Thursday, August 21, 2014

BEHIND THE LENS: Nikki Gardner of Art & Lemons, Western Massachusetts

I am so excited to feature the beautiful work of Nikki Gardner of Art and Lemons on our Behind the Lens series this week.  Some of you may be familiar with Nikki's work as she is a contributor to the very popular photography blog Mortal Muses and she has an e-course Develop Your Photo Habit & Style:  10 Minutes a Day for 31 Days. 

As you can see from the images below, Nikki's images really make you feel like you are a part of the scene.  Her work is so inspiring. Thank you Nikki for sharing your lovely images and story with us today!

Your Name: Nikki Gardner
Your studio/business name: Art & Lemons
Location: Western Massachusetts

Your Style

In 50 words or less, how would your clients describe your photography? I think my style would be described as narrative, honest, engaging, and spontaneous with a bit of wit thrown in every once and while. When I’m working with people, I want them to trust my vision and to forget the camera is present.

Are you self-taught or classroom trained? Classroom trained, but I’m forever a student of the medium.

How many years have you been a professional photographer? I’ve been a fine art photographer since 2001. Over the past five years, I’ve expanded into editorial photography as well.

Where do you want to take your photography business in 5 years? I want to shoot more editorial and lifestyle features for books, magazines, and newspapers.

Is there a photographer who inspires your style?  Yes, there are so many. I feel like my list of influences is always evolving…

Who would that be? Currently, I’m into Saul Leiter’s color street photographs, Alex Prager’s cinematic narratives, Brian W. Ferry’s artist and designer profiles,  and Erin Kunkel’s food, lifestyle, and travel photographs.

Favorite location to take photos? Wherever there is light though I love to photograph New York City. It’s vibrant and in constant motion, even at night.

Favorite vacation spot? Cape Cod.

Your Business

What was the pivotal moment when you decided to become a photographer? In my early 20s I moved to Portland, Oregon to attend a graduate studies program in International Business. A few weeks into the program, I went out to dinner with some of my classmates. One of the guys, I can’t even remember his name anymore, asked me what I wanted to do after graduation. Truthfully, I said, I just want to take photographs. He replied, then why don’t you. After that, I left the program and started taking pictures. I wish I could remember his name to thank him.

What’s the best marketing tip that has worked for you? Be bold. Constantly put yourself out there. Make friends and genuine connections with people on social media and in person. Promote other people’s work. Share what you do and your process. Be interested and interesting with what you share online. Above all, keep pitching your ideas and projects.

What’s the most surprising thing a customer has asked you? During a solo gallery showing of my fine art work, someone asked if the photographs in the series were real or made up. Both, I replied.

Favorite print lab? For fine art photography, I use a local lab, Pivot Media. I can go in a proof the prints, and make adjustments to ensure the prints are spot on.

Your Gear

Are you Canon or Nikon (or –other): Nikon

If you could only have one lens on a photo shoot, what would it be? Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lens

What brand bag do you carry your camera in? My digital bag is a small practical Lowepro. For film cameras, I carry a large Tenba bag with a Polaroid Spectra, Nikon f100, and Hasselblad 500 cm.

What gear would we find in your camera bag? Nikon d7000 (although I hope to upgrade to a Nikon d800 soon), Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lens, Nikon 24 -70mm f/2.8 lens, Nikon Speedlight SB/600.

Are you a natural light fan or strobe fan? Natural light all the way.

Are you PC or Mac? Mac

Your Tips and Tricks

What post processing tools do you use? For digital images, I use Lightroom 5.6 and adjust my photos manually. When I do use LR Presets, I like Totally Rad’s Replichrome Film Presets, both I and II. For film images, I get the film developed at a local lab, and then scan them with an Epson v700. Minimal editing is done in Photoshop CS5.

Do you shoot in Raw or Jpeg? Raw

Best advice you would give your 20-year old self? Trust your heart. Work on your craft. Don’t worry about whether you have any talent or if you’re good enough or not. Think about whether or not you are capturing something true, in yourself and in the moment. Also, learn how to be a keen editor of your own work. This takes time and practice. Be patient with yourself. You’ll make mistakes along the way. It’s okay. Pick yourself up and start again.

Best advice you would give a new photographer? Shoot constantly. Make photography your obsession. Decide what you’re passionate about photographing and practice. Give yourself assignments. Practice under varying conditions so that when you’re in the field, you’ll have experience to fall back on. Do it until you tire of it, then keep going. Push through until you make the kind of photographs you admire.

What site do you use for your photography and why? (although my portfolio site is currently under construction.)

And just because we want to know you better, fill in the blanks

Three things I can’t live without…. Coffee, books, my yoga mat.
I wish I had more…..time to travel and make photographs. I have a long list of places I want to photograph. Now I need to make it happen.
The best thing about being a photographer is… finding truth in everyday moments.
The most important lesson I ever learned was….Say yes, even when you have no idea what you’re doing, just say yes, then figure out how to accomplish what needs to be done.

My favorite time of day is…early morning.

1 comment:

  1. I love the way Nikki teaches her e-courses. I have just finished her second class and I learned things where I have looked at others work and did not know how to do. And she is very available.


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