How did you start with photography?
Growing up, I always had a creative bend, but what I did not have was a clear direction on how to funnel my creativity. It often spilled out in me decorating my room or wearing ridiculous outfits. My mom actually recently showed me a classroom assignment from maybe second grade, where I said "when I grow up I want to be an artist." It's funny because while I knew the desire was there, I didn't know anybody who was a "professional artist" when I was younger, so I don't think I tried to seriously pursue it, aside from taking lots of different art classes that were offered at school.
I actually took a dark room film photography class my senior year of high school, in an effort to hone my compositional eye for other art classes. While the dark room was definitely interesting and I enjoyed learning to shoot and develop my own film, I honestly wouldn't say I was a natural. I set photography aside for a couple of years and decided to pick up a camera again in 2008 when I was about to study abroad in India. Naturally, I wanted a nicer camera to take with me for all the traveling I was about to do, so I bought my first DSLR that year. It was during that semester specifically that I realized my photographic eye could be trained, and I spent much of my time there photographing anything and everything. Returning from that semester abroad, I had a couple of friends who were newly engaged, and having noticed my study abroad photos, asked me if I would take their engagement photos. This was completely new territory for me, but I soon found that I really enjoyed photographing people in this way too. I actually still did not plan on pursuing photography full time until 2011, so during those three years I continued to shoot and learn and grow as a photographer, keeping it as a hobby. From 2011-2013 I primarily shot weddings, and then decided to venture back into documentary work which was what had me fall in love with photography in the first place. As a newlywed in 2012, it sounds cliche, but I became really interested in cooking and decorating my home so I was always looking at photos on blogs and pinterest for inspiration. I found I was drawn to not just the content of those images but the photos themselves, and I realized that I wanted to create that type of work. I began shooting a lot of my own food and editorials of restaurants/spaces and submitting images to blogs and online magazines. Since then, I've been fortunate to have had some neat opportunities shooting food and interiors like photographing a cookbook in 2014 and a few print editorials. These days I feel pretty lucky to get to enjoy different types of photography work between food, interiors, and weddings. The variety keeps things interesting, and it's just enough of a mix where I don't feel I am stretched too thin because I genuinely enjoy all those areas.
Your images are beautiful and full of life. Are you drawn to specific elements when shooting?
Thank you! I guess it depends on what I am shooting. With people, I am drawn to emotion, with food I am drawn to simplicity and color, with interiors, I am drawn to light. I think in life I am just always drawing inspiration from everything around me which is probably why I enjoy shooting such varied subjects.
You shoot a lot of interiors. What is your favorite part of visiting other people's homes?
I love seeing how people decorate! It's so cool to see when a home is a reflection of a person or families' story and personality. I also just really love good design so seeing a space thoughtfully and intentionally designed is inspiring for me to see and be around.
If you were only able to go to three places in Chicago for the rest of the year, where would you go?
Well, they would definitely all be restaurants. Antique Taco, Honey Butter Fried Chicken, and Stan's Donuts.
What are you currently reading, watching, or listening to?
I love reading, and after not reading much for some time, I am on a big kick again. I just finished a couple of biographies/memoirs: When Breath Becomes Air, Seven Great Women, and Rolling Pennies in the Dark. I just started a novel The Hate You Give. This one is going to be intense but important to read I think. I love memoirs or biographies and learning about people who are different than myself. I also am watching Jane the Virgin, seriously...this show is so good.