Interview with Stacy Golden
Golden Photography is located in Lake Zurich, IL. Utilizing both studio and natural lighting, Stacy serves the Lake County area as well as select locations in downstate Illinois (Bloomington-Normal and Springfield). I am so excited to share this interview and Stacy’s talent with you all! Enjoy!
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Stacy Golden and I live in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago. I’m 30 with a wonderful husband and a 19 month old daughter. I also have a cat and chinchilla. I am a very active person – I’m a competitive swimmer and I’ve been doing it since I was 7. I also just signed up to run my first half marathon this winter at Disney World. (We’re a bit in love with Disney over here). For photography, I used to do it all but now I focus on babies and kids for my portrait work and for commercial I primarily do product or styled shoots.
How did you get started in photography?
I always liked it, but I fell in love with it when I took photography in high school back in the film days. At 16 I decided I wanted to be a photographer. When I got to college, my parents urged me to choose something else and to have photography as my back up plan. So I majored in art education with concentrations in photography and art history. After my teaching position was eliminated, I decided to start my own studio.
Is this a full time job or a part time gig?
Full time. I balance caring for my daughter, shooting, editing, packaging orders, taking care of the house, and somehow manage to get it all done most of the time. I can thank lots of trial and error to find the shooting schedule that works for me.
What three word describe your style?
Clean, natural, simple.
Do you always know when you get the perfect shot? Any surprises during the editing process?
Yes and no. We all know how the back of the camera is deceiving! I work really hard to get things right in camera so my time in post is as short as possible. I chalk that up to my film days where you never wanted to “waste” your frame (especially with those big 4×5 cameras). You can always tweak a well composed, well exposed frame in post.
What are you inspired by?
For portraits and newborns, I am inspired by simple, clean photographers that create memorable images with very natural or very little editing. My favorite examples are Emily Potts, Sandy Puc’, Stephanie Cotta, and Kristy Mitchell. I like to keep natural colors and texture in my work and nothing too bright and crazy, but I do like to throw in pops of color every now and again. I really love seeing photographers use awesome color in their work and I wish I could pull it off, but it’s just not who I am.
Are you self taught? Learn somewhere else?
Been learning since I was 16 and it was my “minor” if my college offered art minors. I also assisted in a major commercial studio for a year (commercial as in we shot ads, product, etc). I can thank college for teaching me studio lighting and I can thank my assisting job for helping me learn how to perfect lighting and how to run a business. To stay current, I watch classes on CreativeLive and attend classes/workshops. I recently took Stephanie Cotta’s workshop and it was fabulous.
Any special moments or funny bloopers you want to share with us that happened during a session?
As a newborn photographer there’s the gold standard of being peed and pooped on, but I feel that’s so normal. Haha. As a commercial photographer, I’ve had some very unique experiences like being hoisted up in a cage on forklift, forced to wear a hair nets and hard hats, and the list goes on. I absolutely hate being photographed, so I think the worst may have been when I worked as an assistant and one of the models I booked was a no-show. Fortunately (or not so fortunately) I matched what the clients called for and fit into the wardrobe, so I was put in the shot. Somewhere out there is a picture for the Chicago Field Museum with me sitting on the ground holding my fake kid posing with my fake husband. I am pushing 6ft tall, so I also wasn’t allowed to stand for the shots because I was taller than my “husband”.
Do you have any rituals that are apart of your editing process?
For me, I quickly cull in bridge and star things that are strong images. I’m looking for impact – if I don’t immediately “feel” it it I move on. Once I have my initial selection, I go and make sure the eyes are in sharp focus and delete the ones that are even slightly blurry. In editing I mainly go for color correction, contrast or color punches, and minor cosmetic or scenery fixes. It may seem shallow, but I tell folks that editing is like plastic surgery – just a little done well looks fine, but major changes look fake and destroy the real beauty! I personally like realistic photos.
Do you have a glass addiction? What is your favorite lens?
I have a handful of lenses, but I do have a few favorites in my bag. For newborns, my 50mm 1.4 is amazing. For my commercial work, I love the flexibility of my 24-70 2.8 or my Macro for detail shots (or Micro, as Nikon calls it).
What advice you give a photographer just starting off in this business?
Set your goals and don’t compare yourself to others. You have your own goals and style that is nothing like your competition, so why compare? Along those same lines, price yourself correctly and don’t copy what others price at or try to undercut them on purpose just to get work. It will most likely backfire in the end. I am a big advocate for learning your REAL cost of doing business and making sure you’re charging enough to cover that cost, charging enough to save for future purchases, and charging enough to actually PAY yourself. Once I figured my sustainable number, I had a major eye-opening experience. And last but not least, never stop learning!
Where can we find you?
I love getting to know, sharing ideas, and talking shop with other photographers, so please come find me!
My (Neglected) Blog: http://goldenphotog.blogspot.com/
Thanks so very much Stacy! Amazing work!