Monday, November 1, 2010

RISING STARS | photographer interviews

Hello, Blog Readers! Today marks the start of something new that I'll be doing here on the blog ... interviews with photographers. But not just any photographers. No. New photographers. Photographers who are still trying to establish themselves. Photographers who are still learning the ins-and-outs of the business and their own photography.

I've had the pleasure of meeting quite a few other photographers in the last year through many different avenues. Most of them on facebook. Others through mutual friends and such. I always have so many questions that I would love to ask each of them but rarely do.  And so ... I started thinking, wouldn't it be wonderful if I could just interview them?  Feature them on my blog ... Give them a chance to tell the world who they are ... Introduce them to my family and friends and anyone else who might stumble across my posts? I decided that, yes, it would be a wonderful opportunity!  Not only for whoever I might be interviewing and myself, but also other photographers out there who are just like us, trying to make a successful business out of our art and passion.

If you'll notice the title of this post, I named it such in honor of the wonderful Jasmine Star who is teaching so many of us how to be better photographers ... and better people. One of the many things she has done is create a place where photographers can all communicate and learn from each other. I would like to continue that open communication myself through these interviews. 

You can find Jasmine's little community on her Facebook Fan Page.

Speaking of Jasmine's fan page, that is actually where I met a fellow photographer based out of Orange County, California, who also frequents the discussion boards there just like me! She started hosting these interviews herself, just this year, so I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for her to be interviewed, and I asked her to be my first. 

She graciously accepted my request.  

And, I'm glad, because she is so wonderful and amazing!

Internet, meet Damaris Mia:

Damaris is 23 years old and really starting to make a name for herself in her own little world of Southern California.

I asked Damaris a few questions that I thought would help us get to know her better as a person and as a photographer. Here's what she had to say:

Damaris, I feel that our family and friends are important in helping to shape who we are and who we become. Can you tell me a little bit about yours?
I am married to the most amazing man in the world (we will be celebrating our first year anniversary this coming November). We don’t have kids yet but we do have two dogs that we adore. I come from a family of 8 and am the oldest of 6 kids. My family is my everything. I have two of the most hard-working parents I know. My siblings are all so smart (and good looking, hehe). I have a brother who is currently serving the Army in Afghanistan and we’re all praying for a safe return home. My family and my husband mean the world to me. Without them, I would be nothing.

Can you give me three words that describe you and your photography style?
Hm.. I would definitely say that my photography is fresh. I like to keep my images as natural looking as possible with some enhancements. Fashion-inspired is another word(s) I would use to describe my style. While I like more natural and candid shots, I do like to twist some fashion and couture poses. For fun. And the last word I would use to describe my photography would be fun. I want my clients to have fun. I want my clients to laugh and be themselves. Candid photos are some of the best photos.

What type of camera and lenses are you currently shooting with?
I shoot with a Canon 7D which I absolutely love and I currently shoot with the 50mm f/1.8. That is the only lens I own along with the 28-135mm but I hardly ever pull that one out.

Are you currently shooting all natural light or do you use artificial lighting as well?
I shoot only in available natural light. However, if I’m shooting an event and flash is needed, I will use it. But I try to use all the natural light that is available.

How have you learned lighting, exposure and composition? Did you take courses or are you self taught?
Everything I have learned thus far I have taught myself or have been taught by my peers. I have not taken a single class but would eventually like to take a class or two. Or three. I learned by researching online. If there was something I read in a photographer’s blog that I didn’t quite understand or if I came across a function on my camera that I didn’t know what it did, I researched it. I like to try to learn things on my own first and then get help from others if I wasn’t able to find the answer I needed. Also, I learned by practicing and trial and error. Read, learn, practice. Then practice, practice, practice some more. With anyone or anything. How else is one to learn?

Are you currently pursuing your photography career full-time? If not, what is stopping you?
I am currently pursuing photography full-time, however, I wouldn’t necessarily call it a full-time job yet. I’m still in the early stages of building a photography business, getting my name out there, building a strong portfolio, and getting clientele on a regular and consistent basis.

What excites you about photography?
What doesn't excite me about photography! It amazes me how you can capture a moment with the click of a button and transform that image into something so memorable. I love the photographers I've been meeting in this industry. I've made some great friends who have been supportive of all that I do and for that I am thankful.

I love your welcome tab on your facebook fanpage! Can you tell me a little bit more about it? How can we all get one?
I will actually be answering this question in on my blog once my new blog-site airs. I want to save all the juicy details for that :) But all I can say is that it's pretty easy to do! 

FYI: Her new site airs today!

