The Interview – Portrait Photographer Amy Sandrin
Amy Sandrin knows her subjects. You can see it in her photography. Beautifully lit portraits, outdoors, and in the studio, where the ‘character’ of each person she shoots, is wholly evident in her photos. Her work is vibrant, lively and sophisticated. From boudoir, environmental portraits, modeling shoots and more, Amy is a true professional. I can say that from viewing her work I can see her love for her craft within her photography.
Amy was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, and after high school lived in such places as Wyoming, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Washington. She now calls Bend Oregon home and would not want to live anywhere else. To her, Central Oregon is Utopia. Since she was little, the creative side has always ruled her brain. She is multi-published in both fiction novels and non-fiction, quilting, “how to” books. Though she was decent at writing and won awards, it felt like work. She knew that doing what you love should not feel like a four-letter word. She was married to a professional wedding photographer for 25 years. While she loved looking at and critiquing his pictures, it was his business, so she just watched even though it intrigued her. After her divorce, she bought a camera and finally found a creative passion that didn’t feel like a job.
You can reach Amy on Twitter
and on Pinterest
The equipment Amy uses…
Amy shoots with a Nikon D7100. Her favorite lens for portraits is a “Nifty Fifty” Nikon 50mm, 1.8. She also uses a Nikon 18-140mm 3.5-5.6 lens depending on where she is shooting. For fast action sports, like rodeos, her lens of choice is the Nikon 70-300mm 4.5-6.3.
Her photography went to the next level when she took a class on off-camera flashes. It was like a light went off (pun intended) in her head. She now uses between one and two off camera flashes with umbrellas depending on how much natural light is available. She swears her outdoor pictures even turn out better with the flash as it helps to provide the all-important “catch light” in the subject’s eyes.
What steps did Amy take to launch her career in Portrait Photography?
Amy started out photographing anyone who would let her. Family. Friends. Self-portraits (many, many self-portraits) with a tripod and a timer. It wasn’t above her to stop a stranger on the street and ask if she could take their picture. No one has ever said no. She shot her first wedding in 2010 when she really didn’t even know her Olympus camera or how it worked that well. It was outdoors at night in front of a bonfire and she was thankful the pictures actually turned out! When family and friends got tired of having their pictures taken, she found models willing to trade posing for digital files of the pictures.
Though she knew she was taking great pictures, something was still missing. She felt frustrated with the quality of her work. It should have been better than it was. Sandrin was now using a Nikon D5000. She changed out her kit camera and lenses for an upgraded body (Nikon D7100) with better pixels and lenses with better glass. Yet another turning point in her career. To help launch her portrait business, Amy created a website and dove into the world of social media: Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Reddit, Yelp, Google +, etc.
Amy’s shooting process from planning to post production…
When a client is booked for a session, Amy will consult with them to find out what they have in mind for pictures. Some clients will send images they’ve seen online for ideas. On the days leading up to the shoot Amy will get visions in her head of the finished pictures and what she wants to capture based on their requests. She firmly believes photography is collaboration between the subject and the photographer. Her motto: Your World, My Vision. On the day of the shoot Amy will meet with the client either at the designated location, if outdoors, or at a public location (she has shot portraits in a local bar) or at the studio in her home. Sessions usually take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 ½ hours. Typically she shoots between 60 to 100 photos, which have to be whittled down to 20-40 photos. Any more than that will overwhelm the client with too many choices. Lightroom and Photoshop are Amy’s choices for post processing.
What people and photographers inspire Amy?
For inspiration, motivation and education, Amy turns to her two favorite World-renowned photographers, Sue Bryce and Scott Robert Lim. Their work both awes her and excites her. Learning from other photographers is a must. In June she will be taking her first three-day photography boot camp with Scott Robert Lim. She’s beyond excited to learn from a literal master, and she knows this will take her photography to the next level yet again.
What tips would Amy give to somebody who is just starting out and wants to become a portrait photographer?
For those people wanting to start up with photography, Sandrin suggests shooting every day, or at least at every available opportunity. Always have your camera with you. YouTube is amazing for how to videos. Meetup.com is another favorite, and Amy belongs to several Meetup photo groups in Bend. These both offer classes, workshops, and shooting excursions with others in the business. Never stop learning. Never stop shooting. Never stop growing. Sandrin’s goal is to one day be a master photographer like her idols Sue and Scott. It may take five years, it may take ten, but she has no doubt she has the motivation and the drive to make it happen.
The excellent Amy Sandrin… If you are interested in having a portrait shot of yourself or your loved ones and you are in the Oregon area give Amy a call www.sandrinstudios.com
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