Business Photography and Lighting with Kate Zimmerman Turpin

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06.29.18 | By
Business Photography and Lighting with Kate Zimmerman Turpin

Ask any professional photographer and they’ll tell you, using the right kind of lighting is key to capturing the underlying mood, tone, and setting of every photo they’ve ever shot. If you’re curious, just have a look at some of the images you’ve taken on your own smartphone and they’ll tell the same story. Building your own business is a lot of work, much of which revolves around how it will be perceived by your customers – creating a strong launch, mastering your online brand, and having a powerful logo design are just a few of the pieces. But then there’s the photography element, a true visual imprint of just what it is you’re putting out there into the world, and it needs to be on point and done right the first time around. Get some help looking like a pro from the get-go with Squarespace and their award-winning site templates. Their easy to use platform allows you to create an impactful, stylish, and easy-to-manage online presence so you can share your brand with the world.

Kate Zimmerman Turpinis an Austin-based photographer with a focus on product, food, interior, and fine art photography known for her strong use of natural light and shadow. She knew from a young age, even through seasons of insecurities and doubt, that being a photographer was what she was most comfortable with and wanted to spend her life doing. I fell in love with photography when I was around 12, following my baby brother around the house and convincing him to pose like the subjects in Sally Mann’s or Keith Carter’s images. I became obsessed with the darkroom in high school and then decided to study Fine Art at the University of Texas,” Zimmerman Turpin said. With the help of Squarespace, she’s been able to create a stunning portfolio site that showcases her best photos and helps to acquire new clients.

Zimmerman Turpin honed in on the niches of food, still life, and travel photography simply because she enjoyed working quietly and on her own, something I think many small business owners will be shaking their heads yes to. She says, “I liked playing with compositions, making them balanced or unbalanced, experimenting with textures, and doing it at my own pace.” While her favorite category tends to change with the seasons, Zimmerman Turpin currently favors still lifes in her personal work and interiors in her business.

As with any creative medium, Zimmerman Turpin uses different approaches to achieve the lighting look required for the various types of photography she specializes in. “For food and product, I always like to set up next to a window, usually in the morning or evening. For a more moody look I like having only one window as a light source, and blocking off the rest of the window light to create deep shadows. If I’m looking for a soft look, I’ll set up a white sheet over the window to soften the shadows. For spaces, I like to photograph when the natural light is at its best in each room. As for travel, I like to wander around in the morning, late afternoon, and evening to avoid harsh light,” she said. There’s also plenty of room for experimentation, usually involving full sunlight or interesting shadows.

While Zimmerman Turpin’s photos are undeniably beautiful, sometimes hiring a professional isn’t in the budget for a small business, so we asked her for a few tips and tricks to use when shooting on your own. “My first bit of advice would be to achieve the achievable, keep it simple. If you’re doing product photography, find a clean backdrop you can keep going back to and put it next to a window for consistent light. Remember, less is more – don’t over style. And don’t over edit with too much of a filter!” She recommends using only natural light and turning off all other light sources in the space, getting as close as possible to your light source (aka window), and using a reflector for the best end results.

However, some projects are going to require a pro, so if you’re looking to spend money wisely what should that go towards? Zimmerman Turpin suggests saving your dollars to use for your site’s photography. An impressive banner or cover image makes a huge first impression and will be well worth the professional photography investment in the long run.

We love Squarespace’s site design customization options and price point, and their users do too. “I chose my design based on the suggested designs for photographers. I wanted a clean gallery format on most pages so I didn’t do any personal customization, but I did play around with creating new pages and then adding a gallery on them. It gave my site design a slightly more organic, less organized look which I prefer,” said Zimmerman Turpin. Squarespace helps her run a stronger, more streamlined business from end to end and offers an aesthetic that aligns with her photography. “I love how I don’t have to spend a lot of time and money on hiring somebody to create a design that works for my business. Squarespace already has the clean and minimal look that best accentuates my photos.”

Ready to get to work on that branding? Take the first step and create a website or buy a domain name with Squarespace. Use coupon code DESIGNMILK at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase.

Kelly Beall is Director of Branded Content at Design Milk. The Pittsburgh-based writer and designer has had a deep love of art and design for as long as she can remember, from Fashion Plates to MoMA and far beyond. When not searching out the visual arts, she's likely sharing her favorite finds with others. Kelly can also be found tracking down new music, teaching herself to play the ukulele, or on the couch with her three pets – Bebe, Rainey, and Remy. Find her @designcrush on social.