You are so open and honest on your blog. I think so many of us new photographers can really relate with this post that you wrote back in April: Have you learned anything new since you wrote it? Have you had the opportunity to second shoot? If so, how did it go for you? Are you booking paying clients yet?
I've learned so much since writing that post. I've definitely learned a lot more about photography. Back in August I was given a chance to second shoot a stunning wedding in a private estate in Malibu. It was such a wonderful opportunity. And yes, I am getting paying clients now :) It's pretty nice. 

I love the colors and the natural look that is in this photograph of yours:

Could you please tell me more about it? What is the back story on it? How did you light the subject?
I like to shoot and produce natural images and this image does a wonderful job showcasing that. This particular shoot took place in the downtown area of a city a couple hours before noon. I typically like to shoot either early in the morning or a couple of hours before sunset because I shoot in natural, available light and have found that the best light where I live is during those parts of the day. My goal is to get the image right in the camera and do as little post-processing as possible. Any editing I do is to enhance the image. So this particular image was taken in an alleyway behind buildings and used only natural light. You can view more from this session here:

This is also a beautiful photograph! Can you tell me more about it? How did you get that sun flare looking so gorgeous?

I didn't take this image with the hopes of getting a sun flare in the shot. I was originally on the other side of the couple with the couple facing the sun but didn't like how harsh the light was on their faces so I moved to the opposite side with the setting sun acting as a backlight and voila! This image was produced. One of my all-time favorites. You can view more from this session here:

Do you have any favorite photos that reflect your photography and style which you would like to share?

Those are gorgeous, Damaris! Thank you!

You started interviewing other photographers yourself this year. How do you feel this has benefited you? How do you feel it has benefited others?
I found I enjoyed reading interviews of successful photographers and business people but felt that photographers who are starting out should be recognized. I want to help other photographers get their name out there and what better way than an interview posted on a blog? Talk about free exposure! I've learned a lot from photographers I have interviewed and I know it has helped others as well.

In what aspect of your photography do you feel that you excel? (What are your strong points)
I think I've become very good at getting my images right in the camera which came with a lot of practice. This has helped me do very little editing which in turn has helped produce the images that meets my style.

If you could teach one thing to another photographer that you have had to learn for yourself, what would it be?
In camera metering. It can do wonders if you know how to use it. And photoshop basics. I've come across many photographers who are afraid to use photoshop and would love to help them out!

If you could teach one thing to anyone about life in general, what would it be?
We all know this but I can't help but put a strong emphasis on it: Life is way too short. Sometimes we worry about things that take away from living and we forget to enjoy the moments we have. Don't do tomorrow what you can do today or could have done yesterday. Life is too short to live with regrets and thinking about what you could have done or should have done. James Dean once said: “Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today." Powerful and meaningful. Take it and live it.

What areas of photography and business are you still learning? Where do you feel like you still need improvement?
I've learned a lot this past year and am pretty happy where I am in my photographic skills. I am still learning to improve to be better and not just settle for average.
One thing I feel needs improvement is the business side of running a photography business and this is something I am learning myself and others as I go along.

Are there any websites, blogs, or books that you feel could benefit others? 
You know, I highly recommend befriending other photographers because you can learn so much from one another, share ideas, and have someone to talk to about photography. Forums are another great tool ( Digital Photography School is pretty awesome. Check them out!

Is there anything you would like to include in our interview?
I am honored to have been selected for this interview. Jessica, thank you so much for taking the time and for wanting to interview me. To all who read this interview, thank you! You are all awesome! 

Thank YOU, Damaris! It was such a pleasure hearing your responses to my questions.

For anyone residing in Southern California in need of a good photographer, go see Damaris!  For anyone in need of some photoshop advice, please contact her!  She is not only great at taking photos, but a wonderful person as well, and I know she will treat you good!

Her blogsite (which just launched as of today!) is:

You can also find her on facebook: Damaris Mia Photography 

And if you would like to see even more of her, the old blog is:

Damaris, I think I can speak for the rest of us when I say that, we are all really looking forward to seeing what you have planned for yourself and your photography! Good luck in your pursuits! If there is anything at all that I can ever do for you, please let me know! And, congratulations on your upcoming one-year wedding anniversary!


---  I'm headed over to check out her new blogsite right now! ---


  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you! You rock!!!

  2. wonderful! i've been waiting for this post! thanks for sharing. love you!

  3. love, love this!! Jessica, so glad you are doing this with new/upcoming photogs! I love the idea and so glad Damaris is going to do it as well!
    now i'm off to check out the new blogsite i have been impatiently awaiting!!

  4. Damaris, you are so very sweet! Thank you for answering my probing questions so honestly and fully!

    Stacy, love you too!

    Candee, Thank you! I've been pretty excited about this!

  5. Thanks for doing such a great interview of my photog friend Damaris. Not all of us get that spot-light, so just being featured on another person site is worth a million dreams. ^|*