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Photographer Interview: He Said, She Said ~ Two Different Perspectives


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.20110417-04 Photographer Interview: He Said, She Said ~ Two Different Perspectives Contests Interviews Photography Tips

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.

So, stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog post to learn how you can win a free seat at the He Said She Said Photography Workshop!!

To see more of their images: Jean Smith Photography, Jean Smith on Facebook, Travis Smith Photo, Boka Studios, Boka Studios on Facebook


No Comments

  1. Lisa on July 26, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Great article! Big fan of Jean and Travis – their work is phenomenal.

  2. nauheim on July 26, 2011 at 10:06 am

    already signed up for workshop (to take advantage of the ‘early’ sign-up savings….and leaving on a jet plane tomorrow….but hope to sign up to win the seat :-). I’ve been saving up for this one…and can’t wait for the day! Love love LOVE their photography!! So inspiring……

  3. Kristin wilkerson on July 26, 2011 at 10:23 am

    I LOVE these two. She has been my favorite photographer for YEARS and he has been since he started. They amaze me!

  4. Kasey on July 26, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    I’m so excited about this article. I’m from Michigan. Love their work. Their wide angle shots are exceptional!

  5. kelli taylor on July 26, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Love the interview and I’ll be checking back tomorrow!

  6. Ruth on July 26, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    You both are absolutely inspiring in your work. I tend to study your pictures before shoots to see what I can do to improve (my last shoot I focused on my senior looking up and over her shoulder to me, turned out beautifully). 🙂 And I love, and needed to hear, the advice Travis gave about shooting what you love! Large family reunion group photos with about 18 grandkids under the age of 13 is NOT my style. Love you both and I hope to meet you soon! 🙂

  7. AmieC on July 26, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Love this! Love their work! I’ll definitely be back tomorrow!

  8. Clipping Path on July 27, 2011 at 5:08 am

    Really amazing works you are absolutely brilliant photographer, i like this post very much thanks a lot for sharing with us 🙂

  9. Dawn on July 27, 2011 at 10:26 am

    So excited! I’m just starting out after being laid off for 2 years and I finally decided to just do what I love so I would LOVE (and need) to be a part of this workshop! I checked out their work and am amazed!

  10. Cynthia on July 27, 2011 at 10:53 am

    I’ve been following Jean for over a year and LOVE her work. It’s nice to meet her other half. What a nice pair!!!

  11. Khaled Mosli on July 27, 2011 at 11:03 am

    What an awesome interview, truly enjoyed it! Meaningful questions and rich answers straight to the point. So much to learn and to relate especially that my wife and I are a photography team and I’m the corporate guy who’s waiting for the right moment to switch :)I would say the most interesting thing I learned is how support system, i.e. wife and family, is a gift that we should value and never take for granted! Another thing I find interesting is to be Authentic and never limit your inspiration and dreams! This workshop is so powerful that it can be a major turning point for my life and convince me to make the decision and switch to a full-time photog and do what my smart wife advised me long time ago 🙂 Of course, with all the overwhelming tips and tricks it will make me a better photog especially the lighting tips! As far as our photography business, it is definitely a game changer to be there and learn from both Jean & Travis’s different experiences with two different types of clients! Also, I am interested to learn how Travis’s MBA helped and enhanced his business performance!Thanks MCP actions for sharing such a great interview and wondeful people!cheers,Khaled Mosli

  12. Bonnie Thompson on July 27, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Very interesting discussion. Would LOVE to attend the workshop. Interacting with other creative people is always a wonderful jump start to thinking differently. Favorite part of the article: he took a chance and followed his instincts!

  13. Jean Smith on July 27, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Thank you everyone!!! Beautiful words that mean so much! GOOD LUCK!

  14. Kristen Werden on July 27, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    What?! I am intrigued by the suggestion of turning the lens around. I never thought the camera would even WORK without a lens attached to it. Can’t wait to read more about this! Great tip! Would love to win that workshop. Need to be dipped into creative juices and deep-fried in money. 🙂

    • Jodi Friedman, MCP Actions on July 27, 2011 at 4:44 pm

      Please make sure you enter on the actual contest page – not the interview here. good luck!

    • Michelle Kersey on September 17, 2011 at 10:20 am

      Jean, I’d love to hear more about where you’ve found good outsourcing. With small kids, I’m always having a hard time balancing photography and family time. I’ve looked into outsourcing, but haven’t found one for me.

  15. Erin Chappelle on July 27, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Great Post – I love Jean’s post about not jumping in to starting a business but rather to hone your craft first! They appear to be an awesome couple and I love their work. I also love they are willing to share their passion and knowledge for photography!

  16. Nancy Tao on July 27, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Great insight on a husband/wife team! I’m a photographer and my husband has been into video lately..and I agree that we, as spouses, should wholeheartedly support each other’s passion. Favorite part of article: When Travis advises to shoot what you love and have the courage to say No. When you do something you love and enjoy, it’s not considered ‘work’ 🙂

  17. Jean on July 27, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Love the 50mm lens as macro substitute trick! Very inspiring how Jean and Travis live their passion and that Travis made that hard decision to leave a more conventionally stable career behind. Would love to learn how to infuse my photography with the energy and movement that is so abundant in Jean’s images! Their creativity is evident and it would be fascinating to learn how they run their different businesses!

  18. janelle on July 27, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    I love the idea of flipping the 50mm to create a macro lens! I would’ve never thought of it. Thanks! This workshop would rock – I love new ideas/tips!

  19. Emily Redman on July 27, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Jean’s comment about “not underpricing yourself” and Travis’s comment about “shooting what you love” is what stuck out to me the most. These aren’t very profound statements or anything new. HOWEVER, I could see how these two things could make or break a budding photographer just starting their own photo business. So I appreciated them bringing those concepts to the forefront. I was also struck by the fact that both Jean and Travis created and continue to run successful businesses when they have only been doing it professionally for about 5 years or less. That was encouraging as well. I am interested in the business aspect of photography and would like to learn more in this regard.

  20. Emily Redman on July 27, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    I posted a link for the contest to my personal facebook page.!/profile.php?id=1190901219

  21. Victoria Campbell on July 27, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Would love to learn more about anything to have to do with photography – I am a true believer you can never learn enough, when different artistic views come together….WONDERFUL! Would love to win this contest!

  22. April La Scala on July 29, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    I love reading MPC actions blog. Always something to learn. I like that you both do “your own thing” with your photography. Yet there is so much that you can share with each other, learn from each other- compliment each other.It makes wonderful sense to photograph what you enjoy. I’m beginning to find my place. Things are falling into place. I love learning new techniques and applying them to my work. As a beginner, I have SO much to learn. I believe there are going to be many things covered in your workshop that I can benefit from – workflow, business, lighting. Pick me, please!! April

  23. Kristin on July 30, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    added another entry on my business facebook page.

  24. Amy Hoogstad on August 10, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    I love it when you interview other photographers, Jodi. Thanks for sharing!

  25. K.Murat on August 22, 2011 at 6:26 am

    Nice interview! Look forward to the next interviews.BTW. I interview architectural photographers on my blog.

  26. Rae Higgins on May 1, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Great interview!

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