Today’s interview is with Allison Zercher of Snippets from Suburbia!
To start us off, please share with us a little about yourself and how you got into photography?
I got into photography minimally when I was in college, but like many of my fellow Clickin Moms members, I started with it much more seriously when my first daughter was born. It began just by wanting to share photos with loved ones easily via email, and then I started a blog to share them, and it kind of took off from there.
Photography is not your primary career, education is. What are your reasons for not giving up teaching to pursue a full time photography business?
I feel like photography is really my ONLY hobby. It’s the thing I think about night and day, it’s my passion in life. I know that many professional photographers start out with photography as their hobby, but oftentimes I see those same people starting to feel like photography is a chore rather than a passion. I guess my feeling is that if I were to stop teaching and do photography as my full time career instead, not only would I risk losing my love of doing it, I would also give up time with my kids, whereas with teaching, my work schedule is basically the same as their school schedule. I love my time with them, and I love having photography as my passion rather than my career.
Congratulations on your engagement! Tell us, how does a talented photographer like yourself go about choosing a wedding photographer?
Oh wow, this was SO difficult. I have so many really great, talented friends that are photographers, too – many of them wedding photographers. It was difficult to choose one as I would never dream of wanting to hurt any of the other friends’ feelings. I ended up asking Kelly Mendoza of TrueBlissPhoto.com and she was more than willing to be ‘the one.’ I’m secretly hoping that my other photographer friends bring their cameras too, because I love ALL of their work, but then I’m not sure I really want that many pictures of me from that many angles!
Your images are so simple yet full of stories at the same time. How do you find the perfect balance between simplicity and storytelling with your work?
After writing the “Finding the Frame” breakout session, I feel more able to answer this question. It was a huge introspective piece to write – having to describe my own style and attempt to teach others how do train their “eye.” I guess I think of a moment in either my life or my children’s lives and a way to capture it. Sometimes is a moody moment, sometimes light-hearted and bright. First I think of the moment that I want to capture, and then I try to figure out a “spot” to best capture that moment. When we’re in that moment together, I don’t always know from what perspective I want to capture it until I’m shooting and moving around and catching it from several different angles. Typically, I’ll take 20 shots of the same thing, just from a slightly different perspective, and then scan through them one at a time, looking for “the one.” I’ve even done this, not found “the one,” and tried the moment all over again because, in looking through the images I want to scrap, I figure out just exactly what I missed the first time around, so I try again to capture it a second or (I cringe) a third time around.
While many of us are groaning about our 365 projects and counting down the days until we’re done, you keep pursuing them. Why do you return year after year to another 365?
I think it’s part mental illness. HAHA! Honestly, I’m on year 5 this year and it’s just become a part of my life. Every time I get a little bogged down by it, I sit back and think honestly to myself, “Could I ever really stop doing this?” Truthfully, I think the answer is “no!” I look forward to finding ‘that moment’ in my everyday. Sometimes it’s much easier than others – some days I feel like I have nothing special to capture, so I force myself to find something, anything. Those are the days I’m less proud of, but it’s hard to always have some kind of special moment to capture. My life is just not that interesting!
How do you stay motivated and continue creating fresh images with each 365?
I wish I knew. My kids love looking at my photos, so I do it for them as much as myself. I like to look back at everything, and they like to sit with me and say “Oh, I remember that!” I guess it’s a way of documenting life, and even the most mundane moments have something special about them, something worth photographing.
Do your girls ever get sick of the camera since you use it every day? How do you approach that ‘battle’?
They have never known life without it! But, they do of course roll their eyes sometimes and put up a fight. I never force them to be my subject, but I won’t exactly say I never bribe them. They do love to look at photos afterward, so sometimes that is the only motivating factor that I have to remind them of.
One of your new projects is a ‘from where I stand’ in which you take an image of the ground, including your feet, from where you stand. Big question here, how many pairs of shoes do you own?
Too many! I really do have a lot, but many of the shoes I’ve used for that project are honestly ones I don’t wear that often. I put them on just to change it up, as it were.
In all seriousness, why this project? Do you ever fear that you’ll repeat an image since you’re using the same perspective every time?
I think I have a photographic memory for photographs – is there such a thing? I don’t fear I’ll repeat one, but I do fear that the project has already become boring, and some days I just take one for the sake of not missing a day. As I type this, I’m a couple of weeks behind on processing photos because I was working so diligently on the breakout session. Sometimes I’ll edit and put together 20 of them in a day and play catch up in a big way.
What is it about photography that you love the most?
I love capturing a moment. Whether it be happy, sad, silly – it’s a moment I’m always after. I love the creativity needed to do it, and I love the editing process. I love the challenge of seeing a moment in my mind and trying to create that moment with my camera.
You’re obviously busy with a full time job and raising two daughters. How do you find the time to continue to develop your photography skills?
I actually only work part time – I share a teaching contract and a classroom with another teacher who is half time as well. So, I do often have time during the day when I’m not working and my girls are at school, but I also edit photos in the evening or early in the morning. I try not to sit at the computer TOO much, but I can get sucked into perfectionism, and if a photo isn’t just right (to me) I will sometimes spend too long editing it. That’s definitely a fault of mine!
Is there any advice that you would offer to someone who is feeling the pressure to go into business but isn’t sure if they want to or not?
If you don’t need to do it financially, then don’t. If your love for it is greater than your need to start a business, don’t start a business. You’re allowed to just be a photographer and not have it also be your career.
What things are on the horizon for you and your photography?
No big changes – I am shooting a wedding this summer for a friend, but other than that, it’s just status quo, which is just fine with me!
Allison, thank you for being so open and sharing with us!
Do you want to see more of Allison’s work? Head on over to her website here or her facebook page. Make sure and leave her some love in the comments below too!