We had the good fortune of connecting with Tiffany Gentry and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tiffany, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
Photography is so much more than having a good camera + taking pretty pictures. While that is obviously a key component, I believe that it’s important to educate clients so that they have a more comprehensive understanding of what to look for when hiring a photographer. A photographer needs to know light + the role it plays in each shot. For example, we need to know how to find the best light, the artistic impact of front lighting vs. back lighting + the role that shadows play in composing a shot. We need to know the ins + outs of our gear. What many clients don’t realize is that photographers are constantly changing our camera settings to properly expose each image. This can change based on the subject, the light, the focal point, the angle, etc. We need to know how the use of depth of field + different perspectives impacts the artistic outcome of each image + we need to apply that knowledge differently at each shoot so that each client’s story is told in the most authentic way. One of the biggest things I think industry outsiders are unaware of + one most important factors to consider is the importance of hiring a photographer who is an expert in posing. We all want to look our best in photos. That goes without saying. But just because a photographer can take a beautiful image of a professional model, doesn’t mean that same photographer will be able to produce an image that makes you feel equally beautiful. Posing will make or break a shot. When you think about what you’re actually looking to get out of a shoot, you don’t just want a beautiful image. You want to look your absolute best in that beautiful image. In order to achieve that outcome, you’re actually looking to hire both a photographer + artistic director. When hiring a skilled photographer, it is their job to understand body positioning, movement + how to create the most flattering angles for various body types. Sometimes it’s the slightest hand placement adjustment, other times it’s demonstrating some tips + tricks to minimize that double chin we’re all so self-conscious about, other times it’s just a quick posture reminder or orchestrating a certain reaction. Knowing how to direct clients in a way that will bring my vision to life is crucial. On a similar note, personality + communication play a huge role in the success of a shoot. I want my clients to not only love their images, but also their entire experience. As a photographer, it is so important for me to read people + to learn to play off of their energy. Creating a comfortable environment where my clients can feel natural being themselves in front of my lens has a significant outcome on the images. Photoshoots are stressful for most clients, but it’s your photographer’s job to create a relaxed environment for you to feel comfortable + confident so that you can look + feel your best.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a fine art photographer specializing in wedding, boudoir + lifestyle photography. I love making real connections with my clients + focus on bringing out their personalities in my portraits. One of the things that sets me apart is my ability to relate to my clients. I believe that empathy is one of the most valuable + one of the most lacking qualities in society today. But I also believe that by putting myself in my client’s shoes, they will feel safe, understood + free to be vulnerable in front of my lens. My goal is for my images to emote + in order for that to occur, it’s my job to cultivate a comfortable environment for my clients. What gets me most excited + what makes me most proud is knowing that I’m able to play a part in building a client’s confidence + helping them feel comfortable in their own skin by allowing them to see their beauty through my lens. Society has taught us to be so critical + negative of ourselves, but I hope to help change that through my photography. There’s truly nothing more rewarding than delivering a client’s gallery + immediately receiving these type of responses: “I’m at a loss for words, that’s me?! I’m literally in love with all of them + you completely exceeded my expectations of how I would look in them, I could cry happy tears. I cannot thank you enough for making the session so effortless and fun.” In a world that is constantly oversaturated with digital media, it’s both humbling + fulfilling to know that people still value professional artistry. I am so grateful to have a career that I love + am passionate about, but I wouldn’t call the journey “easy”. As a child I was terrible at painting + drawing … stick people were literally the extent of my skillset. So I grew up thinking I just wasn’t creative. However, when I picked up a “real” camera for the first time, I officially felt like an artist. Photography provided me with a creative outlet to express myself in an artistic way. It was so exciting for me to discover that just because I wasn’t a painter, didn’t mean I couldn’t be an artist. It took a lot of passion, dedication, focus + commitment to get to where I am today. It continues to take a lot of work both mentally + emotionally. Because art can be so subjective it takes time to develop your own style. There is a lot of pressure when prospective clients are judging you based on whether or not they like the art you produce. When you pour yourself into your work, it’s hard not to take it personally when a client chooses to book a different photographer. It’s a constant battle to avoid comparison. It’s a struggle to remain inspired, to keep pushing yourself creatively so your work doesn’t become stagnant + to trust your intuition. Sometimes you need to celebrate the little victories to keep going. I also had to learn to be patient with myself, realizing that it takes time for your creative voice to emerge. Another thing I’ve learned is how important it is to surround yourself with fellow creatives. These relationships have been a huge source of support, encouragement, motivation + inspiration. It’s also a great place to seek advice, accountability + constructive feedback, knowing that someone else understands what you’re going through. What I want the world to know about my brand + my story is the importance of authenticity. We all have a story to tell + my goal is to illustrate your story by documenting your memories without intruding on the moment. My goal is for my photography to emote. When my clients look at their images, I want them to instantly be transported back to the feelings + emotions they were experiencing right when that photo was taken. I want my images to serve as a reminder to be grateful for past experiences + look forward to future adventures. Lastly, I want my clients to know that if they choose to invest in me, I promise to invest in them.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The first day would start out with Coffee + Bacon Breakfast Burritos from Cofax followed by a bike ride along the beach from Marina del Rey to Manhattan Beach + back. Dinner would be at Sushi Katsu-Ya in Studio City. Day 2 would start with breakfast at Blu Jam Cafe … their crunchy french toast is a MUST. Next on the agenda would be taking in the Downtown views while day drinking poolside at NoMad Hotel’s rooftop pool + ending with a delicious dinner at Perch. Day 3 would start with coffee + breakfast at Bluestone Lane, a relaxing stroll around LACMA + the Grove, followed by dinner + drinks at Beauty & Essex (the lamb chop is to die for). A drive up PCH for breakfast + mimosas at Malibu Farm on the pier would start day 4. Then we would check out El Matador State Beach, followed by drinks at Moonshaddows + ending with an epic sushi dinner at Nobu Malibu. Our last day would start with breakfast at Republique, lunch + Drinks at Gracias Madre followed by dinner + a movie at Melrose Rooftop Theater.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
As I was just beginning my photography journey, I met my dear friend Lisa who was a wedding + lifestyle photographer. We met at a mutual friend’s engagement party + started chatting about photography. She was so kind, encouraging + patient. We exchanged numbers + soon after she contacted me to ask if I would want to 2nd shoot for her. The fact that she trusted me enough to give me this opportunity helped build my confidence. From day 1, she helped show me the ropes – whether it was learning my gear, navigating a challenging client, or establishing my brand, she was always willing to answer any questions I had. She truly took me under her wing + taught me so much. She was an amazing support system for me as I got my business off the ground + even went with me when I filed for my business license. I am so grateful for the impact she had on my life + career.
Headshot by Kate @wearefreebird