If you can think all the way back to January when I shared my goals for the year, you might remember that one of them was to get in front of the camera more. It’s not necessarily something I feel comfortable with, but something I think is important as a blogger to do.
Up until now, I’ve taken my head shots myself with a tripod or with the help of my ever so patience boyfriend. Sometimes you have to work with what you have, right? I decided that it was time to upgrade now that I have pink hair. And what better time than with my trip back to SF so could work with Portraits to the People!
I ended up doing a combination of in studio and outdoor shots so that I would have a variety of images to use. If you’ve never worked with a professional photographer before, let me tell you, it’s amazing! At least that’s the experience I had with Sarah.
She made me feel so at ease. I’m typically concerned with where to put my hands, or where to look, but with a bit of direction (okay, sometimes a lot because I’m a hand full), I went from totally awkward to relaxed in front of the camera. She also looked out for unflattering poses/faces, which let’s be honest, we can all appreciate.
If you’ve been considering hiring someone to take your photo, I say that it’s worth the investment, especially as a business owner. You never know when someone from your favorite magazine is going to email you asking for one!
Okay, enough about me– it’s time to meet the genius behind the lens. Here’s Sarah from Portraits to the People!
Q. Can you tell us a bit about how to became a photographer for a living?
A. I have been a freelance photographer for the past 3 years. I quit my day job after sneaking out on my lunch hour to meet clients in downtown San Francisco, ha. I was really burned out at my day job and one day my partner just said to me, “Why don’t you quit and do photography full time?” I immediately thought that no one would pay me to a full time photographer, but we were profitable our first month of business and we just keep on growing! The way I got a professional camera in my hands was that I was given a Canon Rebel by another photographer that I met while walking my dog. I just kept pushing myself every single day to take better photos. I realized pretty early on that I was very good at working with people that really really really hate being photographed. I have an uncanny ability to help them look relaxed in front of the camera and a lot of my clients might even use the word ‘painless’ to describe what is like working with me. In today’s digital age, everyone should have a professional photo of themselves that they really love because you only get one chance to make a first impression.
Q. You’re self-taught which is amazing! Any tips you can share for those who are in the process of learning themselves?
A. Take a shit ton of photos! Pick up your camera every single day and follow folks that inspire you, try to recreate what they do and then stop following them completely while you try to develop your own style! I found my personal style and created the not so corporate headshot because it was something that I didn’t see out there in the world. I also learned a lot by watching videos, reading books, and mostly by looking at wedding photography blogs because wedding photographers have to handle a lot of challenging lighting situations and I admire them a lot for that. Get hooked into the photography community too – email photographers that you admire and take them out to coffee and ask them a lot of questions. Please just don’t give up or be too hard on yourself while you’re learning. I can barely look at the stuff at the stuff I first shot, but I do from time to time to remind myself of how far I’ve come!
Q. What about tips for owning and rocking your own business?
A. Owning my own business is equally incredibly rewarding and challenging. I love working for myself, but sometimes I miss having a day job that I could just walk away from on a Friday evening and not think about all weekend. I work 6 days a week and I’m always pushing myself to figure out ways to improve our business. I own Portraits To The People with my wife, so we had a learning curve when we started working together, but now it is going amazingly well. We are both very committed to having a website that is easy to navigate, our branding is point, and we want to make sure our clients are adequately prepared for photo sessions with me, so we provide them with a lookbook and a checklist of how to prepare for the photo shoot. We think that a great way to stand out is to have excellent customer service! We respond quickly and thoughtfully to all of our emails and we treat our clients the way we would want to be treated. To really rock out your business, make sure that you have the proper support. I cannot stress this enough, connecting with fellow small business owners and lady entrepreneurs was one of the best things I did for myself. Having a space where we could talk about the sometimes shitty reality of running your own business and having a place to celebrate the successes has made all the difference in my life! Also, hire a coach for additional support, my business coach helped me so much when I first started freelancing.
Q. What would you say are some head shot faux-pas that you’ve seen?
A. I’m not a big fan of head shots where you can tell the person used a lot of photoshop. I’m ok with a little skin smoothing, but the narrowing of body parts and removal of all of your wrinkles really hurts my feminist heart. And can we all agree to move on from flower crowns?? I’m totally over it!
Q. Who is someone (think celebrities or icons) you would love to photograph?
A. That list is pretty long, but some of my top choices are: RuPaul, Jennifer Lawrence, Natalie Portman, Shailene Woodley, Tilda Swinton, Lucy Liu, and Solange Knowles.
**Be sure to follow Sarah on Instagram!