Laura Romero and I have always known each other, but it wasn't until we both moved to Chicago a couple years ago that we began meeting over coffee to chat. These talks lead to sharing, dreaming, and a fun collaboration coming in 2015! Laura's photography focus is on lifestyle, senior sessions, and family...and it's always so fun to get a peek into a different world of photography!! She's run a very successful business for many years and is always a great motivator for me! When Laura asked if I'd answer some questions for her blog, I was extremely honored, and like our talks...was very honest. ;)
And now, for a glimpse into our talk (you can read the full post HERE)...
Laura Romero (LR): When was the moment you first considered yourself a photographer and how did it feel?
TAMI: Great question. It definitely took a while. After I quite my corporate job people would ask me what I do, and I kept hearing myself say, “I used to work at State Farm and I guess I’m kind of a photographer.” That’s how I was feeling…no confidence. Aaaaand after a while, that answer didn’t work because well, it’s been 4 years people. ;) Ha! No, in all seriousness, I think it was when I started meeting people in the industry and all they knew me as was a photographer (about 2 years into shooting professionally). That was probably when I really began to own that title. How did I feel? Like a fraud. Haha!! How’s this interview going so far hu? Geesh. No, but that’s the truth…I remember thinking “If people knew how little I knew, and how heavily I relied on fixing my images in Photoshop, they’d tar and feather me”…’cause I’m not dramatic at all. I do remember the moment when I made the conscious decision to outsource my editing for a year because I wanted the accountability of other professionals seeing my RAW work and it forced me to become a better photographer. I don’t cringe at the thought of others seeing my images straight out of the camera anymore, and THAT was when I felt like a photographer.
LR: Is there someone special that has encouraged your work?
TAMI: I could name sooooo many people here. But this isn’t an Oscar speech…although, should someone ever want to give me an Oscar, I’ve got a speech prepared! :)
There’s my family who are my greatest encouragers and keep everything in perspective for me. The people that come to mind outside of them are my blog readers…I’ve blogged for about 8 years now, and there’s a core group that have kind of been with me since the beginning. They can’t possibly know how I’ve relied on them. When people “confess” to me that they read my blog, I’m always thinking, “You have no idea how much that means to me!!” No confessions needed…I love it so much.
I’ve also made some really wonderful friends in the industry…and they’re all over the world! There’s a special bond in this industry if you choose to be generous in your support rather than competitive. I consider many of these people friends even though we’ve never met face to face.
LR: What inspired your love of fashion and editorial photography?
TAMI: I’ve loved it ever since I was little. I remember tearing out JCPenny pictures!! Haha!! Yikes. Although, that may have been a crush I had on the model wearing the black wolf t-shirt. Yes, I did in fact, just share that fact! ;)
I think what I like about fashion and editorial photography is that the rules are mine. Don’t get me wrong, I love rules. Lorne Michaels (creator and executive producer of SNL) once said that rules foster creativity…and I couldn’t agree more. What I love about wedding photography is that it’s about documenting the beauty of a day…but because of time constraints and wanting to deliver what the bride expects, I take less risks. I am more focused on creating emotion. Whereas, editorial is telling a different story, it’s capturing a different feeling, a curve, a shadow, a concept…and I have time to really think it through and the freedom to make mistakes makes me try things I wouldn’t otherwise.
LR: What words would you use to describe yourself?
TAMI: Quirky. I used to say “weird or nerdy” but friends gave it a sweeter word by calling me quirky. ;) I get compared to Jessica Day from New Girl a lot. I say I’m her without the professional writers and great wardrobe…which is just scary.
Thinker…a friend said to me once, “Your wheels are always turning”.
I’m not sure what the word is but someone who always likes to have fun. My brother-in-law thinks it runs in our family. Always up for a party! He’s right. Even if it’s cleaning or doing something mundane, if it can become something fun, I’ll do my best to make it that.
LR: Who are some of your greatest influences in the photo world?
TAMI: Vivian Maier, Annie Lebowitz, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Joey Lawrence, Elizabeth Messina, Jasmine Star, Oddur Thorisson
LR: You've had the opportunity to travel and shoot with some extremely talented people… what has left the greatest impression on you?
TAMI: Yes, I have…and sometimes I pinch myself thinking how fortunate I’ve been to meet the people I have. The greatest impression I have is how it’s the smallest details that separate the good from the great. It’s where the good shoot for “good enough” and the great will switch out a lens, or add in fill light, or will try for one more location…because they know it could be better. The great are very intentional.
I think it’s also how brides remember the feeling of their day as much as their pictures…and how someone can deliver beautiful pictures, but if the photographer takes their finger off the pulse of the day…how the bride is feeling in that moment, it can change everything. I’ve seen photographers pull brides from a cocktail hour to get a shot the bride doesn’t care about, or scolding the bride for “not having fun” when she’s clearly just self conscious or stressed and just needs to laugh or given a moment to breathe. It’s learning to know when to push and when to let go.
LR: Where is the most memorable place you've shot?
TAMI: I would say, an elopement on the cliffs in Seattle, WA…it was stunning!!! And the entire country of Ireland because I love that place. I have a dream of shooting in Japan some day, and I think that will rank right up there.
LR: What's your favorite feeling to capture with a lens?
TAMI: Anything that reads as genuine. On a wedding day, I love shooting the Groom/Mother and Bride/Dad dances, because they are some of the sweetest emotions shown all day. I really love those images.
I’ve also been given the HUGE honor to shoot about 3 family sessions where the father was dying of a terminal illness. I can hardly describe how I feel on those shoots…the emotions are so profound to me. They’re some of my favorite shoots because I find that they’re really generous with their emotions…they love beautifully and a look can say more about how they feel and love than anything I could ever write. Close to that is shooting in a hospital room after a delivery. The bookends of life are some of the most profound and my favorite to capture.
For the full interview...click here!