We're back this week with an interview from Tribe Ambassador, Lexy Parks. As a wedding and landscape photographer, she travels across the world photographing beautiful people against beautiful backdrops. We know her best for the emotive boudoir self portraits she shares within our tribe's Facebook group.
From film photography to digital photography, Lexy has found her voice as a visual artist and shares her best tips for emerging photographers in this candid interview.
TPC: You're a photographer and model. How has being in front of the camera helped you with capturing art behind the lens, and vice versa?
LP: A little back story: I picked up a film camera when I was 15 and subsequently took 3 years of film courses in high school. When I was in first year university, I realized the high costs of developing all my negatives and photos by hand (my personal preference for film) and dropped photography to pursue fine arts (drawing).
At this time, I picked up modeling and slowly began retaining information that would come in handy later. 3 years ago, I got my first DSLR camera - the crop sensored Canon Rebel. Using my teen knowledge of photography, and a sense of posing/mood/light/composition that I picked up from modeling, I was finally able to control all aspects of my photographs. My self portraiture was born from that place, and I slowly learned how to apply everything to my photographs of others.
TPC: How has your photography style evolved over time?
LP: When I first started, I shot everything and used mostly softbox continuous lighting. My editing was extremely matte, and my style lacked vision and cohesion. I fought through the growing pains and used it as a chance to dig deeper. Here, I discovered how inspiring nature is and began to blend that with the human form. The theme of bodies and environment sharing space still flows through my work today. I use almost entirely natural light for my work with color and contrast playing a bigger role in my images than ever before.
TPC: What inspired you to start taking self-portraits?
LP: I have been drawn to self portraiture since I was about 14. I used to set up shots with my film cameras and point-and-shoot digital cameras. They were obviously terrible, but the feelings associated with making them stuck with me. Validation. Self reflection. Vulnerability. So many things that helped empower me and my vision.
The connection I have to self portraits is much stronger than other images because I'm all parts of the photograph. As for what inspires me, every single day does that. A beam of light I never noticed streaming through the windows in my house. The setting sun’s soft light on my living room couch. An epic view that make butterflies float through my stomach. These moments may be missed without a model, but with self portraiture, I can explore every one of them with my camera.
TPC: What’s your most memorable hidden gem from your travels as a wedding photographer?
LP: There’s a picnic/bathroom/truck stop in Yoho (just outside of Banff) that I stopped at 2 years ago. It was blessed with perfectly still water and a stunning reflection of the mountain towering above me.
TPC: How do you infuse a sense of adventure into your photography?
LP: Oddly, I don’t think I try to infuse adventure into my photography. It's already there. Due to my hobbies (travel, backpacking, hiking, rock climbing, snowboarding, scuba diving), I am drawn to places that themselves exude adventure. And naturally, I want to capture that when I see it.
TPC: If you could shoot at any location, where would you shoot and why?
LP: I absolutely love abandoned places. They are so hard to come by, but I love the feeling of desolation, isolation, and the blend of nature and humanity.
TPC: What does your post-production process look like?
LP: Upload. Cull. Apply one of my go-to’s (Wolf Pack and Flint + Steel) and tweak until it matches the mood I’m trying to emulate. I like my images warm, contrasty, and rich. I play around a lot with my HSL panel and my Camera Calibration sections to tweak my skin tones to achieve my vision.
TPC: What are your favourite tools for capturing, editing, and enhancing your photographs?
LP: My set up currently includes: Canon MarkIV, Canon 6D, Sigma 35mm, Canon 50mm/85mm/17-40mm. Most of the time, I’m using my MarkIV with either my 35 or 85 lens. Tribe Photo Co and Tribe Red Leaf have become an integral part of my process, helping me take my fantasies and make them realities. They really help me produce the depth and richness I aim to achieve in my work.
TPC: What is your greatest piece of advice for emerging photographers?
LP: Don’t compare yourself to others. You have your own path and trust me, there will always be someone who seems to have it all figured out (even though no one ever does).
Never stop creating. Even when you’re unmotivated, keep shooting. When you’re burnt out, chewed up, and ready to put down your camera for the month, keep shooting.
There’s a quote by Ira Glass that I think every newbie should read:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
All photos courtesy of our Tribe Ambassador, Lexy Parks.