Featured Photog: Mandi Coombs

Meet this week’s FEATURED PHOTOG …

Mandi Coombs

Silverscape Photography

Fan Page : Site

Tell us a little about yourself in just two sentences and include a picture of yourself.

I am a photographer from Salt Lake City; the mom of the sweetest, most adorable and crazy little guys;  and the wife of an artistic, talented and fantastic guy.  I LOVE my job, there really isn’t a better one out there!

What do you shoot with and what is your favorite lens and why?

I shoot with a Canon 7D (which I’m in love with), and my favorite lens is my 50mm. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE prime lenses, because they are so crisp and the bokeh they produce is amazing.

When did you start shooting for fun and then move to shooting professionally?

I’ve been shooting for fun since I was little. I used to pose my baby sister with all sorts of “props.” (She’s still one of my favorite people to photograph, and lucky for me she’s put up with having my camera in her face her whole life!) Just after high school, I was at a friends wedding and they hadn’t hired a photographer. I happened to have my camera and lots of black and white film and ended up shooting her wedding. Things kind of went from there and I started doing shoots for close friends and family. After having our first baby I decided it was time to start taking it seriously. I come from a very artistic family, and feel very lucky that I’ve been able to turn my artistic ability into a job that I love.

Are you formally taught or self taught?

I am mostly self taught. I did take photography classes in high school and college, but nothing really sunk in there for me. Now if I feel like some part of my photography needs improving, I look up everything I can find on the subject and practice the heck out of it! I am always looking for ways to learn and improve.

What is your specialty and how did you decide to specialize in that area of photography?

Outdoor child and family photography is what I do most, although I do shoot the occasional wedding. I don’t know that I really decided to “specialize” in anything, but I felt like that was where my strongest work came from.

How many sessions are you shooting a month?

I am a full-time momma first and really try not to stretch myself too thin. I shoot once or twice a week, with more during the busier months.

On average how long to do you spend editing each session and do you listen to music while editing or just enjoy the quiet?

This is a tough one for me. I am a crazy perfectionist, and if I let myself, I could spend 8-12 hours on a session! (Mostly just doing a lot of extra fun stuff). I average about 2 hours per session, unless I style=”text-decoration: line-through;”>mess around on Facebook get distracted.  I usually listen to Pandora or catch up on TV shows on Hulu.

What is your favorite part of the process? Shooting, editing, etc.

I definitely love to shoot the most. I love meeting clients and getting to spend time with them. I do love coming home and seeing the finished product though too.

What is the best marketing tool that works for you or was a total waste of time?  Do you advertise in print?  Do you offer referral bonuses?

The best marketing has been Facebook. It’s such a great way to reach a lot of people. And, it’s a great way for clients to share the images they are most excited about, which helps so much with referrals. I don’t have a formal referral bonus, but I have given discounts to clients who have referred several new clients.

What do you do to “stand out” from surrounding photographers that you’re competing with?

Thanks to Facebook, I’ve had the chance to meet, become friends, learn from and even shoot with the “competition.” Luckily, I live in a location where the photographers are really helpful and friendly (for the most part anyway)! I don’t really feel like it’s a competition with anyone. I just do the best job I can do for my own clients. I learned back when I first started to always under promise and over deliver. I always try to give clients something extra and really make their experience a good one.

What do you do to help a client come out of their “shell” during a session?

I try to get them talking, laughing and having fun right from the beginning. Before I even pick up the camera, we spend a few minutes getting to know each other. This is especially necessary with kids. I usually talk to them about things they like to do and things they think are funny or gross. Usually that gets them laughing and comfortable enough for pictures. Some kids take longer than others, but more often than not, once you get them laughing, things are pretty good from there. You also have to be comfortable enough to make a fool of yourself, because sometimes it’s completely necessary!

What do you struggle with the most?

Besides being a perfectionist, I struggle balancing home and work. I could get lost in my editing and forget my kids have been watching cartoons for 4 hours. I have tried really hard to make sure I spend more time away from the computer than I do on the computer. In December of 2010, I ended up shooting about 30 sessions. By the time January came around, I realized that I didn’t do any of the fun traditions we have with our kids. I was so mad at myself that I didn’t take any photo jobs in January or February. This last December, I made the decision to take the entire month of December off to spend with my family. It was THE BEST decision I have ever made. I didn’t burn out and I got to spend quality time with my kids. I was energized and much more excited to pick my camera back up and start working again.

How did you find your style? Any advice to new photographers on how to find their own style?

I think I started really figuring out my style by looking at old pictures I’ve taken. I’d look at pictures and say, “I should never have used that action,” or I found myself wishing that I’d done something different with the colors. I really like clean, sharp, simple edits. I want images that will still look good 10 years from now!

Please share your favorite image and tell us what makes this your favorite?

This is a tough one, because I have so many “favorites.” But, because I am a mom first and f0remost, I love having good pictures of my kids that really show their personality. My kids are the ones that challenge me the most, so being able to get pictures of them that I love is rare. They are finally starting to think I’m cool enough to smile for a picture or two.:)

Can you show us your shooting space?  If you are shooting inside can you show a simple pull back shot or lots of images if you have a large studio.  If you shoot on location please share an image of you favorite location.

I shoot on location 99% of the time so my favorite spots tend to change often. This is one of my favorite location right now. The early evening light there is AMAZING!

Is there anything you would like to promote?  Maybe a mentoring you offer or any side projects.

Not at the moment, but I will be teaching some basic photography mini classes over the summer.

Please share an image of your Prop stash!  This doesn’t have to be an organized space just an image showing off your addiction.

My prop stash has kind of taken over my entire house. We don’t have a lot of storage space, so I use a lot of my favorite props as décor! I LOVE wood crates, quilts and old books (And I’m sure if I bring home one more “awesome chair that I just had to have because it would look great for a photo shoot,” we might have to start looking for a bigger place to live!) These are a few of my favorite prop shots.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to a new photographer?

Someone gave this advice to me, and it completely changed my photography. Know your equipment! Know your camera and how to shoot it manually, know exactly what it does and how it performs in certain situations. Know your lenses and exactly what they do and when and where to use them. If you don’t know how to do something or are unsure about something, ask or look it up.

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meghan - May 21, 2012 - 1:44 pm

i love her line…”under promise and over deliver.”

Jeni Brockbank - May 24, 2012 - 11:25 am

Loooooooove your work Mandi!! Simply gorgeous!!

Janet Kaufman - May 24, 2012 - 11:56 am

I my gosh, they are all so beautiful, but I love the princess and the pea one the best ! Great idea !

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