. If we cannot learn to adapt to these sections of our business then we will fail. Through ongoing education we learn about better equipment that will further the look of our images. We learn about different techniques of running a business such as sales and customer service. We learn from new photographers that have a personal style which allows us to meet or exceed the upcoming trends in the market. All of these play an important role in a successful business. Without investing in our education we will never improve upon what we have developed. Let’s face it, once we get comfortable in our career things tend to become stale. A business needs a constant frame of motion and we need to adapt to meet this change. I try to learn at least three new things from beginners and pros each year.

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        Wedding photography is not for everyone, it takes a hard working, no b*sht kind of soul to do this work.  It offers all the benefits if you are a devoted business person, but also a lot of grief.How do you wade the waters?  Do you have an assistant that handles all the problems or are you pretty hands on?

        I am completely hands on. If you want to own the company you have to get dirty and take the good with the bad. Not all weddings are peaches and cream. As a matter of fact most are exhausting, long a ton of drama. It’s how you handle the client that makes or breaks your company. Customer service plays a major role in this. Being able to listen to the client is key. If they have a complaint let them express it. Take it in without judgement. There is something they are unhappy with but may not be communicating it effectively. For example I have a bride that is complaining about the way her armpit looks in a few photos. Well, I had placed her husbands hand over this area so it’s not really the armpit. So we do have to be able to decipher what they are talking about. This was her way of saying, “Hey my arms look huge” without actually saying it herself.  That’s a simple fix. Slim her arms and now we have made a happy client. All problems are handled by myself and not my assistant. Deciphering what clients are really saying can be hard but again, this is something I learned through a course I took on customer service with Melissa Ghionis. Had I not invested in my education I would not be able to deal with complaints in the positive way that has lead my company to our 5 star rating. No one can run your business like you can. My clients also appreciate that I try to meet all of their needs instead of pushing their issues off onto a different person.

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        With the onslaught of Instagram and Social Media, iphones and smart phones, how to do stay relevant with the Millennial’s? 

        OH MY GOODNESS…MILLENNIALS!!! I have two of them living in my home now. They are my teenagers lol. They aren’t so easy. Most of them do not even want to meet and why should they? They can get their McDonalds delivered to them these days. Everything is done over the computer for them as well. I make a need for them to meet with me. I do not post my pricing and I will not give it over an email. Once you do this they no longer have a need to meet with you. This is something that I learned through one of my greatest mentors, Skip Cohen. We all know that no sales technique is better than in-person sales. There fore I need them to meet with me. I do the normal posts on Instagram, Facebook etc. but these forms of advertising will never bring in clients for me. This is where the client browses. Much like a magazine. They do not buy a magazine to find a photographer. They buy a magazine to browse through the pages. I use the normal avenues for advertising like TheKnot.com etc. I don’t know that there is a real secret to millennials. If you have it I would sure love to know it because there are a ton of people out there trying to figure them out as well.

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        For someone starting out in Weddings, brand new, what would you suggest to AVOID straight out of the gate?

        Avoid buying everything! There are always going to be these new gadgets, tools or equipment with the promise of making your images better. And the marketing is so awesome on these things that we just have to have them. YOU DON’T! Use what you have. Master what you have and after you have mastered it then make a purchase for one new item. Master that item and keep at the same rate. I know some photographers that have every tool in the book and do not know how to properly use any of them. Be great with what you have rather then semi-good and have a lot of toys. It will also help your pocket book in the long run. Also, research items such as albums, equipment etc. before you make that purchase. Take polls on Facebook. This will save you a ton of mistakes in making bad purchases. 

        There has been a lot of debate online right now about cheap photography for weddings.  Some new wedding photographers doing weddings for a cheap as $500.  What is your take on this?

        I don’t really care about this. I teach very often that there is not competition. This is true. There are so many events happening per year that not one studio or person could handle them all. However, what I do try to do is educate the lower priced photographers on their value. Most of the photographers in this range do not understand the cost of doing business. It’s not our job to discourage them and make them feel terrible, but rather educate them on their costs and what they would be making on an hourly rate. For example, at $500 a wedding most if not all photographers charging this will be out of business within one year. At this range you are actually losing money but aren’t seeing it until it’s too late and need to close the doors. I am a strong believer in giving back. If all can raise their prices than it only helps our market become greater as it once was.

