Posts Tagged ‘Tamara Staples’
The crazy thing about social media is meeting people online that inspire you, that you get to actually chat with and follow their life on a daily basis, but yet you may never actually meet in person! Tamara Staples is one of those people in my life. She first stood out to Cale and I when we featured her beautiful Chicken Photography as an Everyday Design Blog Post. When I reached out to Tamara to ask for her permission about using her photographs we started emailing back and forth and following each other on Facebook. I love it when you reach out to an artist or maker and they actually have time to engage in real conversations with you. No matter how much traffic your feature may or may not send to their site, you can just tell when someone is genuinely thrilled that their work caught your eye and that you want to showcase it. I immediately felt that response from Tamara and have since then really enjoyed following her work as an artist and a commercial photographer in Brooklyn, NY.
I asked Tamara to give us the low down on what exactly it is she does when it comes to photography and her day to day life as a professional, mom, wife, woman, and friend.
“My usual schedule includes regular photography assignments such as book covers, magazine photo illustrations and other assorted jobs, for instance, a non-for-profit shoot about organic-raised chickens.
When I’m not in the studio, I play mahjong with a group of ladies, run 15 miles a week and enjoy time with my 8 year old son, Emmett and my husband, Bill Newell.” – Tamara Staples
Q1) What was is it about photography that made you want to pursue it as a career?
I’ve loved photography since childhood when I pinned a picture from a box of Girl Scout cookies on my wall. In this photograph, a young girl kneels in the sand behind her tripod and camera, staring out into the distance waiting for something to happen so that she might capture it. This girl struck me as a confident person, the kind of person I’d like to be, who was able to observe life around her in a non-threatening way.
Q2) What are some of the key factors that helped shape and develop your photographic eye?
I’ve always loved Irving Penn as a key source of inspiration, but for me, I need a variety of inspirations. All of life’s rich experiences influence my work.
Q3) What has been the most challenging, and the most rewarding part about being a full-time freelance photographer?
Free-lancing has its ups and downs. At times I’m so busy I can barely keep it all straight, and then there are times when no one is calling no matter how much I reach out to market myself. I can get a little blue, but my husband is always reminding me not to equate my self-worth to the momentary lack of work. The upside of the free-lance gig is setting my own schedule. I have the freedom to be with my family when I want or need to be.
Q4) How have you found balance running your own business and maintaining a healthy family life?
My husband works a healthy 75 hours a week so he’s not able to contribute to the day-to-day domestic duties. My photography hours pale in comparison, but when you add the care of my 8 year old, the domestic chores, my fine art work, marketing, my weekly Mahjong game and a 15 mile-a-week running schedule it can get very hectic. I’m incredibly independent, so it works for us, but not without a lot of juggling.
Q5) As a freelancer what advice do you have for networking and building a consistent client base?
Finding new clients outweigh the actual work by a wide margin, so when I get new business, it’s gold. The best advice I can give for building a consistent client base is to service each individual client with the best you can give, no matter the circumstances. I hire a lot of other free-lancers and if they are on set complaining about other clients, I generally won’t hire them again.
Q6) How has being a mom changed or shaped you as a creative person?
As a parent, I’ve become particularly efficient. And because I adore being a mom, I’m a happier, more fulfilled person. But being a parent is a difficult job. Figuring out how to be a good parent is ever changing, there’s so much to consider. When I go to work, I almost feel like I’m on vacation!
Q7) What are some tips for approaching publishers for a book deal?
There are many ways to get your projects in front of publishers. The most popular way lately is to attend a Portfolio Review. They are seemingly everywhere these days, but beware: they are expensive. However, you will meet face to face with the very people who could help you. Exposure is very important. Submit work to contests and the research to find the right people and contact them directly. I find the shotgun approach works best for me.
Q8) What is your favorite leisurely activity you do at home with your family?
