I am asked a lot of photography questions about how, why, what and when from time to time – so instead I asked my Facebook friends – ask me what ever you want and I will answer them – so I picked the top 5 questions, What awesome questions they are – excuse if I rant or stray -but these are my honest answers and feelings and to those who know me you know a good chat can last a while!
1: Why did you choose family and new borns as the focus of your business? And have they always been the focus?
Great Question that needs a bit of reading to answer!
In my business as with my life – when younger I let the road take me wherever it led – I went with the flow and ended up wherever and dealt with the blessings and trials as they presented themselves to me. Coming with age – I am a little more particular with my road travels!
Having always loved photography as a child, watching people hold these black contraptions that are a click noise and the associated ‘cheese’ that came with it – I knew I loved cameras. At 17 I began working in a retail camera store and learnt everything to do with photography – back to front.. I guess you could say I learnt the back end – that era was all film – film processing and when I was 19 Kodak released its newest digital camera that had only kb size files and it was about $1499 for a whizz bang digital camera.
Selling on the floor – knowing cameras inside and out – answering every question under the sun as a retail sales person – I guess you could say I learnt a lot on the job – it came as second nature and felt so natural – I wouldn’t just sell what we were told to sell – I would find out what the customer wanted to shoot – what their interests were and I would match a camera to those needs – people would come into the store to buy a quick point and shoot for their home life, kids concerts & holidays, – and leave smiling with an slr with a telephoto and thanking me for getting to know them and to educate them as to better their home photographic experience. It delighted me to have them return with rolls of film and to show them their capabilities and awesome results.
I printed in a mini lab and learnt about emulsion, about CMYK and about colours. Also exposure – looking at images from many people from every aspect of life – I could flick through a pack of 38 images hot off the press, held in my hands and see every image – looking for dust or images that were too dark or over exposed – so I could then go back to re print them. I was fastidious and although I ran a generic corner store mini lab – I took a lot of pride in the results and how I could better customers happy snaps.
One day a ‘professional’ photographer came in and left a wedding he had been commissioned to shoot. My first thought – why were you printing your images at this little consumer lab and not a pro lab? My second thought as I loaded the negatives into the print machine – lets see just what a so called ‘professional’ photographers work looks like. Seeing the results left me gobsmacked – he got paid to shoot that? If I were the bride I would not be overly happy with the results.
SO Naturalight Photography began. In 1997, I was 18 years old and I placed an ad in the Leader Newspaper & Independent Newspaper for wedding photography – in a time when we only shot film and there were a handful of photographers on the Mornington Peninsula/Bayside – 95% of them male – it raised a few eyebrows! In the meantime I shot a few family and friends weddings and built a folio. My first wedding was a 2nd wedding of a lovely local couple – their images were just gorgeous and I guess from the get go I had a creative and different way of looking at the world and composition. I am a romantic at heart – with a love of vintage – antiques, old fashioned values, love songs and growing up watching Anne of Green Gables and Wuthering Heights – I believe in the power of Love and the family unit.
When I was 20 I began work at the Independent Newspaper – in a journalistic role – I was based at the Dandenong office and sent down as far as KooWeeRup all the way up to Oakleigh including Cranbourne and some Frankston work. It was a very fast paced always on the go type role. I used to rack up around 100-150kms driving in any given day and shot a range of commercial products, to news, general interest & political stories. I learn so much in that role and left after a year and a half, there is a lot of nastiness in the world and some times I was left in tears at a few of the stories I had to attend or cover. You have to try to dis associate yourself from a lot of what you shoot and for someone like myself who really wants to capture and to show people their beauty and love – looking at crime scenes or even road accidents, left me feeling flat and sad for the victims. I look at this as a real learning experience, having to think on my toes – learnt a lot about light and how to utilise what I had in front of me which every day was totally random.
I didn’t plan to shoot families or children – again this opportunity presented itself to me when pregnant with my daughter – attending a hospital tour and asking if they had a newborn photographer, which they didn’t, so then I became the resident newborn photographer in 2002 at The Bays Hospital Mornington. Newborn work then led to family photography and playgroup/kinder photography. It is all interconnected and comes under family photography. Even weddings – they are a Family occasion and I next had couples ringing me to then photograph their pregnancies and then newborns. So then became Amber the family photographer.
