Charlene’s Portrait Photography Experience

Portrait Photography, Maternity photography and newborn photography is the focus of the podcast today.  Speaking with Charlene whose photography work has appeared in the Ultimate Wedding Magazine.

Alvern: Hi, ladies. Alvern here. Today, we are going to be looking at the topic of portrait photography, and to do that, I have a special guest on with us today. Her name is Charlene, and I am going to get Charlene to introduce herself. Over to you, Charlene.

Charlene: Hi. Yes, my name is Charlene, and I am the founder of Honey Bee Lens Photography business. I’ve had my business for around about six years now.

Alvern: Very good. Awesome. Well, thanks for joining us today, Charlene.

Charlene: Thank you, my pleasure.

Alvern: Good, good. So, to kick it off, I’m just going to ask a few questions. In terms of the photography, obviously, business, or even just portrait photography as a whole. Obviously, you didn’t start as a business, you probably started doing it as a hobby first. So, in terms of that, when did you get involved in photography, and why?

Charlene: Yes, of course. My path and my journey in photography started when I was a child, when I was a teenager, really. I loved to study all the old photos in my home, and we had so many photos from retro photos from my grandparents to my siblings in the 70s and 80s, and myself included. I just realised that every single snap was capturing a moment in that one person’s life, leaving memories to last a lifetime, really. So, it always fascinated me in that regard, and at around when I was 17, an option arose for me to take an extra A Level at my school at Banbridge Academy here in Northern Ireland, and I jumped at the chance to study photography. So, this was all before the digital age when all film cameras were around. I had many fun hours in the darkroom, developing my images. That was a lot of fun. So, that was really the start of it, and I just sort of went on from strength to strength. I’ve been a freelance photographer, a portrait photographer, and as I said, I’m the founder of Honey Bee Lens portrait photography.

Alvern: Awesome. That’s great. That’s a really nice little background there, which leads me nicely on to the next question. Because of that then, that little background that you’ve had, would you consider yourself to be a natural at photography because some people have to study a lot of years for it. But would you consider yourself being a natural photographer?

Charlene: Yeah, that’s the thing. I honestly do think that it does come second nature to me, and I am … Apart from my A Level, I’m all completely self-taught as a photographer. So, I definitely I’m a creative person, and I think that’s reflected in my images, but everybody can photograph, so every individual’s different. But I think it was natural for me, yes.

Alvern: Cool. Nice. And what would you consider as your area of specialty, or areas, even?

Charlene: Yeah. As I mentioned there, I’m a portrait photographer, but I do specialise in baby bump or maternity, if you want to call it that, and newborn babies. I also work with both families and children as well, so that’s my specialty, in that field.

Alvern: Good, good. What would you consider being your favourite? Every photographer has their favourite set of camera kit that they like to use. What would yours be?

Charlene: Yeah. Definitely. Well, I’m a total Canon girl, that’s for sure. I’ve used Canon since I was a teenager, and I just love the brand and I’ve stuck with it. That was my favourite camera. I currently use a camera the Canon 6D at present. It’s a great camera. In terms of lenses, well, I’ve actually had a love for a lot of lenses. The Canon 1.4 aperture, effects 50 millimetre, is one that I use a lot, and I love that one for closeups, for instance, as I specialise in little babies. That’s a great lens to use for close-ups of their features, so say, for instance, their toes or their lips. It’s a fantastic little lens.

Another one of my favourites would be the Canon 70-200 millimetre 2.8 aperture, and the reason why I like this lens is that it gives a lovely bokeh or you don’t know what that means, sort of add a blurrier focus, look to your picture. Which I think is super cool, I just think it’s really, really lovely in photos. It’s not only that about lens, it’s a great all-around lens because you can use it for nature and landscape as well. But I would say just be warned with this one that it is probably one of the heaviest lenses out there, so you might want to get yourself a large bag for that lens. But it’s one of my favourites, though.

Alvern: Cool. Good [inaudible 00:05:42] too. Have you ever had an incident where you’re taking … Obviously, you’re out there with your client and you’re taking photos, and you either run out of either battery or run out of space in terms of storage? If that happened, ever happened to you, what did you do?

Charlene: Yeah, actually, it has happened to me once, but luckily enough, it was an outdoor photo shoot, a sort of nature maternity shoot I did a few years back, and I actually was running out the door and forgot to lift my battery pack and my battery for the camera. So, I thought oh my goodness, now what am I going to do? But I was blessed that it was only about 10 minutes away from my own home, so the client I was with, she just found it hilarious and she came with me. We picked it up, and the redness finally left my face, and that was okay. So, that was definitely a highly embarrassing moment for me, but I’m glad that my client found a funny part to it, so it’s definitely something that I triple check every time, that I have got the right memory card, the right storage space, and that the battery’s charged and I have the battery. So, I definitely make sure I’ve got the case now.

Alvern: Nice. Thank you. Thank you for giving us that. And then in terms of all of these years of experience, you’ve been doing this since you were a teenager, there must have been one … Either a photo shoot or a time when you took photographs that was really, really inspirational for you, that sort of had a big impact on your life. Can you remember when that was, and tell us about that?

Charlene: Yes. My most inspiration shoot to date … Well, I’d have to say that every single shoot that I do is inspirational and important to me, to be honest. I mean, working with moms-to-be is a lot of fun. The women are just glowing with happiness and excitement, and it’s always a pleasure to capture these moments with them. Newborn shoots as well are a great follow-on from the maternity sessions, but they’re quite lengthy those ones. So, it’s just always good to stay calm and patient. You get the right capture there at that time, I mean, there’s nothing more sweet and beautiful than capturing these little moments of a newborn little human within the first two weeks of their life on earth. So, it’s really utterly precious.