        Where do you see yourself in five years?  Cliché, I know, but you are at the top of your game, so I wonder where you will take your talents over the next five years.

        I honestly do not look that far out. I love teaching so I hope to be doing more if not running my own conference in Chicago. I may look into representing a camera company. One thing I am certain about is that I have two boys to put through college soon. I won’t be making any large moves until they are finished with this unless I am given a very enticing offer. I will say this, I am at the top of my game now. I do rate this however on how happy my clients are and not the awards I receive. If I stop receiving awards tomorrow but maintain happy clients, then I will remain at the top of my game for a very long time according to my own standards.

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        If there was one thing you could say to your younger, just starting out self, what would that be?

        When I first started my company I would buy tons of items that people would recommend. My thinking was that it would make me a better photographer. It took me five years to realise the only thing that could make me a better photographer was education. Learning how to properly use my equipment. How to photograph in different lighting. Actually being able to visualize how light falls on a subject so that I may create proper fake light. If I would have invested in this earlier I would have been able to increase my pricing earlier and save money on products that I really didn’t need. Those products never worked for me but this was because I did not grasp the importance of how to use them. You can purchase three flashes but if you do not understand how to use light off camera than it will not help the quality of your images. Learn first…then buy.

        Where can people find/follow you Sherry?

        Website: https://www.allusionphotography.com

        Facebook: Allusion Photography1

        Facebook 2: Sherry Hagerman

        Twitter: allusionfoto

        Pinterest: allusionfoto

        Instagram: allusionphotography

        Linkedin: allusion photography

        Snapchat: Allusionphoto

         

         

         

         

        April Photographer Spotlight with John Hartman

        Nikki HarrisonComment

        A Frank Discussion with a Veteran Photographer

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        I had the pleasure of meeting John Hartman last year during my indoctrination into XXV Society in New York.  We became fast friends and taught together at Texas School, and I attended one of his Light Painting Workshops in Portland. He is one of the most fun, interesting and giving people I have met in the industry. I am honoured he blessed us with an interview.

         

         

        If you never needed to earn another dollar in your life, what would you do?

        I feel very fortunate to be be able to be doing exactly what I want to be doing in my career right now. The fact that others find value in what I do is a bonus.

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        You are an amazing photographer (and human being), what would you say has been the one largest struggle in your career?

        Taking everything into account, the biggest career challenge I’ve had to was to discover my own niche (some would call it a style, but it’s more than that), and to feel completely comfortable in it. As a younger photographer I was a seminar junkie, and I was always determined to come home ready to change what I did into something better, or so I thought. Eventually I determined that I no longer wanted to learn in order to become a clone of someone else—rather, I began adding only the things that fit with the way I wanted my work or business to look like. It was then that my career took off and things started to really get fun. 

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        What makes you most happy in your life?

        My happy place is spent with family and friends, who have become increasingly important as I get older. I also value tremendously the friendships I’ve made in this industry over the past four decades. Photographically, give me a flashlight, a Pluto trigger, an iPad and a camera and I’m in light painting heaven.

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        You shoot with a Hasselblad System, what are your reasons, and do you think it is necessary for those who would never print larger than a 30x40?

        I shot with film Hasselblads for 25 years. In 2014 I found myself selling lots of very large images, and the resolution requirements for photographs three feet and larger dictated the larger format camera. The medium format files, especially from the 100MP camera I currently use, do not disappoint.

        However, the improved dynamic range, the 16-bit files, and the incredible color gamut these files produce are superior to any DSLR camera, at any size. There are a great many photographers who get everything they want from their current camera, and those people are not medium format candidates. But for those whose images consistently bump up against the limits of their toolset, and for those who have the skills to get the most from these files, there is no substitute. My 50mp 35mm DSLR is collecting dust right now.

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        What surprises you the most about the industry today?

