Monday, December 6, 2010

RISING STARS - Candice Lawrence | photographer interviews

Good Monday morning!

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a very sweet "budding photographer" (as she likes to call herself) and I could tell right away that she was someone who I definitely wanted to share with all of you!   

When she first contacted me, we had such a lovely back-and-forth through facebook and I wanted to share that portion with you first because I feel like she did a very good job helping me get to know her better.  So, you'll be reading that first and then on to the interview questions.  - Yes, I know it's kind of long, but I couldn't help it, she's just so sweet and wonderful, I wanted to include it all! -

Internet world, meet Candice Lawrence ...  Candee

Photo by: Hazelnut Photography

Candee is 24 years old and located in Southern California.   Her website here:  Love, Candee

This was our first correspondence. I think it will really give you a good idea of who Candee is and what she is about:
Me:  Hi, Candee. Thank you so much for contacting me! Actually, I'm not being selective on how far along you are with your business. In fact, I think that every one of us has something to offer to the rest of the world. Even if you don't know much about the photography business yet, I bet that you know something that could benefit others about some thing in some way.
I do need to get an idea of what I should be asking you though. The best way to do that is to get to know you better. So, to start with, can you tell me a bit more about yourself? Your family, your background, schooling, and why you have decided to become a photographer?
Thanks again for contacting me! I can't wait to get to know more about you. =)

Candee:  Awesome! Thank you so much! My story might be a bit long, but i'll do my best to cut it short without leaving details. lol 
Let's see. about me, I'm Candice but my family & friends call me Candee. I am the youngest of 4 and the only girl and i love it. i didn't always though haha
Just this year i married my best friend and my biggest supporter. We have a dog named Lola. i laugh a lot. like a lot. in person and in writing and i have a loud laugh lol <-- no pun intended ha. 
i love, love to help people in any way i can and i think that stems from my parents because my parents have hearts to genuinely help people.
I'm a girly girl but i do love sports, just not playing them lol.
My family. As i mentioned i'm the youngest of 4 and the only girl. My brothers and i are super close with each other and my parents, we are a tight-knit family. I have 2 nephews, 2 nieces and 1 "unknown" on the way lol we'll find out in December what my sis-in-law is having. 
My background. After high school i fully intended on going to college for cosmetology and photography, the two things i loved the most but let certain myths get in my head and i kind of put them on the back burner and went straight to work full-time at a transportation company. 
After a year of that, i decided to go back to school but this time for court reporting. I continued working full-time and enrolled for full-time court reporting. Put a lot of time into it and finished the 4-yr program in 2 yrs. Got right to work as a court reporter while planning my wedding. 
Why i've decided to become a photographer. 
When it was time to look for a photographer for my wedding, i fell in love with photography all over again and i fell hard! I wanted to eat, breathe and sleep wedding photography.
My old passion for photography was rekindled but i knew i couldn't start a new hobby with work and wedding planning so rather than buying a dslr then, i just read. everything and anything i could get my hands on. i read books for different cameras, i read reviews, i read about lenses, i read photography books as though i had a camera in-hand, only, i didn't.
Fast forward a bit, we got married, went on our honeymoon and a day after coming home from our honeymoon i ended up in ER really sick and had almost a 3week stay in the hospital. I was in ICU for 5 days and at one point the doctors weren't so sure i'd make it. But i did make it and i'm here on a second chance and i decided if God gave me a second chance here, i'm going to make the most of it and make a difference. I just didn't know how yet. 
The doctors said i can't work [court reporting] for a year and that's when my husband and i both thought hey, now's a perfect time to take up photography as a hobby. it will give me something to do with all of my time. 
So i got my dslr and a few lenses, i had already done plenty of research for the year and half leading up to that day and as soon as i got them, i started practicing right way, every day, non stop. 
I had a personal blog that i started making public, posting pictures on there and soon after, people were inquiring about "my services" so what was just a huge love and hobby for me very quickly turned into right now a business in it's earliest stages. I have so much to learn still, so much i'm working on, it's all still so very new, but i love it already, this is something i wanted to do to begin with and to know this is actually forming, is all surreal. everything's happened so fast, so many changes in so little time but in the end i see it as a blessing because who knows if i would have ever got into photography had i not even gotten sick. So 
it's really a blessing in disguise.

Me: That is certainly an amazing story, Candee! My goodness, our interview may end up being a long one because I feel like everything you just told me should be shared with everyone.
So, next question... in terms of photography what do you know? What is something thatyou can share with others that may help them?

