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Meet Mid-City Photographer and Art Director: Renae Wootson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Renae Wootson.

Renae, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in the Suburbs of California, about an hour and a half outside of Los Angeles. I spent most of my childhood dreaming and wanting to get away and experience and explore the world. It literally used to eat away at me. While everyone around me was always content, I was never satisfied. I always felt like I was different. I viewed the world through my own eyes; So art, especially Photography, was the perfect outlet.

Originally I wanted to go to school for Photography. But I heard it was expensive and hard to make it in the field, so I got discouraged. On top of that, I didn’t know how I’d make it when I didn’t even have a camera at the time. So I took the long route and majored in something more general; Advertising & Graphic Design. For years I worked full time in the field as a Designer/Art Director. But all the while, for all those years it nagged at me. It was cool, but it wasn’t what I truly loved or was passion about; It was just what I did and was good at.

So for the past couple of years, on top of working full time as a Designer, I decided to really pursue Photography on my own. I got an internship with a dope photographer, assisting him here and there on shoots. And when that ended, I started shooting more and more on my own, mostly music, street, and documentary/photojournalism work. And in the past year or so, I’ve added much more studio work. Although I work full time still, I’m still shooting consistently and grinding until I can support myself through my photography.

When it comes to my personal style, I love using photography to document and highlight. I shoot in a very natural, artistic, and raw Documentary/Photojournalism style; Capturing key moments and storytelling is my thing. I like for people’s feelings and emotions to come alive in my work. I shoot and document a lot of Artists (from Music artists to Fine artists), Portraits, Fashion, Lifestyle, Street, and Music concerts.

Has it been a smooth road?
It definitely hasn’t been a smooth road at all. I can’t emphasize that enough. Like I mentioned before, I work a full-time, 9-to-5 (6 actually), so unfortunately 85% of my time and energy goes to a brand that is not my own. And I don’t work a simple job – I have a senior role (Sr. Designer with a lot of Art Director responsibilities). It requires a lot of me, especially my creativity. Although people probably see it as a fun job, it definitely is draining most of the time especially when I’d rather be shooting. The only time I have time to really work on myself as a brand and my craft is after work in the evenings and on weekends. Even that is a challenge though after long work days, and especially a challenge when, as a Photographer, your craft is 100% dependent on light and most important shoots happen during the day time. Not to mention all the opportunities I’ve had to pass up because of my 9-to-5.

Another huge challenge is the way technology is changing, social media, and all the “photographers” popping up. It’s definitely watering down the art of it. A lot of companies are wanting shoots for free, and everyone has this “if you won’t do it, someone else will, and for cheaper” kind of attitude. It’s definitely making it hard to survive it as a photographer alone.

But I’m passionate and driven, and determined to live the life I want. I know all my hard work will pay off soon.

Any predictions for the industry over the next few years?
I believe the Photography, well, Creative/Art industry, in general, is going in a very technology focused direction. Technology is dramatically affecting and changing creativity as we’ve all seen in the last few years; both good and bad. For those who refuse to adapt to these changes, it can be a bad thing causing them to get overlooked or left behind. For those who choose to adapt, it can greatly help their careers as long as they craft their style.

Aside from that, I think that the biggest change/trend in this industry will be out of the box thinking, even more so than now. Find your style, own it, and push it to the next level. That’s what’s going to make people stand out, and that’s what brands and companies are gravitating towards.

What has been the primary challenge you’ve faced?
My biggest challenge has been trying not to get caught up in comparing myself to other photographers and artists. It’s even harder now because social media allows you to see other people’s work and lives. There are so many dope and amazing artists that it’s hard not to compare your talent and level of success to others’. However, every now and then I try to remind myself to “DO ME” and do it in the way that works for me…regardless. The best thing about art is that we all express ourselves differently.

What advice do you wish to give to those thinking about pursuing a path similar to yours?
My advice to them would be to stay true to themselves. Follow your heart, and keep your integrity. It’s hard but it will pay off when the time is right. Also, stay hungry and stay passionate, and most of all…HAVE FUN with it. That’s most important.

Contact Info:

  • Website: www.renaewootson.com
  • Phone: 951-255-5968
  • Email: renaerw@gmail.com
  • Instagram: Instagram: @iironic

 

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