Monday, April 9, 2012

Photographer Interview with Lindsey VanTiem

Newborn Photographer, Chesapeake, VA, newborn photographer, Virginia Beach, VA

So Lindsey, you do a little bit of everything. What types of sessions do you like the most and why?

I decided this year I would specialize in newborn through age 1 with a few older children's portraits as well. Newborns are definitely my absolute favorite subject which is why I specialize in that age through 1 year. If I am not called the "Baby Whisperer" at least once during their session then I am not doing my job to make the baby feel comfortable or the parents feeling at ease with choosing me as their photographer. I love newborns for the fact that they are so new and fragile yet durable {If that makes sense}. They can be molded, folded and posed all the while staying asleep if I am doing my job properly. Having a sense of confidence, calmness and a soft approach comes in handy as well.

You have so many adorable props! What are your favorite prop shops?
I have been collecting props since high school which is not something my parents were thrilled about having in their basement. But they supported the fact that they would eventually be used more than once a month. As time goes on I have amassed a vast collection from all over the place. I don't really confine myself to any specific store but you can often find me at any second hand store or a fun thrift shop, flea markets, antique malls and obscure hole-in-the- wall stores- you never know what they might have. Although I would be lying if I didn't say Hobby Lobby, Marshalls and TJ Maxx are my local go- to places. JoAnn's, Michaels and even Home Depot or Lowes have some great finds for backgrounds, moldings and wood flooring. I have also discovered the greatness of Ikea so I will be utilizing that store a lot more. My husband is shaking his head at this but supports my business and therefore me so he just smiles all the while crying inside at all the collectibles laying around the house most days.

We all love to hear how others got started in the business, tell us how you got your start in photography and what things you feel have made you successful.
I think my parents started me in photography without ever really trying. They bought me my first camera for Christmas in 5th grade- it was neon green and a Kodak. I bought film with my birthday money and really have not looked back. Every year they would "upgrade" my camera to something more durable and age appropriate but never the expensive ones {With the exception of my first point and shoot digital} that my Dad dropped and broke shortly after I received it. In high school I was part of the year book class and often took a ton of images. I look back at the yearbook and I am pretty sure I took over half the images in there which is fun to think about but also dates me so we won't go there. Eventually I went on to attend Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. They didn't have a major in Photography so I went for Art History with a concentration in the History of Photography. I worked with an amazing mentor, Claude Baillargeon, who helped me work my major into something that would work for my life plan. I took every Studio Art class available in hopes of the college offering it as a major. They did in my final year so I was fortunate enough to have taken all my classes prior and work it out where I could minor in Studio Art but mostly concentrate in Photography. I am debating on going back for a full major in Studio Art with a concentration in Photography. I think I am three classes shy of another Bachelors of Fine Arts. Maybe someday but until then I am enjoying where I am today and happy with just one BFA. I think part of being a successful photographer is being a "People person/pleaser" to some extent. Just knowing I work for my clients and their happiness depends on putting my heart into each image drives me to want to be the best I can be. Never would I think about talking down to my clients in any way, shape or form that is disrespectful toward them or their children. I treat everyone the way I would want to be treated as a customer. Also without all the mentors I had throughout college and the supportive network of family, friends and peers I would not have the confidence in my abilities nor would I know how to "keep it real" and be humbled by the journey I have made up to this point. In turn I try to help others as much as I can to pay it forward.

And we have to ask, what do you shoot with and which are your favorite lenses?
I am a Canon girl but have had my fair share of different cameras. As you know I started out using the Kodak in 5th grade and in college I ran with a Pentax K1000. I just upgraded to the 5D Mark ii which seems a little less impressive now that the 5D Mark iii is being released {Insert a low, whimpering cry now}. My backup camera is now the Canon 50D. And to be honest when I first started in digital I only had kit lenses because all my really nice equipment and money went into the equipment I had for my manual 35mm Pentax from college. No one knew I was using kit lenses so I guess it was okay for just starting off but then again the digital era had just made a turn and no one really could tell the difference between a shotty lens and the grain caused from only having an 8 mp digital :) I would not do it that way if I had another option at 19 years old but rather I would have continued to use my 35mm film camera and save, save save. Right now I have the 50mm 1.8 but am upgrading to the 1.4 within the next few months, 24-105 L, 28-135, 75-300. I have a flash but prefer my studio lights on a trigger to add more light than my flash would offer. I use Photogenic Professional Lighting System at every session. If I am shooting a wedding I rent my lenses from My fave right now if the 24-105mm L glass. It has a great zoom but still has that sharpness and allows for some good bokeh similar to the 50mm.

What ages do you find the most fun, easiest, and most challenging to photography? Any quick tips on overcoming any of those challenges?
When I first started out every age except Seniors were a bit difficult. But now after doing this for so long I have each age group nailed down to what I can bribe them with. The easiest sessions for me are newborns (Well most of them anyway). The hardest age I would say is 3-4 months because they are stuck in the can't sit, want to roll, floppy baby stage. Props come in handy for those sessions. All other ages are pretty simple as long as you stay calm, have patience and know that children are going to be movers & shakers then you will have more fun than stress. Oh and of course my secret to all the different ages are bringing Gerbers Puffs for little ones (really easy to edit out of fingers, sitting on props or on wood floors), a jar of candies for toddlers and siblings to see sitting next to me- Yes I bribe hardcore!! Once they finish with their portraits they can pick one piece or two if Mom says it is okay (I always ask before I even bring in the jar). Even communicate with the parents to see when nap or lunch time is so you can avoid those two most cranky times for a child.

And finally, tell us a little more about you (the non-photographer side of Lindsey)

I am the Mom of two wild, crazy boys and am thinking of adding a third to the mix {I blame this on all the newborns lately}. I married my high school sweetheart who is a fiercely, loyal fan that is always pushing me to do what I love. On any given day or should I say night I am up until 3 am or later working so I do not take away time from my family. Although I am pretty sure it is because I have insomnia! Humor is my ice breaker for everything especially when I am nervous. I am obsessed with movies- all movies, love em all! Any Nicholas Sparks novels, the Twilight movies {I even went to a movie premiere and met Kristin Stewart and stood next to Taylor Lautner- Nerd alert} and basically any chick lit that is by Emily Giffin are on my table all year long. I have a school girl obsession with Channing Tatum and Robert Pattinson and if they were ever in front of my camera I could not physically function to take their pictures. Hmmm what else...Indie music is my muse, old jazz with all the instruments of that era makes me instantly calm and doing something artistic or crafty makes my mind feel free. Other than that I am an old soul who collects vintage cameras and would rather sit home & watch movies or read while hanging out with my family. That is me in a nutshell.

Big thank you to Lindsey for giving us some fabulous insights into your busy world!  Stop by and visit her website or facebook page to see more of her gorgeous work.

Photo of Lindsey and Lindsey with her family courtesy Shanell Edwards.


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