In 2005 I received a call from my fellow photographer friend who I worked with years before in retail, she was the resident at Peninsul Private Hospital and was moving far – so she asked me to take over her role. I was truly flattered that she asked me and feel truly blessed even to this day. I have met 90% of my loyal and return clients/friends through the hospital and adore what I do so much. I am given a job and entrusted to capture these precious moments.
The important factors I find set me in good stead to be a successful photographer and business woman is that I am dedicated, never afraid to ask, always thinking outside the square, ethical and more importantly evolving. You must always grow, always stay true – but always adapt to the the fast changing industry that is Photography. It is not a phase – if you become a photographer you live being a photographer. Your whole life and family life becomes Photography – like Van Gogh cutting off his ears – he was an artist – I too am an artist – not quite ready to cut off my ears – but I am so dam passionate about what I do and the main feeling I have about it – is LOVE. If I didn’t LOVE what I do, I wouldn’t do it.
2: Tell me about your product shoots? Why do you photograph people’s products?
A photographer always needs new and exciting products and props to work with, I have the pleasure of being associated with SO many beautiful (not to mention clever) people and companies. I like to give back -remembering when I first started and being friended by other photographers, who always helped me. A co worker helped me buy my first camera, the camera rep gave me a deal with my first prime lens, the fellow photographer who gave me digital camera to play with – always given things -you must always give back in life AND in business. Many of the products I have photographed have given some new founded businesses a real head start and not to mention networking their products through my group of friends and followers. I like to select products that are unique or unseen – something different to the normal grab it off the shelf made in china vibe we are so used to. When I photograph new products, my photos then look unique too! It gives my clients and friends something new to experience!
3: What would you be if you weren’t a photographer?
This question really had me thinking and you know I cannot answer it more than this:
With a love of singing ( it’s in the family), with a strong sense of business/retail and a love of coffee – I think all I can say is I would be a cafe owner. I can sing while I sell and make coffee! hehe
4: What do you find is your greatest inspiration?
My greatest inspiration? Would have to be a number of things. Personally I strive to WOW my clients with fantastic and beautiful images – this inspires me to keep on keeping on with what I do.
My children, partner and family inspire me to keep going and never stop.
On a business level and thinking of other photographers – it wasn’t until Facebook came about that I ever knew much about other photographers – I lived in my own bubble of doing my own thing and focusing on my own work.
I have recently discovered and been inspired by many new photographers – not looking so much at their images – as I believe every moment happens and that moment has the chance to be captured by any one person – who happens to hold a camera – and it will be captured however they perceive the situation – no image can be replicated as that moment only happened that once. They either succeed in capturing that moment or they fail technically – but isn’t all photography art? Yes it is completely. I am more so inspired by their presence, the person they are – by their ability to touch others, with an image – this inspires me more.
Some photographers whose stories inspire me:
Sue Bryce – from her humble beginnings to her discovery of talent and business capabilities
Russell James – An Australian who has made it big overseas shooting Victoria’s Secret and other huge campaigns.
Nirrimi Firebrace – a 19 year old who has taken the photo world by storm – she is an open and honest photographer who shoots campaigns for Billabong Surf Wear being some of her noted works.. She is unashamedly natural and flows – her works is sublime.
5: How to you make people feel at ease in front of your camera? How do you get the best out of each individual?
I think the main thing is trust.
My clients know and follow my work – they see me as a Great photographer, they trust in the knowledge that I know what I am doing. A client who lets go and is totally at my direction will have fabulous images.
I talk – quite a bit, I think I am a chatterbox but this puts people at ease and we talk about day to day and I love to hear what your interests are and I get to know a lot about my clients as we chat at a session.
I am not a show pony nor a stringent task master – I am a simple person with my own strict guidelines that I mentally follow, my work is YOU and it has to capture the Love between two people – the bond between a Mother and child and the innocence in a child’s gaze.
I look at people angles, I look at their whole person – and I seem to naturally put myself and choose equipment that best shows off that persons beauty and character.
When you look at an image of yourself, that I have taken – you see yourself in a light you never see.
THANK YOU for reading and THANK YOU for caring enough to ask. Without my beautiful followers, clients and friends – I couldn’t be.