Meeting a colleague, friend or interview subject for coffee and learning about their drink order provides you with a glimpse into their personality. Large translucent, refreshing iced-tea with lemon – understatedly simple with no fuss is what Monica ordered. I imagined how she would shoot her drink. With a plate of lemons on the side or multi-colored plump tea bags, whimsically arranged with beautiful porcelain tea cups, perhaps some natural light too – streaming in overhead. If you see Monica’s work, you’ll know what I’m referring to. I, on the other hand, ordered an iced-latte with everything added under the sun. I try to make my coffee beverages taste like anything, but coffee!
The San Francisco-born photographer began to tell me about her career trajectory as a photographer; her German engineer-by-trade and adventurer-by-spirit dad, who motivated her to pursue a career in the arts. The industry’s highs and lows and what inspires her to stay in the photography game.
MV: What drew you to photography?
MB: My father was a big photography enthusiast. He photographed all sorts of people – sailors, exotic animals. Usually beautiful exotic birds and monkeys. I would love to sift through the images classify them for him.
MV: When did you get your start as a photographer?
MB: I became involved with photography 23 years ago. My family moved from California to Miami and I received my training in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. I did apprenticeships with numerous photographers. My mentor at the time, Laurie Hale, pushed me to achieve my goals; she really believed in me.
MV: Did you have a particular style of photography you wanted to pursue?
MB: I went through BlackBook (Photographer’s bible) and started searching for different types of photographers in my area. I called up Greg Heisler and Craig Cutler and ended up assisting them and learning so much. Initially, I wanted to shoot fashion. I loved this type of photography, but as I started getting gigs, I quickly realized it wasn’t for me; I didn’t fit in. The over-the-top personalities are pretty extreme.
MV: What was your next move, knowing fashion wasn’t your ideal type of work?
MB: I began with a still-life book. I loved arranging props and products and creating interesting compositions in the studio. Plus, I was in control of the shots – to some degree and really enjoyed that freedom. But, after doing it for some time, I found the in-studio work to be constricting. I started to venture into different photography genres. Lifestyle, people, interiors and exteriors and found my groove. I started shooting for more editorial, catalogue and commercial clients. It was great.
MV: What are some the current challenges you face with editorial and commercial clients?
MB: There are many more photographers than there are magazines today. And many of these magazines are shutting down at an alarming rate. Like my parents, I’m a hustler and have embraced the fact that you have to pursue new ways to stay relevant and keep shooting projects that won’t just pay the bills, but are worthwhile and will enable you to grow as an artist.
MV: What recommendations would you give to aspiring photographers?
MB: Assist the people you admire. Look for apprenticeships in your area and outside. Don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone. Constantly research to see what type of styles you like. Go out and shoot! I follow few photographers on Instagram to see what trends are currently out there. I’m inspired by beautiful things and love to interpret their existence with photography.
To see Monica’s work and to hire her for your next creative project, click here: http://www.monicabuck.com/about/1