Photo Credit: ARIEL RENAE
Rebekah and Ben of Kallima Photography were kind enough to shed some insight into their love for both photography and each other — and how those two things compliment each other so well. It’s truly a privilege to share some of their work as well as their wedding portraits are absolutely stunning and certainly worth admiring. We at fotoClient consider ourselves fortunate to have such talented photographers within our community, and we hope their story inspires you as much as it has inspired us.
Can each of you explain briefly what first inspired your love for photography? Were you both interested in it before you met each other?
Bek I have a big family, 6 kids and the best parents I could ask for. My mom was never without a camera, and I have a million memories of looking through boxes and boxes of pictures from my childhood…album after album of our lives documented. I always loved taking pictures, but ended up majoring in Special Event Planning in college. While there and while working my 80-hour a week internship, I realized that if my dream life of being home with my kids one day and always adventuring were to come true, I couldn’t do that job. I needed something to do that allowed me to be home but was still fulfilling and meaningful…I can’t sit still for very long. I started photographing random things and all sorts of people and friends, never really thinking that photography was something I could make an income doing. Then I shot my first wedding and realized, I love this. I can do this. I can be creative and adventure and travel, WHILE making a living and being home with my future children. It started there, then evolved into me truly embracing the fact that I was an “artist”. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Ben My mom is an artist, and I spent most of my middle school years after school and sports in the UT Chattanooga Art Building where she was pursuing a degree. I suppose that art was always around me, but I felt like I needed to do something more dignified. When my dream of becoming a dentist didn’t go as I had planned, I jumped feet first into photography with Rebekah. She had started the business years before, but it took a long time for us to figure out what this partnership would look like.
Your visual style is very well defined throughout much of the work you’ve shared online. Would you care to speak to that a little more in-depth?
Ben I’d say that we’ve really focused on light more and more in the last couple of years. When I’m shooting now, I’m always looking for interesting lights to photograph my clients in, and I’m trying to use the light to say something about them. Some people were made for classic window light portraits, and some people just don’t have that personality. It’s my job to figure that out, and then bring that out in their portraits.
Bek I hear this and always think its a very funny thing, because I honestly feel like everything I shoot I try to shoot differently. But the truth is, people see our work and know its Kallima. I’m not sure how this happened, but it honestly lights up my heart. When I’m shooting, I’m trying to show the heart of who I am photographing. The consistent thread that you see and that others recognize is simply that we love people, and I feel like that comes across in our photographs. Sure, we are always searching for beautiful light and consistency in our shooting, but what I hope people see in our work is our love for others.
How has working together as a husband and wife been for you? What are the pros? Are there any cons?
Ben It’s been unbelievably amazing, and challenging at the same time. I honestly think that it’s a huge advantage for us on a wedding day. I tend to shoot with longer lenses, the Canon 85 1.2 is always on one of my cameras, and Rebekah shoots wider. We can shoot a ton of portraits in a short time because we keep things moving and we don’t shoot exactly the same thing. I’m always learning from the way that she uses lights and poses people. It’s a huge blessing to have such a talented photographer working with you all of the time.
Bek What he said. Amazing, and challenging. When I’m shooting with Ben and watching him, it reminds me to slow down. He is very intentional at times during portraits, and it’s always a good lesson for me to slow my roll and focus. But the best part about working together is being together. Our work, in a lot of ways, is an example of our expression of love for one another. Learning to back off, speak up, prefer the other, go last, get out of the way, speak the truth in love…we do this all day on a wedding day. I believe it’s strengthened our marriage in a lot of ways. There are cons of course, we are all selfish! We want things our way and Ben and I are as opposite as night and day sometimes. He is way more gracious than I, and I’m thankful he puts up with me. I tend to be a control freak in our business, so he helps to balance me out there.
When you shoot an event, whether it’s a wedding, engagement or something else, how would you describe your “process” for working with clients?
