Photographer Spotlight + Celebrity Mentor: Spanki Mills

We are so pleased to welcome Spanki Mills to the Rock the Shot Blog today!  Take a moment to learn more about Spanki and visit her website Spanki Mills Photography today! Spanki will be our FIRST “Celebrity Mentor” in the Rock the Shot Forum for the entire month of April, so come on over and ask Spanki anything you like.  Thank you so much Spanki for taking the time to share your work with us!

Where did your inspiration for photography begin?
I am just like every other mother out there.  My children!! I was in photojournalism and yearbook in high school. I was known as the one with the camera at any function we had. I have loved pictures from early on.  Not as much for the art, but for the memories. I have always been more of an artist, it just never “clicked” that I could express creativity through pictures until my last child was born and I started playing with my camera. It was then that I fell in love with the possibilities.

How would you describe your photography style?
I am very simple. I do not use props, but I love color so I tend to chose locations that have colors and textures in them, but keep the client the main subject. My favorite work are my images that are very simply stated with either bold colors or rich textures. I am also finding my love for light, I love a few soft lit images too.

Did you study photography in school or are you self taught?
Although I did start out with my fathers film Canon and should know a lot more technical than I do, I am completely self taught. I have a strong personality and photography has been something that has captured me. I will not let it beat me, so when I get frustrated I will walk away – but always end up coming back and trying again and again until I figure it out!  For some reason when it takes a few mess ups to get it right, the lesson is easier remembered next time! 😉

Do you shoot Canon or Nikon, and what is your favorite lens?
Like I said I started out with a film Canon, so Canon was all I knew. I went to digital and continue to stick with it. For 3 years I shot with a Canon and just this last winter I did it… I jumped ship – I bought a Nikon!  NOW, do not stone me… I had “the grass is greener” envy. I studied them so hard that I could tell when pulling up a photographers blog immediately what camera they shot with (I was only stumped with 2 photogs – my hunch was right on one and wrong on the other) and for my style of shooting I felt like the Nikon might fit me better. SO – I did it, and I do not regret it.  BOTH cameras were great and I was actually shocked at how closely they shot.  My favorite lens is still the 50mm 1.4 hands down my favorite! I have the 85mm and the 35mm and love them both but if I were only allowed one lens (which until recently that is all I had) it would be the 50mm!

You specialize in High School Senior Photography, what is your favorite aspect of photographing seniors?
You know, as much as I love children I still can not get that excitement from a children’s session like I do a senior. There is something about a controlled session that I can’t get enough of (maybe it is because I have 4 kids and my life is never in control)!  I love every aspect of it – from the very beginning conversation, to watching their personality unfold in front of me with clothing and location choices and turning the vision into reality.  I look back on that year of my life as one of my favorite times, it was such a special time and I love being able to capture that time in their lives for them to hold on to forever.

What is a good lesson you have learned this year in photography or in your business?
BIGGEST lesson to date… anything that goes wrong, in the end it is MY fault! Sometimes I like to think I might have a difficult client, but in reality it is because I have left something unclear. I have tried to leave no rock unturned so there is no room for confusion and question.  BUT, I still run into situations that I wish I would have addressed BEFORE it came into question.  So what I do now is immediately fix it!  I will go change my email templates or website info so it won’t happen again.

If you could encourage a new photographer in one area, what would it be?
Take some time to really find who YOU are!  I think educating yourself is so important. You have one chance to make a first impression.  But, in doing so make sure to keep an open mind when going to workshops or being mentored. You can take every bit of the information and make it work for you. Let your images speak for who you are as a photographer and artist. It is sooooo easy (I know I have done it) to see someone’s work you admire and without even knowing you end up mimicing them. Whether it is actual photographs or blog post or fb statuses, remember to be you… if you love you everyone else will to! And remember it takes time.

What do you love most about being a photographer?
Oh my there is sooo much, and I could say the expected “capturing the moments” but for me the thing I love the MOST, are the friendships I have made. I have seriously come across some of the most awesome people during my journey. Some of my clients have turned into my best friends, and some of the girls I have mentored are now girls I turn to when I am having a rough day, or friends I have made in the industry when I have a question or need honest advice.  I have been so blessed by my growing circle of friends and that alone has given me a new love for this business.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Oh that is hard. I hope to still be shooting what I love. I hope to still be teaching because that is really where my heart is but really I can not even picture what tomorrow holds, so 5 years is WAY out there!

About Spanki: My REAL name is Spanki! I will go by just about anything…Stacy, Becky, and Sparky are what I get the most often. (I guess no one really thinks they hear right when I say Spanki). I am a thirty “something” mother of 4 (if you don’t include my husband who acts 12 most of the time)! I have 3 boys one 11yr old, twin 10yr olds, and a daughter AKA the “boss” who is 5 (and to think I was told I couldn’t have children) pshhhh!

I am no good at math, or spelling…I tend to make up words. My poor friends and family have learned they have to de-code me! I have no problem laughing at myself! I sing really good when my radio is REALLY loud, I still think I can cheer just as good as the girls who can actually FIT in their uniform, and there is never a dance competition I won’t break it down in!

Visit Spanki at her WEBSITE, BLOG, and FACEBOOK page today!

And don’t forget, you can “Ask Spanki” anything you like in the Rock the Shot Forum for the entire month of April!

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JenC - April 2, 2012 - 11:41 am

Thank you Spanki. I love your work and I’m so excited you are our celebrity mentor!

Angela - April 2, 2012 - 11:52 am

Awesome spotlight. And Spanki you are so inspirational! I had to laugh when you said you make up words and friends have to decode you. I do that with names of things. I call it being creative!! :)

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