I had the pleasure of interviewing Alexi Shields, founder of Alexi Shields Photography and Bokeh & Hue. After being a professional wedding photographer for 11 years she is focusing on her new brand Bokeh & Hue, a visual solutions studio that focuses on commercial photography and graphic design for other companies and personal brands. She’s had her work published in many highly recognized wedding blogs and magazines and has also been asked to contribute to stories in Redbook magazine, reviews.com and more.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I always knew I was going to be an artist of some sort. From a young age I knew I wanted to go to the coveted Ringling College of Art and Design, but I didn’t always know what my focus would be. I majored in Graphic Interactive Communication with a special interest in photography, but it wasn’t until 2007 when I was asked by a friend to photograph their wedding. The rest is history as they say because it’s been a whirlwind since that first wedding. Things have changed the past few years in my industry and personal life and I’ve really been wanting to branch out into a more commercial and conceptual direction with my art. This is where Bokeh & Hue was born. We not only focus on the big visual needs for our clients, but are also launching a facebook group for other creatives and entrepreneurs alike to join… my hope is that the group can become a platform for entrepreneurs and creatives to form collaborations around the world. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1815762525139091/?ref=bookmarks
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Wow, that’s a hard one. I’ve had a lot of interesting things happen to me, but obviously when you mix a lot of people with alcohol you’re asking for it! Let’s just say I’ve had run ins with some very interesting people at weddings throughout the years!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Yep! Always bring a spare pair of clothes with you to any event, photoshoot, etc. I do a lot of squatting when shooting…climbing walls to get a certain perspective for a shot and during one epic squat I ripped a pair of pants before right down the middle of my backside! This particular incident happened when I was photographing a wedding…we are not talking a little hole here. Luckily a guest was kind enough to lend me a jacket to wrap around my waist while I waited for my husband to go grab me a new pair of pants. Thank goodness that event was fairly close to home!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I could say it’s because we really listen to our clients and work one on one with them…which we do, but I’m constantly experimenting with new things. Luckily my clients are always up for it…even if it means it may not work…more times than not it is usually worth the gamble in order to create something amazing. I don’t have any one story that stands out among the others, but it usually involves my clients being cool with being in some absurd environment or experimenting with some kind of tool or technique to get a unique ‘look’ to the imagery.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Don’t take every client that walks through your doors, no matter how bad you want that paycheck. After a short talk with anyone you can get a vibe as to whether or not they’re the client for you. If you know right off that they’re going to be especially difficult, then you must learn to walk away. I’ve learned this the hard way, more than once! That’s a sure fire way to get burnt out and bummed out about your business.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Definitely my husband. I know it’s cliche, but there’s no way I could be where I am without his support. Even on days where he walks in from work and I throw insane ideas his way… “Hey, throw on your suit we are going to experiment with something!” to “Hey! Just found some studio space on Palm Beach and I have no clientele there, but I’m going to sign a lease and make it happen anyways.” He didn’t just answer with an ‘ok’, he was there with his suit on and researching my project idea even more. He didn’t just scoff at my idea of signing a lease with no income, he started learning photography himself so he could help me on my journey.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
SO, so many projects! I’m most excited about Bokeh & Hue! We want to create everything from music videos to composite photography for advertisements and art for book cover designs, so we are being a little picky about the clients we partner with. We love headshots and stuff that ‘pays the bills’ but we are blessed enough to be in a position where we can really focus on the stuff that gets us excited in the morning! Got a crazy idea for a product or editorial shoot? Hit us up! (seriously, let’s do this!)
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I’m always in support of giving back to the local community. I just finished up a project that is near and dear to my heart. Gigi’s Playhouse, an organization that helps families with a member that has Down Syndrome asked me to help photograph some of their members to display on the windows of the front of their newest playhouse in Tampa, FL. My niece is down syndrome and she is the snuggliest and sweetest girl you will ever meet, so it was a real treat to meet other kids with that amazing extra chromosome like my niece Hailey. Watching their personalities shine for the camera made my heart full.
Can you share “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Take Stunning Photos”. Please an example for each.
1. Lighting. Window light is the easiest way to achieve a pretty and interesting light source for most subjects, but I’m a fan of playing around with back light. Whether it’s from the sun or alternative light source see if you can master that ‘hair’ light on your subject. The key is to making sure you have your subject on a dark backdrop and not allowing the light to enter your lens so you don’t get lens flare. (unless you want a little flare!)
2. Movement. You might want to hone in on your shutter skills first, because you don’t want blurry photos. You may be photographing someone in a pretty dress or pretty spot, and that’s great, but beef it up and capture a little hair flip or dress twirl to really spice things up!
3. Angles. You don’t always have to be straight on your subject…try different angles and you’ll be amazed at the different results you’ll achieve by something so simple.
4. Laughter. It always lightens up the mood in casual photos. Prompting your subjects to bust out a fake laugh almost always provokes a real one. Give it a go!
5. Color. No matter if your subject is a person or object, find a contrasting background…I always search for bright colors. That’s a surefire way to make your subject stand out and it gives a little extra interest to the image.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Creative collaboration cafes! I just wish there was a coffee shop or bar somewhere with a ‘Brainstorm Here’ sign! If you are open to chatting with strangers about your (or their) creative projects, you could potentially collaborate with them and offer critiques. So, if you are stumped on something you’re working on, perhaps you just need a new perspective from another creative thinker.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Originally published at medium.com