We are thrilled to welcome the amazing Christina Greve to the Blog today! Take a moment to learn more about Christina, and visit her website Christina Greve. Thank you so much Christina for taking the time to share your work with us today!
Where did your inspiration for photography begin?
At first it seemed as if the inspiration came out of nowhere. I already had a wonderful career in psychology that I enjoyed very much. When I wasn’t working with my clients, I painted. I’ve always been very creative and for many years I painted colorful abstract art. Even though I received positive feedback about my paintings, I was never truly pleased with my work—and honestly, the experience was more of a struggle than a joy. For a while I had a feeling that perhaps painting wasn’t the right way for me to express myself creatively—it often felt forced, not inspired.
Then one day while I was out shopping, I happened to walk by a camera equipment shop when out of the blue I felt a strong, spontaneous urge to buy a camera. It was so powerful that I entered the store and bought a DSLR camera with a lens. It was such a strange experience because it was as if an inner force took over my body and bought the camera. At that point I knew absolutely nothing about photography, nor did I know what I wanted to photograph!
While driving back home with the camera in the back seat of my car, I actually felt sick. What am I going to tell my husband!?! I wondered. How would I explain that I spent so much cash without talking with him about it first. Oh dear, I thought. As soon as I came home I hid the camera in the closet and it remained unopened for quite a while.
A short time later a loved one passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. I fell apart with a big bang. The grief was unbelievable and unbearable. I couldn’t function and had to take time off from work. During this period of grief, I started to take pictures. Quickly the camera became my friend—and my escape away from the pain I was feeling.
Not only did photography help me through this very difficult time in my life, it also gave me a whole new life and a wonderful new way for me to express myself creatively. Looking back now, it all makes sense to me. I know I was meant to do discover photography. Today, photographing women and teaching photography workshops is my entire career.
How would you describe your photography style?
Bright, fresh and happy with a touch of romance and glamour. I specialize in fashion-inspired portraiture for girls and women, and I also enjoy lifestyle photography.
Did you study photography in school or are you self taught?
I am 100% a self-made photographer. I struggled SO much as a beginner and had no one to turn to for help. I was so desperate at one point, that I drove all the way into the city, to the shop where I bought the camera, to ask them for help with the settings. I will never forget the salesman’s arrogant laugh, and how he made hints that maybe a housewife shouldn’t try becoming a photographer!
I became extremely angry and thought to myself: I wish there was a special place for women to learn photography, a safe enviroment where no one laughs at one another, and where there is no such thing as a stupid question.
Today, four to five years after that humiliating day in the camera shop, I´m proud to say that I have created that safe learning space with my workshops. By combining my experience in psychology with my journey in becoming a professional photographer, I am able to offer a safe and inspiring environment many budding photographers seek when starting out.
Do you shoot Canon or Nikon? What model? And what is your favorite lens?
I am definitely a Canon girl and currently shoot with a Canon 5D mark iii. I also love the Fuji X-E1, which is much smaller and easy to bring on the go.
My favorite lens is the 85mm f/1.2. I use this one for all my professional portrait work. But I recently fell in love with the 90mm macro lens, which is great for both lifestyle and portraits.
Yet actually, I don’t believe that the camera and equipment matters much. It´s like golf: winning is all about the golfer, not the club. You can shoot great pictures with any camera, even a toy camera or your iPhone.What matters most is the passion and creativity that a photographer brings to a shoot. My personal motto is: never put gear before creativity. Which is also a great way to save money too. 🙂
Do you have any tips for photographers on how to find the light?
It’s important for me to say that not all people find the light easily, at least not at first. I know because I used to be one of those people. It´s been the most difficult thing for me to learn in photography. I think most people can see the light, but to find the right light that will make your photos outstanding is different. For some people this process comes naturally, but for others not so much. I remember the first time I gave my daughter a camera, she came back with perfectly lit images. My mouth dropped because I had struggled with this myself for years! My point is, never give up. If you find it difficult to find the right light, keep pushing.
The best way to learn this is to look around you before you take the picture. Take a moment to investigate the room or the area. Look for soft light. Avoid harsh sunlight. Avoid dark shadows and look for something in between. If you are inside make sure to photograph near a window. If there is too much sunshine coming in, dark shadows will appear in your photos. If so, try to cover the window with white fabric to diffuse the light and make it softer.
If you are outside, look for some open shadow, which basically means that you place your subject in the lighttest area of a shadow or in a place that’s not facing the sun directly. The best time for beginning photographers to capture portraits outside is on overcast days, when the sun is lightly covered by fluffy clouds. Then you can place your subject just about anywhere, as the soft clouds will diffuse the light and flatter your subject.