But that being said now, I did have a lot of fun on a completely different photo shoot, and that was on a film set, actually. I was selected last summer to be a film still photographer, and that was for a Northern Ireland short movie funded by the Northern Ireland Film Board. So, that was really, really inspiring. It’s in this photo shoot I worked around the clock non-stop for four days on location around the [inaudible 00:09:07] in Belfast and it was pretty intense actually and during this position, I would capture all the film scenes and or images … You’re laughing and you’re not sure what that means. So all the images of the movie essentially. These included capturing the director with his clipboard for instance and snapping the makeup artist behind the scenes and to the actors reciting their lines.

So this was a very different photography experience and I loved every single minute of it. The movie is called There’s Something About the Virgin Mary. It’s a comedy around the owner of an empty struggling bar and he’s attempting to see if his livelihood and inadvertently the village church. It’s a very funny short movie. It was real, real pleasure to be part of that. On top of that, the movie this year has been selected for the 2017 European Short Film Festival as well as the Kansas International Film Festival, the San Antonio Film Festival and the Chicago and San Francisco, Irish Film festivals. So this was a great honour and I’m delighted that I was able to take part in this shoot. That was fun. It was a lot of fun.

Alvern: Let’s see. What else do we have here? I think as well you mentioned to me some time ago that your photos were featured in a magazine. Tell us more about that.

Charlene: Yeah. That’s right. It was only a couple of years ago, I decided to bring out my creative side even more by self-styling and developing a bridal photo shoot. Sorry, the power of social media, and mainly Twitter I was able to Network with a variety of people including a makeup artist and stylist to help me with my vision, with my creation. I thought that my images were really strong and I felt confident enough to reach out to one of the UK’s leading magazines. They are called Ultimate Wedding Magazine and I actually got a response pretty much straight away to let me know that they really loved my images and they actually used 12 of my images. That was just music to my ears, I was absolutely delighted about that. I’m happy that my hard work and determination actually paid off. Definitely one of my career highlights and that was definitely a lot of fun. It was really, really a great moment.

Alvern: Nice, very nice. So anyone who’s listening out here in terms of practice. Like I don’t know, I do a bit of photography myself but I don’t know for you if it is you, do you see yourself having to practice all the time to make sure you keep current or does it just come naturally to you?

Charlene: Yeah, I mean I think practice is good. I mean I am photographing all the time, myself. Every week I’m sort on location, but I’m also looking at new forms to make my photographs stand out to appeal to the wider audience. For instance, I purchase a new kit maybe prop and for one of my newborn sessions, yeah maybe a little cute hat or a little throne or perhaps connect with some other photographers on LinkedIn or Instagram and just to share tips or inspire each other. So it’s a lovely thing, certainly in terms of the more formal approach. There’s a great deal of learning out there on YouTube and a lot of different magazines that you can pick up and learn more of that sort of structured formal approach. So yeah, there’s always something going on and I am always trying to grow in my work that’s for sure.

Alvern: Brilliant. And for anyone who listening out there, who is probably thinking maybe they are like you did probably at 16 or 17 and they’re thinking, they want to get into photography. What sort of advice would you give to them as they listen here?

Charlene: Absolutely if you are listening I would say, 100% follow your dream, don’t give up on that. My advice would be, try and get some work shadowing or work experience with maybe a local photographer. They can arrange maybe a coffee or something non-formal just to hear about their story and what it involves. Because it’s not easy, there is a lot of work and a lot of … These days you’re post editing on Photoshop and Lightroom so there’s a lot of learning that but certainly it’s very rewarding. I would say that try and get that experience. Remember that photography comes in many different forms. It’s also important to get to know which aspect that you like and to get from there.

Alvern: Cool, brilliant. Thanks so much. Then from listeners who … Expectant mothers or who just had their baby probably in the last few days and they want to avail of your services so that they too can get you to come out on the site and do photography for them. How can they contact you?

Charlene: Of course, I would be delighted to hear from anybody out there that is expecting a baby or they have a newborn baby or even if they’re looking for a family photo shoot, place to get and contact. You can contact me via my website, which is www.honeybeelens.com and also on my Facebook page, which is Facebook.com/honeybeelens and that’s all one word and also on Instagram, you can find me, lower case or one word it’s honeybee then insert lens on Instagram. So they’re the three methods in which you can contact me.

Alvern: Cool. Any final words. For those listeners out there probably wanting to see your work. I’ll see if I can get her to bring one her photographs that they can put in the show notes so you guys can see it there. But then any final advice then Charlene for people listening out here either if they are looking to hire a photographer or if they’re looking to get into photography. If you can give advice both ways, that’d be great.

Charlene: Yes certainly, I’d say that if you’re looking for a newborn baby or family photographer, there’s a lot of really talented artists out there. So you’ll check out their websites but I hope you’ll check out mine. So yes that’s honeybeelens.com but what I would say if you are a budding photographer and you’re not too sure what to do, I’ll just say again like I said previously to follow your heart and follow your dreams. But it’s really never is, truly pick up a camera and definitely go for it.

Alvern: Perfect. Well, thanks ever so much for joining us today Charlene and thank you listeners for tuning into our show. Hopefully, it would help at least one or maybe two people, they are families or moms, inspiring them to either, get in contact with Charlene. Or it is you are too far away like from here somewhere in the Galapagos Islands and you are too far from us. You can contact one of your local photographers. But be inspired and enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy the rest of your week and thanks so much and bye for now.

Charlene: Thank you bye bye.

Alvern: Bye bye.

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