Writing about photography is like dancing about architecture*, but an introduction to Central Florida photographer Rachel Absher‘s work needs just a few words before you rush off to her site.
The best summation of her art is something Absher said, “I love capturing people in love.” A glance through her work finds families laughing, brides and grooms playing, and none of the smiles seem forced. These are people enjoying being themselves with a photographer they like and trust.
After a few years shooting portraits, Absher was convinced to shoot a friend’s wedding. The stress of that first wedding soon turned into the energy of capturing people interacting. She’s come to enjoy the wedding work to the point that her work this past year has been predominately weddings. Due to the extensive post-wedding work involved, Absher limits herself to two weddings a month, and she’s already booking dates in 2010. Her suggestion as to when to call for a wedding photographer? “As soon as you’re engaged,” she laughs.
Absher will shoot a wedding anywhere from four hours until the whole day. She and her assistant average about eight hours at the typical wedding. A lot of the shots are “wedding photo journalism” as Absher captures the wedding party from early preparations through the end of the day. Absher says her job is to tell the story of the day.
When she does pose the bride and groom, she lets the location find the shot. Recently she asked a bride in her wedding dress to sit on a dirt road — before the wedding. The relationship Absher has with her clients is shown by the bride’s immediate “I trust you.” Of course, Absher was ready with a sheet of plastic to lay down to protect the dress.
Absher gets a similar level of trust from her portrait clients. She doesn’t sit them in a studio, but finds locations that “have texture.” Absher will meet clients in places such as Lakeland’s downtown. She enjoys the brick and architecture as backgrounds. She doesn’t have specific backdrops in mind, but lets the time and the subject find places that work. “We’ll just walk around exploring new locations,” Absher said.
A typical portrait session will take a couple of hours. Most of her portrait clients are families. She’ll use the time to get them comfortable with her and the camera. “The last 30 minutes is when you get the best shots,” she said. Absher has found if there is a reticent person in the family, it is often the dad. The children are easier as Absher spends time on the ground, at their level, talking and making them comfortable.
Taking a look at Absher’s site would lead you to believe she shoots primarily in black and white. However, she carries two Canon digital cameras to each shoot and creates the black and white versions with Photoshop digital editing software. “I have my own recipe to make the black and white,” Absher said. She added that the “modern side” of her style does love a “punch of color.”
You won’t see a lot of editing tricks in Absher’s images though. Her art is in how she sees clients, locations, and how her personality allows her subjects to look so comfortable and natural.
A lot of her current work is former wedding clients coming to get baby pictures and family portraits. She also gets a good amount of jobs from wedding guests who saw Absher at work. Absher travels the width of Central Florida meeting clients. Unlike some photographers, Absher lists her prices on her site. “I don’t want any surprises,” she said. Absher books new clients through a contact page on her site, and sends an information and pricing email as soon as possible after first contact.
* – Apologies to Elvis Costello or maybe Martin Mull
Note: All photos in this post are (C) Rachel Absher
(This article is cross-posted at Metro I4 News.)