        With all the complaining we hear about business not being like it used to be due to the influx of more photographers combined with the diminished need for services, I’m constantly amazed at how many photographers are keeping busy, making great images and earning a good living. Having been in professional photography for almost 44 years, I’ve pretty much seen it all. And what’s going on today is not new—there have always been ‘newbies’ coming into the business with subpar skills, undercutting the established businesses. Those that have always thrived and continue to thrive are those who combine aggressive marketing skills with photographic products and services that the inexperienced folks cannot touch. In doing so, they run in parallel but separate markets, and in so doing insulate themselves from the cannibalization that so much of the industry is experiencing.

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        Do you think High School Senior Portraits are becoming a thing of the past?

        Not in central Wisconsin! We’ve been as busy as we want to be in the senior market, year in and year out because in part because we’re doing what others can’t do and in part because of being around so long. I’m now photographing students whose parents and even grandparents (!) came to us for their senior portraits. The cheese has definitely moved, so it is important to be playing in the area that everybody else isn’t.

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        If you could only have one light, one camera and one lens which would they be and why?

        The sun, a Leica M and 35mm lens. Good enough for Henri Cartier-Bresson, right?

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        If you had to start from scratch, right now, no one knew you, you had no body of work, how would you manage to make a go of it in today’s environment, culture and social media driven world?

        I think a good model to follow is Benjamin Von Wong. He started out doing projects that interested him. Then, when he posted the resulting BTS videos and finished images, he began attracting people interested in seeing his process. Soon he was being asked to create really epic projects all around the world, in some really exotic locations, and with models, props, equipment and makeup all provided by his hosts. Eventually started getting paid assignments from big name clients.

        Another model I would follow is that of my friend Joey Lawrence, who most people know as Joey L. I met him when he was a teenager, when his work shooting street people in Toronto with a 1 megapixel point-and-shoot camera was beginning to get him notoriety. When I met him he had just photographed the now-famous poster for the first Twilight movie, By age 18 he had been traveling for several years photographic indigenous peoples from all over the world.  His rise to the top was meteoric, and he has photographed film, music and political personalities at the highest levels and from top clients worldwide.

        Both of these young men have very strong photographic skills, which is the main prerequisite for success today. Additionally, they had a strong vision of their brand (even before they knew what branding was) and were able to deftly navigate and exploit social media and the Web to their advantage.

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        You are an educator, what do you like most about teaching?

        I’m proud to be the father of three handsome men and to be the husband of my best friend for forty years. I also feel fortunate to have been able to support them entirely as a professional photographer—I’ve never had a paycheck in my life!

        I began teaching marketing, business and sales to photographers in 1983. In 1996 I held my first Marketing Boot Camps in Chicago and Las Vegas, and thoroughly enjoyed all twenty of them and the four thousand-plus photographers who attended them. After discovering light painting a few years ago, I was besieged by requests to teach again, so the Light Painting Workshops were instituted.

        Whether teaching how to light, how to market, how to edit, how to sell or how to run a business, I feel it is my obligation to help other photographers achieve their vision of what they consider success in their photography. The rewards come at odd times, but are sweet nevertheless; I just got a call last week from a photographer who told me he still has and reads his old tattered copy of my Family Portraiture book from 1988.

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        You are the John Hartman behind Quick Mats!  I love your product so much, I used it in competition this year and my images either went loan or earned a merit in my photographic case.  They have been around for many years, but there are a LOT of new photographers that don’t know anything about them.  Tell them what they are, and how they can benefit their business.

        QuickMats came about in 1999 when I tried to make a realistic looking digital mat for a photo gift I had made for a neighbor. I shared the results with some photographer friends, who immediately asked me to make them available to them. There have been five major upgrades since then, and they continue to be sold to photographers all over the world.

        QuickMats is a series of more than five hundred digital mats in single and multiple-opening configurations. They are available in all sizes and aspect ratios, from 2” to 40” and larger, and from 1:1 square to 4:1 panoramic. They can be customized in any color, and come with hundreds of textures and overlays that help create mats that can compliment any photograph or image series.

        I sell QuickMats products to my clients almost every day in my studio. From sports teams to seniors to fine art to families, these products add multiple five figures to my sales year in and year out. So QuickMats exists primarily for the benefit of my studio. (And yes, all my competition prints this year contained QuickMats presentations.) But I’m happy that so many other photographers have found them to enhance and add value to their work, as well.