Ben We spend a lot of time on the prep for shoots. We know more about the wedding than even the planner sometimes. We spend time getting to know our clients so that we can try and capture just a little bit more of who they are. During the shoot, I just run around and look for cool places to shoot photos. I want to have at least one really classic beautiful portrait, one fashion style portrait, and then something more modern.
Bek We know a lot of photographers that ask us how we get so many portraits on a wedding day, how we get the emotions and tell the story. The answer is simple; we get to know our clients because we WANT to tell their story well, and we guide all of our brides and grooms through setting the perfect timeline for their wedding day. In our workshops, when we talk to other photographers about that and tell them that we have full control over the schedule of the day, most of them are shocked…I think a lot of photographers are scared to take control. We set a standard from the beginning with our clients, and we start talking about timeline from day one. Being able to control portrait time does a few things: it gives us the opportunity to give our clients what they all want (what they see on our blog), which is a focus on them, together. The portraits of our bride and groom together on their wedding day are going to be the most cherished pictures from that time. And secondly, it gives us ample time to do our thing. Its hard to get into a rhythm and offer amazing portrait time to your clients if you only have 10-15 minutes. Nothing organic happens in that short amount of time. We like 45 minutes with our couple. We want them to have time to sit, relax, reflect, absorb, look around them and see their day, embrace, whisper, love, connect. Our process is get to know them, and in turn they’ll trust you to set the pace for the day.
What have been your favorite shoots to do thus far and why?
Ben I really like traveling, so I tend to shoot better in places other than home. We shot an engagement in Malibu a few years ago and it blew me away. I could shoot in California all the time.
Bek I truly love shooting engagements, because there is no time crunch or schedule and things can flow. It gives me a unique opportunity to get to know my clients and see how they interact. This helps me tell the story better on a wedding day. But honestly, I have been shooting some editorial and fashion work lately and I have fallen in love. I really connect with it, probably because of my love for fashion and styling. I recently shot a lookbook for a t-shirt line, and have been itching to do more of that since.
What aspect of trying out fotoClient are you the most excited about? How do you see fotoClient helping your business?
Ben We’ve always talked about having one central location where we can have all of our client information, without it being locked into something that was impossible to set up. I’ve just never been happy with what’s out there. Up until now, I’ve been using a mix of Gmail, Apple’s iCal, and Dropbox to organize our business, and it’s worked pretty well. But pretty well doesn’t work when you are doing this for a living and are trying to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks. fotoClient is going to allow me to stay on top of things in a way that was just impractical to do before, and in less time. That’s why I’m so excited about it.
Bek I’m excited for Ben to take care of all of it. Just kidding (not really). I am anticipating a lot more structure with fotoClient as a part of our business, and with structure comes peace. Bam.
If you could pass on one piece of advice to new/novice photographers that you wish you had known sooner, what would it be?
Ben Probably to ignore all of their other friend photographers and bust their butts to make their business happen. I see so many photographers killing their businesses because “so and so said that you had to provide something in their packages” or whatever. It’s your business, and if you want it to succeed, it’s probably going to take time, and it’s probably not going to be like most other businesses. Take calculated risks, but make sure that you’ve played out all of the scenarios beforehand and are prepared for any of them.
Bek Ben and I are so on the same page with this answer. If I spend too much time in forums or photographer Facebook groups, I get all riled up. There is a lot of “you have to do this”, “you have to offer this”, “you can’t do that” out there, and all of it is bogus. You do what works for you and your business, and you do not concern yourself with how the rest of the industry is going to feel about it. You’re not required to run your business the same way someone on the other side of the country does. There is a lot of bad advice out there and easy access to it. I’ve seen my friends businesses suffer because some photographer somewhere told them they were doing it wrong. Everyone does things a certain way, and that’s awesome. Find what works, stay the course, be patient, have impeccable customer service, and love people. This has been our recipe for success thus far, and I pray it continues to take us where we want to go.
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