Featured Artist: Cassandra Castaneda

Cassandra Castaneda is a photographer based in Kansas City, specializing in wedding and fine art portraiture.  Cassandra strives to produce images that are aesthetically beautiful and sincere, modern yet timeless. Her signature style can be described as airy, natural & gracefully emotional. She loves to travel to capture weddings everywhere in the world.


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Tribe Collective: Tell us about yourself. What is your background, and how did you get into photography?

Cassandra Castaneda: I'm a self-taught portrait and wedding photographer based in Kansas City, MO. I started my business in 2010.

I remember asking for a 'real' camera in the 5th grade, and my parents thought it was a phase. I was constantly taking photos of things... anything... my dolls, photographs, animals (I grew up on a farm). The only class I truly enjoyed in high school was the yearbook, and the photography bug bit me hard.

Over a decade later I became close to a photographer who gave me great advice and mentored me, we're still friends today.

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TC: Please provide us with a list of the gear you use on a regular basis.

CC: I use a Mark iii, a 50 1.2, a 35 1.4, a 135 2.0.

TC: What does your post-production process look like?

CC: I cull & edit in Lightroom. I use Lightroom for 99% of my editing, and use photoshop only when I must extensively edit an image.

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TC: How has your photography style evolved over time?

CC: Initially, I wanted to capture the 'perfection'. Now I want to capture every imperfection and in-between moment. I love movement and organic emotion and strive to capture both while also producing aesthetically beautiful images.

Regarding editing, it took me a long time to get to where I am today, but absolutely dig the "filmy" vibe of my work. It's kind of like if 'bright & airy' had a baby with 'moody tones'.

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TC: What are your favourite tools for capturing, editing, and enhancing your photographs?

CC: My 50 1.2 is my absolute goto for portrait work... If I'm rushed and only have time for one lens, this is it.

I will tweak colour, via sliders, in almost every image I edit to get the exact look I'm going for. I like certain colours to pop while I like others to be slightly desaturated. I also use brushes frequently in LR. 

I edit all my images with the LXC presets by Tribe Archipelago.

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TC: What is your greatest piece of advice for emerging photographers?

CC: I guess it's a few things... Find your voice, stay inspired and seek all of the knowledge. Do not undervalue your artistry & just do you.

TC: What type of photography do you most enjoy?

CC: Capturing Love - this can be love for anyone. I love LOVE.

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TC: What are you discouraged about in your work/business? What encourages you?

CC: Seeing people devalue the industry sucks & busy season can be hard, especially as a wedding photographer. I've found that making time for passion projects & relationships with kick-ass photographers keeps me going.

Interestingly enough, the slow season can ALSO be tough. I find myself questioning everything about my business every single January & February. Finding the balance is difficult, but as long as I'm creating and producing things that set my soul on fire, I stay encouraged.

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TC: When was a time you thought you would/had failed? How did you overcome it?

CC: When I opened my business I ran a 'deal' through one of those companies that completely devalues small businesses... I knew nothing, and sold WAY too many and had zero support from the 'deal ' company. It taught me to never devalue my work, or my time again.

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TC: What defines success for you as a photographer? If you never achieve that, will you still be satisfied with what you do?

CC: Such a loaded question... I think success is making a living or being respected for the work that I'm crazy about. Preferably both.