Shannon Stroubakis Photography stands for flawlessly executed, professional photographs with style and soul. Shannon’s senior photography is characterized by perfect posing, outstanding use of line and color, and lots and lots of personality. Shannon is an inspiring photographer and business woman with clarity of style and vision that mark her as a unique voice in the industry.
You produce consistent, clean, incredibly true images day in and day out. How do make every session a success while also imbuing your work with the personality of each client? Do you have a set of “required” shots that you try to get from every session? I think you have to read your clients and get to know them a little so you can create images that reflect their own style, while pursuing work that speaks to you as well. The only “required” shots I have in mind are general ones that I think make for a well rounded gallery the close up shot that shows off the eyes, an action shot that shows the person’s body language as they move. From there, it’s finding the right angle, the right movement, and clicking at the right moment where you see them shine through.
How do you approach the presession consult? I want to know what the client expects from the session, and what they truly have envisioned for the final result. I want them to imagine the print in their hand, the expression they are wearing, and the mood they want to express. If they can tap into that vision, I can help them bring it out during the shoot see the person inside that isn’t shy in front of the camera because they know they’re going to be happy with the result. If there’s no uncertainty about what we are shooting, if we have a goal in mind, it’s like writing a book after you’ve sketched the plot outline.
Do you have a favorite technical trick when you’re shooting? I really don’t! Since I have to read the light in each location and time differently, I have no special tricks. I do like to have even exposure though, neither under nor over exposed. I like balance.
A lot of your work focuses on seniors and adults. What are the particular challenges that face a photographer working with that market and how do you handle those challenges? For seniors and adults, you don’t have to get their attention and keep it like you do with children. However, it’s also more difficult to get them to drop their walls and overcome self consciousness. Kids are so open, it’s easy to catch them being free and open. With adults, you have to work harder at that.
You recently bought some new gear. Would you share with us how you knew it was time for a new body and how you approached the decision about which body to purchase? I am insanely attached to my old gear, but I wanted to upgrade to a camera with higher resolution since gear has improved since I last purchased. Since most of my images are portraits of faces, with emphasis on the eyes, I want them to stand out with intensity. Since I always want to have the best gear for my clients, I wanted to make sure I have the best I can.
What’s your favorite piece of gear? What’s on your photography wish list? My favourite piece of gear, other than the camera and lens, is my camera strap! Since pro gear can get weighty, my cozy minkee neck strap helps bear the weight and keep my neck from getting scratched. I’d love to own a fish eye lens. One day!
What kind of photographs inspire you? Who is your very favorite visual artist, living or dead? Documentary photography is inspirational for me. I find real raw footage, and not staged photography, inspires me to let go of what I think makes a great image, and work on emotional impact. I don’t think I have a favourite artist, actually.
Where would you like to be as a photographer in five years? In ten? How are you working to get there? I’ll always be a photographer, in some capacity. I’d like to have my own darkroom in ten years, so I can stop paying to have it developed by labs! I miss developing my own film.
Much of your personal work is shot on film. What about film appeals to you? Do you have any advice for those who like to work in film? I feel more free with film, and there is a nostalgia there for me. I’ve had my current 35 mm film camera since 2003, and took it with me on my international travels, so I shoot more easily with it since I am familiar with it. As for the results, I like knowing what to expect when I choose film speeds, I like choosing the mood of the shot based on the film I’m loading, I like the latitude it gives you with colour and exposure. For those who want to explore film, my advice would be to really learn the manual controls first, and use a light meter at first.
You had an exciting opportunity to showcase your film work in a show at the Lone Star Community College this fall. How did you choose the images you wanted to include? What did your kids think? Will you pursue opportunities like that one if they present themselves in the future? I knew I wanted my part of the exhibition to be black and white work shot on Holga and Diana F toy cameras, since it’s not as commonly seen by students. Our exhibition was to show the possibilities of working with analogue in the modern world, to expose new photography students to different options. Since the toy camera work is a little more dreamy and ethereal, I chose a series of shots I had done on the beach for an airy and nostalgic feel, as opposed to the bold colour or cross process we often see in film exhibitions. I would love to be able to show my film work more, and be a part of something similar again!
Speaking of your personal work, you started a 365 this year. Do you have any big goals for the project? How do you plan to stay motivated to keep shooting, day in and day out? I’m trying very hard to stay motivated for this personal project! I hope to put them all together in an album at the end of the year, as a kind of “year in the life” for my kids.
What is your favorite image that you’ve ever taken? Can you tell us a little about why you took it and the circumstances surrounding it? I have so many favourites, it’s hard to choose. But probably this one of my daughter, shot on TX 400 black and white film with the Diana F camera. She’s wearing a dress I made for her, with her face to the wind at the beach. She’s elemental. She’s truly the type who “dances like no one is watching”, in the waves, her eyes closed, hands raised up. This shot of her just shows her whole personality on her face. It makes me happy.
Shannon Stroubakis was interviewed by Sara Kelly.