“There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It is why you were born. And how you become most truly alive.” -Oprah
Remember who you wanted to be. Can you remember being a child and thinking you wanted to play in the NBA, or be a gymnast when you “grew up?” I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a photographer. More specifically, my attention was being a photo journalist. I have always had the need to show the world a moment, not just a photo. I needed to showcase the priceless reaction to emotion I felt from another creation. This is my favorite photo that I have ever taken in my 17 years of doing photography, and this is my son Khalil. We entered him in a baby modeling contest when he was just one year old, and he won first place in the most photogenic category. Can you see why? I knew from this very moment that I was already a photographer, and no matter what came to me on my journey, I would let nothing stop me from achieving my dreams. And I meant it.
This year in January, I quit my full-time job. It was the best thing I have ever done for myself, and I finally knew exactly how much I believed in my passion, and I trusted myself enough to do what I love. Since I have started my own business I have flourished as a photographer and the Universe is aligning the stars as they guide me through each step of this journey. I am consistently reminding myself of who I want to be, who I already am, and I take care to make choices with that in mind. See, we deserve to do what we love, and to dream as big as possible.
There is always a curiosity factor involved with my clients.They always ask me, “How did you start doing photography?” You see, it was meant to be. My grandfather loved photography and took a ton of photos while stationed in Greenland in the 1960’s. My great-grandmother, I recently learned, had a little secret of her own. She was a photographer, and taking photos of her garden was a way for her to be present, and to enjoy life. She was a nature photographer enthusiast and had the best location, her farm.
My response to many when asked how I started is simple, yet complicated. I began my love affair with photography as a child. I would look in my grandmother’s photo albums sometimes a few times a day. I look back at my obsession with those photos of my family, seeing photos of my grandmother in her square dancing skirt caught floating and twirling in time. It was then that I knew that there was a connection between what is shown in photos, and the emotion that the photographer was feeling at that exact moment. See, that was my advantage. By playing with light, emotion and my instinct, I am creating beautiful images that people can relive forever with their photographs.
Remember who you want to be. Write it down, make a vision board, and never allow circumstance to change your vision. Be clear about what you want, and believe full heartedly that you have a gift to share with the world.
"You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life.”
― Joan Miró
Brooke Ross Photography is an experience. It is more than a photo shoot, more than a smile. My photographs show emotion, candid moments, and tender exchanges of love. These photographs are not only an expression of my work, they are the moments that I see, that you feel, and they exude the very moment that our connection met.
This memory is important to showcase. You made the fabulous decision to book a photo shoot with me, a photographer that is unique in the way I can feel emotion that others are not able to, and the product of this can change the energy in your home. As a professional photographer, I spend countless hours on my client’s images. My wife jokes that the reason I put most of my time into my work, is because I am a perfectionist. Indeed I am. But I can honestly say that your photos are not complete, not finished, until I can look at the image and feel the exact feeling that I was shown in that instance that I captured that photo.
You have taken the time to book a photo shoot with a professional photographer. The photos are all up on my website in your own custom portfolio. Now what? You should always book a photo shoot with the intention of displaying your custom photography. Whether it is a beautiful metal print of your wedding, or a custom canvas print of your child’s favorite senior picture, you can carry on the intention of the photo shoot, which is to always remember this time in your life. It is important, and you should be displaying it in your home.
I understand that it can be an overwhelming decision, but deciding which photos to order and where to put them in your home is a lot easier with a photographer that specializes in it, and honestly, I love doing it. One thing that I do with many clients, that stands out from other photographers is that you can book time for me to come into your home and offer expertise on what to order and where to place your photos. There is nothing more beautiful and unique than taking the photos that I have created for you and designing your space around them. A photograph is a moment in time, and captured with the intent to look at and treasure forever.
This gift that I have, the skill that you have noticed and hired me to create for you through your pictures, can add a new focus to your environment. Imagine the beautiful photos that you have manifested into your home, displayed for you to enjoy. They are unique, one of a kind, and professionally custom made, for you. Enjoy them. And notice how your memories that are now displayed can change the way you feel in your space.
"Adults are just outdated children." –Dr. Seuss
Yes indeed, sometimes they are. Remember what it was like to be a kid? We all can remember being young. No responsibilities, impressing others was not an issue, we could act silly all day long, and it was cute. This is exactly the feeling and essence I embrace when I am working with kids.
