We are thrilled to welcome @perryvaile for the next four days as she takes over our feed! Perry is a fine art film photographer based in North Carolina with a heart for bold imagery and captivating locations. Go for it, Perry! “. . . but my images don’t really look like theirs.” These are words that I’ve personally used to celebrate my singular artistic vision, and yet ironically, they are the same ones that I’ve used when I’m feeling my most vulnerable as a photographer. I happen to think though, that what really makes this community vibrant, impactful and staggeringly inspiring—are the outliers. I am absolutely thrilled and humbled (and perhaps slightly intimidated) to be taking over the PhotoVision Instagram this week, and I’ll be sharing some of my favorite images along with a bit about where my heart is throughout the process of capturing them.
In the epic battle of Kodak vs. Fuji, I’ve always stood strongly on the side of Portra, but it hasn’t been easy. I’ve been occasionally questioned by my peers, my husband (thanks for the support babe), and even once by a client who wanted me to shoot how she did, on Fuji. I’ve found through the struggle though, that it’s only made my understanding of both options stronger as I tried out every stock I could manage. It all led me ultimately to my final conclusion, that it’s the eye and approach of a photographer, rather than their metering or film stock, that makes the image.
After shooting the wedding of Victoria’s Secret Supermodel @lindsellingson—I know, no pressure right?! ;)—I was given the perhaps more intimidating task of getting the completed images back to @bridesmagazine within 36 hours. Of course, this could be done on digital easily, but on film?! I called PhotoVision and spoke with Brian at length about HOW we could make this happen. How does film get from Savannah, GA to Portland to Salem on a SUNDAY and processed and scanned within 36 hours? Though it seemed highly improbable at first, within 24 hours of shooting, I had flown from the Southeast to the Northwest and found myself sitting at a dinner table with the Woods and McVeys as my film was processing. By Monday afternoon, the images were in my inbox and into the hands of my client and the magazine before deadline. I love telling this story, because it’s a testament to sticking to your guns as a photographer (digital wasn’t an option I would agree to) and most importantly, to the absolute kindness and dedication that this lab has for their customers. They made something big happen for me, without expecting anything in return, and made a customer for life.
Have you ever shown up to a wedding, and felt “un-inspired”? After all, you don’t always have a stunning redhead in a vintage-inspired gown standing in the middle of church ruins. Life gets REAL, and real brides can have normal shoes, with normal florals and normal dresses. What happens then? Perspective. Take a quick moment to check back in with what matters. Serving your clients. See the beauty in WHO you’re capturing—not what—and embrace (with everything you have) the task you have in front of you, because your role is more important than the details.
Burnout can be another vacuum of our inspiration as creatives. One thing I’ve found that helps renew my excitement and keeps me motivated is to balance my season of long days with shorter, elopement-style weddings. My heart always connects with these couples, and they often allow more emphasis for portraits with significantly less stress or time investment. If you struggle with being over-worked, try taking on shorter days that you can be really, really excited about. Not only will it keep you motivated throughout the year, but it’ll allow you to serve everyone with a happier heart.
Not only am I a big believer in keeping a constantly-renewed creative soul, but in finding a healthy work/life balance. One thing I love to do to prepare for the next week (or two), is check the PhotoVision website to get an idea of their estimated process/scan times (FYI—right now it is TWO DAYS!!). Typically, I’m able to determine the exact day my film images will be delivered to me, and this allows me to plan my week around it, trade baby-watching days with my husband, schedule shoots and set meetings with enough time to return my client’s images within 24-48 hours of receiving them back from PV!
On days where I feel like I might be just running through the motions of a portrait, and I really want to create something fresh, I’ve found that trying to photograph the same image in 10 completely different ways (without changing the pose) is an amazing exercise that pulls way more out of me than I might have otherwise pursued. Try it for yourself. You might find that the first few frames are easy (typically, shots that are wide, tight, of hands or blowing hair) but it’s the 5th, 6th and 7th shots that really make you think outside of the box, and the final 3 that push you into completely new approaches that might just be your best, most creative work yet.
One of my very favorite writers, Anne Lamott, once said that “almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” I’ve found it to be incredibly true, and also shockingly accurate, for the creative spirit. Taking a social media detox, sitting with friends in PERSON, watching the wind outside my window—things that, at first, seemed like they might take away from my business, have profoundly impacted its growth by releasing me to freely create without distraction.
@perryvaile @lindseyreganthorne @trumpetandhorn @misshayleypaige @rrosecreative @nuagedesignsinc @kodak_photo @kodakprofilm #perrysvision #pvtakeover #contax645 #portra800 #photovisionprints #sp3000 #kodakfilm
This my favorite “first look” image I’ve ever taken, and it was of a couple I’ve never met. I was on vacation hiking in Alberta and looked up to see a lone man standing in a nearby field, as a woman in a wedding gown walked up to him from a distance. I could have easily missed seeing them entirely if I’d not been soaking in the view around me. I only had 3 frames left on my camera, and timed them to capture her approach, his reaction and their embrace. I continue to keep the image up in my office as a reminder that beauty is right in front of us, if only we pay attention.
The more unique your images are in the sea of other fine art photographers, the better. Don’t worry if your heart is pulled into a direction other than “the norm.” You wanna shoot Shetland ponies on the coast of Ireland? Get it, girl. You think maybe Ektar film might be your jam? Hey, boy hey. Find what makes your work yours alone—be it location, posing, subject, shooting style, whatever that may be—and don’t apologize for it. Pretty soon, clients will be showing up for their Ektar-infused Shetland Pony Portrait Session, and you’ll be completely irreplaceable.
It’s hella easy to get so inspired, so wrapped up in own worlds as creatives, that we begin to define ourselves by what we MAKE. If there’s one bit of advice I feel most compelled to share (and remind myself of constantly) it’s that our most important roles, and nearly the entirety of our true worth, is in who we are to each other as spouses, parents, friends and encouragers. You are so much more than a photographer. Realizing this is the first step in making your business work for you, instead of the other way around.
Well, we finally made it! I’m at the end of my PV Takeover and it’s my hope that beyond simply providing tips and tricks, I’ve helped to encourage you to celebrate the beauty in having a unique voice and reinvigorated you to have the strength it takes to stay the course. The Wood family at PhotoVision has been invaluable to me in my own journey on this path, and I’m forever grateful for them and the dedicated team at PhotoVision. If any photographer is interested in coaching, please join me in a one-on-one session I’m offering through @theschoolofstyling, or attend their full Creative Online Academy!