Ready, set, snap. It's a drill that master photographer Kris Fehrenbach Alt knows almost intrinsically. The avid shutterbug is a second generation professional photographer who has been in the business for more than 30 years. In that time she has served as the first female president of the Wisconsin Professional Photographers Association and is the recipient of the prestigious Photographic Craftsman Degree. She brings her expertise to LovetoKnow Photography in this exclusive interview which highlights ways shooters of all skill levels can be inspired by the latest photo trends.
Kris Fehrenbach Alt Discusses Popular Photo Trends
LoveToKnow (LTK): You have been influenced by photography nearly your entire life and are celebrating more than two decades of running Studio One Designer Photography. What are some of the hottest trends you're currently seeing in the photo industry?
Kris Fehrenbach Alt (KFA): Pregnancy portraits are extremely popular right now. Interestingly, pregnancy was at one time such a personal moment in a woman's life that it wasn't shared with many people outside of the family. I am so happy that times have changed! Today, Intimate Maternity and Professional Pregnancy portraits are a huge hit with moms to be, and they should be. Having a baby is a beautiful milestone in a woman's life. The only thing better than creating life itself is creating a beautiful portrait of that creation of life.
Another hot trend is the inclusion of a pet in a formal family portrait. And why not? After all, who is more part of the family than your beloved dog or cat? Younger families are also opting for poses that don't look stuffy or too posed. In addition, more on-location photography is being requested. Personally, I enjoy going to people's homes and seeing what they have in mind. Sometimes, the client has an idea for the perfect venue, but the lighting or background is not up to par. When that happens, I really need to be able to redirect their thinking and suggest an area that will work better for the session.
Tips for Hiring a Professional Photographer
LTK: What advice can you give people looking to hire a professional photographer to document special occasions?
KFA: The most important advice is to never select your photographer based solely on price. Rather, look at the overall quality of their work. In addition, their customer service should be stellar. As a customer, you have the right to interview a potential photographer. Set up a time to meet or call a pro and ask the following questions:
- What is your experience in the industry?
- How many years have you been photographing professionally?
- Do you have your own portrait studio or do you shoot on-location only?
- What photo genre(s) do you specialize in?
Keep in mind that a good travel photographer doesn't necessarily make a good baby photographer. Also, photographing weddings is different from photographing pregnant women, so make certain the photographer in question is qualified to take the type of images you want. Most importantly, if the photographer quotes a price that sounds too good to be true, ask what he is doing different from other photographers you have interviewed to come up with the low price.
LTK: Do you find that clients are more particular now than they were when you first opened your studio?
KFA: I would say they are much more articulate. Today's consumer is highly educated because of the research they can do on the Internet. Today's consumer knows, in most cases, what they like, or don't like and what they want. I have clients who bring photos on their laptop computers or smart phones and ask me to duplicate the image with them as the subject. I encourage my clients to share their ideas with me. This gives me a wonderful opportunity to give them exactly what they want, not what I think they want.
Looking Back and Moving Forward
LTK: How has the photo industry changed in the last years?
KFA: That is such an important question. I was just looking at the digital camera that I purchased a few years ago and was comparing it to the new camera I purchased last week. It was like comparing a disposable 35mm camera to a Hasselblad (Swedish camera widely used by professional photographers and even NASA). Every day, this industry is new and improved. Greater quality, greater resolution, higher sensitivity controls for every type of lighting available, greater manual control, updated soft wear to manipulate your portraits to look even more exceptional than in the past and the list goes on and on. With these changes, though, comes the need for more education, more equipment and a more knowledgeable staff. All of that also comes at a price.
LTK: Where would you like to see the industry go in the coming years?
KFA: I would love to see this industry go back to the days when professionalism reigned supreme. Television is inundated with commercials that try to convince every Tom, Dick and Harry that he can take high quality photos and make money from them. Making the picture-taking look easy has cheapened the profession. It takes many years to hone one's skills. Setting your camera on automatic and shooting just doesn't cut it. A true professional knows how to create art from a specific scene. What's more, professional photographers are trained to handle any type of situation that may occur. As the saying goes, "Just because you own a nice camera, doesn't make you a photographer. It only means you own a nice camera."
Special Thank You to Kris Fehrenback Alt
LoveToKnow would like to thank Kris Fehrenbach Alt for providing an inside look at the world of professional photography, and for sharing her awe-inspiring images that truly showcase the creative advances made in the profession over the past decades.