CALLY PETERSEN - INTERVIEW
Tell us about yourself. What is your background, and how did you get into photography?
I was that kid who always had a camera in my backpack. Whether it was a point-and-shoot digital, or my film Canonet 35 mm, I would spent most of my free time photographing my friends or exploring the backfields of the farm just seeing what there was to see. Photography was always a hobby to me, and I learned so much through just trial and error.
It wasn't until I was a married adult that I actually invested in all the proper equipment and the real learning began. My husband & I pooled our money together, dropped a few grand and then things got really serious. He encouraged me to start a part-time business, so I gave it a shot. That shot quickly turned into a successful business over one summer! I think it was one of those things where- people I knew at least- were almost waiting for this hobby to become a business, and everyone booked the heck out of me! I was so encouraged and humbled by the support from my community.
It took about a year until I really found my niche, raised my rates, and started booking clients whom I had never met. And now, here I am, only three years along, jumping in to full-time portrait & lifestyle photography as of the summer of 2019, still learning so much as I go. I always hope to be learning and growing!
Please provide us with a list of the gear you use on a regular basis:
I'm a Canon girl. I currently shoot with a Canon 6D, but am planning on purchasing a Canon 5D Mark IV as soon as possible! I think it's wise to upgrade equipment every year or two. My primary lenses are the Sigma 50 mm 1.4 lens and the Canon 35 mm 1.2 lens. I'd love to invest in a nice 85 mm. These lenses have been a great fit for the style of photography I do!
What does your post-production process look like?
Once I finish a session I'm already culling and editing images in my head. I back up my images immediately after each session and upon importing them to Lightroom I do a general scan of the thumbnails to see which images my eyes are drawn to and I will edit three right off the bat. I'll come back to the catalog in a few days with fresh eyes and it's usually then when I'll play around with different presets and feel out the vibe of the session. For my colour edits, my go-to presets are Tribe Archipelago's Terrain presets and profiles.
How has your photography style evolved over time?
I like to keep as much consistency in my work as possible, while still learning and growing. I find that my style of shooting hasn't actually changed a whole lot over the last 10 years- obviously the subjects have changed, however it really is my editing style that has progressed. I've always loved backlit shooting and stylized sessions. There's something magical about outlining your subjects in a little bit of light, and adding florals and fabrics to the mix! Just so dreamy.
Whereas editing is concerned, I learn so much as I go, and I'm finding the comparison between my current edits and even last years has significantly progressed! I'm always discovering new tips and tricks here and there, and tweaking presets to capture what I am envisioning in my head. My tones have become much more tasteful over the last few months and I am always working towards consistency in those tones. I know my post process style will always be evolving and I'm curious to discover what direction my photos will go in this year.
What is your greatest piece of advice for emerging photographers?
Invest in the time, relationships, experiences, equipment, and tools necessary to enrich your contribution to the world. Always be aware that you're learning and growing, yet know the value of knowing your value. Stay rooted in knowing WHY you do what you do, work/play out of an intentional spirit, not a competitive one. You won't ever be disappointed that way :)
What type of photography do you most enjoy?
I love admiring other photographers, as every one's work and personalities are so different! I'm mostly drawn to those images that tell a story - almost cinematic photography. I used to screen-shot stills from my favourite movies and imagine recreating them (I still pause Pride & Prejudice every once in a while on my favourite shot scenes).
What are you discouraged about in your work/business? What encourages you?
I love that the photography world values community over competition. I haven't really ever felt the need for competition as there are so many different photographers, so many different styles, and if people want to book you, they will. Any time I feel discouraged, I remind myself why I do what I do, and if I'm myself, that will show through.
When was a time you thought you would/had failed? How did you overcome it?
I actually launched my photography business a few weeks after a traumatic car accident. I was off work for 6 weeks and in that time I created and launched my website (www.callypetersen.com). Because of a chronic neck injury from the accident, there have been countless instances in the past 3 years where l've been in so much physical pain on the day of a session or during editing that I've been fearful of continuing.
Throughout this adventure I have learned a lot about pain management, time management, and self-awareness through this adventure, and through that I have overcome a lot of barriers that this injury has caused. I've been really proud of myself for getting up each morning and simply trying my very best.
What defines success for you as a photographer? If you never achieve that, will you still be satisfied with what you do?
Getting to do what you love, and still paying the bills. That's the dream. I have no desire to be the "best" photographer, or have thousands of followers- I simply have the desire to do my personal best, and always enjoy creating! When I know deep down that I am enough and I am truly offering my very best, that is success! If I am unable to achieve that, well then, there'd be no point of doing what I love, right?!
YOU CAN FIND CALLY PETERSEN ONLINE HERE: