Today is an extra YAY because I'm interviewing another creative whom I have the privilege to know personally. Anne Simone was our wedding photographer, and, in addition to being gifted with a lens, she is also gifted with words. Anne is a born storyteller. She routinely makes my jaw drop in awe, and I have nothing but heart eyes for her!
1) Tell us a little about yourself, your family, hobbies, creative background, etc. My day-to-day life revolves around the little home I share with my sister and our dog Cinderella. We mostly drink wine and tell stories about our coworkers while giving Cinderella full-body massages and telling her how beautiful and smart she is. She's the most spoiled pit bull in the world! I carve out time for regular phone dates with my boyfriends, who unfortunately lives 600 miles away in the wilds of Washington DC where he does top secret government things that I, personally, find very sexy. He's a hilariously regimented person who somehow puts up with my messiness and adds so much energy to my lethargic artist's ways. Speaking of lethargy, the fact that I'm a thriving artist of any sort is a shock to everyone who knew me as a kid. I was an awful procrastinator and terrible self-starter all the way through college, honestly. Then one day I decided I wanted to make it on my own as a photographer, and I found this untapped well of drive and ambition. I spent 12 years photographing weddings as my sole means of income. Food, lodging, clothing, health insurance, the whole bit. That was all because I figured out how to get up and get stuff done every day, rain or shine. Sometimes I'm amazed I had that in me.
2) Let's talk about place. The setting of the photo or the story or the work of art-- or the place the artist came from that holds the roots of a piece or project-- How do you find places, think about places, or pay attention to places while you work? Some places hold great meaning, and I'll arrive in that place to make photographs and it's like BAM! I've been handed this incredible gift of story and experience to support the images I'll be making. I can draw on the energy of the place to help build my photographs. But many times I'm in a position of finding a place for my clients - a place that simply has great light or "looks cool." And then I'm bringing my own energy to the place. My own stories play a huge role in the photographs I make. I'm not always inspired by what's in front of me, so I conjure my own experiences, and the experiences of the people I love, and the journeys of the people who inspire me. When I show up to an uninspiring scene, I can't just shrug my shoulders and make uninspiring photographs. I have to make something. And that making comes from within.
3) Since all of us want to improve our photos-- what are the top three easy tips you have for taking better pictures? Okay, these are things ANYONE can do - even if your only camera is your iPhone!
>>>Shoot in open shade. This is the kind of even light you find on the shady side of a building, or by a window inside your home. There aren't any harsh shadows, and your subject appears brighter than or equally as bright as your background.
>>>When photographing a person, get them to lean slightly toward you. Literally, just before you snap the photo, say, "Now lean toward me just a tiny bit." They should angle toward you ever-so-slightly, making their face closer to you than any other part of their body. This makes the focal point of the photograph their face - instead of their hips or tummy or shoulders.
>>>Pay attention to the background of your photo! It's better to photograph against a plain wall than it is to make a photo in a beautiful garden with a bunch of people wandering around and cluttering up your photo!
4) How is creative community important to your work? We all need community. We need family and friends and bonds and connections. And since creative output is such a personal experience, I think personal support is especially important for creatives. Having people who can say to me, "YES. This work you're doing is important and valuable," can be the difference between me finishing a project and me giving up on a project. It's equally important that I have people who can check me - people who can say, "This isn't finished. I believe you have more in you. You can do better." In almost any industry, you have managers and leaders and directors who will guide you and check you and tell you when you're wrong. But as an artist, you're often on your own, forging a solo path. So the support and feedback of a creative community is critical to the creative's wellbeing.
5) What advice do you have for other creatives on their journey? The most difficult lesson I've learned - and one I'm still learning - is that only I can define my success. If you look outside yourself for what your life is supposed to look like - or what your art is suppose to look like - you're likely to feel defeated and frustrated and, honestly, like a failure. So I stopped setting goals for myself that were based on achievements, and instead started setting goals based on feelings. "How do I want to feel." For example, if your goal is go work full-time in your creative field, but you aren't quite making enough money to quit your day job, you're going to feel frustrated. But if your goal is to feel creative, that can be achieved in a multitude of ways. You can add fresh creativity to your day job, your you can set aside time each day specifically to create for yourself, or you can prioritize gatherings with your creative circle. Whatever it is that makes you feel creative scratches that itch. It's a goal that gives you flexibility and options. Those kinds of goals are freeing, and they actually allow for expanded creativity. Goals that are confining - that can only be achieved one day - are bad goals, in my opinion. They're limiting, and they don't really compliment a creative lifestyle. I much prefer goals that can be manipulated to fit the lessons I'm currently learning and the art that's currently flowing through me.
Thank you, Anne! You and your work are beautiful!
I hope you're also following along with the #MachineQuiltingBlogHop and my Instagram account @stringandstory. I love being part of a community committed to daily creativity and living creative lives.