Friday, March 11, 2011

Q&A with Tim Sohn Studios

I'm in Phoenix, AZ getting ready to photograph Michelle and Kyle's wedding tomorrow! Super excited to shoot my second wedding of the year! Can't wait to share the images with you!

Today, for the latest in the Q and A series, I graciously welcome Tim of Tim Sohn Studios, a friend since middle school and an incredible photographer. Who knew that after high school and college that we'd both become established photographers? Life works in amazing ways. 

Chris: Let's start with a little bio, tell me about yourself.

Tim Sohn
SF Bay Area

Chris: How did you become a photographer?

My dad is a photographer who shoots amazing landscape images and writes about photography for the SF Korea Times. Growing up I'd always watch him with his camera, but I really didn't have an interest in photography. We'd go on family vacations and the whole family would stop and sit around at sunset while he setup his perfect shot. As a kid this was kind of boring.

After I went off to college my relationship with my dad was really simple. I'd get a phone call every week and he'd ask "Tim are you studying? eating? sleeping? have money? Okay, talk to you next week." I wanted to hang out with my dad more, so I decided to start getting into photography. We went on some great trips to Yosemite and Arizona and I really started to love making art. I realized though that I wanted to shoot weddings and people more than landscapes. Landscape photography is always best during breakfast and dinner, which is in contention with my desire to eat!

I took a couple photography classes, but I learned the most by working at a wedding studio in San Diego. The first day I walked in my mentor, Garrett, said he would teach me the A-Zs of wedding photography. He definitely did that and more! It was an amazing experience, and really shaped my photography style today.

Chris: Why should I book you as a photographer?

I love images filled with emotion and capture the essence of a couple. I always tell my clients that I want to shoot images that their closest friends can say, "Yea, that's who they are." Before each wedding I like to spend time with my couples to get to know them through an engagement session so when I show up on the wedding day it's like an old friend coming back to hang out. Some of the best compliments I receive are when family members of clients write me to say how much they love the images and that it was like I'd known my clients for years. At the end of the day I deliver images that people cherish for the rest of their lives.

Chris: How would you describe your style?

I think of myself as a portrait journalist, somewhat like a blend between doing portraits and photojournalism. As I get to know my clients, it helps me create portraits that reflect them. But I'm also looking for those in between moments between the shots. What's so awesome is one minute you get a beautifully posed image, and the next you get a candid moment. I also like to shoot a lot with my long lenses (70-200 or 85) because it lets me get good isolation in the frame but also gives my couples space to just be together.

Chris: What's in your camera bag?

Nikon D3
Nikon D700

Nikon 24mm 1.4
Nikon 35mm 1.4
Nikon 50mm 1.4
Nikon 85mm 1.4
Nikon 24-70mm 2.8
Nikon 70-200mm 2.8
Nikon 60mm 2.8 macro

2 Nikon SB-800 flashes
2 Pocketwizard Tranceivers
2 Sunpak ready light
Lumopro lightstand
48" umbrella

Boda Bag
Thinktank Airport Security V2.0

AA Batteries
Artic butterfly
Giotto rocket blower
Lexar/Sandisk 4GB/8GB CF cards

Chris: If you had to pick your favorite piece of equipment, what would it be and why?

This is a tough one! I'm trying to shoot more with primes these days, just to help bring a different perspective to my images by forcing me to move around a bit more. My favorite lens has to be the 85mm 1.4. The bokeh and sharpness on that lens is amazing. There are so many times I've been editing images and I stop to stare at one and realize it was shot with the 85. I call that lens butter because of how creamy the images are.

Chris: What advice would you give to aspiring photographers?

Shoot, edit, shoot, edit. I've learned so much looking at my images and critiquing them trying to get better everytime. Ask others for an honest critique too. I learned the most when others were open and honest about my images. Another thing would be to watch another photographer shoot. Second shooting is great, but I think assisting and watching when you're first starting out can give you a lot more insights; then go put these things into practice.

Chris: Thank you again so much for sharing with all of us. Now, check out a few of Tim's incredible images!

I love making silhouette images. We were driving around in golf carts chasing the light that was fading fast. I turned around and realized I could make a great silhouette. What really makes this image for me is her ponytail and the slight separation you get between the two that's made in that moment right before they kiss.

As I mentioned earlier, this image is one of those in between moments. We'd just finished shooting some bridal party portraits and one of the groomsmen said something hilarious. I've learned to shoot my camera in these fast moments without looking through the viewfinder. You always have to be prepared!

I'm always trying to stretch myself in my shooting and try to shoot different ideas. We were walking back to the car to get the couple to their reception when I had a moment of inspiration with the clouds and powerlines. I had my wide angle lens on my camera and could imagine how the powerlines would draw the viewer right into the couple. After my first shot I knew I'd made an image I really loved.

The bride was getting ready and someone was adjusting her dress below. I anticipated her moving her shoulder in and looking down, so I positioned myself and shot this image. I knew it'd make a great black and white with a classic, timeless look. In the next instant she was looking back up and talking to everyone around her. If I wasn't ready in that split second, I would have missed this moment.

I love this image because it's such a great reflection of the couple. I had them sit in a field and I stepped back about 30 feet. Once I was farther back they started being with each other and cracking jokes which is what they do when the camera is not around. That's what I love... getting images that show who people are when they forget that they're in front of the camera.

Email us ( about your upcoming wedding or to schedule a portrait session!

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