Adrienne Pitts: Life of a Freelance Traveling Photographer

Back in November of 2016, I had the privilege to be in attendance at Passion Passport’s first ever NYC speaker series. To kick it off, the first panel focused on women in photography where they discussed their travels and “what it takes to balance a love for exploration with a career in photography.” One of the 3 female photographers happened to be Adrienne Pitts, who’s work and writing I’ve praised multiple times in view of how she exemplifies the type of imagery that captivates and transports me right there with her. The talk was absolutely insightful and if at any point I might have felt I wanted to learn more about Adrienne’s photographic journey, lucky for you and I she was recently a guest on Feisworld Podcast which at the end, I considered the interview an extension to all the valuable tips she was gracious enough to share back in November with us in New York.

Very often it’s easy to become enamored with the idea of doing something that appears entertaining from the outside but unless there’s people like Adrienne who are willing to provide you a glimpse of what goes into creating the type of work that you and I drool over, you would never know. My biggest takeaway from the podcast episode: “I think it’s important to be brutally honest about what it’s like to work in this industry…sure it looks pretty on Instagram…it does look amazing but you can’t see the weeks and weeks spent editing on the computer and not talking to anyone.”

Nikeva in Studio

On every single chance I’ve had to catch up with Nikeva during one of her many unexpected visits to New York, I’ve had the luxury of her timing aligning perfectly with not just an impeccable warm weather but amplified by an even equally gratifying sunset. Obviously I can’t rely on such ideal circumstances in the middle of winter, so I took the opportunity of our most recent meet to push myself outside the comfort zone of relying on natural light to shoot the majority of my work and experiment with the daunting task of tinkering with studio lights.

I rented the same Brooklyn studio, attempted my best to recall all the technical stuff I had read without having it consume my every thought because if you do, I can foresee it being a lot like a choreographer counting their every step as oppose to enjoying the moment and connecting with the people around them. I absolutely have a lot to learn but it’s been a blast testing out concept that scared the heck out of me a year ago.

During the same session with Nikeva, I test shot with Tashon Hopkins as well."

IN-Q on Saying Yes

I can’t say I’ve ever been into poetry but probably because I had yet to come across any that resonated with me in the right way. Like any literary piece, your choice between one thing or another might be dependent on the type of experiences you’ve had from them and by far IN-Q’s work is absolutely incredible. I must have re-watched this particular video more than 10 times just so I can fully synthesize the depth of his words. I became aware of who IN-Q was via Lewis Howe’s The School of Greatness Podcast and I quickly Youtubed him thereafter to familiarize myself more with his work.

Among my 2 favorites lines in this particular poetic piece he delivered in TEDxHollywood back in 2014 was:

The only think I know is that we’re all in this together and the future of this earth depends on how we treat each other but how we treat each other starts with how we treat ourselves and how we treat ourselves starts with how we see ourselves and how we see ourselves starts with context.”

Do something you’ve never done, do someone you’ve never done, go someplace you’ve never gone, some place that will scare you some, be someone you’ve never been…everywhere you are is where you’re suppose to be.”

I can't recommend enough for you to view it!

Life is Not an Instagram Photo

When it comes to transparency in our work, Cap Wakins once said that the “more people who can see what you’re doing and how it’s evolving, the better.” Transparency is raw, it’s real and believe it or not, it’s appealing. There’s very few ways to establish trust with people but by far one of them is in being transparent. I’m not saying you have to set foot on a stage, adjust the mic and tell people your life’s secrets but you can rest assure that there’s people out there who admire something you do based on what you choose to share out on social media.

From a spectator’s perspective, it may seem you have everything figured out but we all know that’s not the case. In fact, I read somewhere that “no one tends to have their sh*t together until the age of 30 at the earliest”, so maybe that’s you and me. But to those who applaud the “socially polished, filter prettied world” they see on Instagram or any other platform, I encourage you to heed this advise from Megan Dalla-Camina:

This is so true! Life is not an Instagram photo. When I don’t get the chance to inject as much backstory into the caption of an Instagram photo, you can rest assure I’ve put in more time to writing about what I’ve share here on the blog. Whether people read it is one thing but I at least consider it to be my way in being transparent and that we’re all figuring sh*t out as we go along.

