Today we’d like to introduce you to Natalie Rockwell.
Natalie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My interest in photography started very early in life. Before my family had a camera, we had this giant Video Camera, my dad’s old fashioned camcorder. It was about a foot long, and several inches wide, and fit VHS tapes to record on. My father used it all the time to record family moments, and when I was 7 years old he showed me how to use it. I was a creative kid and started to take ‘still photos’ by arranging my subject and then recording just a few seconds of video. My first subjects were my dolls and stuffed animals, and I’d spend hours in my homemade portrait studio.
Very soon, my mother recognized all the wasted tape I was producing, so she bought me a film point and shoot camera. With a few lessons on composition and lighting I started using my siblings and the neighbor kids as subjects. At this point I was still shooting ‘studio style’ photos with a backdrop and still life to frame my subjects.
By high school, I’d purchased a nicer film camera, but it was still just a point and shoot model. I began to do documentary style work at parties, around the house, and at summer camp. I purchased and paid for the developing of all of my own film, which taught me to be conservative and deliberate with my shutter count.
When I graduated from high school, I used every penny of my graduation money to buy my first digital camera, a Canon 30D. Looking back, I can’t believe I didn’t consider a career in photography. I carried my camera everywhere and began to teach myself how to use the manual settings.
The Spring after I graduated, I attended a small bible school in Kona, HI that had a photography program. The teachers there gave me great assignments that really forced me to experiment with my camera. During the 3-month course I learned a ton about my camera and really began to enjoy manual photography in documentary and portrait work.
After that brief stint in school, I returned home to accept a position at the retail store I’d been working in during high school, and that was the end of my photography interest. I spend the next 6 years working in retail and climbing the ladder. When I was finally offered a position as a Store Manager, I realized there was no way I could last if I was tied to a retail building for the rest of my life.
During that period, I had been in several weddings and been particularly interested in watching the photographers work. I’m a very hard working and creative person, so I quickly became a little frustrated with them. As a rule, they all seemed unorganized, indecisive, and were the least favorite person I encountered at or in weddings. It seemed like they were either in the way or not around when something great was happening. On top of that, my friends would complain that they went months or even a year without seeing their Wedding Photos. Nobody was having a great experience, and afterwards I was never impressed with their pictures.
Finally, I began to think about taking pictures professionally. I knew that I could do a better job than the photographers I was crossing paths with, and I’d been doing Family and Senior portraits as a side job since high school anyway. In 2013 I acquired some new lenses, started taking classes online, and really challenged myself to start producing print-worthy work.
By 2014, I was using photoshop with confidence and shooting portraits on a regular basis! I quit my day job, started to advertise on Facebook and in some print media around the valley, and dedicated myself to learning and pushing myself so that I was always on top of the photography market trends. Now, with the support of my husband who is a phenomenal graphic and web designer, I am shooting Weddings primarily, and still enjoy family and portrait work on the side. It took a lot of work and lots of rough months scraping by, but I finally feel like I’ve developed a brand and style that are something worth paying for.
Has it been a smooth road?
After I left retail, I took several other day jobs to make ends meet when I couldn’t support myself with photography. I nannied, worked at an insurance company, even became a barista at Starbucks. But all those other jobs ended up teaching me things that I’ve brought into photography, so I wouldn’t trade any of those experiences. I lost lots of sleep, worked on my lunch breaks, and had several 20+ hour days while I was working 2 or 3 jobs at a time.
In the beginning, I faced opposition from my friends and family as well. Not exactly aggressive opposition, but incredulity at least. Everyone was worried that I was making a foolish decision and wasting my time. Every time I’d start to talk about my ideas and the things I was working on, people would check out. I could read in their faces that they almost pitied me for leaving my stable retail career and jumping into something ambiguous like photography. My best friend actually referenced this time in her speech at my wedding. My husband was the first person who told me I was crazy NOT to pursue my passion, that’s how she knew that we were perfect for each other.
Aside from the actual physical work, it was exhausting mentally. Working out a marketing strategy, staying visible on social media, constantly learning new techniques and trends… it takes a lot of time and mental energy. Luckily all of those things fell into place and became way easier when I got married last November. My husband is a tremendous source of information and ideas, and with his experience in the web and graphic design industry he has saved me thousands of dollars and endless amounts of time on things like my brand strategy and website.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Natalie Lynn Photography – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I am primarily a Wedding Photographer. Right now, I have 2 photographers who do contract work for me as second shooters at weddings, and another that I call on as a backup. One of my biggest goals is to become successful enough to employ them full time, because they are incredibly talented and I’d love to provide that for them.
My style is a great blend of documentary work and posed portraits. I have 2 favorite photographers who have wildly different styles and I do my best to take the best of what I see in their work and translate it into my brand. Although my photos are very crisp and bright, I offer fun light leaks and some ethereal post processing that seems to be very attractive to brides in the current market. The blend of candid moments and studio style posed portraits also seems to be in high demand right now, so I love that I can bring my passion for both of those shooting methods to a Wedding and use them so harmoniously to capture all the right moments for a new couple.
Recently, I’ve restructured my pricing to allow for complete customization of a Wedding Quote. I’m really proud of the thought and care that’s gone into this new business model and I think that Brides of all walks of life will find that it’s incredibly easy and flexible to get exactly what they want from their wedding photos, and at the right price.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love everything about Phoenix. I love the heat, the variety in landscape, the city, the desert, and the people. I’ve lived in Hawaii, California and Nebraska and been very unhappy. Between the crazy natural disasters and the unpredictable weather, I was always frustrated with my living situation. Arizona is awesome because we have no natural disasters aside from the occasional sand storm. Monsoon season is beautiful and fairly predictable. I know what to expect and that allows me to plan my life, and my shooting schedule, without any surprises!
Arizona also offers the most incredible landscapes. From my house I can reach a stunning lake in Tempe, the Arboretum in Superior, the trees in Payson, Red Rock in Sedona, and the saguaros in the desert within a 90-120 minute drive. That’s just incredible to me. It’s so beautiful here, and the light is always stunning.
Phoenix itself offers so much in the way of entertainment and culture. We are big fans of theater and symphony music, so I spend a lot of time in downtown Phoenix and Tempe. The music scene here is fantastic!
- Wedding Pricing – Packages range from $600-$4,000
- Senior Portraits – $300/hour
- Studio work – $400/hour
- Website: http://www.natalielynn.photography
- Phone: 480-603-6883
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/natalieswainphoto
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/natalielynnphotography.design
Natalie Lynn Photography