Today’s interview is with Winnie Bruce!
Congratulations on being CMpro of the Month, Winnie! To start off, tell us a little about yourself and your photography.
Hi! I’m a portrait and lifestyle photographer based out of Baltimore, Maryland. I was born and raised in the Philippines, and came to the US in 2002. My husband and I have been together for almost thirteen years, and together, we have two boys: Elliott, 7, and Finnegan, 2. I really enjoy cooking, and listening to music. I have an unhealthy obsession to baggy clothes, especially if they’re in black.
Your primary focus is family photography. Why did you choose to go this direction with your business?
I tried weddings and events; it just wasn’t clicking for me. I like my work zone very laid back, and I work better with smaller groups. I describe myself as an introverted-extrovert. I’m a very socially awkward girl, so a small group, especially very young people offer a great inspiration for me. I like that I can be silly with kids, dance around, and play. The whole concentration on family photography pretty much fell on my lap in a way too. I have a skin condition called epidermolysis bullosa. I basically have very thin and sensitive skin, and I can easily get third degree burn like blisters when there’s too much friction between my skin and clothing, including shoes. I shot one wedding before, and even my trusty shoes failed me, so after that, I pretty much swore off them. Weddings and I just don’t emotionally and physically vibe, even though I really enjoy bridal portraits. I’m always down for vow renewal portraits though!
I love how naturally you pose your subjects! Can you offer one tip on posing without making it look stiff?
Thank you! I stick to one or two posed family poses. I think it’s all kids have patience with in terms of traditional poses. It makes the flow better for me, and I move quickly. I like having subjects smell each other’s cheeks and hair. That little bit of ticklish sensation produces the genuine smiles. Also, I make sure that hands are always touching something; another person, hair, shirt, pockets. Loose hands just feel awkward for me so I always give them something to do.
You have a beautiful editing style. What is your favorite editing tool and how do you use it?
Photoshop is my jam! I also have been very much enjoying finishing all my edits in ACR. I used to be anti-Lightroom, but I’m slowwwwllly learning how to use it better.
Would you share with us your current favorite photo and why it’s your favorite?
Current favorite has to be the photo of my friend Maggie I did in Hawaii. Maggie and I met through a friend when we were both in the Philippines in 2014. I went to Hawaii January 2016, and I found out she just moved there too. She obliges me with all my crazy ideas, and I asked her if she wanted to go hiking with us. I left a dress in my backpack from my maternity shoot the day before. We hiked down these rocks, to get closer to the water during sunrise. I’m deathly afraid of heights, and the thought I can plummet down to the pacific ocean scared the living daylights out of me. I got this though. It was one of those quiet moments, where we just listened to the waves crash, and I asked her to just sway the dress back and forth. The photo makes me feel calm, but I also love all the colors that were available to me.
Describe your dream photo shoot if you were given an unlimited amount of money to fund it.
My dream photo shoot would be an old 70s Volkswagen van, or a muted lime green Winnebago with a family that has an excellent skill with putting patterns together. Also, possibly some vintage pieces like quilts thrown in there. I’d probably really want that van to be somewhere like a desert (or anywhere back in the West Coast). I’d like some sort of floral arrangement but minimum, just little pieces here and there like for the mom to have in her hair, or to arrange on a table in the van. I’ve possibly been watching too many tiny homes on HGTV, but I always tell myself I’d like to photograph a family in one of those in a location that’s minimalist, so that the colors can come from the clothing.
Since you have to relocate periodically for you husband’s job, what advice would you offer to a photographer about to make a big move?
Study SEO! That was the biggest thing for me. It’s never too early to introduce yourself to the new area either via social media, or your website. Also, don’t be afraid to meet with other local photographers. With my move here to the DC area, I’ve had so much fun meeting with fellow CMs! I’ve even photographed a few of them! Also, it’ll be slow for a while, and that’s okay. It took about eight months this last move before business picked up for me, and I had to be EXTREMELY patient.
Fast forward 10 years. Where do you see you and your photography?
Hopefully back in California. My husband should be done with his military career by then, and we’re hoping to move back to the Sacramento area. I dream of having a cottage, and that I can have a little studio in the back. I’d be happy with where things are now and for it to continue. I’m very comfortable with where it is right now, and it offers me enough challenges, that I’d like to see the same challenges for myself in the next 10 years.
You have a Breakout coming out in a couple weeks. Will you take a moment to tell us about it?
Yes! My breakout is called Embracing Childhood and it’s going to be very focused on how to get in tune with kids, and how to break out of the stressful poses. I’m going to introduce how to get playful with a session, how to be more keen to kids’ signs to make the whole session laid back. Laid back to me means I can get real smiles. I included some bonus on how I shoot for my family as well since I find that when I shoot my life more, I’m able to apply new and better skills for my client sessions. I’m so excited to share this breakout!