#WomensMarchNYC

In an unprecedented disapproval to the inauguration of Donald Trump as the new President of the United States, I along with hundreds and hundreds of people took to the streets and marched in protest right here in New York. Originally the plan was to attempt to make it out to the big march in Washington, D.C but logistically it didn’t work out but as it turned out, it all worked in my favor because I was quickly reminded that you don’t necessarily have to travel for to stand up to what you believe is just.

Some people marched to support all those who feels threatened by what’s happening in America, to support human rights, for justice for all, to stand against everything Trump signifies, for undocumented immigrants who deserve better, etc. It’ll without question be a day I’ll never forget and that I’ll always talk about! If there was ever a time to unite together as Americans this was the day.

Tashon Hopkins

Well, I can’t necessarily say I’m 100% occupied with photography jobs persay, especially when I’m not fortunate enough to do this for a living yet but I certainly occupy my time test shooting with people who are gracious enough to want to do so. Lately, it’s been a lot about lighting and putting into practice the endless hours of having watched numerous YouTube videos and CreativeLive course on the subject. Like anything else, lighting can be very elaborate and vexing but you won’t fully understand how much unless you go through the process of tinkering with it to make sense of it.

A get asked a lot about how I go about finding people to test shoot with which I wrote about as it relates to Instagram. Needless to say, reaching out and finding someone is never an issue. Perhaps a lot more important for me is being able to have a clear vision as to what I’m hoping to create during a test shoot as I take into account the person's time and also the money you might have already invested in renting out a studio along with lighting equipment. It all adds up quick.

Less is more is what they say which was my intention for this shoot with Tashon as I strived to keep it as minimalistic as possible and focus entirely on learning how to shape the light. There’s a few things I can easily reflect back on that are indicative a to what I could have done differently but overall it was extremely satisfying and fascinating to finally see in person what you can create by incorporating studio light to your work. Depending on the look you’re going for, the biggest hurdle to unravel for me was learning how to incorporating studio light into my work while still retaining that natural light quality.

Once I nailed the quality light I was aiming for, I purposely shut out from my mind the technical intricacies of the lights and focused entirely on Tashon to capture those impromptu moments.

Cheers to more experimenting!

The Importance of Authenticity in Lifestyle Photos

If you want to take fun photos, you have to be fun. I don’t mean to say that I’m always a barrel of laughs, but on a photoshoot, I try to remember and convey to everyone that we’re supposed to be having fun. Once we reach that point, the everything else just flows naturally.

Before I had even reached a thorough understanding of what lifestyle photography was about, John Schell’s BTS footage of him walking us through a typical shoot was my first exposure to the stuff you don’t typically see unless you’re fortunate enough to be on set. At the beginning, it’s very simple to get drawn into all the technical intricacies of shooting and loosing sight of the fact that the entire experience should at the very minimum be fun. To me there’s no other way.

Like John said, if the end product comes across as seeming like it was fun, then I have no doubt it was because that very natural and carefree human reaction can only be faked for so long if the people involved weren’t truly having a blast. How you get to that happy place will depend largely in your vibe, in your ability to carry on an engaging conversation with someone as you're shooting and if you happen to be in a controlled environment like a studio, I can’t imagine shooting without music. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be my preferred taste. I’ll let the model choose what they want as long as it’s likely to get them in a joyful mood which is why I always carry one of these badboys with me all the time. Nothing fancy but it gets the work done: Omaker M4 Portable Bluetooth

Having fun on a photo shoot is a lot like the settings on your camera. You don’t just set it and forget it all the time. It’s something you meddle with until you’re obtaining what you hope out of it and the secret sauce to all that is having fun.

No More FOMO

There is always someone better. There is always someone with better gear, more free time, and more experience. Before Instagram, we didn’t really know about these people. But now we do and we get it rubbed in our jealous little noses on a daily basis.

The biggest area I would potentially be more jealous with would be time. Think about it. Getting better comes with time. Better gear is worth investing once you’ve put in your time and as far as the experience, the combination of the previous 2 factors will shine through in your work with time. So while now more than ever we get the opportunity to see what other people are up to, my biggest takeaway from Lisa’s respectable article is that your absolute focus should be on what you’re creating and not so much in consuming what others are sharing because in the end, if you continue down this trajectory, it’s no wonder why they’ll have more to share than you do, hence the jealousy.