Long time no blog! Enough time has gone by since we've had a post, so let's just jump right into this.
Today, we've got 19 year old Lena Mirisola sharing with us how she got interested in photography and what inspires her. She's a Massachusetts based photographer who has had her own business since she was 15! She's also landed several big name commercial gigs and draws people to her work because of her fresh, young perspective. Her photography is great and we're sure she'll go far, especially since she's already accomplished so much. Check out her Facebook, website and Instagram.
Thanks, Lena for taking the time to answer a few questions for us!
What's it like being such a young photographer in a competitive field?
Being a young photographer in this field is invigorating. I’m constantly striving to be better. For the portraits business side of things, it’s odd sometimes. People know you as a high schooler, why would they trust a sixteen year old to shoot their wedding? I found that some had little respect for my work and refused to see past my age. It’s just a number, people. I stopped posting my age and all that really stopped. They judged me by my work and my work only, and I was getting hired like crazy. For the commercial side of things, being young rocks. I signed with Getty Images & SheStock at eighteen, and art buyers and ad agencies are always looking for the new hip, young photographer out there. I connect naturally with my peers to shoot that my lifestyle shoots never look fake or forced, because they truly aren’t. Being young gives me hope – I’m already evolving to survive in this competitive field. I honestly believe that age is not a factor in this industry; skill & talent are what matters. Success in this industry is possible for those with true talent who are willing to work.
In the beginning, the portrait business kind of threw itself onto me. I had been shooting for myself for a year and half, trying out all kinds of photography, but ultimately realizing I wanted to focus on people. As it starts for many, people just started asking me to do portraits for them. I began focusing on what it really meant to run a legitimate business inside & out and produce quality work for clients.
What initially got you interested in photography?
I was always artistic – painting, drawing, a little artist. So, messing around with my friends and my point and shoot was just a natural transition.
Do you have formal training? Self taught? Mixture of both?
I’d say 80% is self-taught. I had to learn on my own at 14 how to produce the depth of field I craved, what lenses to use for what kind of shooting I did, how to shoot successfully, how to style a shoot, and the biggest thing – editing. There’s a full year of just terrible Photoshop editing experiments…luckily that was a long time ago, and by the time I was 15 I got my act together workflow wise. I’m currently a freshman in college, so once I get in my major I’ll spend much more time working with photo professors and getting a “formal” education. I attend workshops, and I’m constantly reading articles, my favorite photography blogs, and learning from other photographers.
What gear do you have in your camera bag? What equipment do you favor most?
Canon 5D Mark II, 50mm f/1.2, and the 24-70mm f/2.8. I’m a prime girl all the way…my 50 almost never leaves my camera. I only use the zoom for weddings and travel. And of course I favor CANON!
What are your favorite sessions/subjects to shoot?
Kids and teens. Kids under 7 are SO funny – they say the greatest things and ask the most interesting questions, and I LOVE chasing them around and having tickle fights. They know I’m young (and silly) too, so they usually ask their moms if I can babysit them by the end of the session. I also love shooting teens my age for stock because I can connect instantly with them. We just go out and have a great time, shooting, laughing, and being real.
Describe your style in 3 words. How has your style evolved over your time as a photographer?
Full of energy, beauty & light.
My style went from experimental/all over the place (not for clients thankfully), to bright and vintage and finally (for about 2-3 years now), clean, crisp, matte, and full of beauty.
What’s your most memorable or funniest on the job moment?
I have so many, oh gosh. I swear, something unexpected happens every shoot I do. On one shoot in my favorite orchard, in walks a police officer. I’m shooting a family with nine-month-old twins and a four year old. I explain that we’re not picking/stealing peaches, we’re just taking photos, and he looks at the baby boy slowly and says “…He looks pretty guilty” and we all laughed. That’s Westford for you.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Amazing contemporary photographers such as Basil Vargas, Barbara Peacock, Jordan Voth, My Four Hens, Sam Hurd, Brandi Smyth, and Justin & Mary Marantz (to name a few). I’m also inspired by adorable vintage goodies at flea markets and the styles of Anthropologie & Free People.
Best editing tip?
Reduce noise in Photoshop to finish off an image (from Itty Bitty’s Wonderland actions) – even if the image isn’t noisy, it smoothens out the skin so nicely if you don’t want/need to manually retouch the face. Also, Jordan Voth’s “Foggy Tones” action - it’s my favorite matte action.
How has photography helped shape how you see the world?
There is beauty and opportunity in everything. As a photographer, I don’t just travel, or walk down the street, or do anything like a normal person really – I’m always looking at the way light hits a subject, or how colors look together, or how a scene could be framed. There is so much beauty and so much to see around this Earth, and I want to travel most of it and photograph the magnificence of it all. Photography gives me a purpose in this world.
Give us your best photography related tip!
Shoot an hour before sunset with your lens wide open!
Thanks again, Lena! We admire your work and know you've got a great future in photography!