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Meet Birdie Thompson of Bird’s Eye Photography in Burbank

Today we’d like to introduce you to Birdie Thompson.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I have been taking pictures since I was kid. I remember my first camera was the rectangular and blue 1984 Fisher Price Kodak Kids Camera 110 Film and I loved it! I remember taking it everywhere with me. And then I remember taking my dad’s Polaroid camera and having so much with it, just taking photos any chance I got. I don’t think he ever had a chance to use it. As a kid, I never thought of myself as a photographer. I just knew I really enjoyed taking pictures and having it as a possible career path never crossed my mind.

It wasn’t until I got to college that my love for the art of photography grew immensely. I loved it so much that I majored in Art and then had to add Communications to please my parents. Being in the dark room listening music equaled me being in my “happy place”. I could always just spend hours upon hours in there. It’s funny because even in college I still didn’t think being professional photographer was going to be my career path.

I moved to Los Angeles in 2003 with the plan of working in television and film production. It took a long time but I finally landed a job as a production assistant. I did that for about 5 years, putting photography on the back burner. Still thinking I was going to pursue production only, every now and then I would take some behind-the-scenes/on-set photos. Dabbling in on-set photography accompanied with seeing my friend’s travel photos really reignited my passion for photography. The thought of taking on set photos or travel photography as a career seemed like absolute best job ever. That moment was when I decided it was time to get back into photography. I asked my friend if she would model for me, she agreed and we did an outdoor photoshoot. The photos were AWFUL!!! Shots were either overexposed or underexposed, blurry or white balance was way of the mark. I realized I had forgotten EVERYTHING that I had learned. I was a mess! It was so embarrassing, I couldn’t bring myself to give her the photos. To this day, she hasn’t seen them! Of course, being an artist I was extremely hard on myself and thought I was fooling myself about one day becoming a professional. After I picked myself up and put that debacle of a shoot behind me, I went to Google and YouTube and retaught myself everything. I read photography books, watched webinars, went to free seminars, bought magazines and found photographers, and researched them and their work. Then I started thinking about gear and how I was going to afford to buy all these lights and other equipment I thought I needed. The game changer was when I joined MeetUp.com and did a One-Light seminar. My mind was absolutely blown away. Realizing that amazing photographs can be made with just ONE light filled me with such excitement, the next day I went online purchased my Alienbee strobe, lightstand, umbrella and a backdrop. When I had everything I needed, I called my cousin, Ade, to come over to do a photoshoot. We had so much fun experimenting and got some really good shots. It was the first time I thought maybe I had a chance at succeeding in photography. That first shoot lead to my other cousin, Nzinga, putting together a two-day photoshoot with 9 and coming actors, directors, and writers. It was such a great experience and fantastic practice.

Although I’m still on this fun, crazy, and stressful journey to get to where I want to be in my career, I am here today because I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by a group of amazing and beautiful people. The support I get from my dad, family and friends is beyond wonderful. From being my muses to networking or just telling me, “You got this!” when I doubt myself, I am so thankful every day to each and every one of them.

Has it been a smooth road?
The road so far has definitely been at times stressful but good so far. I think one main struggle is just making sure to have another gig or photoshoot lined up. There have been times when I think ahead to an upcoming shoot that might be scheduled 3 or 4 weeks away, I know I need to get to hustling and shoot something sooner; whether it’s a test shoot or headshot or a product just have to keep pushing forward.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
My business is called Bird’s Eye Photography. Since my birth name is Birdie I would be crazy not to use in some way. I specialize in headshots, portrait photography, editorial photography, recently product photography and then some creative work. I feel I am mainly known for my headshots and editorial work.

What I am most proud of as a company and what I think sets me apart from others besides than the final photos my clients receive, is my ability to make people feel comfortable when shooting with me. Many people have said this to me either while we’re shooting or afterwards. It’s not something I’ve ever planned ahead of time. I never think to myself, “Ok I’m going to do a, b, and c and my subjects will like it and laugh and we’ll automatically get these great shots.” I know it’s not easy for some people to be in front of the camera. It can be awkward and uncomfortable at times. And I’m just as nervous before every shoot too. I think in order to calm myself down I just talk with the person as if we are friends, just hanging out (whether it is an actual friend or a new client). I do my best to find some common ground and just connect with her or him. I find that the best, most genuine photos come in the in between moments when we’re just talking and laughing. Those tiny moments can’t be duplicated no matter how hard you try.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
If your path is to do headshots and celebrity portraits, Los Angeles is one of the best places. I feel like so many people come here on a daily basis, you’ll find many different types of people to photograph.

Contact Info:

  • Website: www.birdseye-foto.com
  • Email: info@birdseye-foto.com
  • Instagram: birds_eye_photo
  • Facebook: Bird’s Eye Photography
  • Twitter: BirdsEyeFoto
  • Yelp: Bird’s Eye Photography


Image Credit:
Creative:
Shanti Lowry

Editorials:
Ade M’Cormack
Asia Monet Ray
Marisa Quintanilla
Brittany Daniel, Cynthia Hauser
Terrell Ransom

Headshots:
Jacob Buster
Harli Ames
Denise Dowse
Nzinga Blake

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