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Interview with Cover Photographer Christine Chambers of Christine Chambers Images

We were lucky enough to interview this months Summerana Magazine cover photographer, Christine Chambers of Christine Chambers Images.


If we asked your family who is Christine Chambers, what would they say? 
I asked my husband and one of my daughters this question.
Husband: You are the matriarch of our family. The heart that we all build strength off of. We all look to you for guidance, advice, and comfort always. You are the soul that has allowed our growth and the brains behind the whole operation.
Daughter: One of the strongest people I know, my rock, she keeps me organized on task, but also never fails to comfort me whenever I don’t feel good.
How did your storytelling journey begin? 
I fell in love with photography during my high school/college years. I had always had a camera but never really dove deeply into the art until having children. Once I started taking pictures of them and getting not-so-great images, I decided that I wanted to move beyond autofocus. I needed to learn how to create art and not just take a picture. Beginning around 2008, I started to study photography. I spent time both in the classroom and online learning from the ground up. I learned the ins and outs of my camera and what it could do. Then I studied the fundamentals of photography. I needed to learn things like exposure and aperture. After that, I started with the fundamentals of Photoshop. I skipped Lightroom entirely because I wanted to challenge myself on learning the full-sized program. Only after I spent years learning did I consider opening a business. I spent from 2017 to 2019 developing my business model and discovering what would work best for me. In 2019, I attended an OCF (off-camera flash) seminar and incorporated it into my outdoor sessions, also. Now you will never see me shooting without it. Then in 2020, I moved over to IPS (In Person Sales) and have found just the right fit for me.
What inspires you to create? 
I love making special moments for people. With my business, I spend time talking to the clients to make a connection. I want to have my subject see themselves in ways that they have never imagined. When they cry at the reveal or tell me that I have captured something as the last image of their family member, or at that quick point in time that they will never be able to recreate again, it touches my heart. The portrait of the toddler who is always a mess and running around caught in still is a classic. The mother of many children who lives in her leggings and sweatshirts who sees that she is still desirable, the beautiful portrait of grandma that captures her laughter so that mom can share it with her children as she tells stories from her childhood — these are the moments that are cherished.
If you could give new artists any advice about photography, editing or even just the business side of the industry; what would it be? 
I know that everyone starting out gets so excited to jump right in. You want to go create right away and it’s wonderful to feel so inspired. However, what I have seen is that sometimes jumping right in leads to frustration and disappointment with not being able to create the same type of images you are inspired by. This frustration can lead to people giving up on their dreams. I know that it’s hard, but take your time in learning. First, learn every button on your camera and what they mean. Learn the foundations of photography. This can take months or even years. Learn the basics of editing. Learn lighting, both natural and OCF (off-camera flash.) All of these will set you apart from so many others out there. This whole time you are learning and growing, you are preparing yourself to potentially open a business. Then, when your skills are in place, open a legal business. Do you CODB. File your taxes. Do everything above board.
Tell us what’s inside your camera bag. 
My camera bag is basic…until you get to the lighting equipment! My primary is a Canon R5 with a backup 5dm3. I still haven’t purchased any mirrorless lenses. I am using my 3 staple favorites, all Tamron (my favorite lens company): 70-200 f2.8, 24-70 f2.8, 35 f1.4. I used to have many more lenses, but over the years I have found these 3 to hit the sweet spot for my portrait work. I have slowly let the GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) out. Now for my lighting equipment, I work with Godox. I have an ad600, multiple ad200s, and TT600 Speedlight. I have many softboxes of different shapes and sizes and many many light stands. I am an OCF shooter both inside and out so you will always see me lugging equipment in my wagon wherever I go. I shoot with anywhere from 1 – 5 lights in a shoot. And the most important thing is the gray card that I use to set exposure.

If you had an unlimited budget and could go anywhere in the world, what would your dream session look like?

Oh, if you would have asked me before Christmas, I would have said Bali, but I have recently visited Puerto Rico for the first time. What an incredible island territory with the most incredible people and culture. I would love to tour the island shooting on the beaches, the caves, underwater, in the city, in some of the areas still devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017, the rainforest, the waterfalls, the historic streets of Old San Juan, carnival in Ponce, and most of all, the amazing citizens. I would probably need to spend weeks to a month there to capture all of the amazing aspects of this island and its people.
What’s the hardest thing you had to overcome that made you the person you are today?
The hardest thing to overcome, especially in a creative field like photography, is self-doubt. Really having faith in your skills and your talent by not comparing where you are in your journey to others in theirs is what has made the difference in where I am today. Photography can be such a competitive field because it’s one of the easiest for people to enter. I know that I cannot look at my work and compare it to someone way ahead of me, but that also means that I cannot look down on someone who is just starting out. I know that there is always more to learn and I continue to strive to develop and grow. During this process, I have learned to be proud of where I am currently at. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t look back on my work year to year and do a little twitch but that reminds me that I am still on my journey. The self-doubt really started to go away when I learned that community over competition is one of the most uplifting things that has also elevated my own work. When I started sharing what I knew with others, I started receiving in return. This allows the doubt to fade and the confidence to help myself and others grow.
How do you prepare for a session? 
I am an IPS (in person sales) photographer. The most important part of a session is meeting, whether it’s in person, on the phone, or virtual, to talk to the client. I want to understand what is important to them. Why are we having this session? This goes beyond just knowing that it’s a family shoot, a senior session, or a boudoir/glamour session. Really have detailed conversations to get to know the client makes all the difference in the world. I can see that this isn’t just a family session. I find out that grandma is sick and we want to capture those special moments with the grandkids. After talking with mom about her son’s senior session, I spend some time one-on-one with him to find out what really inspires him and it may be something that mom doesn’t even think is important. That boudoir session for the newly single mom of three kids isn’t just about getting a photo for a dating website, it’s about reminding her that she is still amazing and powerful and beautiful even though she’s not 20 anymore.
Preparing for a session for me is not about the equipment I am going to use or setting up some backdrop and lighting, it’s all about finding out what matters to my clients and what they are going to cherish for years to come.
If you could have dinner with one artist that has impacted your photography today, who would it be and why? 
If I could have dinner with just one artist (this was a hard one because everyone from the young 20-year photographer who’s killing it at the Gen Z sessions to the foremost leaders in the industry continues to inspire and influence me) I would have to choose Roberto Valenzuela. His book and teaching method on posing has been a game-changer for my portraits. Learning that posing starts at the spine was an eye-opener. His posing book, Picture Perfect Posing, should be a fundamental continual reference for portrait photographers. It was up between him and Lindsay Adler whose book, The Photographer’s Guide To Posing. is also sitting at the ready for constant reference. Actually, I need to just be with both of them for a day…or a weekend.
Tell us some wise words you live by. 
In my photography, the two most important phrases that I build my business and my photography on are: “Collaboration over competition,” and “Never stop learning and growing.”
This article was featured in Summerana Magazine | February 2022 issue

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