Richard's Photographer Spotlight: Graham Terhune

We've got one more incredible interview before we turn off the spotlight for good... so let's chat with Graham Terhune! Graham is a film photographer based out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He's been capturing love stories for over eight years, focusing on using an artistic eye that never interrupts the genuine flow of his clients' big day. As one half of the recently formed Anagram Photo, Graham's work has been published in Southern Weddings Magazine, The Knot Magazine, Style Me Pretty, Grey Likes Weddings, and The New York Times.

Learn about the long exposures that sparked Graham's love of photography, the camera that scares him but takes his favorite images, and how film affects his shooting style, today in Richard's Photographer Spotlight!

Richard: What first sparked your passion for photography?

Graham Terhune: When I think back to my earliest memories of photography, those times were almost always shared with my dad. He always had a strong love for photography and used to impart his wisdom on me. He loved to challenge himself with photography. Instead of the simple flower or landscape shot, he would have us in the backyard at night taking long exposures of the moon or the stars. I suppose that’s what really got me interested in photography... the fact that there were different approaches and avenues with photography.

R: Making the leap from photography as a personal passion to a paying gig is a big oneŠ... how did you decide to pursue it as a career?

GT: My wife bought me a Rebel camera the first Christmas we were dating, and I began to play around with portrait sessions for family and friends. I accepted my first wedding job in 2009, and at the time, I was working in a managerial position in a restaurant. It seemed like an incredible dream to be a full-time photographer, and my wife and I worked hard to make that dream become a reality. It definitely took a leap of faith, but we are so grateful that it’s been my full time career for over six years.

My wife, Samantha and I have been photographing together for the past seven years, but we’ve recently made some changes to our business and we are excited to announce the launch of Anagram Photo, a business venture with a talented friend of mine, Anna Routh. Both of our families are excited for the changes and growth of our businesses ahead.

R: When you aren't shooting for clients, what do you LOVE to photograph?

GT: I am actually notoriously bad about using a camera of any kind when I’m not “on the job”, so I need to be better about this. But I will say our two children, Perry and Ramsey, are my go-to subjects. Our dog Bolo is another (when she feels up to it), and my wife Samantha (when she allows me to).

R: How do you find a balance between being creatively fulfilled and being able to pay the bills?

GT: This is a great question and certainly one that is challenging! I’m lucky that I am able to find creativity in small moments. Larger opportunities such as traveling to a new place and photographing at a new venue certainly fuel my creativity. But I am also seeking ways to change up my approach on a daily basis, whether by using a different lens, changing up the way I position my clients, or seeking out new locations. I’m really fortunate that most of my clients come to me with an appreciation for film photography, and they are patient with me as I take time to find the perfect light. Finding good light fulfills my creativity every day.

R: What is your favorite camera and why?

GT: My go-to camera for 90% of my work is the Contax 645. In my opinion, there is nothing better when it comes to equal amounts of sharp and soft. It does it all! I am also a big fan of the Hasselblad H2 (the auto focus is SO GOOD).

If I could photograph an entire wedding on a Rollieflex, then I would. Some of my favorite images I’ve ever taken have come from a Rollie, but those have been personal work. Maybe I’ll get the courage one day!

R: What's your first memory of shooting with film? Why do you continue to shoot it today?

GT: My first memory of shooting with film is definitely with my dad. He always let me use his cameras, showing me how to load and wind film. I loved the sounds the cameras made, and even though I hated it then, the wait to see what you got was exciting (and something I still feel today with film photography).

I use film now for a few reasons. It is, of course, beautiful when developed and I am always impressed (and thankful sometimes) at its ability to handle many different types of light. However, at the top of that list is because of the way it makes me shoot. I am much more thoughtful and present when shooting film. It causes me to slow down and observe what’s in front of me. I feel calm and in control, which is so important to me, especially on a wedding day.

R: Why is it important to have continuous communication with your lab(s)?

GT: If you are serious about shooting film, then you need to be serious about the lab you use. It’s all for nothing if your lab isn’t knowledgeable, hard working, and communicative with you. Your lab has a direct connection to your brand and business. They are partly responsible for the art you create, so it is extremely important to have great communication with them.

R: Do you have any pre-shoot rituals?

GT: Food is a must! If I’m not well fed before a shoot (or really anytime for that matter), then I’m worthless. I think a lot about what is going to give me lasting energy throughout the day (my current favorite is a poke bowl from a local shop in our town).

I’ve also been known to photograph a lot better when I have listened to some classic 80’s hair metal before arriving to a shoot. “Hair Nation” is frequently on XM for me. (That’ embarrassing, but you asked).

R: What song/music do you listen to to get pumped up?

GT: Okay, if you must know: "Separate Ways, Worlds Apart" by Journey. It gets me every. Single. Time.

R: Let’s play a game of “Either/Or”! Savory or sweet?

GT: Savory for sure.

R: Chocolate or vanilla?

GT: Chocolate.

R: Dogs or cats?

GT: Dogs all day. Though, we had a cat once... her name was Peaches, and she was basically like a dog.

R: Modern or vintage?

GT: Modern.

R: Urban or Rural?

GT: Rural. We go to Maine every summer, and it's the most beautiful part of our country if you ask me.

R: Breakfast or Dinner?

GT: Dinner. With all the sides and sauces... no holding back.

R: Warm weather or cold weather?

GT: Cold weather. But only because it’s in the 90’s as I am answering this question, and I’m terrified to go outside… this answer may be different depending on the time of year.

R: Early bird or night owl?

GT: Night owl by choice, early bird because we have two tiny kids.

R: Crossword or Sudoku?

GT: Sudoku... I will literally quit a crossword two minutes in.

R: Batman or Superman?

GT: Batman (not Val or George, though).

R: Biggie or Tupac?

GT: All Eyez on Me ;)

R: Historical Non-fiction or SciFi/Fantasy?

GT: Historical non-fiction.

R: Comedy or Drama?

GT: Can I say documentary?

R: Comedy or Drama?

GT: Can I say documentary?

R: Truth or Dare?

GT: Ugh, I have to say truth because I’ve been burned by dares too many times!

R: If you weren't a photographer, what would you be when you grow up?

GT: I probably would own a restaurant or two, since that’s the profession I was heading towards... but if I had my choice, you guessed it, front man for an amazing stadium-sell-out rock band!

R: If you were a super hero, what would your super power be?

GT: I am currently answering this with my three year old son nearby, and I thought I would ask him what his super power would be ..

“I would have a trunk like an elephant so I can spray people with water!”

R: What is your favorite word, and why?

GT: "Magnificent" because my late grandfather used to use it (only on very certain instances) and it’s always had special meaning to me. Plus, it sounds awesome when really annunciated.