Never be afraid to experiement. This is the best way to learn about light. Devote a day to taking test shots (you can always delete them). Grab a teddy bear or an object you can move around easily. Place it in various spots to see how different light works. When you see something you like, take notes about the circumstances: how you found that light and what you did to get that particular picture. As you get better, test it on a person. The more you take time to practice without putting pressure on yourself, the faster you will find the perfect light. 🙂
What is your favorite subject to photograph?
I love shooting food, still-life, flowers, but most of all I love shooting portraits of women! I am absolutely fascinated by people and I love to study faces. The face reveals so much about a person: their life story can be found in all the little details of their facial features, and I marvel at how a person unconsciously expresses their thoughts, fears and joys via their facial mimicry. The way psychology and photography are inter-related fascinates me. I love how a single portrait can change the way a person sees themselves and thinks of themselves. Over and over, I’ve seen how women start to blossom after our session. They go out more, dress differently, feel better about themselves—and they become more confident. What’s not to love about that?
Hearing a client say. “This has been the best day in my life,” after a photoshoot is without a doubt one of the best compliments I could ever receive, A compliment like that goes straight to my heart. As a photographer you get a chance to do something special for the people you photograph: you can give them a great day, help them change the way they view themselves, boost their confidence and give them memories to treasure. Being a photographer is so much more than working with a camera. I know it may sound deep, but I see photography as a healing, both for me and the women I work with.
What is a good lesson you have learned this year in photography or in your business?
I learned an important lesson this year: that doing what brings you joy also brings self-love. When we do what we love we become filled up with love—and that love can’t help but spill back into how we treat ourselves and how we work creatively. Joy can give us so much energy that we find the courage to change our old ways and go after our dreams.
If you could encourage a new photographer in one area, what would it be?
My main advice would be to stop comparing yourself to others and to be proud of and thankful for who you are. Most photographers are not born great—they become great by growing into their potential. When you put in the effort, when you work hard, when you continue to experiment, learn, and test, and when you keep playing with your camera, you will grow and become better. There is no shame in being a beginner—and it´s no shame to ask for help as you grow as a photographer!
Challenge yourself to kick fear in the butt. There is no doubt that it can be very emotionally daring to expose yourself and your photography to the world. That’s because you put so much of yourself into your work. People can sometimes be quick to judge you and act critical—and when they do, it can hurt. So if and when this happens to you, I hope you´ll remember that they will respond to you based on their taste, and that their taste is simply different than yours. Therefore, stay true to yourself and don’t let anyone take your passion for photography away from you! Also, remember to notice all the positive feedback you get. Fortunately, there are so many supportive people who love photography—and they’ll be there to cheer you on.
What do you love most about being a photographer?
Oh gosh, where shall I begin? 🙂
Photography has changed my life in so many ways: it has opened countless new doors; it’s enabled me to meet amazing and talented people; and, I’ve learned more than I ever have about life and creativity.
I love the freedom and the exciting challenges that come with running my own business. A typical workday does not exist in my life. Each day brings something new, and I think that´s why I never lose my passion or get bored. I love the personal connection with my clients and students. There is tremendous joy in sharing your passion with like-minded people!
What I love most is that I never feel like I´m at working. In many ways I feel like I´m just having fun in one big playground!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I´m so happy with my life as it is right now, that I hope it will be the same in five years time. I know it´s a boring answer, but it´s true. I feel so blessed to be able to do what I do, to be creative, to take pictures and to teach photography.
I´m so thankful for my friends, my family and my amazing network of bloggers and photographers. There’s only one longterm goal that comes to mind: to travel more and live abroad occasionally. The great thing about my job is that I can work from everywhere. I absolutely love that flexibility.
About the Artist: Professional portrait photographer and life coach Christina Greve celebrates, supports and coaches photographers and creative souls to create a career and life that they love. Christina is known for her elegant and dreamy photography style. Her portraits are very much inspired by whimsical fashion, beauty and glamour.
Ling Wang says
Nicole Henriques says
Christina is the best and her workshop is fantastic! It is highly recommended.
Margie Livelli says
I have been with Christina for the past 4 or 5 years now, taking her classes, learning from her, but most of all having her as a mentor and friend. She loves life and it is contagious to all of us. She does not keep her tricks and leaned experiences to herself She quite readily shares what she has learned with her students. She is so generous in her time and ways and love of photography, it is awe-inspiring. The most important thing I have learned is not to let anyone take my love of photography away from me. I cannot compare to anyone else because we all are different, even our creative ways are different. THis piece of information has helped me to “Challenge myself and kick fear in the butt.” She is a great life coach, great teacher, great mentor, and most of all a friend. Thank you Christina for all you give to us. Thank you, Rock the Shot, for featuring her. Margie
I love the advice given here by Christina. Her blog and photography has inspired me to start shooting in manual again and I’m getting excited to add a new higher quality lens to the mix. I’ve tried many guide books and tutorials online but nothing has matched what I feel from her lessons and work! Thanks for a great article!