I think Erin and Alicia have one of the best written about pages that I’ve ever come across. They set out to create wedding images that documents love creatively and I have to say they have some refreshingly fun and creative images in their portfolio. Anyway enjoy.
Tell us a little about yourself?
We are two women photographers with old souls who fell in love with documentary photography. We are very different as far as our personalities go, Erin is a show-tunes loving lady and Alicia is a rock and roll red head. We laugh about how different our backgrounds are but we share the same vision for wanting to make images that talk about emotions and real life.
What inspired you to get started in photography?
For both of us it was film photography in the darkroom, seeing a print develop that we created, felt like being a magician. There is something therapeutic and life affirming about creating a photo and seeing it through until it’s finished. Film is what started our love affair but its 100 different things a year that keep us in love with it. From how it has changed our world views to how it has become our way of expressing the way we see the world.
What gear do you take to each shoot and what lens can you not live without?
We both use Canon 5D Mark II and various lenses. Erin’s favourite lens is the 50mm and Alicia’s is her 35 mm. It’s really easy to get caught up with all the technical aspects of photography because they are important to photographers but when it comes down to it, I don’t really think non-photographers care what anyone of us shoots with whether it be a view camera or a cell phone as long as the image is strong. We had a photo journalism instructor at Columbia College that always said “nobody cares!” when we would get into discussions about gear, because he wanted us to care more about the moments than the technology. That way of thinking has changed our life in a lot of ways because it has made us be more aware of the way people work rather than the equipment they use to get the image.
How do you market yourself and has social media been an important part?
We actually feel really strange about marketing; it feels a lot like tooting your own horn. So we are incredibly lucky to have such wonderful brides who pretty much market for us by writing us reviews, sharing their photos, or recommending us to their friends. Our heart really lies in wanting to be storytellers. We are learning to be proud of our work but our goal is to be as honest as we can about who we are and why we want to make the work that we do. We say all the time we are terrible businesswomen because we don’t really care much for the business side of things. We got into photography because we both wanted to be artists. It allowed us to have a voice about the way we see the world. We have met so many amazing people through social media though that it is invaluable to us. I love that social media creates an atmosphere where people can talk about ideas and share their stories and be a part of a larger conversation about what it means to be alive in a time like this.
What’s your favourite photo that you’ve taken and does it have any significance?
It’s so hard to choose a favourite photo for us. There are so many we are attached to for so many reasons. The photo that came to mind the soonest was a portrait of Kohn. Kohn was hit by a car when he was a child and has partial paralysis, that for years kept him wheel chair dependent but with the daily yoga with an instructor he has become independent from his wheel chair. He is one of the most active and full of life people we have photographed. The photo is significant to us because we feel as a portrait it showed a part of Kohn that makes us happy to see documented; his bright blue eyes that see the world so uniquely and his infectious laugh. It’s easy to see Kohn as a person with a disability but that is only a small part of what makes him such a beautiful soul. For us when we think about making portraits that’s our goal, to dig deeper to show something about that person that isn’t necessarily surface. That’s what keeps us striving to be better a showing real moments.
Select a photo you have taken, explain how it was taken and how did you edit it?
The photo we chose is an example of how fascinated we are by light. Artistically speaking it’s the most important aspect to visual art. The colors of light, the way it moves, how it changes a mood. We enjoy playing with light, and watching the temperature change and seeing how that affects an image. In the photograph we chose it was minutes before sunset and the light was golden and pouring over a huge field. We chose to just go with it and shoot directly into the light. As photographers light is our paintbrush. As you can see we don’t often change much out of camera other than maybe basic raw adjustments and cropping. We are a little OCD for strait horizon lines and purposeful compositions; we lose sleep over things like that.
What processing tool do you use and do you believe in the camera doing all the work or in post?
We process our work in lightroom and sometimes Photoshop if it needs it. We both admired old school film photographers whose philosophy is “the image is made in the camera”. We have adopted this philosophy in our work because that minimalist outlook has helped us find what’s really important to us. Also as women we feel it’s unfair that we are lied to on every magazine cover and we feel that does a disservice to women’s body images. So we just try to minimally process things. We enjoy highly processed images but feel at that point it’s almost another art form outside of a photograph because of all the design elements that play a part in creating something else entirely new with an image. In twenty years if we are still making photos we don’t want to look back at a world we created, we want to see the world as it was.
What’s your favourite photography accessory other than your camera?
Each other. We both shoot personal work outside of the work we make together and it becomes more and more apparent how we have made a way of shooting together that really benefits the way we work. A lot of times one of us will be talking to our couples or interacting with them while the other shoots the reactions. We feel like it relaxes people so they aren’t worried about the way they look but are just interacting with each other and we are able to document it. It has become second nature to us now, like an unspoken language, we have gotten to a point where we don’t even need to talk to each other while shooting, we just know. I would rather shoot together than alone now because of it.
Where do you prefer to post your photos online and why there?
We love blogging. It feels like our darkroom when blogging because we can choose the lay out and also have the space to write about the people we photograph. We feel real life stories are important and inspiring so getting a platform, like our blog, to tell those stories is so much fun to us.
Do you ever get photographers block and if so what do you do to get inspired again?
It’s really easy to get photographers block when it’s your job to make photos. That’s why we love doing documentary work for ourselves, because we feel that is where we get inspired. If we are in a slump we will shoot people who inspire us or events that we are passionate about. We love to shoot events that benefit our community and expose us to people who we feel help make the world better. People like that inspire us to try to make beautiful photos.
Is there anything you wish you had done when you first started in photography that would of made a difference?
I wish we wouldn’t have spent so much time comparing our work to other photographers. In the beginning we wanted to do everything that was trendy because we didn’t have the confidence to try our own ideas because we were worried they wouldn’t be good enough. We got to a point where we would rather fail at being ‘us’ than succeed at imitating someone else.
Any advice for new photographers wanting to go pro?
Ask for help, send emails, make photos of everything you love, take your work seriously, fight for your time to make photos, and take risks and ask for help. We send emails all the time asking people whose work we respect and admire to point us in the right direction, or asking to get lunch with them and pick their brain. We feel so lucky to have been able to meet some really amazing photographers and gotten help on projects from them. Steve Liss is one person who we feel is invaluable to us. He has had over 40 photos that have become Time Magazine covers and has covered 6 presidential campaigns and for him to tell us to keep going and to keep digging deeper to photograph what we love has been the kind of encouragement that makes you want to take your work really seriously. There is a Tennessee Williams quote that says, “When so many are lonely as seem to be lonely, it would be inexcusably selfish to be lonely alone. “ It can be overwhelming and lonely as an artist trying to make work that is personal and means something to you and then throwing it out in the darkness hoping someone finds light in it. It can seem like every man for himself, and with facebook it seems like we are all screaming into a little box hoping to be heard. We have found so much strength in asking for help and collaborating with other people who have the same vision for their work and the same passion for creating change. Our biggest tip is to be brave enough to ask for help so you are adding to the conversation instead of trying to reinvent the wheel.