Richard's Photographer Spotlight: Leslee Mitchell
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.