We had the good fortune of connecting with Tamela Hall and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tamela, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
I’ve been a photographer for over 15 years and I consistently see comments online that say “photographers are charging too much when all they do is point a camera and click a button.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. We are light benders, creative directors, those who capture not just any images but those that you can feel the emotion and connection between our subjects. We have to understand how to use light to create images that are simply magical. Knowledge of our equipment is equally as important. You cannot just go to a Best Buy and purchase any camera and call yourself a photographer, although, I have seen people do that. Once you have the camera you have to learn how to use it in manual mode and understand how to balance your exposure triangle; shutter speed, ISO, and F Stop.
Creative images come from understanding light, your exposure triangle, competition, and how to make your subjects feel comfortable in front of the camera. As a professional photographer in the digital age, there are always new methods and techniques to learn all the time. I spend thousands of dollars every year learning more about editing, directing, and how to create magical images that make me stand out in the industry.
On top of understanding how to capture the images, you have to know how to edit them. As a professional photographer who shoots in raw, I must add contrast, adjust my lighting and sharpen images in post-production as just a base versus shooting in JPEG which does this in-camera. It allows me to make each of my images unique to my fine-art style and allows me to put creative spins on my images.
Once the session or wedding is over we spend about 40-80 hours culling and editing before presenting the finished images to our clients to choose prints and products. Then we design albums (especially for weddings) this takes another 5-10 hours, submit items to various print providers as we don’t always use the same one for every product offered. Then once they are delivered we inspect them for quality control, have reprints done if items arrive damaged if needed. Once everything is done, products are packaged and typically hand-delivered to our clients.
Being a photographer is the best job and I love it so very much, but this is not a cheap profession any people tend to forget that part as well. Here is a quick example: Equipment including computers & editing software $30,000 + yearly subscriptions $1,500. Website domain, hosting, email, and client management software $3,000 a year. Business licenses, insurance, CPA, and Lawyer on retainer $5,000+ yearly. Education, training, mentoring and advertising $10,000 yearly. These are just a few and do not include the fact that about 40% of our income goes straight to taxes.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
It took me years to find my niche and style. I can tell you definitively that it was not easy! When I began my career, I would take any job I could get. I did sessions for families and children for about 10 years. It wasn’t until 2020 that I was challenged by my mentor Kyle Goldie, to sit and think about why I want to be a photographer, what I love about it, and determine from that what I want my business and brand to be about. After about 2 weeks of brainstorming and reflecting on what sessions were the most fulfilling for me, that I discovered that I’m passionate about couples, engagements, and weddings. The connection between couples at this stage of their relationship is where my heart truly is in my craft. I thrive on getting to know my clients and capturing their true love stories. I love seeing the emotions in photos! Looking back on engagement sessions and weddings, I love seeing the pure emotions in those photos. From a nervous groom waiting to see his bride for the first time to a teary-eyed dad seeing his baby girl in her wedding dress, images like this are why I do what I do! In 50 years when my couples look back on their images, they’ll be able to remember exactly how they were feeling in that very moment, the joy, excitement, nerves, and most importantly the love.
I set myself apart from other photographers in my area with the one-of-a-kind experience I provide all my couples and in the fine-art images, I provide for them. I don’t just show up to a wedding, take a few pictures, and leave. I take the time beforehand to get to know my clients, their likes, dislikes, how they met, etc. In all my years of photography, I believe there is maybe only one client with who I have not become good friends and still keep in touch. For me, it’s about forming a relationship with my clients. Only then will I be able to truly help them relax and be themselves in front of the camera so that I can preserve these special times in full authenticity for them. This typically has my bride and grooms coming back to me as their family begins to grow so that I’m with them through all stages of their lives. I treasure each and every one of my clients and consider it a privilege to call them friends.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This is a hard one because there are so many great places around the city! I know as a resident we tend to take places for granted because we have access to them year-round and they become just another place for us. But if my best friend Theresa was coming to Atlanta I’d have to say we’d have to visit the Atlanta Botanical Garden. They have a different theme each year and it’s simply breathtaking each time you visit! Since she has children, we’d also have to visit the Georgia Aquarium and let them experience all the wonders held there.
One place I’d have to take her to eat is Fat Matt’s they have the best ribs I’ve had in my entire life!
Another place that I feel is a hidden gem is The Historic Swan House in Atlanta. I had the opportunity to host a styled shoot at Swan House and the history and architecture are simply stunning. Not only was the house built in 1928 and been one of the most beautiful venues for weddings. It was also the house of President Snow in the Hunger Games, so any Hunger Games fans can visit and geek out over it as they tour the house and grounds.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband, Tim, has been there for me for the past almost 8 years. He encouraged me to pursue my dream of owning my own business and doing what I love. He saw something in me and my work even when I was questioning my ability. Thank you so much for always believing in me and encouraging me to go after my dreams!
Nominate Someone: ShoutoutAtlanta is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.