I’m not a big fan of being in front of the camera. It certainly seemed like I was if you read our last Local Revivalist interview intro (those old “model” photos still crack me up!).
Maybe it’s a getting older thing, but as I’ve matured, I love taking photos and documenting good times and places we’ve gone… behind the camera. But pictures of me in front of the camera – eh, I could do without.
As a business owner, I know it’s important and something I need to work on. People seek to do business with those they know, like, and trust, right? And many times, they like to put a face to a name or business concept.
I’ve realized that my camera shyness is very common – not just among other business owners but individuals (especially women and teen girls).
With social media, celebrities, and other influencers dominating our feeds today, it’s no wonder that we all (especially women) put a lot of pressure on ourselves to look and feel “camera ready.”
I’ve found myself saying, “I’ll get those perfect headshots once I lose 10 pounds,” or “grow my hair out,” or “tone that flab under my arms.” But the reality is I can always find an excuse not to take the photo.
The way most of us think, feel or act towards our body has dominated the news recently. According to breakbingeeating.com, nearly 1 in 2 women report feeling more concerned with how they look, especially after the pandemic and lockdowns over the past few years.
This is concerning because negative feelings towards one’s body image can be one of the most substantial risk factors for developing an eating disorder or lead to other unhealthy weight control behaviors.
While there’s a glimmer of hope that body positivity is becoming more acceptable, we still have a long way to go for it to be normalized and an afterthought. Online trolls frequently insert demeaning and negative comments toward those trying to advocate for change. Whispers and snickers can be seen by onlookers who spot someone wearing clothing that person might feel comfortable in but may not be a typical or “acceptable” outfit of choice for their body type. Things are changing, but it will take time.
So, how does this relate to today’s Local Revivalist, Christine Lee? In so many ways! As a family & high school senior photographer, Christine has seen firsthand how many of her clients are intimidated by the camera. She picks up on how they try to hide their imperfections during shoots or even give excuses on why they shouldn’t be in a photo. She’s even admitted that she’s also found herself guilty of these feelings.
But what drives her passion for photography even more is making sure as mothers, fathers, stepmothers, stepfathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc., capture these small exciting moments before they fade away.
Kids will not be little for long. Teenagers won’t be in our homes forever. Families might move a little farther away due to college, jobs, or the desire to try something new. So it’s her goal to have those moments documented so families can cherish, hold onto and savor the beauty of life.
As if this isn’t impressive enough, Christine is also what I like to call the ultimate “hype-girl.” She’s one of the biggest cheerleaders I know, especially for women and teens. Her daily Instagram posts frequently offer suggestions and tips for her audience. Encouraging them to wipe away camera fears and embrace who we are (beauty, imperfections, and all) so we can live in the moment, embrace it, and document it before life changes (as it always does).
A devoted mother to her son and a supportive wife, Christine is one of the sweetest and most genuine people I have had the pleasure to meet. From the day I met her (she photographed a high school senior whom we provided a picnic for), I immediately knew we would become friends. She has this warmth about her that makes you feel uplifted and safe. Which is an excellent characteristic to possess when a client experiences camera fright.
There are many more reasons why Christine is fabulous and today’s featured Local Revivalist. So please continue reading below to learn more about Local Revivalist Christine Lee, whose photography sparks joy and inspires us to always believe we are stunningly beautiful (which, spoiler alert, we are!)
Scroll down for my interview…
Christine, please tell me a little about yourself and your family.
Why is this question so hard! Can I use gifs to describe myself instead?
I feel like that would be more accurate lol.
Now my family…I can talk about them all day long! I am a mom first and foremost to my miracle baby. He’s the reason behind the dandelion tattoo on my arm and the reason I started my photography business. I’ve been married to my husband since 2007…fun fact: we met through MYSPACE (but technically through a mutual friend who introduced us on Myspace). And we got married after 6 months of knowing each other.
When did you start your photography business, and why was it important to you to start?
I started my photography business in January 2017. When my son was born I became obsessed with documenting his every move. I must have taken hundreds of pictures in just 5 minutes trying to capture one of his first smiles! Seeing him grow so quickly made me realize how passionate I am about helping others capture these fleeting but beautiful moments. Once I realized my dreams I knew I had to chase them…even if just to show him to chase his dreams and never give up.
