Richard Photo Lab

Richard's Photographer Spotlight: O'Malley Photographers

Soulmates making images full of soul... meet O'Malley Photographers! Scott and Ashlee are a husband and wife team of wedding and lifestyle photographers, constantly in pursuit of inspiring locations and natural light with film cameras in hand. Their clean & timeless imagery has been featured by numerous print and online publications, including Martha Stewart Weddings, BRIDES, Once Wed, Darling Magazine, Style Me Pretty, Magnolia Rouge, Wedding Sparrow, Hearth Magazine and more.

Today in Richard Photo Lab's Photog Spotlight, we're talking with Scott and Ashlee about their favorite tools of the trade, the "no-brainer" of their pro careers, and the important lesson they got on guarding their creativity!

Richard: What first sparked your passion for photography?

Scott O'Malley: The first photo I remember taking was a 35mm film panoramic image of the Sawtooth Mountains in Central Idaho. I grew up painting and always had a passion to see the world and translate that sense of wonder into art. A decade or so later, I spent several years traveling the world with a rock band. It was the speed at which concerts, cities and memories came and went on tour that made me a photographer. I think life is short and meant to be fully lived, and photography is the best way to document and share a well-lived life.

Ashlee O'Malley: Growing up, my home was full of photography and music. My dad always had a camera of some type in hand. I have the majority of my childhood captured on video, and those videos are now my most treasured possession. My dad also shot 35mm film, peaking my interest at an early age.

Image by O'Malley Photographers

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?

SO: I was lucky enough to apprentice under another great wedding photographer. We were housemates when I was in university, and he took me along to weddings and shoots. This gave me the confidence to step out on my own and start a business. The leap into photography as a full-time career choice took time, but now I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing.

AO: Scott and I love traveling together, so naturally, without even really trying, destination work has been a big part of our company since the beginning. In fact, our first wedding ever was a destination. If you can successfully build an international brand that pays you to travel the world while documenting the best moments in peoples lives, all with your best friend, it’s kind of a no-brainer.

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

SO: I love taking picture of landscapes, new places, interiors and my family.

AO: I love portraits, and I particularly love photographing other artists. Whether in a studio, or a florist out foraging in the wild, it’s so fun to learn from someone else’s creative process and document what someone is passionate about. I also like dogs—dogs make great subjects.

Image by O'Malley Photographers

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

S&A: This is such an important question! For years, we worked so hard to build our business that we didn’t rest well or give much thought to recharging creatively. It was only after we hit a wall and a mentor of ours (in fact, the person who introduced us) said, “you have to guard your creativity, the world will try and take it from you” that we began to realize just how important it is. We’ve now learned that travel and collaborating with other artists are the best ways to feed our creativity, and we try to make as much room for these things as we can.

R: What is your favorite camera and why?

SO: You can almost always find me with a Contax 645. There is just something about it that makes sense to me! The images are timeless, and I love the simple controls. For quick digital memories, I like the Leica Q.

AO: I’m drawn to emotive and spontaneous moments, so 35mm cameras with faster auto-focus work really well for me. I’ve been loving my Nikon F100 lately!

Image by O'Malley Photographers

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

S&A: We both grew up shooting film and really never stopped. Each artist needs to decide what they are trying to say and then pick tools that help them say it. We love film because we believe in timeless, beautiful, and fun images. Trends come and go, but we are trying to make family heirlooms that last for generations and are planning to make film images for decades to come. Film has a natural elegance and intangible beauty that speaks to us, and our clients often comment on the "romantic quality", "beautiful colors" and "natural skin tones". In short, we think film is a higher-quality product and requires a commitment to the craft that is consistent with the images we want to make and the life we want to live.

Image by O'Malley Photographers

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

S&A: Photographers have always relied on a great lab/printer to make them look their best—it’s really the second half of the artistic process. Scanning and printing is an art, just like photography, so it’s important to have great communication so your lab knows your final vision.

R: Do you have any pre-shoot rituals?

SO: Basically, Ashlee’s just trying to convince me that it’s not going to rain all day and that it’s all going to be okay!

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

SO: An architect or fly-fishing guide.

AO: A sociologist. I love studying human behavior and interactions

Image by O'Malley Photographers

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

SO: East Coast hip hop from the 90’s.

AO: Snoop Dogg, always. Lately, Laura Welsh has been on repeat, too.

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

SO: Flying sounds pretty awesome.

AO: Hip hop dancing. Technically, it’s not a superpower, but it’s totally out of the realm of possibility for me to be good at, so that would be pretty awesome!

R: What is your favorite word, and why?

SO: "Timeless".

AO: Um, "chocolate"? Who doesn’t love hearing the word chocolate? Yes, please.