Friday, June 24, 2016

Interview with Alex Sumner Photography

  I'm very excited about today's interview! Alex Sumner is one of my favorite Tennessee photographers, and I'm super excited to share her work with you all today.
-Brittany McAnally 

1. Where do you call home? Tell us about your family.  

  Phew, home.  You know, I've always wanted to say the catchy phrase, "home is where the heart is", because I whole-heartedly believe in it, and as a military family I figured I'd get the chance to say it after moving all around the world after these wonderful 8 years together (complete sarcasm, by the way), but quite literally home is right here in Tennessee because I've never actually lived anywhere else my entire life... =P  No, but honestly I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.  Both mine and my husband's roots are here in Tennessee, and I am so happy to be able to raise our children here as well surrounded by family.

 2. How did you find photography, what sparked your interest?

  I've been trying to figure this out myself actually.  Since I was 2 years old, my mom was generous enough to put me into as many extra curricular activities as she could - dance, theatre, softball (definitely a weakness by the way - I was the kid in the outfield picking flowers), gymnastics - you name it.  But nothing really stuck with me for some reason.  I started dabbling more with photography in high school when I took on broadcast journalism and was pushed to make creative segments that included both video and photography.  I realized how much I enjoyed making something out of nothing but my brain and some equipment, and would practice as much as I could.  My now husband knew how passionate I started to become about photography and ended up buying me my first DSLR, a Canon 50D, in October of 2009, the morning he proposed to me.  Ever since that day, I don't think I've put my camera down.  It's something that started as curiosity that grew into a challenge I couldn't let down which then became a passion thanks to the love from my husband. 

3. What's your most memorable photo shoot. (Favorite picture) why? Walk us through this session .

That is such a hard question for me because I have a favorite moment from just about any session I shoot.  I actually had to come back to this question after a while.  I would have to say that one of the most memorable sessions I have is with the Wilcher's from Spring of 2015.  First, I have to say how much of an honor it is for another photographer to book you for their family pictures, especially one as talented as Kim.  Second, the fact that she trusted me the day of our session is a miracle - it was freezing, it was rainy, it was downright...not ideal for family pictures, lol.  But we pressed on, and she believed me when I told her that those 60 minutes of torture would be worth it!  They laughed, they twirled, they loved on each other.  Big sister cared for little sister as she cried from the discomfort of the cold.  This family turned an ugly day into sweet beautiful moments, and their session will always hold some of my favorite images.  And gosh, to this day I look at Kim's work and ooh and ahh and think, "SHE booked ME?!"  Her photographs of her children are simply incredible.  Look up Kimberly Wilcher - Photographer on Facebook.  You won't regret it.

4. What's the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened during a session?

There are so many things.  If I had to pick one situation, it would be the dreaded day I brought my four year old with me because the session immediately followed his soccer practice. *Insert crying face here*  I was already running behind because I had to stop and take him to a gas station to go potty, so that in itself gave me a mini anxiety attack.  The location was on the side of a main road, also during peak traffic time.  So, we had an audience - let me just put that out there now.  I was photographing the family when I looked up and noticed Hunter with his pants down peeing.  Everyone saw.  Everyone.  Me, the family I was photographing, and 1/10th of Clarksville driving by.  (If anyone reading this now happened to drive by that day - helllooo!!!  It was us.  I am so sorry.)

5. Your photography is beautiful, what inspires you? 

Thank you so much!! Hands down, my kids.  It obviously didn't start that way, but they are the number 1 reason I am still shooting today.  They change SO MUCH on a daily basis that I feel destined to photograph every single piece of their life, and of course carry that tradition on for other families.  If I didn't have my business, I would still chase them around with my camera.  I don't do it for practice, I don't do it because I have to, I do it to remember the wonder and the beauty if their messy, crazy childhood that I know I will miss one day.  One day too soon, I'm sure.

6. What advice would you give someone that is looking into learning photography.

Dear curious adventurer seeking something new:
Don't worry about the rules.  Don't worry about the pressure to be amazing.  Don't worry about the nay sayers.  
Look at the world through your lens in every angle you can.  Just as if you're in a debate and you're challenged to see every side of the story.  Don't stop clicking until you see it all.  
Once you feel that spark, that little lightbulb of inspiration going off, then worry about the rules, and the pressure, and the naysayers.  And prove them all wrong.

7. Pet photography! I love it! How did you come up with this idea? Do you plan on focusing on pet and children in the future? 

Pets!!!  Well, it started when families would ask if they could bring their dog(s) with them to the session since they are part of the family, too.  As I said earlier, I love challenges, so I never said no.  After a few sessions with dogs, I realized I LOVED including them!  I held off doing one-on-one pet sessions, though, until my beloved Chinook got hit by a truck the night before New Years.  It was the very next day when I knew I was ready to take on these new types of photo shoots.  I then offered up Pet Valentine's Minis, with the help of some amazing friends, and donated the money to the local Humane Society.  Since it was a huge success, I then partnered with the Humane Society and The Pet Food Center and did Pet Easter Mini's which was an even greater success!  After diving into pet photography, I absolutely will be adding it as a specialty in the future.  Maybe I'll even do themed pet sessions like I do children sessions. ;)

8. Have you ever thought about doing photography workshops? Do you do mentoring? What about photoshop tutorials etc. Tell us if you have any plans for teaching.

I have gone back and forth for a couple of years about teaching photography, and I still haven't come to a final decision.  I won't be mentoring any time soon, but maybe when I retire from taking on sessions.  I feel as though if I started a class on shooting or editing, I would get stuck on where to begin because to be completely honest, I don't know how I do anything....  I pretty much take a big bowl of emptiness from my head and layer on ideas as they come to me.  If I were to show anyone my thought process, it would pretty much look at a map to Neverland. =D 

9. Alex where can we find you at? We'd love to share the love. (Website, Instagram, Facebook, etc) 

THANK YOU so much Alex for taking the time to answer our questions! I enjoyed getting to know you more! If you get a chance visit Alex's pages and give her some Facebook and Instagram LOVE. -Brittany McAnally 


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