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        Your light painting is so beautiful and unique, you teach this to a limited number of professional photographers, do you have any upcoming workshops that might have a spot or two open?

        Light painting is extremely rewarding, both artistically and financially, but it’s also one of the most difficult types of photography I’ve ever done, and it’s equally difficult to teach the techniques and concepts in any way other than to very small groups.

        At this time I have one workshop scheduled in May at my Stevens Point, WI studio. There are just two seats available—the class size is generally kept small, so there’s lots of hands-on attention for each student.

        It’s the most fun I’ve ever had in photography!

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        Thanks for allowing me to interview you John, you are a wonderful dear friend and I respect and adore you and your work.

        Go get your copy of Quick Mats for a limited time, get $100 off the QuickMats 4 with Bonus bundle here by using the code NH1

         

        Photographer Spot Light - John Chandler

        Nikki HarrisonComment
         http://www.chandler-studios.com  Follow on Facebook

        http://www.chandler-studios.com
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        Q. Where are you located, and what are any hurdles you struggle with in your every day business. 
             -- MY STUDIO IS LOCATED IN RICHLANDS, NC - NEAR THE COAST OF NORTH CAROLINA.  
             -- OUR HURDLES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN GETTING OUR MESSAGE OUT TO CUSTOMERS WHO CAN AFFORD OUR PRODUCTS.  AS YOU KNOW MARKETS EVERYWHERE ARE JAMMED
                WITH THOUSANDS OF "ASPRIRING or EMERGING" PHOTOGRAPHERS.  THESE PHOTOGRAPHERS ARE "NOISE" IN THE MARKET PLACE AND OFTEN CONFUSE AND DISSAPOINT THE BUYER WHEN THEY CANNOT PRODUCE THE QUALITY IN THEIR WORK THAT WE CAN.  HOWEVER, LIKE MOST, WE CONTINUALLY HAVE TO SWIM ABOVE THEM AND SHOW OUR CLIENTS WE ARE WHO THEY SHOULD CHOOSE.    

        Q. Where do you find inspiration for your art?
            --  MUSEUMS, MUSEUMS, MUSEUMS.  ART HISTORY GUIDES OUR WORK MORE THAN ANYTHING.  IT IS ALL THERE, THE POSING, THE LIGHTING, THE COMPOSITION, IT IS ALL THERE AND ITS MOSTLY FREE!! 

        Q. You are an educator, how do you balance teaching with your own business?
            -- VERY CAREFULLY.  I USED TO TEACH A LOT OF BASIC PHOTOGRAPHY COURSES UNTIL I REALIZED IT WAS STUNTING MY GROWTH AS AN ARTIST.  I QUIT TECAHING BASIC PHOTOGRAPHY ABOUT THREE YEARS AGO AND NOW ONLY FOCUS ON ARTISTIC AND CREATIVE IMAGERY.  I AM NO LONGER THE PERSON TO COME TO IF YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND YOUR CAMERA.   ALL THAT SAID I DO MENTOR A SMALL GROUP OF LOCAL "ASPIRING" PHOTOGRAPHERS WITH WHOM I SHARE BASIC ELEMENTS OF PHOTOGRAPHY, LIGHTING, ETC. 

        Q. What types of educational tools do you recommend for new photographers?
            --  #1:   I AM AMAZED, STUNNED, JEALOUS OF YOUTUBE.  WOW, I WISH THAT HAD BEEN THERE WHEN I WAS A YOUNG MAN LEARNING MY CRAFT.  
             -- #2:   THE PROFESSIONAL SCHOOLS LIKE TEXAS SCHOOL, EAST COAST SCHOOL, MID-AMERICA CAN BE "SAFE" PLACES FOR AN ASPIRING PROFESSSIONAL TO DEVELOP THE SKILLS NECESSARY TO FEED THEIR CREATIVITY.    
             --#3:   LASTLY, AND MOST IMPORTANT I ENCOURAGE EVERY ASPIRIING PHOTOGRAPHER TO DEVELOP A MENTORING RELATIONSHIP WITH A PRO THEY WANT TO LEARN FROM.  A MENTOR IS THE SPRINGBOARD FOR THE ASPIRING PHOTOGRAPHER TO GET SOLID, HONEST, FEEDBACK ON THEIR WORK.  PLUS A MENTOR PROVIDES CONTINUITY FOR THE STUDENT TO LEARN FROM.  THE STUDENT CAN BOUNCE AROUND ON YOUTUBE FROM ONE "ROCKSTAR" TO THE NEXT AND NEVER DEVELOP A CREATIVE STYLE.  A MENTOR CAN NURTURE THAT WITH A STUDENT.   

