There are some photographers who just have that special something; that spark that elevates an image from just another still photo to an absolute work of art. Champagne is one of my all time favorite beauty & fashion photographers who makes me smile every time I see any of her work. She has the ability to make the most basic photoshoot come to life with clever techniques & quirky creative direction. I met her at a co-working space we shared back in 2018 and have been a fan of her work ever since! Here's a sneak peak into her world:
1. Tell us how & why you started. When did you decide to pursue photography? Do you remember the specific moment in time when you thought, this is what I want to do? We would love to know how it all began!
I had always dabbled in photography growing up. Shooting photos of my friends and family on an old film camera my mom gifted me. Dressing my siblings up in outrageous outfits stolen from my mother's closet! But it was always a hobby until I graduated college. I didn't know photography was even a profession growing up! It never occured to me that what I was doing - styling and set designing photoshoots with friends was something people got paid to do. I just loved every aspect of it. Coming up with the theme, picking the outfits and makeup, shooting in different locations and editing in photoshop. It was so fun to take my friends and transform them into "Vogue Supermodels". I think I got a high off of watching my friends gain confidence through modeling as well. They were always thrilled to see their photos and felt so beautiful because of it. That was a big factor when I leaned into photography as a career. I really wanted to help women feel beautiful.
2. How long have you been in LA? What brought you to LA?
I moved to LA about five years ago in 2015. Once I decided that I wanted to pursue photography, I knew I needed to move to LA to be closer to more opportunities. Once I moved here, I started shooting with a ton of influencers which helped expand my portfolio and gain traction with booking jobs.
3. How long have you been a freelance photographer? What were you doing before this?
I've been officially freelance since moving to LA - so about five years! Before that I was part time shooting portrait photography and working as a barista and waitress at the Gypsy Den in Costa Mesa, CA. But I've definitely had tons of oddball jobs even before that. From working at Disneyland, being a social media manager for an ex-90's-supermodel, to working Black Friday sales at Bath & Body Works.
4. What lights you up about your business?
I love shooting jewelry and skin! It's my favorite thing. It's complicated to shoot jewelry and retouch skin so it's a fun puzzle I love to master and finesse. My brain loves a good challenge so it feeds off shooting high commercial photography!
5. What task(s) do you absolutely hate doing in your business?
Great question! Haha I probably hate the paperwork side of things - sending invoices, contracts, and taxes.
6. What does your morning routine look like?
I wake up at about 7am everyday and start the day with coffee on the couch with my cat Pony and my boyfriend. Catching up and enjoying a slow moment before I jump into emails and shooting. When I first moved to LA I would wake up at 6am and immediately start emailing and working. For years that's how I rolled and eventually found myself burnt out. I learned that having an hour to myself every morning before working really helped my state of mind.
7. What influences your photography style? Who or what is your inspiration (can be a location, person, object, design theory...)
I love really clean and vibrant commercial photography. Anything that promotes a feeling or transports you into a fantasy land. Photography is fun like that - it doesn't have to make sense. You can dress a model in a crazy outfit you'd never wear in real life but somehow it makes sense in a photo.
8. What's one piece of equipment (besides your camera) that is crucial to have on every shoot?
My tether cord! I shoot a lot of jewelry so I need to always check to make sure my shots are in focus. Having my photos pop up on my computer in real time while shooting is so helpful. It allows me to adjust as I go and never have to reshoot anything.
9. Who is your dream client and dream destination for a shoot?
I have two dream clients - Target and Gucci! haha They are very different from each other! But I love the perfected commercial look of Target's photography and the fantasy world Gucci always creates in their campaigns. Dream destination - always wanted to shoot at a mansion! Marble staircase, baby grand piano, something really expensive looking with a pool!
10. What advice would you give to other young women starting businesses? What are some things you would've liked to have known before starting your business?
Shoot and post the work you want to get hired to create. And never stop practicing. Even though I have over 5 years of portfolio work, I never stop practicing and adding to my portfolio.
Check out Champagne's work here:
Podcast Episode: http://www.jessicawhitaker.co/blog/champagne
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