Thank you so much for taking the time to get to know me!
I dabbled in photography during college as I was earning my BA in Graphic Design. KSC, class of '03! Woot woot! After graduation, my friends and I got the heck out of there and set out for warmer temps in CA. After working in a photo lab during my last few years of college, I got a job as a retoucher at Monterey Bay Photo in Santa Cruz, CA. This job did not require a BA in Graphic Design, but I loved it so much! The pay was dirt and I was quite literally working in their basement, but the people were so fun and had all the patience in the world to teach me everything Photoshop had to offer.
My time there was short. I decided to move back to the east coast after a year, but they outsourced work to me for several years after. This began my work as a freelance retoucher. I connected with commercial photographers in the area, such as Jeffrey Coolidge of Coolidge Studio. He continued the role of mentoring me as a retoucher and as a studio assistant.
On the very last day of 2008, I became a mom. I then worked primarily as a retoucher from home. This has continued until today.
Around 2012, I started photographing family friends. It really wasn't until 2014 when I created a price list, I decided to call myself a photographer.
What have I learned?
Obviously, the more you do something, the better you'll get at it - in theory. As a photographer, you first have to learn your equipment. Once learned, it has to be instinctual. Moments happen fast, you have to make quick decisions. You basically have to predict the future and know the settings at that. You also want to make sure your clients are comfortable and looking their best while keeping your creative juices flowing strong the whole time. As precise as you want to capture an image in camera, you also have to think about how you'll enhance it in post.
For those of you who have had sessions with me, you've probably heard the unintelligible language that I create while taking your photos. It's because of the above. For those of you who become witness to this in the future, just laugh! It's a good thing! ;)
Every session comes with a lot of mental preparation. I get nervous before every shoot. Before I go to bed at night, I brainstorm ideas. When I come home from a shoot, I immediately need to upload the images. I sometimes have to literally shut the door so I can't see the photos. If I do, I'm at my computer for at least another hour, or two, or three. My husband knows this. He prepares for it. Taking this kids out of the house so I can anchor myself to my desk without distractions.
Next to my kids, it's the most fulfilling thing in my life. How many people can say that about their work?
I still feel weird asking people to pay me to take their photos. It just doesn't feel right to get paid for something I actually enjoy doing! I'm coming to terms with it by telling myself that it's time I could've spent with my family. A family I need to support. A business that I want to do well and want to improve.
It still feels too good to be true, but I'll ride this wave until I fall off and see where the next one takes me.
Follow me on Instagram @tarasullivanphotography