Candee: In terms of photography, i'm still learning a lot about lighting. i want to be a natural light photographer and i'm working on getting familiar with natural reflectors and off-camera flash and also how to perfect on-camera flash. It's just rocking out what you have and making it work for you. Right now i feel i'm at the point where i've read a ton, i know a lot about my camera and diff settings but now it's about practicing, practicing, practicing what i know and perfecting my skill and i'm happy with my results thus far. my goal is to perfect my images in camera as much as possible and only enhance a tiny bit if need be and for the most part, i'm becoming more and more pleased with my images sooc and i'm still working on perfecting it.

of course there's still the business aspect of photography i still have a lot to learn about haha.

what i do know, there's been so many valuable lessons i've learned already. I do know photography is NOT all about photography! What i mean by that is you can have all the "pro" equipment and even the technical knowledge but if you don't have the art or the heart for it, your images will be just that. strictly images rather than a fond memory or something more meaningful to your client.

hmm, i know i love to shoot wide open, i shoot with primes only, that's not to say i haven't shot with zooms, but primes are my preference.
i think back button focus has helped a TON while shooting.
practice, practice, practice!! i've documented since day 1 my shooting and i haven't been shooting long but i can see a huge difference in my images just in months and it's all owed to practice!
i totally prefer shooting manual and i challenge other photographers to do the same, it's so good to fully know your camera and challenge yourself in that way. 
METERING! soooo important i can't stress that enough! I would definitely tell other aspiring photographers to make sure to understand in-camera metering.
umm, also, this is something i wished i knew earlier on because i shoot primes and because i love to shoot wide open and i've had a few people ask me about this.
at first i would find my sweet spot and keep it there, but the problem with that is there's no variety and you're constantly moving. in 1 case, i ran into a serious problem i didn't know how i did it, or how to not do it again but my focus's face was soft/slightly blurred in almost all the pictures. I was like how did that happen if i'm focusing on the eye and i'm steady and i'm shooting wide open, etc, etc, etc. but what i didn't know about shooting primes is that sometimes if you're too far from the subject, it backfires and you don't get crisp images you get soft images. When you start to back away from your subject too much, you have to go to f/2 or maybe even f/3 to get them clean and crisp. it seems so simple now and it's one of those "duh" moments but i've had seriously quite a few photographers ask me about how to get that crispness in shots that aren't close up and them not know about it and heck, i didn't know it either! I definitely think there are other people out there doing the same thing, having the same problem but don't know what it is so they can't fix it.
i hope those answer your questions, i hope someone can learn from my mistakes. =]
aw thank you! i'm so excited to be doing this, you truly are awesome for doing this for so many upcoming photogs!

See?  Isn't she wonderful? !!!

Now, on to the interview questions.  Some of it may be redundant if you read through our correspondence above.  But, that's OK.  I love it!

Where can people find you (location, website, blog, and when you aren't taking photos)?

I'm in sunny Southern California. It's December and it's still in the 80s where I'm at lol. Currently I don't have a website, I'm working on creating a brand and logo that best represents me. In the meantime, I'm using my blog as kind of a blogsite and you can find it and I just created a Facebook fan page. You can find that link here!/pages/Love-Candee-Photography/181134865233933

When I'm not taking photos, you can find me at one of four places. 1) Disneyland. I'm there almost every Friday night with my husband and sometimes our nephews. 2) With my family. There's always a bbq or birthday party or something going on. 3) At Forever 21. Ooh, I just love that store. I think more than normal ;) and 4) Hiking. Jared and I just started hiking and we love it!

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 have 3 older brothers, 2 sister-in-laws, 2 nieces and we just found out my brother & his wife are having a baby boy!! so that will make 3 nephews! and the starters of course, my mom & dad ;). I'm a newlywed married to my best friend, we have a dog named Lola and you'll find she makes an appearance on the blog often! 

I definitely agree with you and my friends and family have all played a part in who I am today!
Can you give me three words that describe you and your photography style?
Okay, I've thought long and hard about this question and I'll be completely honest with you. I'm still forming my style. I don't have 3 words for you, but I know I love to capture love and life in it's most simplest and truest form. I love real images. 

Editorial images have it's place in my heart as well. I'd love to incorporate a few editorial style images in each session. I'd love to make someone who feels like "the average person," feel like they can be on a cover of a mag. If my image can give someone confidence in who they are, that'd be amazing and that's my ultimate goal.

What type of camera and lenses are you currently shooting with?
I shoot with a Canon 40D and my 3 amigos the 85mm 1.8, 50mm 1.4 and the 28mm 1.8.

Are you currently shooting all natural light or do you use artificial lighting as well?
Currently I use all natural light. I am still educating myself about on/off-camera flash and how to best utilize it, but I haven't had a need for it yet.

How have you learned lighting, exposure and composition? Did you take courses or are you self-taught?
I am self-taught in a sense, but it was with the help of online resources and the local book store. Reading and practicing! I read every article I could get my hands on online and would also go to a book store or the library and just read and then go practice, practice, practice. I can't say it enough. =]

What excites you about photography? Life in general?
Sheesh, so much excites me about life & photography. I love, love that no client is the same. I get to capture a different laugh, a different personality and that in and of itself is exciting! I think what excites me the most is having someone be just as excited as I am about the images I've produced for them. I love the feeling I get when I've just captured someone in a deep laugh -- ohh, i love that feeling and when my client sees the images and can't stop raving about them, that makes me want to counter my inner 5yr old and go jump on my bed lol. 

