Monday, January 28, 2008

An interview from Oklahoma

I recently received an email from a girl attending Oklahoma Christian University inquiring about my photography. I thought I'd share her questions and my answers for anyone interested in learning a little more about my thoughts and ongoings with running a photography business. Here they are:

What do you like most about photography?
Maybe it’s cliché, but I love how photography gives you the ability to take one moment in time and capture it forever, often in a better light than it was originally seen. Sometimes the camera can catch details that our eyes aren’t even able to pick up on, particularly when you capture a reflection on water and that’s my favorite. I also love the way that my photography can give a confidence boost to my clients. I think everyone deserves to have at least one amazing photograph of themselves to reference on all those days when you just don’t feel up to par.

How long have you been in business?
I officially started ETF Photography April 2007. But I began building up my portfolio at least a year earlier.

What challenges do you face in your career?
I could answer this question differently depending on the day you asked, but currently, my biggest challenge is balancing running my home and my business at the same time. I’m first and foremost a wife to my husband and now a mommy to my little Ella. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do. But secondly, I have this passion for photography that drives me to seek to find a way to conquer the photographic world while simultaneously trying to be the best woman at home as well. So it’s a matter of prioritizing my days. I never can get everything done that I need to, but if I make a list each day and see what tasks I have, I can usually get what’s most important done in the day, and for me, that means success.

What advice have you received from others that has been helpful to you as a photographer?
I’ve never been given this advice directly, but I’m a huge fan of the photographer Davina Fear. I frequent her blog and she often advocates not letting photography take over your life. She’s always posting tips about ways to balance life with work. And I guess from that I’ve drawn the advice that you’re only as good as you are happy and satisfied with your life. And since it’s very important to me to take care of my family, I know my happiness depends on their welfare. If I let my business grow too quickly or if I got too absorbed in trying to “make it” at this point in my life, I think my family would suffer, and as a result, so would my work.

What makes a good photographer?
Anyone can take photographs, but to be a photographer you have to see the world differently. You must be able to see the details that often go unnoticed, for they are the ones that make the best photographs and truly allow you to capture an event or person in a captivating light. A good photographer also has to be willing to invest themselves into their shoots, particularly when working with people. You have to be there, in the moment, with your subjects to really draw out who they are or what you’re capturing.

What advice would you give about working with people?
For me, the most important thing to remember when working with people is that they are people—everyone I shoot has a life, a story, a personality. And it’s my job as their photographer to bring those aspects of them into each photograph.
I find that incorporating who they really are helps them to feel comfortable in front of the camera and allows you to get their best in each shot. Most often, I accomplish this simply by engaging them in conversation throughout the entire shoot.

What inspires your work?
I’m inspired by many things I suppose, but the two that stand out are beauty and the challenge to capture it. I truly love living and am in awe by all of God’s creations, particularly each one of his children. I know he thinks their beautiful, so I’m inspired by the challenge to draw that beauty into my photography.

What kind of camera do you primarily use? All digital?
I shoot with a Nikon D80, and have a D50 as my backup camera. They’re both digital SLRs. I only shoot digital for economic reasons, and because I love the flexibility digital offers by way of editing and instant feedback.

How does light play into your photographs?
Two ways:
Quoting from my college photography class, “light is the raw material of photography.” What that literally means is that every photograph you see is merely a record of the light captured by the camera, refracted off objects, at that exact instant in time. As I mentioned before, particularly with water reflections, cameras have the ability to capture light by freezing it in such a way that our eyes are unable to do. I love the results of this.
Light also factors into each shoot because your success with every photograph depends on the amount of available light. I completely prefer natural light to anything else. I only shoot with a flash when absolutely necessary. There’s nothing to compare with sunshine on a person’s skin.

What computer programs do you use to edit your photos? How much editing do you normally do?
I use Adobe Photoshop, and have recently added Adobe Lightroom to my line up for editing. Each photograph undergoes light and color correction. And then I almost always bump up the contrast because I love bold vivid colors. I usually don’t edit much beyond that. Some photographers like to crop their photos, but I find I usually shoot mine exactly how I want it to be cropped anyway.

Do you ever work with other photographers?
I primarily shoot alone, or aided by my husband. But when I do work with other photographers, it’s at weddings when two shooters are needed.

What does an average work week consist of?
Currently, my week is mostly consumed with meeting Ella’s needs. For some reason she thinks being only a month old in life justifies needing me to do everything for her. But of course, that’s what I signed up for when I got into the mom business. But…one day, when my family is a bit older (or if I refer to my average weeks pre-Ella), my work week will consist of a couple shoots, which are usually two hours long, and then lots of post processing at the computer to get the images how I love them. Then there’s time spent keeping the logistics of a business running by email and phone. I also spend a great deal of time designing albums in Photoshop, and on the internet keeping tabs on my favorite photographers. (One of the best ways to improve your work is to look at those that are more experienced than you and to try and figure out what they are doing to get the best shots.) I also attend photography conventions and workshops when possible. And every now and then I like to enter a photography exhibit or just go out for an “art” shoot somewhere new.

What advice would you give to a beginning photographer?
I suppose I consider myself a “beginning professional” photographer, so if that qualifies me to give advice to a “beginning” photographer, then I would have to say my best advice is to simply keep shooting. The more pictures you take, the more you learn about your own style, what works with lighting and backgrounds, and how to really feel comfortable behind the camera, but in front of clients. And then find a critique group, people that are willing to give you real feedback on your work. (While it’s nice to hear from your mom how amazing you are, it’s in her job description to tell you that. Find someone who isn’t biased at loving you, and then when they tell you you’ve got something good, you can really get excited and believe it.)

Who has influenced your work?
I’m influenced personally by my husband and close friends and the confidence they’ve given me in my photographic abilities. And professionally by the photographers Davina Fear, Rebekah Westover and Jessica Claire.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Forever Frandsen

Jordan and I decided to start a family blog. Although I love posting Ella's many shoots here, I'm sure you will all tire of her cute face long before I and her grandmas ever will. So no worries, I'll only be posting a few pictures from her probably many shoots to come. They'll of course always be linked to the larger post on our family blog for those of you who wish to see more. We'll also be attempting to keep the blog updated with our family ongoings, photos, videos, and whatever else we deem blog worthy. So we invite all friends and family to visit us at our other location from time to time. I will be continuing on with ETF Life as usual here. Jordan's seeing to it that I enjoy a proper maternity leave, but soon, I promise, there will be new shoots to see and the launch of my website. Until then, we invite those interested to enjoy our new family blog: Forever Frandsen. Click HERE to make the transfer.

My Baby in a Bucket

Ella's Grandma Leslie made her this amazing blanket. It's so funky and bright and Ella and I adore it. So of course we had to take some pictures of her with it before it sees to its fate and becomes nothing more than a rag as all beloved blankets do. And I'm still enthralled with Ella's little body. Just like mine, only so small and tiny. I can't believe the miracle of newborns. We took these on her 3-week birthday. It's hard to tell, but she's totally sitting in a pink bucket! (And if you're wondering, it's grandma's thumb sizing up Ella's foot)