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Inspire Me Friday Interview #3} WENDY WHITACRE from Blue Lily Photography

Oh yes! We got Blue Lily!
Your life is art, the site reads as I’m scanning over all the websites I’ve pulled into my spaces. I’m supposed to be doing a million different things but when I read that, I forget about the deadlines I’ve set, and start reading their blog. Before you know it the beautiful pictures have drawn you in and you’re finding it hard to return to the real world. Simply stunning, these photos can speak for themselves but where would these photos be without the photographer behind the camera?
Meet Wendy Whitacre

1. How did you get into photography?
My husband Tyler got me into photography- he had the awesome camera and I, one day, stole it out of his hands and never gave it back 🙂 I found that once I started to learn the ins and outs of the camera’s technical aspects, and then turn technicality into artistry, I just couldn’t put the camera down. I always grew up feeling like I should be an “artist”, but I couldn’t for the life of me paint, draw, sculpt or anything else. Photography is my one and only creative outlet!
2. Are you self taught or did you take any formal classes?
I am self taught, with the exception of my husband and father-in-law who would sit with me and the camera manual and explain a few things I couldn’t grasp. I learned a vast amount of photo knowledge from the web. There are so many videos tutorials, etc… it’s amazing!

3. What inspires you as a photographer?
I find inspiration in the strangest of places. Sometimes I find it in the location I’m shooting, sometimes through the subjects and families that I photograph. But mostly I find inspiration from color. Color in the scene seems to get my creative juices really flowing- it’s what makes me go crazy and giddy and start acting like a kindergartner on a sugar high.

4. What’s in your camera bag? Off camera flash?
We are some of the rare photo teams that use both Nikon (my favorite) and Canon (Tyler’s getting quite into Canon these days). For both systems we use a 50mm 1.4, a midrange like the 24-70mm or 28-70mm 2.8, a 60mm macro, the lovely 70-200mm 2.8, wide angle lenses and a few other more rarely used lenses. We have plenty of backup camera bodies, which is a MUST in this biz! We use Sb800s for flashes or Alien Bees in the studio setting.

5. How long have you been in the photography business and how did you get from where you are now to where you were then?
Blue Lily Photo has been in business since April 2007. I started it out as a hobby- which quickly, very quickly, turned into a part time job, and then I blinked and it was a full time job and Tyler joined me in business. We have arrived where we are through a few ways, the most important of which are:
a) we decided to sell digital files, which helps spread the work about us immensely through blogs. Our clients post their images on their blog, their friends see them, book with us, then do the same thing. It’s a lovely trickle effect!
b) we’ve never been afraid to do tons of free work, either charity or otherwise. Doing photography for free has been the best way to give back and at the same time see the word spread about our work.
c) we always put the clients first. Sometimes this is quite a trick. 🙂
6. Tell us about Blue Lily photography.
Blue Lily Photo is all about fun, family, emotion and connectivity. In our family photography, our goal is to show the true nature of the family- to show how each member of the family interacts with others. For weddings, we strive to capture the raw emotions and color of the day, through details and again, relationships between people. Sometimes this is really hard. Sometimes it’s very easy. The longer we’re in business, the easier it is to help our subjects loosen up and have a great time. And I guess that’s what it’s really about. Having fun and letting loose, and creating little works of art. We LOVE our job!

7. How do you market yourself?
We market ourselves mostly through our blog and the blogs of others. It never ceases to amaze us how blogs can spread word like wildfire. We do have ads through google, which helps for getting weddings booked. For our senior photography, we hire student reps in the schools to spread the word. Basically, word of mouth is the best way to market, hands down.
8. How do you find your locations for a shoot?
This is a great question. Finding locations around our city is really easy. You just drive and look! It’s the travel sessions that can get really tricky. Clients are always willing to suggest places, so that’s great- but also we’ve been known to cyberwalk the streets of googlemaps to find something great. And of course, several times we’ve randomly picked a place and it’s turned out absolutely wonderful. We always, always look for color and texture in our locations because that’s the central theme of our pictures- COLOR!

9. Describe your typical day at work.
Our typical day at work is more like a typical night at work. The only work we do in the daytime is the actual shoot, which is around dinner time mostly (weddings obviously take all day). We put parenting first during the day (again, excepting shoots) and edit and reply to emails at night. This works for us because we love to be together editing, watching shows online, joking around, etc. It’s the perfect way to spend an evening (and during busy times sometimes we spend all.night.long editing). We recently hired an assistant to help us in the office and she is so, so invaluable… don’t know why we waited so long to do that.
10. Tell us about a challenge you met at a shoot and describe how you dealt with it.
The biggest challenge we meet at shoots is that sometimes, children just don’t want to be photographed. Either they are shy, just woke up from a nap, or just plain uncooperative- whatever the reason, it’s sometimes really hard to get them to change their minds. So Tyler and I generally act like complete idiots to get the ice to break. You know once you have that first crack of a smile that’s it’s smooth sailing from there on out. I bet if you asked the parent’s of families we’ve photographed to describe me in one word, most people would say “silly”. Kids love silly. The camera loves silly. Of course, we have had a few times when a child just won’t budge, and though that’s so frustrating for the parents, it’s understandable and completely ok to reschedule. We’ve never had a kid say no to having fun with us at a reschedule and we hardly ever reschedule.

11. Raw or JPEG and why?
Raw. Our editing style pretty much requires it. We have nothing against jpg at all. We just like more flexibility.
12. Your photos are so crisp and bright! Any tips or tricks you can share with our followers?
We do love bright, vibrant pictures! The key is proper exposure straight off. Oh, and a complicated post-processing routine! It’s pretty funny, actually- I think most beginning photogs go crazy in photoshop trying to cover their mistakes and whatnot- but we actually started out in business editing very little. Over time our style has changed dramatically- and the processing has become more dramatic. I find that in striving to make each picture a tender memory, I like to pull out the color and texture more and more every day. And the response has been terrific. We also highly recommend the TRA Revenge actions for several reasons- number one is their sharpening actions included in the set.

13. What is something you know now that you wish you knew when you first started?
That’s a hard question. I think my answer will be this: sometimes a client will come along who just doesn’t match your style and/or vibe. It’s ok to point them in another direction, help them find what they are truly looking for.
14. What advice do you have for photographers who are pursuing a career in photography?
I always give one specific piece of advise to those looking to be professionals, and that is: Be the kind of photographer that YOU want to be. Try not to be influenced too much in the beginning. Listen to what your soul is saying to you- and let it show through the lens. In this digital age, anyone can operate a camera. But it takes personality, soul, and artistry to truly succeed.

I was seriously doing the happy dance when Wendy agreed to the interview. Let me tell yah, she did NOT disappoint! Again, thank you SO much Wendy and Blue Lily Photography!



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