I'm sorry, this sounds so cheesy and I've tried to come up with this really thought-out answer but really it comes down to just capturing a moment that's going to mean so much to someone.

(It most certainly does not sound cheesy!)

What area of photography are you pursuing?
Ultimately I'd lovelovelove to become a wedding photographer while still maintaining portrait photography so that is where I'd like to go. I'm definitely enjoying all the portrait photography I'm able to do right now, I love the one-on-one and getting to know my client a little better!

Do you have any favorite photos that reflect your photography and style that you would like to share? Please tell me details about each photo that you are sharing in regards to the back story and the technical details.

The first image is one of my favorites. This image is more on the editorial side of my photography and It was just before sunset, which is one of my favorite types of lighting, we were in Los Angeles and I used a building to block the sun's direct light on my client. I wanted to capture the feeling of the image with including just enough to notice him looking off into Los Angeles without giving the full picture. If interested, you can see more from this session here 

The second & third images are so fun. In the first one he was chasing his mom to throw leaves on her and he couldn't catch her. His laugh is so genuine. And the second image just makes me happy. You can't look at this image and not smile, his laugh is so contagious even through an image and this is what I strive for. To capture my client in their truest form. If interested, you can see more from this session here

Can you tell me a little bit more about “The Gift Of Love” and why you chose that particular charity?
When I was a little girl, maybe 5 - 7yrs old, a homeless man was across the street slowly walking. I wanted to help him so bad, but I didn't know how so I got an apple and my mom walked me across the street and I gave it to him. He smiled -- with no teeth -- and thanked me more times in that minute than anyone could. I was a child but in that moment I knew I hadn't never felt anything before like what I was experiencing. My mom explained that the feeling I was experiencing was as a result of giving love.

That feeling never gets old and The Gift of Love is a way for my clients to experience that feeling together with me -- the feeling of giving love and changing someone's day, week or life.

For every session booked, Love, Candee donates 10% of the session fee to a charity of my clients' choice and there's a list of charities to choose from on my blog.

In what aspect of your photography do you feel that you excel? (What are your strong points?)
This is just my opinion, but I feel confident in the way I'm able to make my clients laugh and capture my clients as they truly are and in the moment and technically speaking, I'm confident with the images I get sooc. I still work on perfecting my images but I've worked hard and I'm seeing it pay off.

If you could teach one thing to another photographer that you have had to learn for yourself, what would it be?
I shoot wide open all the time. It's what I love and it gives me the images I'm confident in producing, but when I first started shooting primes and researching on forums etc, what I didn't know about them and what I never saw on forums was they are only crisp if you're within the limited distance between you and your subject. If you're up close, shoot 1.4. If you're backing away, shoot 2.8, etc. It sounds easy and it makes sense now but when you're just starting, it's a learning process.
And in-camera metering!! learn it, understand it, it'll change your images!

If you could teach one thing to anyone about life in general, what would it be?
LOVE. So many people, myself included, forget what love is and where it comes from. I truly believe that love conquers all. True selfless love. The kind of love Jesus has bestowed upon us.

What areas of photography and business are you still learning? Where do you feel like you still need improvement?
I feel I could improve on my positioning/posing of my clients. 

If you could ask one question to anyone right now what would it be?
I don't want this to come across as I feel like I know it all because I SURE DON'T and I have A LOT to learn! I've thought about this question over and over and I just don't know lol. These past few months I've spent wondering why and how and truthfully, I've found I kind of like the mystery. Even when it comes to learning. I've always been the type to not want the answer given to me, I want to work for it.

Is there anything you would like to include that we have not already talked about?
I tell myself this often especially because I'm in the beginning stages of my business. Don't be afraid of failure, it makes you stronger and without failure, there is no success. And success by definition of you!

Jessica! You've been a doll to work with through this entire process! Thank you so much for giving me an opportunity such as this! May God bless you, your family and your photography!

Candee, thank YOU for the opportunity to interview you!  It was so very nice getting to know you better!  You are so very sweet and caring and I just know that you are going to be a great photographer!

To all who are reading this:  Candee is such a nice person and I'm sure that if you have any more questions for her she would love to answer and help you in whatever way she can! 

And the same goes for me.  Please don't ever hesitate to contact me if you need anything!



  1. Thanks again, Jessica!
    You are too, too sweet!

  2. This is a fabulous interview! It makes me like Candee even more! Great job, Jessica! And Candee, I hope our paths cross very soon! Good luck on all of your ventures! <3