        Q. Is photography something that has always been a part of your life, or when & how did you get inspired to become such an amazing photographer?
            -- YES, ALWAYS. 
            --  FOR ME IT ALL STARTED UNDERWATER.  I LOVE UW PHOTOGRAPHY, I LEARNED PHOTOGRAPHY UNDERWATER, I LEARNED LIGHTING UNDERWATER, I LEARNED EXPOSURE CONTROL AND EXPOSURE VALUES UNDERWATER USING TRANSPARENCY FILM.  I PUBLISHED "COFFEE TABLE" BOOKS OF MY WORK AND WAS PUBLISHED IN NUMEROUS MAGAZINES, VIDEOS, ETC.  THE MAGIC OF THE UNDERWATER WORLD AMAZED ME AND I WANTED TO BRING THIS BACK TO THE SURFACE AND SHARE IT.  
              -- MY WIFE OF 40 YEARS NOW  HAS ALWAYS BEEN A SUPERBLY TALENTED PORTRAIT ARTIST.  SHE TEACHES ME EVERYDAY ABOUT THE ELEMENTS OF SKILLED  PORTRAIT LIGHTING, POSING, COLOR HARMONY, ETC.  SO SHE, MY WIFE, HAS BEEN MY INSPIRATION FOR THE PAST 40 YEARS AND SHE REMAINS MY MUSE EVEN TODAY.   

        Q. Do you photograph high school seniors? If so do you think that market is shrinking?
             -- YES, WE DO PHOTOGRAPHY HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS.  WE HAVE SEEN A DECLINE SINCE 2008.  WAS IT THE ECONOMY?, WAS IT THE CAMERA PHONE?, WAS IT THAT EVERY MOM NOW HAS A DSLR THAT MAY SATISFY THEIR NEEDS?  
             -- WHAT WE DO KNOW IS THAT THE HS SENIORS THAT DO COME FOR THIER SESSIONS ARE VERY DEMANDING AND VERY KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT WHAT THEY WANT.  IT IS CLOSER TO A "FASHION" SHOOT THAN IT EVER WAS.  THE DAYS OF THE BLACK DRAPE AND PEARLS HAS PASSED.  NOW IT IS A WHITE SKY BACKGROUND AND LENS FLARE FROM A CORNER OF THE IMAGE!  SO THAT GENRE HAS MORPHED AND WE HAVE HAD TO MORPH WITH IT.  WE HAVE A STUDIO SO WE SPLIT THE SHOOT BETWEEN THE FASHION IN THE STUDIO AND ON LOCATION IN OUR TOWN. 

        Q. Favorite post editing tools for getting the looks you achieve?
              --  ADOBE CC 2017, ALIEN SKIN EXPOSURE X2, COREL PAINTER 18,  TOPAZ,  SILVER EFEX PRO2

        Q. What are your favourite Chasing Light Actions?

             -- CL SOFT AND SUEDE IS MY GO TO ACTION, THEN I WILL COMBINE ELEMENTS FROM OTHERS TO DEVELOP THE LOOK I WANT.  BECAUSE I GO FOR THE OLD "MASTERS" LOOK THE SOFT AND SUEDE ACTION SETS ME UP AND LETS ME GO FROM THERE.  LOVE IT.  
               -- ALL OF THE B&W ACTIONS ARE USED ALSO.  AGAIN FREEDOM TO ADD, SUBTRACT MAKE THESE SO VERSATILE IN MY WORK FLOW. 
               -- I AM JUST MOVING INTO USING SOME OF THE FAIREY ACTIONS ON A PROJECT I HAVE JUST BEGUN AND I LIKE THOSE QUITE A BIT TOO. 

