Tuesday, March 15, 2011


We fell in love with Laura Tillinghast work when we were introduced to it a few months ago.  She has an innate ability to capture the timeless essence of the subject she is photographing.  The mood, the colors, the emotion all come through.  She's right here in our own backyard, in the San Francisco area.  Please join us as we reveal, Laura Tillinghast.

Your Name: Laura Tillinghast
Your studio/business name: Laura Tillinghast Photography
Location: San Francisco Bay Area, CA

Your Style
  • In 50 words or less, how would your clients describe your photography?  I always get the words clean, pure and bright. My clients also see a female perspective, regardless of what I am shooting.
  • Are you self-taught or classroom trained? Both. I started shooting film at a young age and learned as much as I could until I needed to start taking classes to improve and add to my knowledge. Studying photography in college taught me the basics of dark room processing. Practicing and experimenting on my own taught me more about lighting than you can ever learn in a classroom.
  • How many years have you been a professional photographer? I accepted by first paid job as a photographer 13 years ago.
  • Where do you want to take your photography business in 5 years?  I want to continue to shoot in national publications and travel to the east coast more to shoot with clients there.
  • Is there a photographer who inspires your style? Who would that be?  I love Joyce Tenneson’s portrait work. She has a soft feminine touch that inspires me.
  • Favorite location to take photos? Anywhere outside of the studio. I love shooting on location and the craziness and spontaneity that comes with it.
  • Favorite vacation spot? I have recently become a big fan of the Hawaiian islands. So far Maui is my favorite island.
Your Business
  • What was the pivotal moment when you decided to become a photographer?  This is probably very typical for many photographers but for me the the moment I realized that I had found what I had been looking for happened in the darkroom. The first image I ever processed by hand needed some dodging and burning and as I watched my image slowly appear in the developer it was like magic and something in me clicked.
  • What’s the best marketing tip that has worked for you? Word of mouth. I have gotten more work from word of mouth and networking than I have from advertising or pounding the pavement with my portfolio.
  • What’s the most surprising thing a customer has asked you? I have been asked to shoot everything. EVERYTHING. You can use your imagination  :)
  • Favorite print lab? I love Mpix/MpixPro and more importantly my clients are always thrilled with their prints. I have used a variety of labs in the past with mixed results. I know I can count on Mpix and that gives me peace of mind. 

Your Gear
  • Are you Canon or Nikon (or – gasp--“other”): I shoot with Canon gear but before I switched to a digital work flow I was a Nikon lover. I have lots of other cameras too so I am not a one brand girl.
  • If you could only have one lens on a photo shoot, what would it be? Hands down the Canon 75-200 2.8 IS
  • What brand bag do you carry your camera in? I have a Tamron bag but what I really love is my ShootSac for carrying lenses during a shoot. It is the perfect size and very comfortable.
  • What gear would we find in your camera bag? I always carry gaffrer’s tape, bobby pins, a sewing kit, extra batteries and chapstick.
  • Are you a natural light fan or strobe fan? I love shooting with both, especially at the same time. However, I love the amount of control I have with strobes in studio. With natural light I love the versatility and improvisation that it requires.
  • Are you PC or Mac? Mac. 

Your Tips and Tricks
  • What post processing tools do you use? I always use Adobe Bridge and Photoshop for editing and processing.
  • Do you shoot in Raw or Jpeg? RAW, you never know when you might need to adjust something one direction or the other.
  • Best advice you would give your 20-year old self? Have more confidence in your work and don’t second guess yourself. Your instincts are worth listening to.
  • Best advice you would give a new photographer? Shoot as much as possible, all types of images. This is what will help you to develop a style that is all your own.
  • What site do you use for your photography and why? I have a Zenfolio website. I have a great relationship with the company but more importantly my clients love it.

What Else Should We Know?
  • What was your worst photography experience? I don’t normally shoot weddings but I had a bride come to me and beg me to shoot her wedding the following weekend as her photographer had canceled last minute. I was hesitant but felt bad for her and said yes. This was a mistake. She embodied all of the qualities of a ‘Bridezilla’ and tormented me for a good year after her wedding. I now can guess why the other photographer bailed while they had the chance.
  • What would surprise people most about you, whether it is photography related or not?   I have a black belt in American Kickboxing and I teach free women’s self defense classes on the weekends.
  • Tell us something else you’d like us to know: When I am not shooting you will find me in the kitchen baking or outside enjoying nature.
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  1. Great interview. However, I did not know there is a 75-200mm IS 1.8 lens on the market.

  2. Hi Hui - thanks for catching this! We corrected the specs, it is a Canon 75-200mm IS 2.8. The link to that lens has been updated under YOUR GEAR.
    - Moms Who Click


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