Today, I am interviewing two photographers who have different viewpoints, different styles, but the same wedding vows and children. Meet Travis and Jean Smith ~ husband and wife photographers who live in New Hudson, Michigan. You will love learning more about them and from them. They even have a few tips for your photography and businesses.
Jean, how did you get started in photography?
I have always wanted to be that cool kid who says their Uncle Vernon gave them a Polaroid camera when they were seven and their love of photography blossomed from there. Alas, I was more the teenager with a point and shoot who obnoxiously made everyone squish together for self timers all of the time. My love and interest with photography actually began a little over five years ago when I received my first SLR camera. It was and continues to be my number one obsession and passion.
Travis, you are an MBA and were immersed in the corporate world. How in the world did you make the switch to photography?
Honestly, it sneaked up on me. Years ago I went to Photoshop World because I have always loved graphic design and creating in Photoshop. I was only remotely interested in photography and I didn’t even take a camera with me to the conference. But, I left 110% inspired by photography and came home and told my wife that I wanted to pursue photography as a career.
Jean, your response to that?
Freaked out!!! But, it was obvious where his passion and direction was, so I wanted to support him. AND, he’s really, really, really persistent.
So, now you both have your own flourishing photography businesses. Tell us about what you each shoot.
Jean: I mainly photograph children, families, and weddings (which I primarily shoot with Travis).
Travis: I run two separate photography businesses, one for commercial and editorial, and the other for high school seniors.
Do you prefer natural or artificial light?
Jean: Natural…with added flash if needed at weddings, a location I want that has insufficient natural light, or to just create a dramatic look that natural light can’t provide.
Travis: I love and use them equally. I love the soft, natural look of available light, but I often need/want artificial light to supplement natural light or completely change the mood of the shot.
Besides your camera, what are your favorite two pieces of equipment?
Travis: 70-200mm 2.8, Nikon sb-900 external flash
Jean: My favorites will always be lenses. 85mm 1.8 and 24-70 2.8.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone starting out?
Jean: I think many photographers are super eager to jump into business. I would suggest NOT starting a business until you know you can consistently produce a full gallery of quality images to a client. And when that time comes, don’t underprice yourself…people will pay you what you are worth. Always price yourself for the market you are trying to attain. Otherwise, you will find yourself underpaid and burned out.
Travis: Shoot what you love. Period. If you begin making exceptions, you’ll find your schedule full of work you don’t want to do and you’ll lose the passion for why you started in the first place. Have the courage to say no.
So, you have four little boys! How do you balance work and family?
Jean: One word…Outsourcing. It has saved my sanity.
Spill a little secret. Just a little Jean and Travis bonus…
Jean: Let your husband quit his corporate job to pursue his passion! No, really. A fun little trick is to turn your 50 mm lens into an instant and super sharp macro lens by taking it off the camera, turning it around, and manual focusing.
Travis: Do you ever wish the sun was out or in a different spot so you could backlight your subject for that hazy, summery look? Put your bare external flash on a stand behind your subject (flash facing you) and create your own sun/flare.
Rumor has it that you are giving away a free seat at your workshop on the MCP blog tomorrow. Is this true and who exactly is this workshop for?
Jean: Yep, the rumor is true! We are super excited to work with Jodi from MCP Actions for the giveaway of a free seat to our He Said, She Said Photography Workshop in September. The details will be on her blog tomorrow, but the workshop is for beginner to professional photographers. We will not be covering how to use your camera or basic settings, but we are happy to give resources to get you up to speed in time for the workshop. We also are offering $150 off our workshop to any MCP customers and blog readers. Just contact us if interested!
What would one learn at your workshop?
Travis: We are covering everything from pre-production (location, style and creativity, etc), to production (posing and working with your subject, lighting with off camera flash, etc), and finally, to post production (workflow, post processing, and everything business). Jean and I are so excited to be offering this workshop together because where one is weaker, the other is strong, and together, we offer a complete package with tons-o-knowledge.