        Q. What would you say is the best tool for your workflow, that you have purchased from Chasing Light?
             -- THIS IS THE EASIEST TO ANSWER.  THE DODGE AND BURN TOOL.  HANDS DOWN THE BEST TOOL, THE CENTRAL TOOL, IN MY WORKFLOW.  THIS TOOL HAS ALLOWED ME TO MOVE MY CREATIVITY TO NEXT LEVEL. 

        Q. What Off Camera Flash do you use (if any)?
             --  PHOTOGENIC 1250DRs IN THE STUDIO, AND DYNALITE BAHA 600s OUTDOORS.  LOVE THE DYNALITE BAHAs BECAUSE THEY WILL DO HIGH SPEED SYNC AND I CAN WORK WITH MY APERTURE WIDE OPEN OUTDOORS AND STILL PLAY IN SOME FILL LIGHT AS I MAY NEED. 

        Q. Your wife is an incredible artist as well, tell me about working along side another creative, who you happen to be married to.
             --  WELL SHE IS INCREDIBLE.  IT IS JUST THE BEST TO BE AT HER SIDE.  I GET TO LIVE WITH MY MUSE, MY MENTOR, MY LOVER AND MY FRIEND.  CAN IT GET BETTER THAN THAT?  WE COMPLIMENT ONE ANOTHER, WE DO NOT COMPETE WITH ONE ANOTHER.  SHE HAS HER CREATIVE STYLE AND I HAVE MINE.  BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY SHE VALIDATES MY CREATIVITY WITH A VERY POSITIVE ATTITUDE.  WE VISIT LOTS OF MUSEUMS TOGETHER AND IT IS JUST PURE JOY FOR US TO SET DOWN IN FRONT OF A MONET, OR DEGA, AND DISCUSS THE ARTIST'S STYLE, BRUSH STROKES, COMPOSITION, LIGHTING ETC.  WE WILL DO THAT FOR HOURS.  AND WE HAVE BEEN DOING THAT FOR YEARS.  WE HAVE TRAVELLED A LOT SO WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO ENJOY MUSEUMS AROUND THE WORLD AND THIS HAS BROUGHT PURE JOY INTO OUR CREATIVITY. 

        Q. Photographers OR Artist's you watch for inspiration?
            --  TOP OF THE LIST FOR ARTISTS WOULD BE MONET, DEGA, RENOIR (THE IMPRESSIONISTS FOR TERESA).  ENJOYING THE WORK OF PINO RIGHT NOW AND LOVING HIS STYLE OF LIGHTING AND POSING. 
            -- TOP OF THE LIST FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS WOULD BE JOSEPH AND LOUISE SIMONE, AND NIKKI HARRISON.  MY STYLE HAS BEEN CARVED OUT OF THESE TWO STYLES.  

        November Photographer Spot Light with Christy Smith

        Nikki Harrison11 Comments

        Q. Where are you located, and what are any hurdles you struggle with in your every day business.

        I am located in Southwestern Idaho.  I live in an area that is very oversaturated with photographers of all skill levels.  As a professional, I have to truly set myself apart from others in this industry by giving my clients a completely unique and memorable experience.  

        Q.  Where do you find inspiration for your art?

        I find inspiration in the seasons.  I find it in the colors around me and in nature as it changes.  I find inspiration in my children and I especially find inspiration in my senior models.  I even find inspiration in my pets and in the beautiful creatures around me.  I have a background in rodeo, livestock, 4-H and FFA and this inspires me greatly.

        Q.  Where do you see your passion taking you in the next 5 years?

        I have grown so much as an artist and as an individual in the past few years that when I look forward five years, I am truly excited about the possibilities. I plan to invest in myself over the next few years, especially by taking workshops whenever possible and learning as much as I possibly can.  

        I would like to potentially teach some classes of my own and return to new aspiring photographers skills and information that I so desperately needed when I was first starting out.I hope to become recognized in some well-known publications.Most importantly, I just want to continue to learn and grow.  It makes me a better photographer, yes, but it also helps to make me a better person. 

        Q.  Is photography something that has always been a part of your life, or when & how did you get inspired to become such an amazing photographer?

        I have always loved photography, but I didn’t truly understand how much until just a few years ago.  I don’t remember a time that I didn’t have a camera in my hand, but I didn’t own a professional grade camera until 2013.  