I adore taking photos of kids because they are genuine. They will not hold back any emotion from me and I am able to take photos that completely express their personalities as a little one who does not have a care in the world. In my working space, kids are allowed to be kids. They are encouraged to jump, run, laugh and be as silly as possible. There are a couple reasons for this. One, who doesn’t want to act like this in front of their parents and watch them cringe? Also, I get to photograph their smiles, their curls bouncing and they are being themselves, one hundred percent. They are by far the best photos. They are real, they are unique and you will see something in the child that their parent sees in them every single day, and now, the parent can look at that moment forever.
I usually ask the parents questions about the child before the photo shoot. Some good things to know are: what is their favorite activity? If it is basketball, you better have a ball around! If they like to read books with their parent, why not bring a chair or a blanket to the shoot so they can read while you capture a moment that they will always remember. These little details can really make a child, and their parents feel comfortable.
When you are working with kids, they run the show. When you book the photo shoot make sure you allow enough time for snacks, potty breaks, an occasional meltdown, and most importantly, time to connect with the child and the parent. Let the photo shoot happen naturally. It may take a little while to understand and see the little quirks the child is offering, but you have to let it come to you, be patient, and it will.
So, we are outdated children. I am not ready to accept that, but so often this is true. I cannot tell you how important it is to talk with the parents and let them know what the plan is for the photo shoot. Details of this discussion should include, location, the amount of time they are paying for, and most importantly, (this may be a hard one) that they, for just now, have to let their kids be kids. Treats are encouraged, laughing is required. It can be very frustrating for parents, believe me I know the feeling of wanting to get the perfect shot and two of my kids are beautifully styled and posed while the other one is complaining about her shirt scratching her. It happens. Depending on the age of the child you can ask the parents to stay back a ways from where you and the child are shooting, or the child may want the parent within their eyesight. Leave a moment or two in the beginning of your shoot to feel that energy out. Always encourage the child during the photo shoot, keep them engaged, and let the parents know that their baby is doing a fabulous job.
Kids are so much fun to photograph, absolutely my favorite people to work with. They remind us that everyday can feel like a Friday, you can just be yourself, exploring is a necessity, and sometimes it just feels good to throw your head back and laugh!
When Erica, Nabria, and I met to head out to Carriage House to shoot their senior pictures in Hugo we were running a little behind schedule. I knew that in order for me to get the shots that I needed we had to be at the ranch right before the Golden Hour. This particular moment is when the sun is beautifully setting in the West and it delivers a sun kissed glow into the sky. The way it hits my clients’ faces is miraculous and is often the look I go for. What can I say, I am a sucker for gorgeous lighting!
The girls and I talked briefly about maybe finding another last minute location so that we could catch the lighting closer to the cities. Erica quietly opposed this idea. I could not at that moment figure out what she was feeling, but I knew she really wanted to go to the horse ranch. After a bit of convincing and a stop at the gas station to prepare for the forty-five minute drive, Nabria gave in. I am so glad she did!
We arrived at Carriage House right on time. I cannot express to you the energy I felt from these two young ladies as they walked closer to the horse barn. They were in aw. Erica's face lit up, Nabria let go….and they were in love. The horses had already made their way into their hearts and I was going to catch all of that affection through my lens.
My friend Suzanne was gracious enough to let us use her horses Kitty and Martini for the photo shoot. As they girls walked with the horses, I could tell that these animals were doing something special…they were giving Nabria and Erica an experience. Kitty and Martini were reminding these young ladies about what they love…horses. Erica went on to tell us that she had been in 4H and Nabria in her quiet way let us know through her smile that she was in her element around these two huge gorgeous creatures. It was nothing short of perfection.
Suzanne led us to a small pasture where Martini and Kitty could run and play and follow us around. When I do equestrian photography I can never be sure what I will get from the horses, which is the excitement that I love when I work with them. Nabria and Erica were naturals with the horses, never timid or scared, they allowed the horses to be themselves, as the horses did with them.
At one point in the shoot, the sun was just getting ready to set over the beautiful landscape and I asked Erica to sit in the middle of the pasture. We hadn’t planned what would happen next! Kitty and Martini walked right up to Erica, and I could see Suzanne not far from me just waiting to step in and grab the horses. Then, the sweetest thing happened, it was like they knew at that exact moment that they were there for me to photograph and that Erica needed them. Martini came over first, maybe being the baby, possibly because she was so silly that day, but she didn’t stay around for long. Kitty decided to come over and stand directly above Erica, and sweet Erica, with her admiration and trust already built with Kitty, didn’t flinch at all. I knew I had about five seconds to get my shot, and I did. The relationship that Kitty and Erica had established is clearly shown in this photo.
I am able to see and pick up on things that maybe others would not pay as much attention to. Those moments when everything is right, everyone is content, and there is no past or future, only present. That is my gift.
