Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Interview With Tracy Joy Photography

If I could time travel and go back and interview myself when I was a photographer I would answer the "who influences you" question with "Tracy Joy Photography"

I was so excited when Tracy agreed to answer my questions - I had a bit of a fangirl moment!

Do you have a favourite colour you look for when choosing props? 

Colors... geesh, I LOVE colors.... in fact, so much that I don't have a favorite color.  As long as it is bold and vibrant, I am thrilled to be using it! 

Are there any colours you tend to avoid in your sessions? 
Not a single one.  Even muted colors I will work in on occasion.  The more colors I can combine, the happier I am.

Do you prefer one kind of prop over another? (eg, tiebacks over hairbands, rompers over trousers)
For newborns, I love tiebacks & headbands for little girls... especially if they have tons of hair!  I also love newborn pant sets and knit (or crochet) hats.  My favorite hats are bonnets that I can tie under the chin, I just adore them! 

How many times would you use the same prop before consigning it to the back of your prop stash? 
I am pretty good at using and reusing props, I just like to rotate them so I dont use them in back to back sessions. About once per year, I will do a destash.... many times I give away little baggies of my "loved props" for FREE on my Facebook page.  If I can help another photographer in their prop insanity, I am happy to. 

How important is the price of a prop to you?
Not at all.  I have props that were free, ones for $10, and I have props that I paid $100's for. I care more for quality, and customer service... so that is what I look for first... price is the least of my concern. And I dont say that out of a money aspect, I will save my dollars to buy a prop I really want... because 1) I need quality, and 2) I would rather support a great prop shop that I love, vs a cheaper version.  

How important is it to you that a prop is one of a kind and unique to you?

Not at all.  I think we all love OOAK things, makes us feel special... but I also love using a prop I saw in another image, and making it my own in a pose or style that is different. 

What do you look for when sourcing props? 
For newborns, I look for uniqueness & quality... for my Stylized Sessions with older kids, I have a stylist that I work with,  Jeanna Gatusso Couture Styling.  I give her my initial idea, and she pulls all of the props together.  In fact, we just did a "Where the Wild Things are" stylized session, and she did just a magnificent job... blew me away! 

What has been your best bargain? 
Best bargain.... hmmmmmmm I'd say not a bargain in pricing, but a bargain in friendship!  I network with a great group of local photographers, and we will trade & share our props.  This has been most valuable to me, in all aspects. 

And what has been your most extravagent purchase?
My stylist! But, working with a professional like her, it's worth every dollar.  I also include her cost in to my sessions, so that transfers back to the clients.  These are such special sessions, and really are unlike anything else... so to me, and my client base, it's more than worth it. Seeing a vision come to life... I can't explain it, its DREAMY!  

Do you have a favourite age to use props on?  
I love, LOVE newborns.  Next, I'd say 6-9m "sitting" babies, because they can't run from me! lol Aside from that I love working with young kids, ages 4-10 is so much fun. Letting children be children, it's magical. 

Describe your prop storage area and studio for us... 

My studio area is for newborns only... so it's small and cozy.  I line my baskets and props up against the wall. Blankets are all stored in clear containers (so I can see colors & choices),and headbands are organized in a smaller container... as are hats & such.  I like my newborn area small, so it contains heat well during my sessions.  Sweaty photographer = happy & warm newborn! 

Do you have any tips on using props in photography? 
Use what makes you happy!  But safety first.  I do not use babies in buckets or any sort of bin unless I have a spotter on hand.  Aside from that. I love LOVE using baskets or bins that I can shoot "down into", with baby belly up. It's safe, cute and a good option.   With my stylized sessions, ANYTHING GOES! 

How do you decide what props you are going to use in each session? 
Newborns are all based on the options of the parents.  However, I have my 3 favorite baskets picked out and pre-filled (I ask prior to sessions about colors), and rarely (like 1/10) I have to change it out. 

Do you have setups already in place or do you chat with your clients beforehand? 
With my 3 favorite baskets picked out, it keeps it fairly simple.  I dont have any elaborate props anymore, but sometimes I get special requests.. so those are all set up after parents arrive.  My bean bag shots are done first, so that is always set up and ready to go as well. 

What is your absolute most favourite image in your portfolio and why? 
Geesh!  NOT EASY.  From recent images, I would say I love this image of my daughter, Joy (my namesake!).  She was going to preschool for the first time, and I captured this image... my little girl, growing up and flourishing like a beautiful butterfly! 

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the area of newborn photography?
WRAPS!  I love my wraps and literally have them in (almost) every color on the pallette.  Aside from that... EDUCATION.  It's key.   Take a workshop, this will help you decide what props you love using.  Some require more work into using them, and some are easier.  Workshops are so important, and many times over looked... we need them at ANY AGE & STATE OF OUR CAREER.  I believe education is never over, and can always be gained. 

Which photographers influence you? Whose work do you love? 

Through the years, I have met so many.  Some who's work I admire so much, and they inspire me day in and day out.  The ones that matter most to me though, are those who are amazing artists, but also inspiring people in their day to day lives.  I prefer kindness, and mutual respect, before anything else. The most influential to me and my newborn career has been my colleague and friend, Keri Meyers.  We met many years ago through a mutual project... she was also the first newborn workshop that I ever attended, and I can say she is a TRUE PROFESSIONAL at what she does, and an amazing human being.  In addition, I have gained knowledge and friendship thru these outstanding women: Nicole Everson, Lisa DiGeso of Milk & Honey, Stacy Hayward of Stacy's Creations, Gina Neary of Peahead Prints Photography .... and there are so many more I am grateful to befriend and learn from. This industry is amazing, and it can be brutal as well.  Surround yourselves with people who are kind, and respectful of you and others... no matter your status or what you can offer them.  MOST IMPORTANT, be that and do that for others as well... choose kindness over competition, always. 

Aside from all of that.... I am also the wacko behind the amazingly silly photography site Prop Insanity 

Since 2009, I have benn blogging about photography props and the photographers who love them... and the vendors who make them! 

We offer online EDITING classes and the occasional SHOOT OUT.   
Check out our shop for our online resources.

Speaking of shopping & props... is also one of my endeavors... where I work hand in hand with photography vendors, bringing the more unique and sweetly handmade props out there.  RTS sales can be hard... so we created this site for a 24/7 prop site!  Enjoy it... we have vendors WORLDWIDE! 

Oh yeah... ... that's on my plate too!  Along side my fellow Illinois photographer, Jessica Weinstock, we created a SAFE HAVEN for photographers worldwide.  Trying to connect and network photographers, vs competition and arguing. Happy Togs is my heart... and it brings me so much delight to see the friendships that are made via the site and our Facebook page.  In an industry so swamped and overwhelmed, it's so important to remember the GOLDEN RULE, and being kind to others. 

I'm a busy girl, I know..... I also have 3 children under the age of 10 (4 kids if you count my darling husband! lol).  This is my CRAZY INSANE LIFE, but I love every second of it (especially if there is wine involved! ha!).

Tracy, your life sounds just as chaotic and hectic as mine, so I'll raise a glass of wine and say in a very British fashion "Cheers" to being busy!!

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