Posts tagged Photography Instructor
Jean Smith | Photo Native Photoshoot
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We can't get enough of the images by Jean Smith from her Native Shoot at the 2018 Photo Native conference.

"As photographers, sometimes we rely on cool locations or amazing styling to carry our photos. But what about the love? What if we strip away the fluff and focus only on human love and interaction? That's exactly what we did for our shoot in the cutest little house in Provo, Utah. We discussed how important it is for the photographer to connect to the couple before, during, and after the shoot. Beyond that, we talked about methods for the photographer to provide direction to the couple and create am environment that the couple can interact naturally and emotionally with each other. Shooting in a home allowed us to get creative with low lighting, directional lighting, and using small spaces to create stunning imagery." Jean Smith

Love these images? Join us for Photo Native 2019 and follow us on instagram for more inspiration.

Summer Murdock | Photo Native Featured Instructor
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Q: When you think of yourself as a photographer, do you feel like you’re more business-minded or more art/creativity-minded? Or are you a mix? 

I am a good mix of the two. Some tell me I am a rare breed because of that. My heart lives on the creative side, but I am very logical too. It's like I have two totally separate personalities inside my head. I love the challenge of getting the two to work together.

Q: What do you think is one of the biggest challenges photographers are faced with right now? 

Oversaturation of photographers and a market that is continually telling us that we should work in exchange for credit or recognition. 

Q: What’s been one of the biggest hurdles you’ve had to overcome in your business in order for it to continue to thrive and be successful? 

I have had to overcome many hurdles for my business to thrive and be successful. My business has gone in a direction that I could have never predicted. Over the years, I have learned that a lot of people have business advice they think applies to all of us...rules that should not be broken. This is not always true. I have unique strengths and unique weaknesses. Just because something works for one person does not mean it will work for me. I have learned that I should listen to the advice and experiences of others but go with my gut.....even if it goes against the grain. Sometimes my gut has led me to fall flat on my face, but more often it has helped me to run a business that works for me and plays to my unique strengths.

Q: How do you maintain your own, unique voice in your work in a world where you’re constantly bombarded with other artists’ images?

It's really simple; I just don't spend too much time looking. It gets in my head. I have always been one to put my head down and do MY work. I look around occasionally, but I notice when I start looking too much, I start disliking my work. When I and open my eyes to the beauty that is right in front of my face and focus on that I make work that is ME. 

Q: How do you deal with burnout? What do you do to boost your creativity when you’re in a slump?

 Burnout is real and it is hard. When I'm feeling that way, I do several things. First, I stop looking at social media (or at least cut down on mindless browsing). Somehow social media makes me feel like my work looks like everyone else's work...and maybe it does, but if I am not looking, I won't know that. :) Next, I have learned that when I am feeling the burnout, instead of putting down my camera, I should force myself to pick it up anyways. I am always surprised at how just picking up the camera and opening my eyes to what the interesting things right in front of me, makes me feel creatively energized. To me, burnout is just another word for boredom. If I am bored, it's because I am doing the same thing mindlessly over and over. If I'm feeling it, it's a sign it's time to dig deep and push myself. So I figure out what I can do differently. I make sure I find time to make work that excites ME!!! 

Q: When do you feel the most creative?

I feel most creative when I am living in the present moment and aware of what is around me. Being outside often brings this out in me! 

Q: Have you ever felt that running the business side of things mentally overwhelms you? How did you overcome that?

Yes, it is an ongoing struggle for me. The only thing that keeps me sane is making plans and lists of everything that has to be done and getting to work. Lists used to overwhelm me because as a business owner, I pretty much NEVER have everything checked off the list. I am NEVER caught up. I have learned to accept that as normal. There will always be a list. I have learned to focus on the now and do what I can instead of stressing about what I didn't get done yesterday or what I have to do tomorrow. I only have right now. It has been a game changer for my sanity and anxiety. 

Q: How did you find your style?

(editing, mood, lighting, etc)So many people want a fast path to figuring out their stye, but there is no quick trick. It takes time, patience and experimentation. Style is a fluid thing that is always changing. I find it by listening to my heart. I recognize when I shoot something that excites me and know that I need to do more of that. When I shoot something that bores me, I know to go in another direction. Doing this over and over and over keeps me in tune with my personal style. 

Q: What is your favorite part about teaching and connecting with students?

I love learning. I am a forever student. I am obsessed with that feeling I get when I figure something out that I didn't fully understand. That feeling is what motivates me when I teach. I love observing and helping other experience those "aha" moments. I struggle with the idea of being the "teacher" though because every single time I "teach" a group of "students" I learn so much from them. Teaching and learning is a collaborative experience...one that both humbles me and energizes me. 

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I try not to plan that far ahead. I am reminded of a quote from a favorite book "The Alchemist" by Paul Coelho: "When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.” I am now doing things in my business that I would have never been able to dream ten years ago. I could have never planned this.  I have learned to look inward to know what I should do next in my life and my career and commit to it and DO IT. Once I commit to that thing and do it the next thing lights up..I do that, and then the next thing lights up….and the next. I have learned that if I just keep doing the next right thing, one thing at a time... it turns into a really good life and career. That's all I can do...the next right thing. I can't plan for ten years because who knows what's going to happen. 

Q: If you are a parent, what’s one tip you have for juggling a super crazy photographer’s work schedule with parenthood?

I have had to accept that I cannot do everything. As a mom to four kids who works mostly from home, this has been my biggest struggle. I can't be the room mom at school, keep a clean and organized house, run my kids to all of their activities, have dinner on the table every night, be at every single soccer game or event AND run a business. IMPOSSIBLE. I have to let go of somethings and hire out help when needed. Then I have to let the feelings of guilt roll over me and out the window. There is no room for guilt in my life. I am doing my best and I focus on that vs all the should have, could have, would haves. 

