Today we’d like to introduce you to ‘Tracy + David Stills and Motion’ Tracy Boulian and David Ahntholz.
Tracy Boulian and David Ahntholz, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
We are a husband and wife still photography and motion team, specializing in storytelling lifestyle imagery for advertising and commercial clients. We’re former news photojournalists who left our staff photography positions at newspapers about 8 years ago and moved to Southern California. We started out working separately for the first year in California, taking editorial and commercial freelance jobs, but found that we were often working together in some capacity on our projects. Our work has always had a very similar style and we realized very quickly that we really enjoyed working together. We also completely trusted each other and knew we shared a similar work ethic, that we each had great strengths that complemented one another well, and that we could merge these strengths and share them with our clients to do even better work together. As we also started evolving into doing more video and motion about 7 years ago, and we started to capture both video and stills on the same set, we began feeling that it was an asset as well for the two of us to join forces. We find that our clients love our team approach, as we bring two collaborators, potentially more images possibilities from a situation, and also consistency of vision across both stills and motion. Now 7 years into working as a team, after all of the time we spend together working, we feel very fortunate that we still love spending time together outside of work.
Can you give our readers some background on your art?
We photograph a broad range of projects for companies, brands, agencies, and magazines, but focus on creating authentic and engaging storytelling images of active people living life. We work to find an emotional hook in our stories – something that we can visually and creatively explore, something that we can identify with, and we think others will connect with as well.
We’re constantly looking new stories and working on self-assigned projects to stay inspired and to push ourselves to explore new directions in our work. We’ve pursued so many projects and stories in the past couple of years, from the creation of new active lifestyle imagery in Hawaii, to stories about a teenager getting her first car, to summer camp, to high school football. We have so many ideas and we always wish there were just a few more hours in the day so we could pursue even more projects. We love using these projects to experiment and challenge ourselves to see and think differently, and to constantly grow in our work. We then take these new experiences and ideas and apply them to our work for our clients to help them tell the best possible stories.
One of the things we’ve always loved about photography is how our cameras have opened so many doors for us – we’ve met so many interesting people, learned about and seen so many unique things, and have gained access to explore places that we otherwise wouldn’t know about.
We find there are interesting stories everywhere, and we love telling these stories visually. We’re always eager to hear about new stories to potentially explore – particularly people with interesting jobs or hobbies and people of all ages who are very active/athletic. Feel free to reach out if you have a story to share!
Given everything that is going on in the world today, do you think the role of artists has changed? How do local, national or international events and issues affect your art?
The role of the artist is important as ever. When we were photojournalists, local, national, and international issues were major influences in our work, and we were telling the stories surrounding these issues and documenting them in every way we could. We got into photography originally wanting to be artists – but also communicators – to make people aware of current events, trends, news, and culture, and open people’s eyes to new ways of seeing and thinking. Our focus has significantly changed now, and we’re not specifically pursuing stories surrounding news/cultural issues on a daily basis or in the same way.
However, current events and trends will always have an impact on the direction of our work, as we always keep an eye on what’s happening in the world. To some extent, we will always be journalists at heart. We are often looking at what kinds of projects we can do that will help break down walls and open peoples’ eyes to bigger issues. Whether it’s our interest in strong women, people in untraditional jobs, or small and organic farms and food production. We and our clients are also often inspired by changes in the world. This sometimes translates into a new project idea or has an effect on the type of subject matter that is most relevant to pursue. Sometimes national issues also affect the type of stories we and our clients are looking to tell – and may affect casting, locations, etc. Nothing exists in a vacuum, and we find that our industry is affected by issues in the country and the world, and so we are always working to evolve with the changing landscape.
What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
Currently, people can see our work on our web site – http://www.tracydavid.com and on Instagram – http://www.instagram.com/tracyplusdavid
Tracy + David Stills and Motion