Meet Olivia – a love & lifestyle photographer based in Virginia. I LOVE Olivia’s photography and her style. Her pictures looks so natural and “unedited” (if you will). I love the genuine, authentic, intimate and REAL feel that her photographs possess. That said, I was SOOOO excited to get the opportunity to interview Olivia!
Continuing, from last month, my “Meet the Photographer” blog series, here is the interview…
ME: What is your story/background in photography? How did you get started? When did your love for photography begin?
OLIVIA: It’s funny, because I can’t ever remember a time when photography wasn’t a part of me! My earliest memory goes back to when I was just a little kid, fighting with my sister over the ownership of a cheap, Walmart Kodak camera. I got to use it for the first half hour, and I raced around my grandmother’s house, asking every aunt or uncle I met to stop and pose for me. After my turn was up, my sister got to use it, and then it was packed away again. I remember crying! It’s a good thing I am able to laugh at myself, looking back :)
I started saving for a camera when I was twelve, but that dream didn’t finalize until I was seventeen. After five long years of saving, shopping and dreaming, I bought my first camera and opened a photography business. God has been growing my business abundantly and I am so excited to see where it will go in the next few years!
ME: What technology/software/camera gear do you use?
OLIVIA: I own a Canon 5d Mark II, and I love it. I currently only have two lenses – a 50mm and a 28-135mm. The 50mm is definitely my favorite! I also have macro tube extensions, which I’m using until I have saved up enough to buy a professional macro lens. As far as editing software, I have only ever used Lightroom. I thought it was rather expensive, but I am glad I put the money into it. Recently, I bought a package deal of 300 presets, which saves me a lot of editing time and stress. [You can find them at shutterpulse.com] You have to look around and wait a while for the right deal, but it’s worth it!
ME: What website/book/resource has helped you the most in photography? What resources do you recommend?
OLIVIA: I have found that the best way to hone your skills and train your eye is looking at other photographers’ work. I followed several photographers’ blogs for years and years before opening my business, and I learned so much by just comparing their photographs with mine and vice versa. Another thing I did was contact different photographers with questions I had and then compared their answers. There’s nothing like real life experience! I’m sure some people have gleaned a lot of wisdom from how-to books, but those never really “clicked” with me. If you know any photographers, don’t hesitate to ask them to share their experiences with you! Chances are, they’ve learned some stuff through trial and error and they would be more than happy to help you get started :)
Another favorite would have to be Pinterest. I can lost on there for hours, just perusing and browsing through lovely photographs. There is so much inspiration out there!
Some of my favorite photographers would be Allix Ruby, Hannah Elise, Elizabeth Bristol and Moriah Sutton.
Look around … I only mentioned a couple here, but there are lots of talented photographers!
ME: How do you get the person, place or thing that is in front of your lens onto your camera card in just the way you want?
OLIVIA: I don’t! Natural photography is all about learning to “go with the flow.” Have you ever looked at a photograph and thought, “That looks so unnatural. It’s too … too posed.”?
Granted, there are times when you are going to instruct your subject and tell them where to place their hands or how to relax their body. But the best photographs are the ones where you are telling a story … their story. Your model is just being themselves, living their life, and you are following along, snapping shots to capture and convey who they are as a person. I try to keep my instructions simple and short, and then I let them relax and pose themselves. It makes for natural photographs with lots of feeling.
If you ever watched me do a session for someone, you’d probably end up laughing. Not that I’d blame you ;) I’m constantly moving here and there, standing on my tiptoes, or crouching, or running to the other side of the subject. You have to be willing to move around and catch those little, sweet unexpected moments :)
However, my favorite, number one go-to resource would be prayer. I have prayed every step of the way – I asked Him to help me find a camera, and He brought along a used model in perfect condition for half of the selling price! I asked Him to help me open a business, and I had clients lined up before I had even purchased my camera. Each time I have a session and I am tempted to be nervous and doubt myself, I pray that He will help me to see my subject as He sees them so that I can properly capture the beauty of their heart. I pray that we will both be able to relax and use our time to deepen a friendship and honor Him. God is so faithful to answer prayers! All my clients have been amazing to work with and we have laughed so much during the sessions :) Don’t forget to pray and ask God to bless your efforts … and then thank Him when He does!
ME: What is the single most important piece of advice you have for an aspiring photographer?
OLIVIA: I have not had my photography business for long, so I have a lot of learning to do myself! But if I had to pick one thing to share, it would be this: I’ve been learning that imperfect is actually perfect. So maybe your photograph is a little out of focus, or off-centered. Don’t sweat it – often, the moment is precious enough to justify any “problems” you see with your photograph. People are a little bit messy, and when your photos are perfect, it can indicate a facade. Experiment, try new angles, different poses and don’t be afraid of failing. Because you honestly can’t fail – the best photographers are the ones who have perfected their view of imperfect people and the world around them.
One other thing I would tell an aspiring photographer would be: “Dream big.” I know that sounds cliche, but it’s so true. When I was saving up cash to buy my camera, everyone encouraged me to buy a lower end camera, use that for a while and then upgrade in a few years after I had saved up some money from doing sessions. I’ve always been a dreamer, so I wanted to purchase a professional model upfront. I have several friends who purchased lower-end cameras, and consequently, they had them several years before I did. At the time, it was hard to keep saving and I almost gave in several times. It took me much longer to save, but now, I am so glad that I waited. My business has been able to expand and grow so much faster because of my equipment.
Don’t be afraid of dreaming big and aiming high. Save, save, save, and when you do purchase, you’ll be better equipped for starting up your own business!
ME: Y’all need to go check out Olivia’s AMAZING website at oliviamariephotography.squarespace.com! Thank you so much, Olivia!