Today we are so thrilled to welcome the fabulous Amy Cook to the Blog! Learn more about Amy in our Photographer Spotlight, then visit her at her website Amy Cook Photography. Thank you so much Amy for sharing your work with us today!
Where did your inspiration for photography begin?
In early 2009, things were a lot different- I was a few months shy of being married to my sweetheart, and we had a barely-1 year old daughter together. I was still in college (I was 23) and was jumping majors every 1-2 semesters because NOTHING made me happy. During spring semester my classes were all online, so I poked around for a part-time job just to get out of the house a couple days a week.
At this time, I stumbled across a listing for one of the hospital newborn photography companies, and thought it sounded like a good time- I applied, and amazingly made it through several applicants and got the job. This job, is how I found my inspiration for photography. I only stayed with the company for a little less than a year, but it had given me the inspiration and courage to branch out into something else that made me happy- and potentially look at it as a long-term career. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine it to blow up the way that it did.
How would you describe your photography style?
Fun & colorful, timeless and a portrayal of happiness!
Did you study photography in school or are you self taught?
I am self-taught, although I had debated changing my major to that in school, I never did, and stuck with more “practical” majors- nursing, teaching, etc- at the time I never realized that people actually made a living being photographers!
What camera do you shoot with and what is your favorite lens?
I primarily shoot with a Canon 5d Mark iii and my favorite lens is probably my 50mm 1.2L. My lineup also includes a 16-35mm 2.8L II, 85mm 1.2L II and 70-200mm 2.8L II and I keep a 5d classic as a backup body.
Do you have any tips for photographers on how to find the light?
Just kidding! You have to be open to the possibilities. The best light isn’t always the most obvious light. Watch for that sparkle in your subject’s eyes- catchlights.
What is your favorite subject to photograph and why?
Newborns pose countless challenges, but I think the most challenging aspect for me personally, is it’s physical! I’m only 28, but all of the bending, crouching, stooping, kneeling, up/down/up/down/up/down kills me! It’s definitely not for the weak.
What is a good lesson you have learned this year in photography or in your business?
I learned this past year, for the second time (first was in late 2010) that I CAN manage to overbook myself and do too much, and that it’s just not worth it. One of my favorite quotes of all time is, “Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” I don’t make it my business to lecture those that want to charge next to nothing because they wish to provide memories for other families who cannot afford it, etc, and say that working 7 days a week doesn’t bother them- but I can’t help but feel sad for their families who aren’t seeing them while they are making other peoples’ families their priority.
Photography isn’t easy, and the most important lesson I learned in my business was not only to charge what I was worth and what I needed to sustain a business (learned that one hard in 2010) but also that NOTHING and NOBODY is more important than my family. I may not charge rock-bottom prices, but being able to make a true living allows me the freedom to help out others by giving away free sessions, etc. Giving back to your community is one of the best forms of business that you can exercise!
If you could encourage a new photographer in one area, what would it be?
One of the biggest encouragements to new photographers is being vulnerable myself, and showing them a progression of my work- letting them know that I WAS where they are now, and that with hard work and constantly doing everything I could to practice and learn, I got where I am now- and that I’m still growing every single day. Every time I post a “then and now”, the most common response is “that gives me hope!” Nobody is perfect from day 1, and I think many new photographers get discouraged wondering why they aren’t that good in the beginning compared to so and so down the street.
What do you love most about being a photographer?
I love that I get to use MY vision to do my work- not someone else’s (aside from my client of course!) I don’t work for “the man” but for myself. I get to do a job that is not only difficult yet rewarding- but it insanely fun. If I end the day dirty, it’s probably because I was rolling in the dirt with an ornery little boy, or snuggling a squishy newborn who had an accident, but I don’t think I can complain!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years, I’ll be 33- I plan on still being here. I’ve already taught workshops and written a huge newborn e-guide, so my next big goal I think is to teach a workshop in a different country. Australia would be pretty awesome! I’d also love to be 80% newborns-1 year, and 20% child/family.
About the Artist: I’m a newborn, child and family photographer from the small town of North Baltimore, OH- near Toledo. I started my business venture in 2009 and have been teaching newborn workshops since late 2011 across the country, finally releasing a newborn e-guide in 2014. Aside from photography, I love spending time with my husband and kids (3 girls with a 4th on the way in April 2014), a little bit of gaming, reading, movies and playing the piano, along with other random doings. I have a sugar tooth and an unhealthy addiction to Biggby Coffee, as well as props, and canvas gallery wraps. I may be closer to 30 than 20, but am still a child at heart and feel that this is what helps me bring out the true selves of children through custom imagery.