Andrea is the talented photographer behind Lume Photography. Based in Michigan, Andrea's work is all about authentic moments, raw energy and connection between two persons. Let's discover more about her and her art!
Tribe Collective: Tell us about yourself. What is your background, and how did you get into photography?
Andrea Brandt: Hi! I'm Andrea. I'm a wedding & couples photographer based in Michigan (Lume Photography). I also document my adventures with photos of landscapes and nature. Travelling and hiking are two of my favourite things (along with animals and tacos). My husband is my biggest supporter, and hiking partner. We have a daughter who just turned nine, and I have a son who's (eeek!!) in college.
When I was around 8, I got my first camera- a cheap 35mm film camera. I was always surrounded by photos because my mom and grandma are both constantly snapping photos of everything. They'd get prints made (three copies of each) and our houses were full of photo albums and pictures in frames. I thought that was just the way every family is. When I started high school, I chose photography right away as one of my electives, and that's when I really got hooked.
TC: Please provide us with a list of the gear you use on a regular basis:
AB: I have two Nikon D750 bodies, and I almost always use my Sigma 35 1.4 Art lens in conjunction with my Nikon 85mm 1.8 for weddings and portrait sessions. I have the Nikon 35mm 1.4, but I prefer the Sigma's unique look and vignette. Floating around in my kit are other various lenses that I rarely ever use. I have two SB-700 speedlights that I'll break out during dark receptions. I like to keep things as simple as possible.
My travel gear consists of a North Face backpack, one camera body, my 35mm, extra batteries and memory cards, lens cleaning stuff, and a camera strap. I usually bring my laptop and a hard drive to backup my photos on the road.
TC: What does your post-production process look like?
AB: I use Photomechanic to import and cull my photos. It's lightning fast for me- I can import and cull an entire wedding in an hour or less. Then I drag and drop the files into Lightroom, where my favourite preset is applied upon import. Right now that's Tribe Photo Co.'s Wolf Pack 05.
Then I go through and apply adjustments if needed, and do light retouching if needed. I typically shoot underexposed, because I love the moody look and the rich colours it produces, and then I'll use a radial filter to brighten select parts of the photo. Sometimes I'll use Photoshop to remove objects.
TC: How has your photography style evolved over time?
AB: For years I only shot on film and wasn't really too concerned with it. When I first learned digital photography and Photoshop, I went way overboard with processing (like crazy split-toning!). In the last few years, I discovered how much I really love more of a moody look. I'm inspired by renaissance period art, the colours that you see in old medieval paintings, etc.
I've become more and more into evoking feelings and emotions with my work. At first, I just wanted to take a pretty picture. Now I want to create images that make me feel something.
TC: What are your favourite tools for capturing, editing, and enhancing your photographs?
AB: I love my D750's because they're incredible at retaining information in low light. I love the "flippy" screen, and that they're relatively lightweight.
Lightroom and presets (like Tribe presets!) are absolutely essential for my work. I'm a busy girl, and I don't want to spend hours and hours of my life sitting at my computer editing! These tools make it easy for me to get my editing done fast, and get the tones I want my images to have.
TC: What is your greatest piece of advice for emerging photographers?
AB: Don't be too hard on yourself. It takes a lot of practice to get good, so keep practising every. single. day. Invest in learning as much as possible. If you can, find a mentor that will help you on your journey. Learn as much as you can about lighting- it's so important!
TC: What type of photography do you most enjoy?
AB: Capturing the connection between two people is my favourite -- and a close second is photographing the environment. I love weddings and adventure sessions because they allow me to do both! I'm happiest when I'm out in nature, but I like photographing details and spaces pretty much anywhere. And stories- I love documentary photography and catching moments. I seriously get so emotional when I start thinking about the power some of those photographs have.
TC: What are you discouraged about in your work/business? What encourages you?
AB: It's so easy to fall into the "I'm not good enough" trap. Looking at all the amazing photographers' feeds on Instagram, photography blogs, and in publications can really get me down on myself. When that happens, sometimes I have to turn it all off and concentrate on what makes me happy. It helps me when I watch a movie that's visually inspiring, go on a new adventure, or do a personal project. Also, attending workshops and meeting some of the photographers whose work I'm in awe of! You'd be surprised to learn they're just like you. :)
TC: When was a time you thought you would/had failed? How did you overcome it?
AB: The first wedding I shot for actual paying clients (it wasn't much, lol!) I arrived at the wedding and quickly realized things were off. The bride and groom seemed unhappy and uncomfortable- the entire day. It was like pulling teeth to get them to smile or be close to one another. At their own wedding!!! I was freaking out, and by the end of the day I was seriously ready to quit. I didn't want to ever shoot another wedding. So I didn't, for a couple years!
Eventually, I realized the biggest mistake I made was that I didn't even know that couple. I hadn't really talked to them at all before the wedding, just emailed back and forth a couple times. I had no idea who they really were, what was important to them, and why they were getting married. Once I started getting to know my couples really well, everything changed for me!
TC: What defines success for you as a photographer? If you never achieve that, will you still be satisfied with what you do?
AB: While it's great to win a major award (I can't say "major award" without thinking of "A Christmas Story") or be recognized as a leader in the industry, it really all comes down to the clients, and bringing something beautiful into people's lives. At the end of the day, I just want people to have an awesome experience with me. If I've accomplished that, then that's success to me.