Boudoir and the Sue Bryce Business Model with Arnica Spring Rae
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What has been your biggest breakthrough in photography?
“When Felix Kunze and Sue did the lighting course on CreativeLive that opened up a whole new world for me. I was taught studio lighting when I was in school 20 years ago but I really hadn’t used it since then. It always felt complicated and foreign to me. Felix has an amazing way of making it simple so I set about to learn and implement it into my business. Being able to shoot both natural and studio light has given me so much more versatility in my photography and in how I can market myself. I did a shoot a little while ago for an actress’s portfolio. We needed a wide variety of images and we shot both studio light and natural light and I remember finally feeling like I was a “real” photographer. It only took me 13 years of shooting to get there.”
Arnica’s Former Studio
We all go through periods of mental blocks. How do you push past times of not finding inspiration?
“I have definitely had days where I wake up and really want to cancel my shoot that day for one reason or another. I have found that once I get started shooting and see the images come into my camera my mind shifts gears and I start to enjoy what I am doing. I always know that I will start to enjoy myself if I can just get started so I use that to get myself to the point of the camera in my hand and the client in front of me.”
Everyone has a favorite shoot – tell us about yours and why it’s your favorite.
“I don’t feel like I have an all-time favorite shoot…but that’s because as I grow stronger and stronger in my shooting my favorite becomes whatever my most recent shoot was. Even though I have been shooting for 14 years there is still SO much for me to learn. Although I did just do a shoot for Portrait Masters Awards that I thought was pretty cool…you’ll have to wait for that one!”
Arnica’s New Studio
How has Sue Bryce Education changed your life for the better?
“I remember the first time I had the opportunity to meet Sue in person. It was at WPPI in 2017 at the Canon booth. After she had given a short talk for them I walked back by the booth and she was still there with Gerson shaking people’s hands. I really didn’t have a lot I wanted to tell her other than, “thank you so much for changing the trajectory of my career path.”
In life, we often bump up against something or someone that puts an idea in our minds or shows us another way to do something. For me that someone was Sue. I was already a photographer so I had that part dialed in but I didn’t have a “way” of shooting anything other than weddings. I’m a big picture person so I never have trouble coming up with ideas but I do have a much harder time coming up with the path to getting it done. SBE has provided that path for me from start to finish. Well, not finished, because I’m not even close to being done!
Where do you find inspiration for your portraits?
“I’ve never been what I would call a “creative” or “inspired” photographer. Meaning, I don’t get a vision in my head for something I’d like to shoot and then go and shoot it. My images come about as a result of combining all of the components of the shoot and seeing what comes out when I take the first photo. From there I am able to change things, add or subtract components and work with my client to create beautiful images for them. So really…my inspiration comes from my clients and who they are.”
Arnica’s First Paid Client
Do you regret any decision you’ve made in your business?
“I think I make little decisions I regret every day like doing things that waste my time instead of the stuff that needs to get done but when I was earlier in my business I wish that I had spent less time learning things that I could have paid someone else to do and focused more on my craft. And I wish I had been more confident in myself. I’m good at what I do and I regret not owning that.”
What do you think is the biggest misconception when people are trying to start their photography business?
“If I had known I would spend 99.5% of my time in front of my computer and .5% with my camera in my hands I might have chosen a different career! No, I’m just kidding, but I do think that people underestimate the importance of having some business skills coming into it. Being a photographer requires you to also be a marketer, a graphic designer, a social media expert, a bookkeeper, an editor, a videographer, a client relationship specialist, and an office manager and a million other things. All in all, just expect to learn to be versatile!”
What does the Sue Bryce Education community mean to you?
“I have to admit that I am not the most active member of the SBE community…but that’s because a lot of it takes place on Facebook and to be honest, I really am not a huge Facebook fan. However, I love my in-person relationships and a couple of my good business friendships have come out of being in the SBE community. I do love going to the Portrait Masters Conference and being able to connect with others that are in the same field as I am. It’s fun to be able to have conversations about the different struggles and achievements we are each dealing with and I love being able to offer insight to others on things that I have figured out how to overcome or deal with.”
For someone starting out on their photography journey, what advice would you have for them?
“My biggest piece of advice is to learn to be versatile in your shooting ability. I have photographed everything from Presidential campaigns and world crisis to boudoir and baby showers. I can confidently say that I could create half-decent images in almost any situation I might be put in. Having this ability not only gives me the confidence in my skills but gives me the option to say yes to people and opportunities that have brought me all over the world and in contact with so many different kinds of people.
Build yourself Pinterest boards of images you love and figure out how the photographer created them. And not just studio images! Learn how to shoot inside and outside, with flash and with strobes, young and old, rich people and poor people. This is your craft so master it! It takes practice but it’s worth it. Once you can emulate the styles of other images that you like it gives you the ability to hone in on your own style and what you want to shoot. It’s like having an entire tool trailer full of tools to get a job done instead of showing up to build a house with just a hammer.”
What goals do you hope to achieve next in your career?
“I am looking forward to offering some boudoir workshops this year in addition to ramping up the commercial side of my business. I am also working on a non-profit that provides maternity and newborn portraits for teenage girls that get pregnant and make the decision to keep their babies. I am at a point in my career and life that I want to be able to use my skills and knowledge to be able to pour into other people’s lives and be a blessing to them.”
Arnica’s Current Work
Arnica Spring Rae of Arnica Spring Photography
Arnica Spring Rae is a portrait and commercial photographer with studios in stunning Jackson, Wyoming and Bozeman, Montana. As a young girl growing up in rural Wyoming at the foot of the wild Teton Range, she never suspected portrait photography was her calling but knew she was passionate about the arts, theater, and fashion. Over the last 15 years, she’s transitioned from photographing on film to photographing digitally; from photographing vacationers with their horses to photographing weddings, families and in recent years, women.
Portraiture has carried Arnica on a deep journey into the craft of photography and she’s taken every opportunity to educate herself through workshops and courses like Sue Bryce Education. Her commitment to lifelong learning has paid off in earning the esteemed credential of Accredited Master in the elite and highly competitive Sue Bryce Portrait Masters.
Arnica completed her first book project in 2018, Legacy of the Land, a coffee table book commissioned by Mr. Arthur M. Blank. Her work has been published in Cowboys & Indians, The Big Sky Journal, Rocky Mountain Bride, and Four Seasons Magazine. Some of her clients include Mountain Sky Guest Ranch, Pearls by Shari, Jackson Hole Jewelry Company and Water Missions International.