Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Meet This Week's Judge

This week's judge is Natalie Wheeler of Act Naturally Photography. She want's to see your photography through all the senses, and has shared how she sees through her own.

1. Tell us about yourself...

I am a lover of light, and real life moments. My kids and my husband are my inspiration and my center.  My photographs are my language of love and everything that I can’t say with words.  I am music obsessed, and I start to suffocate if I go more than a few hours without listening some of my favorite tunes.  I love to travel and have new experiences.

2. What ignited your passion for photography, and what fuels it now?

It took me over thirty years to realize that I was an artist.  I had an artist personality, but I wasn’t nurturing any particular artistic passion, so I had no outlet for my art.  I felt like a square peg trying to fit into round surroundings.  The pieces of my life weren’t fitting together right; something big was missing.  Like many others, when my children were born, I became impassioned about documenting their daily life.  My children set alive the artist seed within me.  Now, my drive is fueled by the desire to always improve and make the visions I have in my mind into photographs.  The missing piece has been found and everything makes so much more sense because I can be wholly me.

3. What’s in your camera bag right now, what do use the most? the least?

I shoot with a Canon 5DMii.  The lens I use the most is my Sigma 35mm f1.4 ART.  It is by far my best storytelling/documenting lens because of the space it gives me and it’s low light capabilities.  I also have a Canon 50mm f1.4, a Canon 24-105mm f/4, Lensbaby Sweet 35 & Edge 80.  I probably use the Edge 80 the least because my photographs call for more space, but I would definitely like to play around with it more for portraits.  I’m kind of dying for the Sigma 24mm or the 20mm that’s coming out soon!

4. What’s your dream project or shoot?

I would love to take a family road trip for several weeks or months and document our trip.  I envision the highlight being at an old ranch in New Mexico or somewhere here out west.  Ideally, I’d encounter several generations of family members, lots of animals, and old relics to learn about and photograph.

5. What is the biggest challenge you face as a photographer?

There are so many things that I love about being a photographer; I wouldn’t be doing it if that weren’t the case.  But I’d like to write very candidly about our value and worth as artists, as I know it’s a struggle for many of us.  I came across a quote recently that stopped me in my tracks:  “I stopped explaining myself when I realized people only understand from their level of perception” (unknown).  This is applicable to many things in my life, and photography is certainly no exception.  I don’t want to get into the details of how to price photography sessions, but I do want to point out that what we do as photographers is VERY valuable and only the artist can decide what their time and talent is worth.  It’s taken me many years to get to a point where I feel like I don’t need to convince people of the monetary value of my work.  I now realize that is wasted energy that is better spent elsewhere.  I am at a “take it or leave” it point with my pricing, which is silly because I feel like I shouldn’t even have to say that.  Shouldn’t it be a given that my price is my price?  It’s a challenge to think of any other professions where people feel so inclined to negotiate on price, devaluating the person’s worth so unabashedly.  We are experts and years of expertise and ability to provide for our families should not be up for negotiation.  For me, this quote tells me it’s ok to take control of my worth, my art, and my values; and to let go of the expectations of others who likely don’t intend to insult, but rather lack perspective of our profession.  Letting go of that, is truly a heavy burden lifted.

6. If you had 
$500 to spend on photography...

How should you spend it? Having my gear professional cleaned and calibrated.
How do you wish you could spend it? Saving up for the 5d Markiii and Sigma 20mm or 24mm
How would you really spend it? On the miscellaneous costs of running a photography business

7. Is there any one thing you wish someone had told you at the very beginning of your photography journey?

I am very content with my photography journey, even as excruciating as it’s been at times;  it was the price I paid for developing and growing my craft.  There really aren’t any shortcuts around those tough times, so having a good support system with other photographers who can truly understand what you are going through is invaluable.  Find that or create it as soon as you can.

When I first started out in this field it was a very isolated place for me. Then, I founded an amazing community of amazing photographers called Life {Unscripted}.  It’s a huge support system for me and our goal as a group is to help photographers at all levels stay inspired and feel supported.

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