Happy Friday everyone! I hope to start doing a series where I feature photographers that I admire as well as aspiring photographers in a quick question and answer format over the next few months! My first featured photographer is probably quite well known to all of you as I have raved about her talents and creativity numerous times! Thank you Erica for being awesome, answering my questions and sharing your perspective and work!

Check out Erica’s work here:

Chris: Let’s start with a little bio, tell me about yourself.

Erica: I’m just a small town Kansas girl who loves living in the “big city.” 🙂 I’m graduated from K-State with a degree in public relations. I married the guy I always joked I would marry, and who I had a huge crush on forever! We’re proof that long-distance relationships work. Jeff and I love restaurants, traveling, movies, our dog Petey, and Jesus (but not in that order). My favorite color is green, of course!

Chris: How did you become a photographer? 

Erica: This is a funny question. I keep thinking about what makes someone a “photographer” instead of just a person who owns a camera. I’m not quite sure when I crossed that line, but photography was always something I enjoyed doing. I think one of the pivotal things of my journey happened my senior year of college. I was an RA and had a coveted “lobby room” that year, and I wanted to decorate it with photos I had taken, and photos of people I loved — how I saw them. So I talked people into letting me take their photos and I picked the one of each person that looked the most like how I thought of them. I hung them around my room, with some creative photos I had taken on my Minolta camera designed for macro shooting. I’m not sure how it all happened, but people saw those photos, asked me to take portraits of them, and I did. About 6 months later, someone I had never met who heard about me on Facebook asked me to take their wedding photos. That’s when I should have said no. But I didn’t, and I loved it, and even though I’m a little embarrassed by those photos now, the important thing is that I took them, and it was the start of my journey as a photographer. I’m so thankful for the people at the beginning who took a chance on a girl with a camera and helped me become a photographer. It was truly such a blessing!

Chris: Why should I book you as a photographer? What makes you unique? 

Erica: The thing is, it’s not about me. My style is very much outward-focused on the people around me. My style is one that focuses on emotions more than anything else. So while some photographers are incredible at setting up these beautiful, elaborate ways to frame an image just perfectly, my style is much more about waiting for someone to smile a certain way, say a certain thing, look at their new wife in a way that makes my heart melt. A lot of what I do is read people. I get to know my clients well so I understand their story, where they came from, and what things on their wedding day (or even during a portrait session) will be emotional, exciting, and important to them. I think a big part of my role as a photographer is just understanding people. I think it makes me unique, because I really care about the people and the experience, and not just nailing “the shot.”

Chris: How would you describe your style? 

Erica: Well, I think I just got into that in the last question… 🙂 But typically, I’d call it a “documentary” style. It’s not true photojournalism, because I do set up portraits and pose some things, but it’s not traditional in that most of the day is documented from a photojournalistic approach. So, it’s a documentary of big events, little details, and most importantly, emotional connections.

Chris: If you had to pick your favorite piece of equipment, what would it be and why?

Erica: Oh my. Well, I love my Nikon D700 so much. It allows me to shoot in really low-light situations with high ISOs, which I seem to need to do a lot. So, starting with that, and pairing it with an awesome prime lens like the 50mm 1.4 makes my heart pretty happy! 🙂

Chris: What advice would you give to aspiring photographers?

Erica: I’d encourage people to find out what it is that makes them happy, and then do that. Ask questions from people whose work you admire, but don’t place all of your self worth in what other people think about your work. Learn how to use your camera — if you don’t know how to shoot manually, you can never make your camera work for you. Photography is a balance between the technical skill and artistic eye — if you don’t have both, it just doesn’t work. So if you love taking photos, learn how to love making your camera do what you want it to do. But most importantly, make sure that you always enjoy exploring the world through a camera lens. If you’re passionate about it and believe that what you do matters, you’ll go far. It’s an incredible thing to do, so never take it for granted and never stop trying to improve and define your own personal style.

Chris: Care to share 5 recent photographs? 

Erica: Sure thing! 🙂

The bride, Robin, had just finished putting on her dress, veil and shoes. I love this candid reaction that her bridesmaids and mom had when she turned around. It’s like I can still hear the gasp in the room at how beautiful and perfect Robin looked. It was a perfect moment.

I love how romantic this is. Kevin and Anna were sitting on a bench inside the church, right after their wedding ceremony. They didn’t see each other before so it was extra special for them to be together. I just like how soft this is, with her eyes closed, big natural smile, and just the warmth I feel from this image.

Jenny and Cameron shared their first dance as the sun was setting very quickly on a June night in Kansas. I loved the lighting at dusk, and how dreamy it felt. Since the light was pretty dim, and I was shooting with high ISOs, I also was just waiting for them to turn a certain way so the light would hit Jenny’s face just perfectly. Eventually, it happened, and her expression couldn’t have been more perfect.

This is just a cozy photo. I really like couples to be close, cuddly, and comfortable. Jen and Mike were hanging out on this quilt in the middle of a grassy lawn, and I love how easily she fits next to him, her head on his shoulder, and how they naturally grab each other’s hands. Everything about this just says “love” to me.

I love this moment because it has a very tender feel – there’s an obvious connection between Erika and Luke, and I love this moment and their faint smiles. They don’t have to show really huge, toothy smiles, to portray what they’re feeling.

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