Tell us about your journey of Photography. I have been in business since 2009 after retiring as a Detective with the Indianapolis Metro Police Dept. When I picked up my camera in 2008 I had no idea what I was doing but there was a challenge to learn all I could. I took one 4 week class which was one night a week. Then read as many books and magazines as I could get my hands on. I also watched free classes on CreativeLive. Then the most important part was picking my camera up every single day to practice. In 2009 I had been published in a few magazines and had two goals at that time. One was to be an instructor for the business I took my first class, and the other was to get on the cover of Birds & Blooms magazine. In 2010 I was hired as an instructor where I taught photography for three years. I photographed several weddings, families and seniors during that time. I quickly learned my passion was with high school seniors. I currently have a studio in the town of Martinsville, IN. I have 21 senior reps who I love to spend time photographing. Another way I give back to the community is by photographing High School sports. I try to attend all the home games/meets and share my photos through downloads and social media posts. Covid has really hurt my seniors the past two years and I feel photos are even more important right now. They are missing out on sports and being able to share my talent is a blessing. I think it's our duty as photographers to document as much as we can through photographs. Photography is a way for me to continue giving back.
How would you briefly describe your activities with your team/s and/or photography in general? My senior rep team and I have a group chat on Instagram we stay in contact through. I give them inspiration a couple times a week by sending them shoot ideas and sometimes just checking in to see how they are doing. We try to get together every 4-6 weeks for shoots. With Covid things have gotten a bit tougher though. I only have a senior rep/model team. I generally open my applications up in December and choose by January. I look for inspiring Seniors. They have to do well in school, be a team player and be active on social media. My team are ones others look to for inspiration!
Tell us what, if anything, you learned from being a detective that is useful when working with teens. While working as a Detective I was assigned to the child abuse unit for two years. I feel being a police officer I was a role model for teens which has carried over to being a senior photographer. I want my teens to know they can come to me with problems. So much of what I learned as a police officer carries over to my job as a photographer though. People skills, work ethic, ability to listen. Being part of my team, I feel is a job with exceptions and my exceptions are very high. What legacy or thoughts do you hope to leave behind for your clients? I want my seniors to look back at their session and feel special. They should feel like they are beautiful and leave with confidence. Then when they look at their photos, I want them to think. “Wow, is that me?” As for my reps/models I want them to think this was the best part about their senior year. They get to hang out with their friends, feel special, be featured on Instagram and possibly appear in senior magazines.
Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your business? I think its super important as a photographer to be involved in the community. Of course we all love to make money but giving back in the way of documenting our high school senior's lives with photos is why we should do what we do! Being just a photographer is not good enough for me! I want to be the best at lighting, editing and most of all being a positive role model.
Other than photography, what do you like to do? I am married and have a 16 year old daughter and 14 year old son. I love to spend time in my gardens playing in the dirt and photographing flowers, birds and bugs. I especially find it challenging to photograph hummingbirds. My kids are also involved in 4-H. They show cattle and swine. I’m on several 4-H boards and in charge of our beef club.
1. Who or what influences your style most? I love Jon Snip’s style of photography and love the posing and lighting of Craig Stidham and editing of Alex Miller/@liquidverve.
2. If you could learn from any photographer or business mentor, who would it be? Hands down Jon Snip.
3. What was the last podcast you listened to? (photography or not) I just bought a class on ProEdu
4. Other than photography, how do you spend your time? I am on several 4-H boards which keeps me busy.
5. What advice would you give to upcoming photographers? Learn all you can and then learn more! Do NOT compare yourself to others. Photography is an art and you are the artist!
6. Best business book you ever read and/or conference you ever attended? I think most artist lack in the business area. (I do) Best conference by far Senior Style Guide PUSH conference.
7. All-Time-Favorite image you’ve ever taken The gal in the glasses if prob my favorite photo along with my hummingbird.
8. Three things on your bucket list: To make the cover of Birds & Blooms magazine, make the cover of a Senior Magazine and I would say attend a seminar of Jon Snip’s.
9. What is your best tip for teens before their photoshoot: I have an entire list! (LOL) I think the main one. Look at poses and practice them in the mirror. Of course its my job to help pose but if they feel comfortable it sure helps.
10. Most binge-worthy show: I love NCIS Los Angeles
11. If you could teach a course on anything (doesn’t have to be photography related) what would you be confident teaching and why? I would totally feel comfortable teaching the fundamentals of photography. After teaching it for three years its very rewarding when the student has the “Aha Moment”. (Don’t laugh but I was also an DUI instructor on the Police Dept. Why am I confident? Making the streets safer by arresting drunk drivers was my specialty.