I hope whole-heartedly that Nabria and Erica continue to work with horses. I will forever be amazed at the connection that they made with Kitty and Martini, and I am grateful that I was there to capture it all.
Honestly, most of my clients ask me what I think they should wear, and I am grateful for it. The outfits your client wears can totally make or break your photo. There are many factors that contribute to choosing what to wear including personality, location, weather, and what the photo will be used for.
As a professional photographer, you want the clients clothing to be a statement about their personality. For example, if they play sports, recommend that they bring their jerseys. You also want the client to be comfortable with themselves and what they are wearing. I usually suggest that they stick to what they know. Ask questions. Do they usually wear jeans? Then wear them! Are they comfortable with a button down shirt? Then go for it! Be creative and mindful at the same time.
The location of your photo shoot is also important to keep in mind. Will your clients be sitting in grass? Will they have to walk far to get to the location? It is also useful to plan your color scheme to the location. If I am shooting at the Guthrie on the Endless Bridge like here in this photo with Grant, I want his clothing to be sharp and compliment the architecture and blue sky shown in the background. I am an experienced equestrian photographer as well and for shoots on a horse ranch I want the client to dress the part. Riding boots and a beautiful beaded headband looks amazing next to a horse. Play off of your location and you may get some new ideas!
Minnesota weather can be a challenge. There are a few things I keep in mind when shooting outside. When you are taking photos of children, take note of what the weather is like and advise your client to dress their little ones appropriately. If it is cold outside, take advantage of a puffy vest, or use layers which is a very stylish idea. Children wearing hats is adorable. Suggest that they wear them and style their hair around it! The more comfortable your client is, the longer you have with them to get amazing shots.
Know what your client is going to use the photos for. Are they for Christmas cards? Then you will want the family to dress in a way that compliments each other. Pinterest is a fabulous resource for ideas. Your client may want to use the photos to for their modeling portfolio and in this case you may want to assist them in choosing clothes that will not take away from them, the subject, so that they shine in the photo. Rarely will I have my client wear a shirt with a pattern if we are shooting for their portfolio, because I want the focus to be on their face and not stripes, plaid or polka dots! Go through your latest copy of Professional Photographer or Rangefinder and you will see that styling clothing is done to make a statement, and to compliment the subject. Decide what your message is and plan!
One trick I use at every shoot is to play off of my clients eyes. Their eyes are my focus point for almost every shot. I want their eyes to pop, not only against the background, but from their clothing as well. Ask your client to bring a variety of clothing options. You want them to bring outfits that they are comfortable with and then you as the professional photographer can decide with them what will work for each shot. Color can be valuable in making eyes shine!
Lastly, offer advice to your client on how to prepare their wardrobe for their photo shoot. Clothing, whether new or already loved, should be ironed, pressed or steamed. Clothing should be hanging on hangers and free of stains, holes, animal hair and lint. There are two reasons. One, you will spend a lot less time in Photoshop, and two, you want your client to value their photo shoot. They should be taking the time to prepare their clothing, and by doing this, they will value the photos that you create with them even more!
Take time to get to know your clients and be a part of the decision making when it comes to what they are wearing in their photos. I am sure they will appreciate you for it!
The Guthrie in Minneapolis has been one of my favorite locations to do photo shoots for years! No matter what time of day, there is always something that catches my eye in a new way and makes it a perfect spot for my photo shoots. The marriage between architecture and nature is thriving at The Guthrie. Every corner you turn there is a new angle, brilliant lighting, and art is abundant.
Another important tip is to talk to your clients! What type of location are they thinking? What is their unique style and vision for their photo shoot? Now take that information and create their vision in a photo, with frosting on top! When they see their photos it should feel like they are opening presents on Christmas Day! One of the most important things for me when choosing a location is to plan my photo before I shoot. With my style, I want something that I can play with. Art. I am looking for themes, I am scouting for color, and I am a huge fan of space where the nature meets structure.
For Jordan's photos we shot inside and outside of the Guthrie. Jordan did an amazing job! For senior pictures make sure you are asking questions and engaging your senior so that you are able to allow their personality to shine through in their photos. Not a smiley kid? Embrace that and monopolize on it. You want them to be themselves. They will love you for it!
Emma and I met at Harriet Island in St. Paul a few short weeks ago. It's always fun shooting at a new location and I usually go to the location around the same time as the scheduled shoot to see where the sunlight is falling. The sun was beautiful and reflected perfectly off of the river. The wind also played an important factor in getting the shots we needed. For this shoot the breeze came in exactly how we needed it to in order to blow Emma's hair away from her face. Gorgeous! Emma did an amazing job and it was hard to keep her from laughing and smiling!