We live in Greenwood Heights on top of a hill that happens to be the tallest point in Brooklyn. This apartment is new to us in that we purchased it in May of 2013. The reason we chose this apartment is because of the large balcony on the top floor with sweeping views of the harbor, the Statue of Liberty, a huge chunk of Brooklyn (including the BQE) and all of Manhattan. Every night after dinner, we rush to the balcony and watch the sunset. This is our favorite family activity. Nothing to do but watch the colors collect in the sky and the lights coming up in the city.
Q9) How do you keep creativity fresh in your day to day?
Lately I’ve been shooting with a tungsten light that will focus. I love how the subject matter will sparkle and I especially like the sharp black shadows that instantly create a sense of design. Most of these images are “experiments” or “tests”, as we call them in the business. I’m showing my clients how this lighting looks great for the right project. It’s so important to try new things, to stay fresh and to challenge yourself.
Now, let’s all take a breath and savor each of these beautiful photographs! I just love the layouts and the way she makes you wanna study and see the art forms in ordinary objects. Truly amazing!
Thank you Tamara for taking the time to share more about your life and your work. I hope our paths do cross Tamara and maybe you can teach me how to play mahjong sometime?! I love card games. We play a mean game of pitch here in Oklahoma!
From The Farm
No related photos.
Our brains have been thinking a lot about chickens. You can say we are a bit obsessed. For the past year we’ve been debating on when, how, and where. Finally, this spring we are excited to announce that we are getting chickens! I don’t think they will ever be as beautiful as the ones pictured in this pretty chicken project by Tamara Staples. I’m sure our new chicken adventures will leave us with much more respect for the award winning chicken sub-culture than we ever expected!
Tamara Staples, a commercial photographer, started her career as a prop stylist for print and television. Her daytime job is obviously much more “urban” (checkout her still life photos!) but she has managed to find time to pursue more personal projects as well. As a little girl she found her love for chickens while visiting her Uncle Ron, a chicken breeder in Athens, GA. It took her nearly four years of traveling to award shows in the Midwest before she could publish her first photography book in 2001; The Fairest Fowl: Portraits of Championship Chickens.
Now with the release of her second chicken book, The Magnificent Chicken, Tamara has done it again and nearly left us all awe-struck over these awkward and yet beautiful creatures.
Tamera recalls her first visit at a poultry show 20 years ago;
“I remember stepping inside and being blown away by the birds,” Staples recounted. “They were gorgeous! And the show itself—the people, the smell, the sounds, the camaraderie of the shows and the beauty of the birds—who knew there were so many varieties of chickens beyond what you think about when they’re on your dinner plate?” - Tamara Staples | Slate
“Poultry shows exist all over this country. They are amazing organizations. There, you will find generations of families involved in the upkeep and competition of the birds, working together in a city folk’s dream of the country. When you look at these photographs, you may see a beautiful bird, you may see a proud chicken, and you may even be able to marvel at the colors or patterns that make each bird unique. What I wish you could see is the passionate 12-year-old boy, getting up before school, before daylight, no matter the weather, and making sure his birds made it through the cold night as he waters and feeds them. And now imagine his grandfather, who’s been raising and showing his birds since he was a child, carefully holding a newborn chick, imparting years of wisdom to his grandson. Imagine the family at the poultry show, as the ribbons are distributed and whether victory or defeat, all lifelong lessons.” - Tamara Staples | Chronicle Books Blog
“These chickens are works of art. They’ve been breed to a perfection by serious, passionate and life long breeders. They are the outcome of their great, great grand chickens, carefully raised to be the competitive bird you see here.” - Tamara Staples | Chronicle Books Blog
In 2003 she was featured on NPR’s hit series “This American Life”. Take a listen for a behind the scenes look at the fine art of chicken portraiture.
Every once in a while we come along a project that sorta stops us in our tracks. Our Everyday Design Series is a place to highlight creatives who create art and design out of things we normally take for granted. Sometimes the greatest ideas are found when we actually slow down and take the time to reminisce on the things we truly love.
For Tamara Staples that was chickens.
What are the random and unique things about your world that inspire you?
From the Farm
Purchase The Magnificent Chicken at Chronicle Books Online. A fun gift idea for Father’s Day or a coffee table book for that urban farmer enthusiast.