Questions for you...You Fabulous Photographer, You!
Heather (a.k.a. Kole) Loudermilk
Bella Kole Photography
What gear is in your camera bag?
Canon T1i, 50mm 1.8, soon to be 85 1.8, and an extra memory card - speedlight when needed - I try to keep it simple (lol)
What is your favorite lens to use and why?
Thus far, the “nifty-fifty”, though I have used a friends 85 and fell in LOVE :) So I know that will be the favorite soon.
Give us one sentence to describe the style of your photography.
Dreamy vintage yet rich and modern. I love to keep things vivid and surreal, yet dreamy and memory-like.
What caused your interest in photography?
Initially I have always been drawn to the art; my mom had a love for it, and while she never had the chance to learn professionally, she always felt it super important to capture the moments. We learned in the my teens that my mom had cervical cancer, and once she passed away, we realized how few photos we had with her in them with us; many other life events between my mom passing and my daughter being born pushed me more and more towards photography as an outlet for expression, and once my daughter was born I wanted to get even more serious about becoming a photographer to not only capture the images of her that I wanted, but to do it for others as well.
What is your favorite thing to shoot and why?
It really is hard to say... I love newborns, older babies, toddlers, kids and teens for sure; but each age group has its own special, unique thing that makes me love it. I try to be well rounded with taking photos of each category, but I try to not overwhelm myself either. I <3 details and capturing the uniqueness each person I photograph.
How long did it take before you felt that you established a solid portfolio?
Um, I would have to say approximately 6 months, I think... maybe a little longer. I did not start shooting or assisting shooting weddings until about the 6 month mark either, so I would have to say I finally feel like I have things rounded out better with all categories in my portfolio at this point; a little over a year later :)
How long did it take you to discover your style of photography?
Sometimes I think I am still discovering it b/c I am constantly inspired, but I am way more consistent now than I was even 6 months or a year ago.
What inspires you most?
My daughter... she is amazing, silly, sassy, smart and down right awe-inspiring. No offense to anyone else in my life; there are tons of people who really do inspire and encourage me, and other [more seasoned] photographers that inspire me, but at the end of the day she is my soul inspiration. <3 :)How long does it typically take you to edit a portrait shoot? Weddings?
Portrait sessions are best summed up in hours - maybe about 10 to 12 give or take an hour... it really depends; being the mom of a 21 month old keeps things interesting; I am a SAHM, also so that tends to make “office hours” hairy.
Weddings are better summed up into weeks... 4 to 5 weeks, again just depending on work load, family things, etc.
Do you use studio equipment? If so, what would you say is the most crucial piece in your studio and why?
A flash mount speed light is the closest thing to studio equipment I use at the moment; I am hoping to make a studio space at some point in the next year to help with sessions that I want to take but cannot due to weather extremes.
What are you looking most forward to this year...Both professionally, and personally?
Professionally - I am looking forward to building a more consistent client base, and creating a more regular schedule of sessions. Personally - I try to just go day to day, and pray that I can keep doing what I do :)
Do you ever get "bored" with your work? If so, what do you do to shake things up?
I do, actually, I either take a little break or I start looking around different sites/groups I am on for challenges. I also browse blogs and face book for inspiration.
What's the one thing about your work that you feel sets you apart from the big sea of photogs?
There are lots of photographers that think along the same lines as me when it comes to capturing the little things, the details and the emotion and personality of the person in the moment, but I AM ME... and they are them. Another photographer would not capture each shot at the same angle or with the same thought as I would; my editing style is unique to me, and I have began to gain a look that is recognizable to an image being mine.
Do you have an idea for a shoot, but have no clue how you are going to make it happen?
YES!! (lol) I have a few of them ;) A big Alice in Wonderland, Mad Hatter Tea Party (my version) is one!
How do you balance your personal life with your work life?
I am constantly working to improve this; some weeks go a lot better than others. My husband has really long work hours, 6 days a week, so in some ways that gives me a lot of time, but again, I am a SAHM with my daughter and her needs to think of first; lots of things get done during nap and bed time until about 2 AM.
If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
The country side in Italy or Coastal California
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully still doing photography with a steady business, and a small studio, and seeing my family flourish and watch my daughter grow into a sweet, well-rounded all American girl :)
What are you most proud of? Both professionally and personally?
Professionally - that I feel well versed at this point with both my camera and photoshop both; knowing the stuff I once did compared to now makes me feel amazing.
Personally - that my daughter is here today, healthy, vibrant and making me and the rest of the world smile on a daily basis - she knows no stranger! :)
Describe in one paragraph what a perfect day for you would look like.
My perfect day would have to be one where I could be in a beautiful vineyard setting or on the beach, getting to snap away and create special moments either for myself/my family or someone else. Whether it is a wedding, a couple, children or an event. I love to be surrounded by the ocean air and sand, or beautiful trees, hills and lots of color and vintage things... either way, I could be a happy photographer and lady just getting to have the pleasure of standing among either setting.
What turns you on the most creatively and what turns you off?
What turns me on is the chance to photograph the sweetness of a baby, child or couple and capture all those little moments, expressions and details; what turns me off is someone else trying to run the show when I was the one hired to do my job.
As far as marketing your business goes, what would you say are the most important and beneficial things to do when you want to get your name out there?
I did several contests and offered a lot of portfolio building specials. I am starting to back off doing this since my first full year of business has come to close (as of the first of June), but it helps a great deal. My FB fan page is at 1,650 now... going on 2K - WOWWY!! :) My prices are getting on up there with the “big dawgs” and I am finding more and more value in my time, work and demand. I have much more experience now than when I started, so I know this is a must in order to see my business grow I have to have money to be able to put it into my equipment and business AND help at home.
What's the one piece of advice that you feel a person just starting a photography business would benefit from?
Find a way to get consistent with your style and find the name that fits YOU PERFECTLY. Be sure to truly have an understanding of your camera settings(learn MANUAL if at all possible, though some prefer Av) and photoshop; find a mentor [seasonged] photographer (they are everyone, and there is someone that is the right fit for you, just like there was for me), and LEARN LEARN LEARN …. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE. Portfolio build and then know when to get down to business with your business; take yourself and the nature of being in business for yourself as seriously as possible. I am CONSTANTLY learning and growing. Be open to growth.
Heather! We loved your honest answers! How refreshing...Recognizing the worth of your time and talent is something that I believe, many photographers struggle with. They listen to the potential clients who say things like, "I can't believe photographers are so expensive. You should never charge more than you charge now." So they don't, because they think that they won't get any work! Those people do not VALUE a professional photographer and your work. These are the people that say things like this because they never want to pay more than a certain amount even if they believe it's worth more. But here's the thing...We need to realize that there are people out there, lots of them actually, who value having professional pictures done of their families or of their weddings! You don't need those people that don't value your work! In the beginning when you are first starting out, you do to build your portfolio, but when you get to a certain point in your career, you will realize what you believe your work and experience is worth and you should charge accordingly. You make that leap of faith and you will be taken more seriously as a professional and you will still get work! It was so great to get to know you Heather, you are an inspiration to me personally and so many others! SHOOT ON! We wish you the best!