Girls Behind the Lens: The Vitalic Girls

It's time for another installment of Girls Behind the Lens! I hope these interviews are as fun for you as they are for me! Thanks Nicki & Chrissy for contributing with this month's Q&A! You can check out their website here and follow along their adventures on the Vitalic blog here. ;)

Tell us a little bit about yourselves. How did you meet and decide to start a company together?
Nicki: Although I’m several years younger than Chrissy, we both went to the same high school and were both in band.  We went our separate ways for college and both ended up moving back to our hometown.  After I saw Chrissy’s web design website I contacted her and said, “Hey I think we’d be good friends, let’s hang.” So we did and here we are!  As far as our business, not long after we became close friends, an acquaintance asked Chrissy to photograph their wedding and she asked me to do it with her.
Chrissy:  Nicki said it all very well, but she could have left out the age jab, burn.

Where is the name Vitalic coming from?
We decided to throw up a website to see if we’d get any business in our small town, but we needed a name.  We hit the thesaurus and couldn’t find anything. We wanted something that wasn’t too sappy and we didn’t want to use our names.  We decided that our photography was going to be all about life…vital, vitalic.  It’s sort of made up, but we liked the way the letter V looked in script.

Have you had professional photography training?
Nicki: I have a bachelor’s degree and state license in interior design.  I took architectural photography in college, but most of my knowledge comes from personal exploration and experimentation.
Chrissy: I have a bachelor's degree in digital media with a minor in fine art, which included training in photoshop, flash, programming, drawing, design and photography, but like Nicki I learned the most by experimenting on my own first.

What´s your favorite part of your job?
Nicki: I love that our job is constantly new.  New clients, new inspiration, new trends, new weddings, new babies.  What else could be happier than weddings and babies?
Chrissy: Everything Nicki said, plus free wedding cake!

and your least favorite? :)
Nicki: The occasional controlling bridesmaid or mother-of-the-bride.
Chrissy: Probably that our job depends so much on the weather.  When it rains it can ruin an ourdoor wedding, and when it's hot (especially in Florida) the heat can be unbearable.  One time while slightly pregnant I actually blacked out from the heat after a ceremony, haha.

Do you travel a lot? Favorite photo destination?
Nicki: We are starting to travel more and more…  Our favorite spots are usually simple and let the subjects stand out.  We have a secret spot in our town that has beautiful tall grass and an oak canopy – it is by far our most requested photo shoot location.
Chrissy: Yes, we travel all over Florida and we were just recently flown out to California for a wedding in the red wood forest.  We would love to shoot more weddings all over the country (and even outside too).  It's a great chance to travel.

You primarily shoot engagements, family portraits and weddings. Which one is your favorite?
Nicki: I love weddings.  I love the bride, and groom, and flowers and wedding details.  And the father/daughter dance.
Chrissy: I actually love engagements the most.  It gives us a chance to get to know the couple (since the wedding day can be so hectic) and we like coming up with fun theme ideas that match the couple's interest.

Do you always shoot on location or do you have a studio background as well?
We recently opened a studio in our hometown where we love to shoot babies and young children.  We like to make our studio sessions unique with different backdrops and handmade props.  Our backgrounds in the design industry help these ideas come together.

Favorite shoot? (yes you have to choose! :)
Nicki: I loved Caitlin & Charlie’s wedding that was just featured on Southern Weddings blog.  The couple was adorable and the wedding was just perfectly classic, a touch vintage and a little girly.
Chrissy: I loved an engagement session we did at a fair for Chelsea and Brian.  It was such a fun idea and who doesn't love to take an elephant ear break while on the job.

How many assignments/weddings do you do in a year?
We don’t keep track!  I bet we do close to 40 weddings a year, and as many engagement, newborn and family sessions as we can without falling over exhausted.  We hate turning clients down when we’re already booked.

Do you both do everything or is there a specific workflow you´re following?
We both shoot, process our raw files in Adobe, do our own editing in photoshop, and then merge the images in bridge.  We take turns blogging though, that’s the fun part.

How difficult was it to set up your company and get a steady client base? Anything you´d do differently if you could start again?
Since Chrissy was a graphic designer and I was an interior designer full time, we were lucky enough to have Vitalic as a fun side gig in the beginning.  It steadily grew and in the last 2 years has dramatically increased to what it is today.  We’re so glad that this is both of our main jobs now, we don’t feel like we’re even working.  We love that we haven't had to spend a lot of money on advertising since most of our clients are by word of mouth and Chrissy does all of our website development.

