It has been a long while since I have posted an interview with a photographer! Today I’m super delighted to introduce you to Christina Hastings, an amazing wedding photographer based out of Austin, Texas. I first started following Christina’s photography a few years ago after hearing about her from her brother. She’s one of my all-time favorite photogs and she was literally one of the first photographers I ever started following! In fact, I believe it was hers and one other photographer’s examples that first caused me to start thinking about pursuing photography/videography. I had heard bits and pieces of her photography journey before and related to lots of it, but it was great to hear the whole story…
ME: What is your photography story?
CHRISTINA: My friend Toni bought a DSLR when I was 15, and she would let me practice with it as well as teach me the important basics of photography like aperture, shutter speed, and composition. I received my own camera (Canon Rebel XSi) when I was 16, and I immediately started photographing everything around me just for fun. A few months later, I second shot a wedding for my first time thanks to Toni who needed a second shooter, and a couple of days later I attended a week-long Christian photography workshop in Dallas called Institute of Photographic Studies (IPS). I heard a quote by a film photographer who said, “The difference between an amateur photographer and a professional photographer is 10,000 rolls of film.” Or in other words, it just takes a great deal of practice actually shooting. That quote encouraged and motivated me because it wasn’t superb, intrinsic talent that made the difference between a pro and an amateur. It wasn’t cases of expensive equipment. It wasn’t a college degree. It was just practice and more practice which was something I was eager to do anyway. I may not have had a cell phone or driver’s license when I started, but I had a camera, a dream, and passion and that’s what I really needed because the rest would work itself out (plus my amazing parents who drove me wherever I needed to go). I put up a website a few months after the IPS workshop, and I shot my first wedding as the main photographer when I was 17. That was six years ago, and I praise the Lord for the growth in my business since then.
ME: What camera, lens, and software do you use and what did you get started with?
CHRISTINA: My main camera now is a Canon 5D Mark III, and the lenses I use most of the time are my 50mm f/1.2 and 35mm f/1.4. I also have my 70-200mm f/2.8 for ceremonies, my 16-35mm f/2.8 for receptions and landscapes, and my 85mm f/1.8 that I sometimes use for portraits. When I started I had a Canon Rebel XSi and the 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 kit lens which I never used again once I bought the 50mm f/1.4 lens a few months later. That 50mm f/1.4 was the best equipment investment I made starting out, and I would highly recommend either that or the 50mm f/1.8 to anyone beginning that can only afford one starter lens. Someone told me to invest more in lenses rather than my camera, and I would definitely agree with the priority order (though the camera is obviously important too). :) I started editing in Photoshop because that’s what my brother had, and we shared a computer at the time. Soon I discovered Camera Raw to do batch editing, and finally I invested in Lightroom and I wish I had done that much sooner because I love Lightroom!!! I still use Photoshop to do occasional detailed editing, but 95% of the time I use Lightroom CC to edit.
ME: What books, websites, and resources do you recommend?
CHRISTINA: When I started out I followed a number of photography blogs, especially ones that regularly wrote posts for photographers to help with both photography and business. Some helpful blogs for wedding photographers are: Katelyn James, Justin and Mary, and Amy and Jordan. Also I just googled a lot because there’s a wealth of free resources literally at your fingertips. Whenever I wondered how someone made a photo, I would google around until I found what the technique was called and how to do it. Whenever I had any questions, I’d google it and normally someone else had written an answer/opinion about it. The Institute of Photographic Studies doesn’t do their week-long, in-person workshops anymore, but they do have online courses.
ME: What are the most challenging aspects of starting and owning a photography business?
CHRISTINA: Starting out, the most challenging part is booking your first few weddings when you have very little experience. I had some friends who were willing to take a chance on me because I gave them a great price and they liked the small portfolio I had from second shooting. I’m so grateful they were willing to do that! I would recommend second shooting as much as you can when starting out to gain experience and portfolio. I didn’t do that much myself so my first few weddings were a bit stressful for me because I didn’t have much experience figuring out how to deal with different situations that come up on wedding days like when the wedding party is running late or when it starts pouring rain. Now that I have a lot more experience with weddings, those situations don’t stress me because I know how to adapt, but in the beginning I was scrambling trying to figure out what to do. But everything always worked out so I learned there’s no reason to stress. God has also done a lot in my life on a personal level to teach me that there’s no reason to stress about any area of life because He’s in control and He’s holding me in His hands.
ME: Could you tell me about your media missions trip to Ethiopia and how that impacted you?
CHRISTINA: I went to Ethiopia in February 2016 on a ten-day mission trip with a team of nine creatives (photographers, videographers, a writer, and a graphic designer) to provide content for five Christian ministries in Ethiopia. I had dreamed of doing missions photography for years so it was a dream come true to actually do it and even do it with a team of other creatives! I was moved by the stories of the kids and families we photographed as well as impressed by the work that these ministries are doing. One ministry unites trafficked kids with their families, another ministry rescues newborns and toddlers from certain villages that still practice killing babies who have arbitrarily assigned symptoms of being “cursed”, another reaches street boys, another provides education for kids in a remote village, and a fifth one helps single moms. All five of these ministries are doing their work the right way to actually help long-term and foster sustainable change. I learned that many well-intentioned organizations throw money at poverty without understanding the complexities of the situation and end up doing more harm than good in the long-run. The book When Helping Hurts by Corbett and Fikkert is a good resource if you’re interested in learning more about that. I believe photos are powerful, and it’s wonderful to use the creative skills you have to help others, but I also don’t think you have to travel abroad to do that. See if there’s a way you can help local ministries in your area, and as the old saying goes: “Bloom where you’re planted.”
ME: Do you have a final encouragement you’d like to share?
CHRISTINA: My final encouragement is whatever you do, do it for God and give it to God. Let Him be the CEO of your business. If your reason to run a photography business is to buy fancier stuff, have more opportunities to travel, to make a name for yourself, to make pretty art, or to feel like you’ve accomplished something, you’ll ultimately end up empty and unfulfilled because those are just momentary flashes of pleasure that can’t truly satisfy. Only Jesus satisfies the deepest desire of our heart. “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” –C.T. Studd
ME: I don’t know about you, but I’m so inspired by Christina’s story! Y’all be sure to go and follow her on Instagram and Facebook. Also, check out her lovely website. Thank you so much for sharing, Christina!