Each month, I interview a local photographer. Interested in participating? Please leave a comment!
Willow Eskridge is a portrait and boudoir photographer based in Tacoma. Her slogan: “Artistic portraits by a fun Tacoma photographer!” If you look through her blog, that’s pretty apt! Willow clearly connects with her subjects—they all look like they’re having a great time—and her photos are stunning.
Willow also started a women’s photography group called Click Chicks, geared mainly toward female photographers/business owners. She calls it a kind of support group, where you can learn and share and receive support from others. The only requirements to join: you must be female and running a business (but you don’t have to live in Tacoma). The group meets on the third Wednesday of each month. Contact Willow if you’re interested.
Roxanne: When did you become interested in photography?
Willow: Actually, I just needed a job, so I answered an ad for a photographer at a company that photographed at a daycare/preschool. I had no previous experience, I literally just needed a job. So I got to hang out with a lot of 2- to 5-year-olds. That’s what got me interested, because playing with kids is so fun. One thing kind of led to another. People that I would give the photographs to at daycares and preschools were like, “Hey, do you do portraits?” I started experimenting, getting books at the library, learning a lot of things. Then I just decided to start doing it. I’ve had my business 7 years now.
Who or what influenced you to become a photographer?
The part that I love the most about it is the people aspect. Composition and art, too, but initially the people part of it. I took a photo class when I was learning the basics and we went on a trip to some gardens, photographing plants and flowers, but I was pretty bored. I love to look at them and everything, but I saw a kid playing nearby and that’s what I wanted to photograph. As a photographer, you have an area that draws you.
Why is photography important to you?
There’s the basic stuff. You know, it’s important to me to continue to pay my bills and feed myself. But even if that wasn’t its purpose, it’s still enjoyable. It’s something I just really love to do. It’s universally important to me in so many different ways—the people that I meet, the business that I have. A lot of my friends are photographers, so that ties into my life. I love it, and it’s fun, and I love doing things that are fun.
What motivates you?
People, definitely. I get to meet so many different people and I think that’s my favorite part of my job. Especially in Tacoma. It’s a small community, a lot of people are connected, and I just love that. I love finding out that people know each other. I just love it, period. And there’s a lot of kick-ass people who live here.
What’s your favorite lens or other piece of photography gear?
One I always use is the 50mm 1.4 lens. I get into a rhythm, and I’m on that one right now. It’s kinda hard to say my favorite, because it changes. One of my favorite pieces of equipment is flash. You can do so much with it.
What advice would you give someone just starting out in photography?
First, play. Go out and play. Make sure you’re out using your camera and having fun, taking pictures of things you love. Learn that way. Number two: you’re gonna get frustrated and that’s gonna suck, but you will move past it.
For starting a photography business: Know that it’s a ton of hard work but it can also be really fun. Go at your own pace. You don’t have to be anybody else. I felt and still feel this way at times: I should be here, I should be doing this, all this other stuff. It doesn’t matter how long or quick it takes you. That’s exactly how long it’s supposed to take. I think we all do that. We’re too slow, or we’re not fast enough. Just enjoy it.