What a smile this girl has! Meeting Ashley was truly a treat, and even though it was a bit chilly outside, we got some beautiful, warm portraits of her that show just what a ray of sunshine she is. We used mostly open shade for Ashley, which is a very flattering light for blond hair and fair skin, with a bit of backlight thrown in for fun.
Here is Ashley’s story!
“Technically, I’ve never really decided to be a photographer. It just kind of happened. I went to college to be a high school French teacher, and I’m currently in my fifth year of teaching at Northglenn High School. I wish I had thought to take a photography class during college, but I never knew photography would become such a huge part of my life.
So, how did I go from teaching the basics of high school French to photographing weddings at the Denver Country Club? During my first year of teaching, a friend of mine, Brandon, from Greeley came to visit me in Denver on a Saturday afternoon. He brought his Nikon D40 DSLR camera with him, and I was in love immediately. I suffer from a syndrome known as “I Must Buy The Cool Gadgets My Friends Have,” and so within a week after seeing Brandon doodling around with his neat little camera, I went to Best Buy and maxed out a few credit cards to purchase a Canon Rebel Xsi. I was broke and barely made rent the next month but I had a sweet camera.
From that point on, I took that thing with me everywhere. It was in the car on the way to school, and before I became the wary, run-down educator that I am today, I would plan extra time in my commute in the mornings to take photos of sunsets against the Denver skyline. Once I’d get home, I’d play around with HDR imaging (I had no idea what I was doing) and immerse myself in photography blogs.
Every weekend for about a year solid, Brandon and I would go on “photo safaris” to local destinations and just spend the whole day taking pictures of anything and everything. We’d go to Garden of the Gods, Manitou Springs, Boulder, Central City, even Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone for more extravagant photo safaris. We’d photograph rocks, fire hydrants, crunchy leaves on the ground, and the requisite “jumpy” pictures of us flying in the air (evidence here).
There was one thing we never practiced photographing, however: other people. We focused on strictly inanimate objects. So when a friend of a friend’s daughter called me for senior photos, I accepted but had a panic attack immediately after hanging up. I had no clue how to photograph people, so I checked out a few books from the library and did some portrait photography research. The most important lesson I’ve learned from these books that I still carry with me to this day? HANDS. Always have your clients do something with their hands. It will make or break a photo.
Shortly after posting the first senior photos on Facebook, the referrals came pouring in. I did my first wedding with no experience two months later, and another a month after that. I truly dove in head-first — I didn’t even second-shoot before doing my own lead wedding — and I haven’t looked back. I’m still teaching and doing photography as my second career. I hesitate to say “on the side” because really, it’s another full-time job in addition to teaching.
This year will mark my third in the industry and it has been amazing to meet and learn from fellow photography professionals. I’ve learned about many new, cool technical tricks from second-shooting with other wedding photographers but more importantly, I’ve learned a lot about the business side. One thing that has stood out to me more than anything else is how every photographer I’ve met has a solid, quality head shot on their website or on Facebook. It is an arduous task to choose someone to do head shots for you, especially as an industry professional. We know so many photographers and yet we can hardly choose one to do a simple task — take our photo. To me, the person taking my photo must be, above anything else, a great listener. They can’t scoff at me when I say, “Can you watch for my turkey-neck?” or “This dress sneaks up a little too high in the back; can we avoid photographing that angle?” They need to be able to listen to my concerns and actually take them into account during the photo shoot.
In the end, this one head shot is going to be displayed proudly on my blog, Facebook page and other public internet avenues. This can’t be a photo that I don’t love, and it needs to be an accurate representation of who I am as a person and who I am as a wedding photographer. Additionally, I take pride in my appearance and strive to style my makeup and hair as naturally as possible, and I want my clients to see that — that I’m a no-fuss, fun-loving and carefree person who will only enhance their wedding photography experience. I want them to see me as I am on an every-day basis. I want them to see me as a human being. I want them to see me.”
Portraits for Professional Photographers by Eldeen Annette | firstname.lastname@example.org | EldeenAnnette.com