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Pro Community Conversations: Photography

If you haven’t explored AVVAY Pro, our new connection space just for creatives, then you’re definitely missing out. Not only is it a great way to connect with other creative professionals, but it’s also a fantastic place to beautifully showcase your work.

AVVAY Pro is brand new community that we’re excited to grow and help expose to the world. We recently caught up with some photographers, who are also some of our early AVVAY Pro users, to learn more about them, their work, and what makes them tick as creatives. Alex BergerAcacia Evans, Jessica Steddom, and Meaghan McBell share valuable info with us about everything from their go-to tools, to their creative inspirations. We’ve gathered some of their answers here for our community to digest and be inspired by. Hopefully their answers spark something for your next creative project! In the mean time, we’re really looking forward to seeing their work on Pro and who they may collaborate with in the future. Check out some of their answers below!  

Where do you find inspiration?

AB: When I started my business in Nashville, I used to dedicate half a day each week to driving around different Nashville neighborhoods. I’d come across abandoned buildings or beautiful fields and countless other potential shoot locations. I still do that from time to time. Music, movies and social media are obviously a huge resource of creative inspiration also.

AE: It’s hard to give a direct answer for this! I think I find a lot of my inspiration from human emotions and different relationships I have with people.

JS: I am very inspired by movies and songs. Usually gets me out of my head and somehow I can get some idea about a way to create an image. I love collecting ideas/images and words that make me feel something or are special to me. I hang them up in my room and when my well of inspiration is especially low looking at that helps me get excited. When I take pictures sometimes I am simply just inspired by my subject and the surroundings without much thought prior. There are also a few photographers that I am obsessed with and just looking at their body of work gets me thinking differently. Lastly I think having a blank mind and just dreaming up what something could look like without the use of other artists and their work is very powerful. It usually happens while I am on a run or something but emptying the mind allows room for my creative juices to flow more freely and also is very low pressure.

MM: I find inspiration in lots of different places. I used to write songs so I get a lot of my inspiration from music. It also comes to me when I am doing things I love that give me a clear head, like rock climbing or snowboarding. I also have some talented photographer friends and shooting alongside of them always helps me through a creative block.

How do you typically prepare for a shoot?

AB: I usually meditate in a cave for a few days before shoots. Either that or use my shaman spirit-guide. Sorry I’m a dad. Seriously though, preparation is key. Itineraries for the team, ample time on location ahead of time to think about angles and lighting. Leaving extra time to get where we’re going, checking weather, charging batteries for cameras/lights/speakers etc. Making sure hair, makeup, wardrobe and set designers have everything they need. Ensuring all team members feel prepared and on the same page creatively leaves the space you often need on set to make something even better than the client was hoping for. 

AE: Mood boards and meetings! Whenever I’m planning a shoot, I make sure that my team and I are on the same page when it comes to what we’re going for with our final product. I also triple check my bag to make sure I have all of my equipment with charged batteries. 

JS: It depends on what it’s for. If its a client who has something very specific they are needing then I do a bunch of research and make a mood board with example photos to give options on posing etc, but a lot of times when I am shooting stuff that is lose I come up with a concept that could be fairly non-complex like a certain material that I want to incorporate like plastic or the idea of layering a black and white photo over a colored one and then just run with it and see what I can do. I do usually have some concept in mind that is at least a starting point.

MM: It really depends on the type of session. I like to start by making make a collaborative mood board on Pinterest so the model and I can bounce ideas off of each other and I can get a sense of their vibe. Based on that I plan a location, talk about wardrobe, think about any props I can use to enhance the shoot, and of course check the weather if the shoot is outside. If I have never met the model before I also like to grab coffee first so we can talk and get comfortable with each other.

What are your go-to tools for a shoot?

AB: At the moment, I’d say my essential gear is my trusty Sony a7rii, my 35, 50 and 85mm primes, for lighting I never leave my house without a couple of Rotolight Neos, a battery-powered strobe + a few modifiers, my grey dome (for white balance), a bluetooth speaker and my Polaroid camera. Also I always have a few Manfrotto lightstands taking up room in my trunk. 

AE: My 5D mark iii, various lenses, memory cards, Instax wide camera + film, lighting, props that coordinate with the mood board, and any random thing I’m using that month! 

JS: I am a big fan of a tool bag. I usually have Vaseline, some wax paper, pantyhose, glass cup (to use in front or on the lens) and probably a flash handy.

MM: Of course the essentials like camera, lenses, extra batteries, tripod, and depending on the shoot, props. (mirrors, color gels, lights, glitter, lace, paper, flowers.. anything we can think of!)

How do you find locations for your projects?

AB: Unless I already have a location in mind, Avvay has become my go-to source. I love when I see new locations on the site. Also, if it’s an outdoor project, I still do a good amount of old-fashioned scouting. 

AE: Sometimes I drive around for hours with friends or whoever my team is for a particular shoot and take photos and drop pins at new locations. I also use Instagram and websites like AVVAY. 

JS: I am always on the look out and tucking away locations that I see when I am out and about. Location is everything. It’s so hard to fake a good location or somewhere with really good light and I really only use a location maybe 2 times. That makes it hard to come up with the perfect location each time when I shoot because I like to mix it up.

MM: I do a lot of location scouting, which is really just driving around and writing down cool spots along the way. I keep a booklet that I can use for reference whenever I get a new client. If I am traveling, I check out hashtags on instagram first, and then consult with Google.

Lastly, what trends are you looking forward to exploring in your work this year?

AB: That is a hard question. I work with so many different types of clients and my process is primarily focused on helping them develop their own visual direction. Having said that, the trends I always hope to meet are quality, authenticity and an enjoyable, creative journey for the client and my team. Also, working more dad humor into interviews. 

AE: I don’t really base my work off of trends. I’m looking forward to advancing my video skills, though!

JS: I think people love photos that seem “in the moment” while this isn’t truly a trend because it’s always been about that: I think people are more interested in photos that seem mid-motion or even mid-emotion. Creating/capturing that emotion and ease is the key.

MM: I’m not quite sure if this is a trend, but I am planning some more fun trips in the next couple months. I am looking forward to trying my photography out in cities outside of the South East. I am also working with some really cool companies on these trips, which should be a fun way to get me outside of my comfort zone!


See work from these photographers

Alex Berger | Acacia Evans | Jessica Steddom | Meaghan McBell

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