This month’s featured artist is Lisa Silva. Lisa is a wedding and lifestyle photographer based in Jacksonville, Fl. All photos featured in this post are hers.
1. You’re mostly known as a wedding photographer. Was that always your plan with photography?
Most definitely not (although I wouldn’t have it any other way!) I started my journey with photography when I was a sophomore in Highschool. I was really lucky to have an amazing teacher who believed in me and encouraged me from the start (shout out to AJ Abellera!) I wasn’t the best student to put it lightly, but AJ saw my potential and pushed me to use it from the beginning. If it wasn’t for him I honestly don’t know what I would be doing right now!
I knew from the beginning that people were my thing. I’ve never been a great landscape photographer or anything like that. I don’t enjoy shooting inanimate objects. I like real subjects who I can connect with and have a story that I can tell. I also have always loved fashion and beauty so my original plan was to become a fashion photographer. I enrolled at UNF and majored in fine arts with a concentration in photography. It was around that time that I stumbled upon wedding photography.
I was young and newly engaged and like a lot of brides to be, I quickly became obsessed with all things weddings! I loved everything about them (In fact, I was more in love with my wedding and planning it then I was with my fiancée, but I didn’t see it at the time!) We searched high and low for photographers until I found one who was in our budget and whose style I liked. I mentioned to her that I was a photographer myself and she offered to let me second shoot some weddings with her.
After a few weddings second shooting, I was hooked and I began seeking out my own. I definitely started from the bottom… I shot my first wedding for $100. I slowly built a portfolio and eventually started attracting my ideal clientele. It didn’t happen overnight by any means but I’ve been very blessed and fortunate! I’ve also worked very hard.
What made me shift my concentration towards weddings was the emotion that I get to capture. I love it and there is nothing better then capturing the best day of people’s lives! I also still get to incorporate my love of fashion and design with all of my beautiful couples and the details of the day.
Although my marriage was short lived, I am thankful for it. If I hadn’t been engaged at the time in my life that I was, I would have a totally different career right now! I am a firm believer in things happening for a reason and everything that has happened in my life has always lead me right exactly to where I needed to be!
2. If you didn’t have the choice of being a photographer, what would you be?
That’s a tough one because photography is literally the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do professionally. I really love makeup and fashion, so maybe I would be a makeup artist or a stylist.
3. I know you edit and retouch your own photos. Do you have a process you go through when doing so?
I do. Right after a wedding, I immediately upload the images (from myself and my second shooter) and back them up on my computer. I don’t look at them right away because I’m pretty exhausted and I want to look at them with a fresh view. The culling process is a long one, but I narrow down the images and delete images that are duplicates, someone is blinking, not in focus, etc. After that, I begin the real editing. I straighten and crop each image as well as adjust the color and lighting. Of course I aim to get this right in camera as it can cut down editing time tremendously.
I’d like to explain retouching because people often get that confused with editing. I don’t individually retouch every single image. My general rule of thumb is that I will retouch things that aren’t permanent or meant to be there on my clients bodies, for example a pimple or a bruise. While I can do a lot of things with photoshop, it isn’t my style to try and turn people into something they are not. Clients have asked me to do anything from slimming them down in photoshop, to removing tattoos, to giving them longer hair. (seriously!)
I aim to represent my clients as they are on their wedding day, as I am capturing their story with a documentary approach and it is important to me that they understand that. We chat about concerns prior to the wedding day and deal with concerns ahead of time so we can avoid them. I definitely stress the importance of a makeup artist and a flattering dress… (and if you want longer hair, get some extensions!) If you have an awesome makeup artist, great wardrobe, and we shoot in nice light, chances are you are going to love your pictures!
4. On that same subject, some photographers don’t really like the editing part of photography. How do you feel about it?
I’d be lying if I said editing was my favorite part of my job, but it is fun to go through the images and relive moments from the day as I am editing. The wedding day goes by so quickly and there are little things you don’t remember or details you didn’t really get to stop and appreciate, and editing allows me a second chance to do just that.
5. Where do you search for inspiration when doing engagement sessions or seniors, for example?
I am heavily inspired by fashion photography and I draw a lot of inspiration from that. I also aim to make my sessions unique and personally relatable to my subjects. I love to shoot in their homes and take the lifestyle approach. I really get to know my couples and find out about their passions and interests and try to work that into their sessions.
6. Do you remember what your first camera was?
My first camera was a vintage Nikon F3 and I learned with film. Now I am Team Canon and shoot digital, but I would also love to start shooting medium format film again somewhere in the near future.
7. Anything about being a photographer that you might want a non-photog to know?
Photography is very much a “real” job and a demanding one at that. Some people assume that because I work from home it’s not really working and they couldn’t be more wrong! I work usually from the moment I wake up until I go to bed at night, whether it be editing, answering emails, marketing and developing my brand, and actually getting out there to shoot. Sometimes I’m envious of people that have 9-5’s and don’t have to take their work home with them and get nights and weekends. I honestly love what I do though and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Anybody who wants to work professionally as an artist needs to have a strong passion for what they do or they are going to crash and burn. My love for what I do keeps me going and I’m proud of the work that I get to create!
You can see more of Lisa’s work on her website: www.lisasilvaphoto.com