Well, hello! To say I have not posted anything in awhile would be quite an understatement. This season has been wonderfully busy and as it slows down, I'd love to start blogging more regularly again. I recently had the delightful experience of being interviewed by a college student studying photography. I then had the lightbulb moment of sharing the interview via blog as a re-introduction of myself!
Q: What is your name? And where are you from?
A: My name is Rachel Yuen Gaetz, I grew up in Oak Lawn, Illinois. I moved to the Twin Cities in 2004 to attend the University of Minnesota and study journalism.
Q: How did you get into photography?
I became a stay-at-home mom after my first daughter, Cecelia, was born in 2011. Needing a creative outlet, I started a blog after being inspired by an artsy blog documenting marriage and motherhood, Love Taza (then called The Rockstar Diaries). I had previously no interest in learning photography, but I found Naomi’s blog and I was compelled to learn how to take beautiful, colorful, candid photos...stat. I had just gotten my first smartphone (an iPhone 4), took pictures with that, edited them on Instagram and started creating blog posts documenting our life as a young family to keep in touch with my faraway relatives. Eventually I bought a Canon Rebel t2i, took it everywhere with me and photographed everything. What started as a hobby quickly developed into a passion for photography… and I posted regularly to my blog Glass Half-full Sorts of Things for ten years!
Q: How did you choose your area of photography? It happened organically, since I was posting photos of my own family and children, people were drawn to my style and began asking for me to take photos of their families and children too. From family photography (including newborns, maternity, and milestone sessions), I branched out to weddings, seniors, and boudoir as well.
Q: What is your favorite thing about being a photographer?
So many things!!! Being a portrait photographer, I have been a part of some incredibly special moments of people’s lives that I wouldn’t have witnessed otherwise. I truly think photographers see the world differently and savor it just a little more than your average person. I find joy, beauty, and delight in small details in the world even when I’m not shooting. I am constantly composing and framing shots in my mind…everything feels inspirational and worthy of documentation– from golden light beams creating nostalgic feelings in a kitchen, to subtle textures on baby blankets, to the way a person’s eyes crinkle when they smile, to moments of tender connection between loved ones. I also love giving people the opportunity to see them as I see them. We are often so critical about ourselves, especially women. One of my favorite things is when clients come to me nervous because they feel they aren’t photogenic… and that's never true. They just need help and guidance in being posed and prompted. When people actually enjoy the time they spend with me at their session AND they love their photos that were delivered, it’s truly the best feeling.
Q: Where do you like to shoot? Why?
A: Locally, I like to shoot portrait sessions downtown Hudson because I love all the details and character in the old buildings. I also like to shoot near the water at Lakefront Park. I enjoy Birkmose Park for all seasons because of the mature trees and scenic overlook. Lastly, I also tend to shoot at Cedar Hills Park, and Willow River for dreamy golden fields and the drama of the waterfall!
Q: What does a typical day (or week) look like for you?
A: My life is very family-oriented. I have a husband, 4 kids (ages 11, 8, 5, and 2) and a dog! Many hours of my life are dedicated to running my household and taking care of my kids. I primarily try to schedule my shoots on the weekends and the occasional weekday evening. I do my editing/admin work during the work week while ¾ of my kids are at school.
My weekdays consist of responding to emails, scheduling (or rescheduling sessions), posting to social media, and editing as needed. In the beginning of the week I plan out social media posts. I use Sprout Studio to schedule sessions and send booking proposals, contracts, questionnaires, and invoices. I use PicTime to send clients digital galleries and for print sales. I use Adobe Lightroom to edit, I use MailChimp for my email list, and WordPress for my website. I try to set aside time to do admin work (like accounting), and website-nurturing work (like posting blogs) but during fall/busy season I’m just trying to survive!
Q: What skills, abilities, and personal attributes are essential to success in your job?
A: If you are a portrait photographer, people skills are essential as you need to be able to communicate clearly, earn your client's trust, and ensure people feel taken care of and comfortable no matter what. You also need to be adaptable, creative, and able to quickly think on your feet. Shoots can be unpredictable. Weather can be crazy, wedding timelines get derailed, and people might be in fussy moods (adults and toddlers alike). There also might be issues with your location and lighting. You need to be able to reframe, solve problems fast, and have your camera settings mastered, all while having the capacity to guide and reassure your clients through any mishaps that could be happening.
If you made it to the end of this post, thanks for sticking around to listen to me talk about myself? Do we have anything in common? Let me know!