Richard’s Photographer Spotlight
Richard is shining the photog spotlight on our friend Leslee Mitchell! Leslee is based in Nashville, Tenessee, but she creates amazing images all over the world; "Life is too beautiful for bad photography," she says. In 2014, Leslee was featured as one of Rangefinder Magazine's 30 Rising Stars. Richard was lucky enough to get the first-hand dish from this superstar photog, so take some time to get to know Leslee with us!
Richard: What first sparked your passion for photography?
Leslee Mitchell: For as long as I can remember, I have seen pictures. On long, family road trips while everyone else was sleeping, I was in the backseat staring out the window creating coffee table books in my head. From an early age, I have been fascinated with current events and breaking news stories; particularly the photographs of such events. While it meant little to me then, this early fascination now explains my love for candid, sincere photographs. Photography was never something I viewed as a career path. That, plus I never had a camera and I went to law school. Long story short, I have loved pictures my entire life.
R: Making the leap from photography as a personal passion to a paying gig is a big one... how did you decide to pursue it as a career?
LM: For me, the turning point was a realization of what I was meant to do rather than the decision to pursue photography as a career. Photography was never the plan. As opportunities presented themselves, I accepted them and looked for ways to create more . This career changed my life. It has become bigger than me. The list of people to thank for helping make the growth I have experienced is very long.
R: When you aren’t shooting for clients, what do you LOVE to photograph?
LM: I love interiors. Great interior design is something to which I am naturally drawn, which explains my love for this genre of photography. Product photography is another love of mine. I particularly enjoy styling and photographing handmade products from my favorite artisans and incorporating them into an interior setting.
R: How do you find a balance between being creatively fulfilled and being able to pay the bills?
LM: Personal projects keep me creatively fulfilled and at my commissioned jobs, I always pay myself first...and everybody's happy.
R: What is your favorite camera and why?
LM: Large format film cameras are my favorite because the clarity and depth they produce are a type of next level beauty that takes my breath. I love my iPhone camera a lot, too.
R: What's your favorite memory of shooting with film?
LM: My first memories are watching YouTube videos with my Momma to learn how to load film. I continue to shoot film as a pro because in the right setting and with the perfect conditions, it is currently the medium for achieving the next level of beauty in my work.
R: Why is it important to have continuous communication with your lab(s)?
LM: Continuous communication with your lab is important because you're sending your art to them. Theirs are the first eyes to see your created product. That's reason enough. A phone call from Richard never goes to voicemail. Communicating with my lab is an opportunity to learn. Talking with the staff at Richard feels like talking with friends. I love their style and it's so nice to work with a vendor who has a sense of humor.
R: Do you have any pre-shoot rituals? We wanna know the quirky, weird stuff.
LM: Sometimes before I shoot, I like to look at my favorite interior photos on my Pinterest. The perfected composition, lighting, and angles are an inspiration whether I am photographing people, an event, or a product. I also always make sure I have enough gum to last me the whole time I'll be shooting.
R: Let’s play a game of “Either/Or”! Savory or sweet?
R: Dogs or cats?
R: Vintage or modern?
LM: The perfect mix of both.
R: Warm weather or cold weather?
LM: Warm weather.
R: Biggie or Tupac?
R: Early bird or night owl?
LM: Night owl.
R: Crossword or Sudoku?
R: Chocolate or vanilla?
R: Urban or rural?
LM: I need both annually.
R: Breakfast or dinner?
R: Batman or Superman?
R: Historical Non-fiction or SciFi/Fantasy?
LM: Historical Non-Fiction.
R: Comedy or drama?
R: Truth or dare?
R: What song/music do you listen to get pumped up?
LM: Currently, "Wildfire" by Jon Mayer.
R: If you weren't a photographer, what would you be when you grow up?
LM: I would be either an illustrator, an interior designer, or the person who creates the window displays at Anthropologie. I have always wanted to valet cars, so maybe that...
R: If you were a super hero, what would your super power be?
LM: My super power would be the ability to remove time from travel. It would let me travel to any place on the globe without the cost of time.
R: What is your favorite word, and why?
LM: My favorite word is "Leslee". If I don't love it, neither will anyone else.