What type of photography clients do you focus on?
I specialize in high school senior portraits and family portraits. My focus is mostly on moms and high school seniors because I feel deeply compelled to uplift them and help them see their own beauty. I don’t offer weddings or event photography for multiple reasons.
- I’m an introvert so events literally drain all of my energy.
- I have social anxiety.
- Everything I do is for my family…and with event/wedding photography you are pretty much working all of your weekends…all day. I book sessions on the weekends but they are only for a couple of hours at most…this way I still have time with my family.
Your branding is so light, energetic, and playful. I know you help clients with headshots to compliment their branding. How did you develop your own brand?
When I first started I was very confused…I was so torn between the “light and airy” style and the “dark and moody”. I tried both styles (plus different styles in between) and ended up falling more on the bright colorful side. I knew this was the right direction for my brand because it made me happy and it made me smile when I was editing sessions. When I would try to edit differently or more on “trend” it just didn’t feel right for me. So my biggest advice with developing a brand is experiment until you find what feels right to you.
I love how you like to focus on making people feel comfortable in front of the camera. I know that’s a common fear for many of us. Do you have any tips on how your subjects can relax and not focus on their imperfections?
When it comes to family portraits I would say to just be in the moment with your family. I like to have moms interact with their babies, snuggle with them and play with them, and just be in the moment with them. That always helps moms feel more comfortable because it’s natural for them…they are in their element just loving on their little ones.
For seniors or branding sessions…I’ll be honest; there isn’t anything I can say ahead of time to get someone to relax. That comes from being comfortable with who you’re in front of. Because of who I am I usually naturally do something awkward, clumsy, or silly in the first 10 minutes of our session and that really helps them relax lol.
What are the top 3 tips that you’d give someone before attending a photoshoot with you?
- WEAR WHAT YOU FEEL BEAUTIFUL IN. That is so important. It is the biggest tip I can give; because if you don’t feel comfortable in your outfit it is going to show in your pictures.
- For moms…plan YOUR outfit first. Then plan your children and your spouse’s outfits around yours. (This coordinates with tip # 1).
- Do not stress. Don’t stress about how you look or how to pose (I’ll help you with that!). Don’t stress about trying to get everyone to look at the camera. Your photo shoot experience should be fun; not stressful!
You pick the most amazing locations! Many ones that I’ve never heard of or visited before. How do you come across these places? Do you ride around looking for random spots that you think could make for beautiful backdrops?
Some locations (like Bok Tower) I have known about my whole life since I grew up around here. Some like Edward Medard Park I discovered by looking up nature preserves and parks around me and then going to explore. When I find a new location I always explore it first and see where the best areas are before I bring clients there.
I have quite a few favorite locations just depending on the vibe I’m looking for. For a rustic, woodsy look I LOVE Edward Medard Park in Plant City. For a fun urban session, Tampa Riverwalk/Curtis Hixon Park is my favorite. And when it comes to my hands-down ultimate favorite location it is Bok Tower. I have spent almost 4 hours there with a senior and still felt like I could have kept going had they not been closing.
What do you like to do when you’re not taking photos?
If I’m not taking photos I’m doing one of two things (or both): spending time with my family or fixing up our 1950s farmhouse.
Do you have anything you’d like to promote?
I am currently planning my summer mini sessions: Annual 4th of July minis every June. I also have a pool party-themed mini session in mind that I’m working on.
Do you have any other hidden talents besides being a phenomenal photographer?
Give me a situation or scenario or emotion and I can find a song that fits it PERFECTLY. Might be a country song…might be a pop song…might be a rock song but I will find it.
If you could photograph a client anywhere in the world, what would be your dream location?
Easiest question ever!! Garden of the Gods in Colorado!
How can the Tampa Bay community support you and your business best?
They can always follow along on my Instagram at @christineleephotography, or on my website at Christine Lee Photography. Be sure to keep an eye out for our June mini-sessions, and possibly the pool-themed mini-session as well! The best place to learn more about these sessions is through my Instagram page.
Questions, comments or feedback on this article? Comment below or contact us! We would love to hear from you. Curious why we love our local revivalists and support small businesses so much? Read 6 Reasons We Love Supporting Small Business.