        In 2012, I went to load all of my personal photos to the cloud and at that time (which seemed like a great deal then), I had 27,000 photos to upload.  It was my husband who said, “Maybe you need to look at doing this on a larger scale.”  His aunt who was a photographer, told me – “Now, save up for the camera that you want… Now, save up for it twice.”  So, I did.  I didn’t settle for the first DSLR that I could afford and I’m so glad that I waited.

        I began to add better glass (lenses) and when I was able to, a full frame body.  I took pictures of everything and learned some hard lessons along the way.

        I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to shoot some beautiful events and sessions and become recognized for my work.

        Q.  If you could shoot only for pleasure and not income, what would be your focus?

        I will admit that I am not a specialist.  I have never narrowed down my area of specialty of photography.  Maybe it’s my ADD or maybe it’s just the fact that I love the beauty of so many different things.  I have learned along the way what I don’t want to shoot, and I have now learned how to say “no.”  I think that that is a hugely important thing to know.

        If I could only shoot for pleasure, I would shoot more themed shoots.  I love the creativity that goes into them and I love the feeling that you get when you view the finished product.

        Q.  Favorite post editing tools for getting the looks you achieve?

        I love Photoshop actions and I have just recently discovered Alien Skin.  I wouldn’t be a photographer without them.  I know that I can do hand edits, but why would I want to when we have these beautiful tools that have been created for us to achieve these amazing looks to our portraits?

        Q.  What are your favourite Chasing Light Actions?  

        This is such an incredibly hard question to answer.  Some of my absolute favorite actions that I use consistently from Chasing Light Actions are the entire Retouch set, Maleficent, Cruella, Romantica, Romancing the Stone, and the Black and White set.Chasing Light Actions are the most amazing actions in my editing collection.  You can adjust them to suit any type of portrait for the most individual and unique looks to work!

        Q.  What would you say is the best tool for your workflow, that you have purchased from Chasing Light?

        The best tool that I have ever purchased from Chasing Light or any action producer is Chasing Light’s Retouch set.  I use this set on absolutely every portrait I edit.  I even use this set on pets (The sharpening eyes is spectacular!)  I use this set to start off every edit and I cannot imagine where I would be in my work without it.  Chasing Light’s Skin Perfection action in the Retouch set is unrivaled.

        Q.  What Off Camera Flash do you use (if any)?

        When working in my studio, I use Alien Bee’s, both 400 and 800’s with a 60” Octaboxand 24x36” Softboxes.  I also use a Beauty Dish depending on the session.When I am using OCF outside, I use a Canon 430 exii with a 26” Westcott Rapid box Octabox with a Yongnuo 622c transceiver set-up.

        Q.  (If you are) How do you juggle being a mom, wife and a professional photographer? 

        This is definitely the most difficult part of being a photographer.  My husband is a truck driver for Wal*Mart and is home approximately a day-and-a-half each week.   I still have three of my five children living at home and when my photography career took off, I used to always say that I was looking for “balance.”  I’ve given up on that.  I now say that I’m looking for “harmony.”  Synonyms for harmony are peace, cooperation, and understanding.  As long as my family respects one another and each other’s goals, we can all be successful.  I am blessed that my family is very proud of me.

        Q.  Photographers you watch for inspiration?

        There are so many photographers that I love to follow, but I think it is important to let them inspire you to a degree, but to always keep your work your own.While I love to follow photographers that are known on a larger scale, the women that I follow who I know personally who have influenced me on a greater level are important to me for inspiration.

        1. Katelyn James - Wedding
        2. Tami Brundage – Newborn
        3. Alexia Wardell – Seniors
        4. Chelsea Shinkle – Wedding, Family & Children
        5. Krista Melone – Wedding, Boudoir, & Conceptual
        6. Nikki Britt – Landscapes
        7. Rachel Murillo – Beauty & Children
        8. Sam Marvin – Seniors
        9. Jessica Southfield - Newborn
        10. Thank you Christy for this amazing and informative Interview!

        Here are some of her amazing before and after shots using Chasing Light Actions!

        For more information on Christy you can visit her here:
        Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/dreamhighphoto
        Website:  http://www.dreamhighphotography.com