Interview With Professional Oklahoma Photographer Crystal Qualls
Q: What does photography mean to you?
A: Photography, to me, is thinking outside of the box, going that extra mile and giving that extra 100% to all things that you photograph. It is a passion inside of me that pushes me to book more, to study more, to perfect the art of photography to the best of my ability.
Q: Do you have any formal training regarding photography?
A: None, other than the certification I recently received from Penn Foster Career Schools
Q: Do you like to talk about yourself or your pictures? If yes, about what aspects of photography? If no, why?
A: I find myself a rather boring person so when asked about myself there is very little to tell, my pictures on the other hand…when done of people other than clients, such as my family, I do love to talk about them. I don’t wish to say much when it is portraiture done of a client as I would feel too much as though I were violating their privacy.
Q: How would you describe your attention span?
A: Hmmm…I tend to focus on a million things all at one time till I have my camera in my hands, then it is as though every thought disappears other than making the client their most comfortable and photogenic.
Q: When did you decide to become a photographer?
A: Photography is something I have loved since I was a small child but never thought to pursue it as more than a hobby until June 2009, even then it was the persuasion and backing of my husband that truly encouraged me to make more out of my passion for photography.
Q: Can you recall the first photo you took that made you go WOW!?
A: I can actually, it was of a family portrait I did for a referral family this past November. It was their Christmas portraits with the best to be used on their family Christmas card that year. I am the most critical of all of my work and have found flaws in all shoots done, with the exception of that one. I’m not sure if it was something that I did, or if it was simply the beauty of the family that made these pictures so amazingly beautiful, but I have yet to feel that way since then nor had I ever felt that way before. Now that is my goal, to make every shot have that “WOW!” factor for me and not just for the clients.
Q: How technical is your photography?
A: Hmmm…I really don’t view my photography as being technical. I am not one of those “Pose just like this. Now, don’t move! Say cheese!” type of photographers. I much prefer to shoot a more relaxed client, those who often times pose themselves with minimal guidance from me. My camera is one of the lower end DSLR’s when considering prices but works wonderfully and produces work that I am proud to turn over to my clients.
Q: How do you feel about cropping?
A: Cropping is something I only do if absolutely necessary and even then only slightly
Q: Where is your favorite place to live and work as a photographer in the World and why?
A: As I’m not a world traveler and have been very little places, I would have to say Oklahoma City. That is where my business really took off and where so many of my repeat clients reside. Plus it is truly a beautiful and diverse city with so much going on at any given time.
Q: Define the word “beauty”!
A: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and to me could be anything from an old, abandoned building that looks as though a good wind could blow it over to a unique doorway, rugged pasture, or an attractive person.
Q: What is your most favorite and least favorite word in photography or life? How do they make you feel?
A: In life in general my least favorite word is “NO!”. That is definitely a word that makes me feel restricted and confined.
Q: How does your personality change when you look through the camera?
A: I’m not sure that my personality does change when I look through the camera. I am focused and thoughtful when holding my camera which are both qualities I believe I am even when not holding my camera.
Q: How do you feel about missed shots which cannot be recreated?
A: Those shots that are missed and cannot be recreated sadden me, and make me regret not having my camera on the ready for each and everyone.
Q: Ever concerned about failure?
A: Of course, it is impossible not to be, especially given the state of the economy
Q: Who are your influences?
A: My influences are both God and other photographers. Though I would never take on someone’s idea it is easy to view one’s work, fall in love with it, and then put your own spin on it to make it uniquely your own.
Q: What is your favorite image, either your own or someone else’s or both? Describe its creation or meaning to you?
A: Honestly, I don’t believe I have a favorite image, neither of my own nor someone elses. I can see the beauty in nearly all photos that I view. Even when other’s do not.
Q: Describe a day in your personal or professional life.
A: As my personal life is really quite boring, though rather chaotic with caring for my family, four chihuahuas, and pursuing my Bachelors in Business/Retail Management, I will stick with a day in my professional life. On those days I have shoots booked I get up early to spend time getting ready to look my best and most professional, nerves eat away at me and are a constant reminder that I still care and passionately love what I do.
