Interview #3 in the books. This interview was special in a few different ways. For starters, Sophia and I met at St. Edward’s University for this interview. It’s always great to be back on the Hilltop and meeting fellow Hilltoppers is always a pleasure. During the interview, Sophia mentioned one of her Instagram inspirations who happened to be an old friend of mine from high school (read the interview to find out who). To hear that a familiar face and name was making an impact and inspiring others was just so refreshing.
Sophia Raquel – @sophiaraquelportraits
How and when did you pick up photography?
I started with photography in 2010 when I was in the 7th grade with neighborhood friends. We didn’t really have much to do in the neighborhood so when one of my friends got a camera for Christmas, we would play around with it and have little photo shoots. Eventually I purchased my first Canon Power Shot SX500. With that, I started to take more pictures and began saving up for an even better camera. I always knew that my photos would be so much better if I had a better camera. When I got to St. Ed’s, I learned I could check out cameras from the library so I became familiar with the Canon Rebel T6i but at the time I wasn’t able to purchase it. I finally saved up enough money and purchased my camera this past March and that’s really when things began to take off.
Who or what influences you to do what you do?
I would say I’m self-motivated but I’m also on Instagram, Tumblr or Pinterest a lot of the day. I spend that time looking through other people’s work so I follow certain accounts or post that inspire me. One of the first photographers I reached out to was @iamsamkimm and his photography inspired me to do similar work. Also, I really like @byjuliamarie. I enjoy seeing her posts because it’s like we’re all in this together. We’re all trying to build our brand, and our work and she’s another person that inspires me.
My most recent project has been inspired by @platon. I started watching a documentary on NetflixThe Art of Abstract Design and I watched an episode about how he tells a story through the eyes of the people he photographs and I really love that.
How do you think you have you grown from the time you started to today?
I feel like I’ve grown a lot. I was looking through my photos from when I first started to today to see my progress. My feed on Vsco begins with pictures of myself that my friends took to photos that I’ve taken. That in itself is growth for me.
When I started college here, I’d take pictures of my roommate and our friends and when they started telling me, “wow, you should take more pictures of us this is fun” and that was a really good opportunity for me to grow.
How have you grown your business? What has worked and what hasn’t?
The biggest step I’ve taken is to start my Instagram page which I was really nervous to do. I started to put my energy more into photography right after my surgery bedrest. I remember there being nothing to do, I was so bored. I had a friend come to visit and when she was there I asked if I could take her pictures because I really wanted to practice editing. Since I had nothing else to do, I played around enough with the editing that I was able to find a style.
When I first started my account, I started posting in three’s and realized that it wasn’t the best approach. I watched a lot of YouTube videos and I learned that by putting hashtags in the caption, it took away from the picture and it looked less formatted so I started placing hashtags as an additional comment.
To plan my feed, I use Unum to plan out my posts. At first I didn’t think it mattered but it really does so I use this app to organize photos before I post them.
What are some things you wish you knew when you started your business?
Since I’ve started, I’ve had more shoots rescheduled than I anticipated and I know life happens so I wish I knew to be prepared for that and flexible.
I had wish I’d known that St. Edward’s has Lightroom on the computers. Although I use it on campus now, I wish I could have started using it a lot earlier to get practice.
How do you organize and plan your work? (choosing clients, locations, vibe, etc.)
Before a shoot, I usually meet up with my client to set up a joint Pinterest board. Not everyone uses it but I tell them that it helps me get to know what it is they are looking for.
What are some of the most important lessons you can share with someone just starting out?
1. Be flexible. Life happens and so does the weather. Don’t let it derail or discourage you when things have to get rescheduled.
2. Don’t say no to anyone. Keep your options open.
3. Know your equipment. I took a photography course here where I learned about the bulb setting. This really helped me learn how to use the camera in low light.
4. Know your client. Some people aren’t always comfortable in front of the camera so you have to be able to make them feel comfortable.
5. Play music. It’s always so much more fun when there is music playing.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
When you are not studying or taking photos, what do you enjoy doing?
I like to hang out with my friends and I enjoy painting.
A lot of time, we find ourselves overwhelmed and busy with school, work and all other adult responsibilities. What do you to make time for yourself? What does your “me” time look like?
Usually, I separate myself from others to make time for myself and I spend that time reflecting, painting, and editing which is when my favorite work happens.
What advice would you give to someone who has a vision/goal/dream but is just stuck?
Educate yourself. There are resources all around, you just have to choose to use them. Expose yourself to as many opportunities as possible is the first step.
Favorite pizza in Austin?
Favorite coffee joint in Austin?
What about brunch spots?
Contact me if you’re interested in being featured. The feature will include a Q&A with similar questions and a few portraits to go along with your story.