DP Spotlight is a special monthly feature that highlights successful women entrepreneurs in the creative industry sharing their experience and career advice.
Wedding & Lifestyle Photographer, Wichita Kansas
Cynthia Whiteside Photography
How did you get into photography? How long have you been photographing?
I got a late start in my photography career. I was given my first camera on my 21st birthday from my mom (who had been taking pictures all my life and was my inspiration). I have always loved writing, loved being creative and am a big people person, so I eventually realized a photography career was a perfect fit! The moment I took a leap of faith and quit my day job in November of 2014 to do photography full-time was equally terrifying as it was exhilarating! My husband and I prayed about it for a long time before proceeding, and I couldn’t be happier with the decision.
You made a great decision by taking that leap of faith! Was there a moment that defined your photography career?
I would say a big moment for me was about three years ago when I moved from my basement into my “own studio,” -- a tiny, 250 square foot space in the back of my mom’s store. I had just enough room to back up and take photos in there, and that was a dream to me! Three years later, I have moved twice more and now have my own storefront near downtown Wichita! Each move is scary but I always trust in God, and he takes care of us. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.” –Proverbs 16:3
What do you love most about your job? And what's challenging?
In the sessions, I love the creative aspect, I love capturing emotions, and I love making people smile. Behind the scenes, I love to plan, organize and make new goals for myself; I am very driven. A challenge in this business, for me, is finding a good rhythm and balance when working from home. (Having a one-year-old and trying to edit is hard!) <-- Side note: We totally get this!
What's your one favorite advice for someone looking to pursue photography as a career? Any pitfalls to avoid?
Don’t compare and copy. Instead, make goals and be inspired. Find what makes you special. Use it and promote it. All you can do is be the best version of yourself.
Any shoots you love the most?Weddings for sure. When he sees her for the first time, the emotional first dances, the laughter and play in portraits—all of it. Weddings are so incredibly special. And they are all different. We love every single one!
How do you use social media for your photography business? Does it play an important role?
I have been using Facebook for the past three years, and just started using Instagram really this past year. There are perks to each. Facebook is great for teasers, marketing, groups, and older generations. IG is also great for teasers and marketing but tends to be for the younger crowd. I think it does play an important role. It lets people see your most recent work, and gets your name out there more every time you post.
How to prepare yourself for a photo shoot? How do you work with models or clients to get them in the mood?
Three things always help me prepare for a shoot: I try to on time/early, I might read through my client’s e-mails to refresh my memory, and look at my inspiration boards if I need it. When starting the session, I ask what their main goals for the session are, tell them the game plan, and that I will guide them the whole way so they can just have fun!
Let's talk about gear and post processing! What's in your camera bag and tools you use to edit photos?
I am a Canon user! I have (2) Canon 5D Mark iii’s, (1) Canon 5D Mark ii, (3) Canon 580 EX speedlites, (1) Canon 430 speedlite, a 50 mm, 35 mm, 100 mm Macro, (2) 70-200 mm’s, 24-105 mm and a fisheye. For post-processing, I use Lightroom to quickly edit and apply presets (Dreamy Presets of course!), then cull in a regular photo viewer, and lastly do any cropping, cloning or major fixes in Photoshop.