Now the part we´re all dying to know… What photography equipment do you use? The more detail the better! :D
This is our main equipment:
Canon 5D Mark II’s
Canon 7D (back up cam)
50mm f/1.2 L - Our go to lens for portraits of newborns to couples
85mm f/1.2L II - Our absolute fave, we call her the big mama jama
24mm f/1.4L II - Great lens for the fun wide shots
70-200mm f/2.8L - A must for the wedding cremony
24mm TS-E f/3.5 L II - our newest addition,
100mm macro 2.8L - How we get those crisp ring shots
Speedlight 580EX II’s - We only use these when we absolutley have to
Adobe Photoshop CS5 - Our beloved

If you could choose just one lens to use for portraits / weddings which one would it be?

85 1.2 – it’s butta

Do you shoot exclusively with natural light or do you use flashes / studio equipment. If so we´d love to know the details ;)
We use flash when necessary but prefer natural light. In our newborn studio we use a 50" softbox.

For aspiring photographers like myself it´s always challenging to prioritize and know what we need and when we need it. What´s more important a good camera, banging lenses or maybe a flashy flash?

Nicki: I would say a good camera.  One of my favorite lenses for a while was the inexpensive 50mm 1.4 and I loved so many of my images.
Chrissy: I actually would say purchasing top of the line prime lenses is more important and a better investment.  Camera bodies will come and go, but lenses hang around for longer.

Best trick you´ve ever learned?
Chrissy: Best trick I've learned is how to position the subject in the best spot for natural lighting.  It was something that took years of practice to perfect, but now I see it everywhere I look.  I'm always pointing out to my husband "oh there is a great spot for light" - it's probably kind of annoying to him at this point.

What´s your favorite photography accessory?
Nicki: Kelly Moore camera bag!
Chrissy: Not discovered yet... a pair of shoes that are comfortable... and really cute.  If you know of one that exsist let me know : )

How important is post processing your images? I love the mood of your images, could you share your secrets? (it must be an action/action packs… ;)
We have developed our own set of actions for images and use different sets depending on the location or time of the day.  For instance during sunset images we try to bring out the golden sun more, or during a session in the woods we'll bring out more chocolate tones.  We have used Totally Rad Actions as well as many others and love experimenting to find what looks good on different images.  We also do some custom adjustments with curves and like to bring up the mid tones so that that the blacks aren't too muddy.

How many images do you normally shoot on a wedding / portrait session and how many of those do you deliver to your clients?
We're big fans of quality over quantity, but we generally end up with 80% of the images we shoot at an event – and they can take up to 2-3 DVDs.  Generally about 800-1200 images for a wedding.  We try not to overwhelm the couple with too many images, but have a hard time deleting any that are keeper quality.

MAC or PC?
Both! Nicki: Mac - Chrissy builds her own PC

Favorite photographers?
Jose Villa, Leigh Miller, Stephanie Williams

Favorite blogs / websites?
Southern Weddings, Style Me Pretty, 100 Layer Cake, Grey Likes Weddings, Facebook!

What inspires you?

Nicki: As dorky as this sounds – everything.  Fashion, flowers, architecture, babies.
Chrissy:  Not sure if this counts, but I am definietly more inspired during a shoot when the couple is really into it.  Especially if they've come equipped with props, cute outfits and accessories.

If you could shoot anyone in the world who would it be?
Nicki: I know it already passed, but how about the Royal Wedding – we’d of course do their traditional studio portraits, but we’d also find a beautiful garden on the palace grounds with the sun peeking through.  Cutest couple ever.
Chrissy: With a camera?  Hmm... anyone famous would be pretty awesome!  Except that Justin Biber kid... or anyone that is just reality show famous, that doesn't count.

What are Vitalic´s plans for the future?
Nicki: Keep growing, keep traveling, keep developing and honing our style!
Chrissy:  We have plans to eventually purchase our own private jet that is pink with a floral interior and is fully stocked with assorted candy treats.  Ahhh... a girl can dream.

What advice would you give to someone looking to break into the photography business?
Nicki: Don’t try to be something you’re not.  Find your own style and stick to it.
Chrissy:  Just make sure to focus on making pretty art, and don't get too hung up and having to buy the latest and greatest camera/lens.  Also make sure your marketing & brand reflects your work.  Cute images, but ugly  branding can ruin it.

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Neris / Fashion Fractions said...

Really cool interview! These girls are awesome! I love the baby photo :)


Fashion Fractions

http://www.victorypug.com said...

amazing pictures!!!

Leya said...

this is lovely! :)

Ivânia Santos (Diamond) said...

Wonderful post!!!


Alysson said...

oh my gosh!! I love their stuff!! so beautiful. XO


Claire M. said...

These photos are cool! I love it so much ;)

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