Loved getting to know our feature Instructor? Join us for Photo Native 2019 and follow us on instagram for more inspiration.

Lindsey Christensen | Photo Native Featured Instructor
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Q: When you think of yourself as a photographer, do you feel like you’re more business-minded or more art/creativity-minded? Or are you a mix?

 I am definitely a mix but I would say that I push the mix.  Naturally I could just be a free bird and roam and run with my creativity, but when you are wanting to get paid for that roaming . . .  You learn the lesson that we are also in the business of customer service and there are responsibilities that you have to fulfill if you are going to claim yourself as a business.  
I have molded my business into a place where I can push my creative boundaries and still find satisfaction in my own ideas, all while running a business and getting paid to do that.
Over the years I worked hard and honing my skills as my own accountant (which if you can source this out, DO IT), schedule coordinator, epic communications specialist.  Hahaha, These things I have to push myself to focus on, the creativity is a much more natural process for me.  There are times and seasons during the year where I have to shift from that easy creative and push myself in the business direction and make sure I am accomplishing the business end tasks and goals.  And I will say this . . . over the years and with lots of practice I have learned to enjoy the business side now too!  ;)

Q: What do you think is one of the biggest challenges photographers are faced with right now? 

Oversaturation and not trusting yourself.  We ALL have our own unique perspective and we have to trust that instead of trying to create something that we "think" will be on trend, on point, or will get a gazillion likes.  Trust yourself, trust that creative soul inside of you and do things that inspire YOU.

Q: What’s been one of the biggest hurdles you’ve had to overcome in your business in order for it to continue to thrive and be successful?

 Oh man.... staying relevant.  Transitioning from film to digital, from single lady to married mom, from few to many photographers.
I think we are constantly faced with hurdles and we just have to push through. You can't give up  because eventually you get the other side and are grateful you went through what you did because you became a more beautiful and refined artist.  The key is staying true to yourself while you go through these hurdles so you aren't lost when you get to the other side.   :)

Q: What is one of your best tips for running a successful business?

 Don't give up, and give your all.  When I say don't give up . . . that can mean a variety of things but specifically, its hard work so keep at it!  Most business' don't start generating profit until year 3, 4 or 5!  It also means if you start to feel irrelevant, push through, don't throw in the towel . . . FIND YOUR RELEVANCY.  You can do this time and time again, I promise.  I can attest to it.  Give it your all . . . and I seriously mean GIVE IT YOUR ALL.  Don't do things at half level and expect the world at your finger tips.  You have to give it your very best shot, with your very best energy, and your best foot forward.  If you fall down . . get back up and keep giving it a go over and over with ALL of who you are.

Q: How do you deal with burnout? What do you do to boost your creativity when you’re in a slump?

 I put the "paying camera" down as I call it, and jump into a project or task that allows my brain to open up and start absorbing again.  Last year, I see some time aside and read the book BIG MAGIC . . . life changing.  Another year i planned a getaway that was just for me and friends, and I shot a project with all of them.  Not paid, no pressure, just my own ideas and plans.  I think doing things like that feed your creative beast and helps you break into new ideas.

Q: What’s the best part about being a photographer and doing the work that you do? 

Hands down the relationships I form and the incredibly important moments I get to document for these client.  It becomes such an intimate relationship when you invest everything into your art and clients . . . KEY WORD AND because you have to marry those two things to really achieve that high level of gratification!  

Q: When do you feel the most creative?

Honestly . . . sometimes I feel the most creative when I have maxed myself out and feel overwhelmed.  I know that might sound strange, but at those times its like my brain is so tired that it starts wondering and thinking of things that it will enjoy and what it wants to spend time on.  Now I am not always maxed out and overwhelmed so the alternative is books. I am NOT a big reader either so its kind of crazy I am saying this, but the last three books I have read I have found INCREDIBLE inspiration and drive from.  I think I am so bombarded with life, electronics, social media that its hard to SIMPLIFY inside . . .and when you read you naturally simplify to the story at hand.

Q: Describe your perfect work schedule where you are free to create yet be financially successful? 

15 Weddings and 30 Families a year . . . hahahaha Is this what you mean?. . .  because really this is MY magic number.  It allows me time to focus on each of my clients with full detail, allows me to be a mom, but gives me time to breath, stay grounded and find inspiration. 

Q: Have you ever felt that running the business side of things mentally overwhelms you? How did you overcome that?

2 things here that go hand in hand.  1) take the time to learn whatever you are overwhelmed with or stuck on until YOU GOT IT  2) be open and candid with your clients to let them know you are working on or learning something new. (sometimes this can be an even bigger payoff then just good communication because you might have a client who has experience and can help you too!)

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Do you know how OLD I am going to be in 10 years! hahahah HOLY SMOKES! Pursuing my passion and documenting people and their lives is so meaningful and a part of who I am so I really hope to be doing this exact same thing. The creative field is where I belong!

Q: If you are a parent, what’s one tip you have for juggling a super crazy photographer’s work schedule with parenthood?

Knowing that you HAVE to be flexible.  There may never be a perfect schedule, because in all reality you can find perfect balance in life because things are always moving.  You can have an idea or a plan to always work towards, but be flexible and adjust to what is best for your family at each and every moment.  and . . . GIVE YOURSELF SOME DANG CREDIT!

Loved getting to know our feature Instructor? Join us for Photo Native 2018 and follow us on instagram for more inspiration.