I do my best to arrive at the shoot location at least 15 minutes in advance, giving myself time to explore and prepare for the coming shoot. When the client arrives we spend a few minutes in chit-chat and then get down to business. I am not one of those “pose just like this! look right here! smile huge!” type of photographers.
I much prefer to allow the clients to position themselves in a manner that is most comfortable to them, giving guidance when needed. When the session has come to an end we go our separate ways, and I usually head home to begin the uploading and editing process where needed.
Q: What are the biggest personal or professional challenges you face on a daily basis?
A: Right now I would say that the biggest challenges I face on a daily basis are the frustrations that come in trying to establish myself in a new area.
It seems I am always on the lookout for the best way of marketing myself and becoming a local household name, whether it be updating on social networking sites, sending mailings out to potential clients, or having my husband and friends hand out my business cards to all those that they come in contact with throughout their days. It can definitely be a bit daunting at times, especially as it seemed to have come so easy in my previous location.
Q: What has been the single biggest obstacle against growing as a photographer in whole?
A: Location~it is so hard to establish oneself in a smaller area.
Q: What are your favorite subjects to photograph?
A: Children at their most self-absorbed, when they’re so caught up in what is going on around them that they forget anyone else exists.
Q: Have you ever thought about or actually stopped doing photography? What were the circumstances?
A: When money is at it’s tightest with my little family I give thought of stopping photography, even if only temporarily but my husband will hear nothing of it.
Q: Do you ever have photographer’s block and if yes how do you deal with it?
A: As I am confined to evenings and weekends only to book sessions I don’t, or have yet to get, photographer’s block.
Q: What types of assignments are you attracted most?
A: Well, I am a portrait photographer, so I prefer those bringing me in contact with infants, children, couples, seniors/teens, families. Weddings, though difficult and time consuming in several ways, are a favorite of mine just to see the look of awe and love on the newly married couples faces after the vows are said.
Q: Describe what black and white photography means to you?
A: Black and white photography is a way of taking the craziness of life and simplifying it. To me, those portraits done in black and white convey one’s emotions far better than a colored photograph can do, taking one in to the heart of the matter, the heart of the subject and that moment in time.
Q: Do you think of yourself as an artist and what do you think of the word artist?
A: It’s funny I had never envisioned myself as an artist until a few weeks back when a friend of mine who designs and creates tye-dye clothing mentioned that “we as artists must stick together”. Before that time I can honestly say I never envisioned her as an artist either. An artisit was someone like Leonardo Da Vinci, who created beautiful art, paintings, sculptures, etc.; not a photographer.
Q: How do you describe your photographic style?
A: My style is eclectic to say the least. I love both the simplistic and urban backgrounds for my portraiture, but could easily adapt to any location or style.
Q: What has been the most surprising or most predictable reaction to your photographs?
A: The most surprising reaction is that so many truly enjoy my work and think it is good. For someone such as myself, who is their biggest critic, it still amazes me and humbles me that someone other than clients can think my work worthy.
Q: Tell a little secret about yourself that no-one knows …
A: Awwww…but if I did that then it wouldn’t be a secret anymore!
Q: Who or what would you love to shoot that you haven’t already?
A: As many children, toddlers, and babies I have done I have yet to have the priviledge of shooting a newborn. That is something I anticipate greatly and have many ideas for.
Q: What are your thoughts on the paparazzi and their effects on photographers and photography?
A: Paparazzi are a nuisance and the actions of some make photographers and the art of photography look poorly in the eyes of many.
Q: How do you feel about digital manipulation and to what extent do you utilize it?
A: Digital manipulation? As in editing of photos, cropping, cloning, et cetera? It depends upon location and lighting, whether or not I feel as though the photo needs a little extra “oomph”. I’ve seen so many photographers who tend to go overboard with this, and that is definitely something I tend to avoid. I prefer to allow the simple beauty to shine through.
Q: What other thoughts would you like to share?
A: If you are truly passionate about something, no matter what it is, take that chance, pursue your passion with all of your worth.