Meet Olivia – a big sister to five brothers (yes, I know!?), a lover of light and a life & love photographer based in central Kansas. Enjoy her interview!
ME: What is your photography story?
OLIVIA: I have always loved taking pictures ever since I can remember. First with film, then with digital. I would take pictures anytime I could get my hands on a camera.
For my 11th birthday I got my own little Kodak point and shoot. I read (and re-read) every photography book our libraries had. And took LOTS of pictures! I always had my camera with me. It usually was in my pocket and I was coined “the girl who took pictures.”
A couple years later my little camera was slowing down and not consistently working. Sometimes when I pressed the shutter button, it wouldn’t focus or fire! On top of that I had worn all the icons off, and wanted to move up to something with more options (like controlling aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc.). I ballparked the price range of an entry-level DSLR, racked my brain, and prayed for ideas on how to earn the money. As a 12-year-old, earning roughly $600 was going to be a challenge! Soon after, I started my business selling greeting cards with photos I had taken. I’m so thankful for the awesome community of friends and family who supported me then!
Just over a year later I had saved enough from selling cards and working at a local pumpkin patch to get a Nikon D3100 with a kit lens! I couldn’t get enough of it! I spent hours learning and practicing, and was always the person who took and shared pictures of gatherings. A few months later and I began to do sessions, and at 14 I shot my first wedding solo. My hobby-business grew steadily over the next couple years, but last year really gained a lot of momentum and officially turned into Lightshaft Media!
Until recently I hadn’t really sat down and pinpointed why I loved photography. People tell me they loved seeing the way I could find beauty in the everyday, the ordinary. I love showing that to people. Most pictures people see in magazines and on the web are manipulated and retouched so far that they are a far cry from the original shot. (Just to be clear, I’m not against editing at all. But cameras aren’t usually capable of reproducing a scene exactly as your eye sees it.) I am thrilled to show people just how unique they are and that they are beautiful.
Being an INFJ personality type, I love the business side and the emotional story side that photography lets you portray. I love showing people’s authentic smiles, joy, love, and weaving their unique story and passion into their photos.
ME: What camera, lens and software do you use and what did you get started with?
OLIVIA: I currently shoot with the Nikon D7100 and the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 and 85mm f/1.8 primes and love the sharp images and creamy bokeh. I’m hoping to add a 70-200mm f/2.8 to my set this year :) I use Lightroom for editing/organizing (it’s amazing!). When I first started I used the D3100, an 18-55mm kit lens, and Picasa.
ME: What books, websites and resources do you recommend?
OLIVIA: Lynda.com hands down for the technical details. They have thousands of video courses that are several hours long (but split into easy 5 – 10 min. videos). The teachers are amazing (National Geographic photographers, teachers at Brooks Institute, etc.) and explain the basics and advanced techniques better than any other book I read. It’s subscription based, $25 a month. But check if your library has it available to their patrons for free!
There are so many amazing photographers out there whose work not only is stunning, but who they are as people and teachers. Amy & Jordan Demos, Katelyn James, Zach & Jody Gray and Justin & Mary Marantz are all doing a great job educating photographers to put a heart into their business while making an income. Go follow them on social media and check out their websites!
ME: What advice do you have for a photographer who wants to start a photography business?
OLIVIA: Love and serve. They will get you further than any marketing strategy or stunning work. People refer you more based on how they are treated and the experience you give them, than by how amazing your work is (though that’s an important aspect!). Be confident but humble. Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it does make better.
So many people call themselves photographers because it’s an easy way to make money. Be different by shining Jesus’ love into your work and interactions. Having a why and passion behind it all will carry you through the rough spots.