It’s not every day that you stumble upon a photo that stops you in your tracks and makes you wonder ….”Who took that picture, and how in the world can a girl afford that photographer?” As I sat there admiring how gorgeous my friend Linda looked in her profile picture, I decided to contact her immediately. She quickly gave me the contact information and told me to request the Sports Illustrated inspired photo shoot. This photography was different from the ordinary. It was free and exquisite. Very natural, nothing about it was relevant to the word “pose”.
The photographer’s name was Amberlei Folsom. I visited her Facebook page and the more I looked at her work, the more I realized this young photographer could soon be shooting Bar Refaeli on some coast of off one of those places with dreamy beaches. I called her. Her voice was as welcoming as her unique photo shoot themes. I got an appointment and the rest was history. The day of my shoot, I swore I was Adriana Lima and my pictures came out stunning. Not only was she polite and approachable, but also extremely professional. Best money I have ever spent.
I had the chance to maintain a FaceBook relationship with Ms. Folsom and when we needed an extraordinary business woman to interview for HoAR’s launching, she exceeded our criteria and became a must for one of our Features. We quickly reached out to her and scored an interview with the wonderful Diva behind the camera:
1. How did you originally get into photography?
Amberlei: I got into photography when I was stationed in Key West, FL. I was 18 and in the military stationed there. The problem with being 18 in Key West is that everyone is usually drinking – so that left me with alot of free time on my hands. I enjoyed taking photos and just dedicated alot of my personal time to learning more about the hobby I had.
2. What inspired you to do portrait photography as a business outside of the typical studio setting?
Amberlei: On location portrait photography gives you the opportunity that most studio portrait sessions dont. I think it made me a better photographer because I was forced to learn how the elements around me affected photo. It’s not only the subject your focusing on, it’s the wind and what it’s doing to your subjects clothes or hair, the sun and what sort of shadows or blowing out that it could be doing, and so on. It keeps you on your toes but boy when you get those cloudy days – it’s perfect!
3. What are your main sources for inspiration? Do you have any favorite photographers?
Amberlei: My sources of inspiration are all around me…literally. It’s the people, objects, lighting, and landscapes that inspire me to utilize them in the most creative way I can. My favorite photographers are Michael Neal, Doug Peterson, Travis Harris, andChristina Karst. I have been blessed to have been able to personally mentor with them and bounce ideas off of them and take their critic as well.
4. Would you mind sharing a bit of insight on what photography means to you on a personal level?
Amberlei: I fell in love with photography when I realized what a photo meant to me. I look at my own photos with the thought that once I’m gone – this is what my family will use to remember me by. It’s literally that 1 second (or less) of time that in my life that I will never get back and never have again.
5. From my understating you also do all the editing right?
Amberlei: So in your photo shoot sessions you are the photographer, art director and editor? True story. I wear all of the hats. Being the photographer, art director, and editor – means I have alot of studying to do when I’m not shooting. I need to think of composition, lighting, area, obsticles, then HOW I can make it better once that is done. Sometimes there are things in the area that just need to be removed from the shot.
6. What would be your advice to women out there debating on whether they should start their business?
Amberlei: If your thinking of starting your own business first decide what you want to photograph, realize the pressures that come with that subject (weddings are long and very scheduled, babies are often hungry and cranky, etc), then decide if it’s a full time effort or part time effort. Never outdo yourself on something you love- it takes the love away.
Amberlei is the owner of AF Photography . Her work consists of family portraits, maternity shoots, unforgettable bridal packages, tasteful personal portraits and even fun photography for your pets. If you are ever in the Jacksonville, FL area and need a reminder of how beautiful you are, book her Sports Illustrated inspired photo shoot. You won’t regret it