In the Moment
Whitney Whitehouse travels the country shooting photos for clients. Every single day is different, and that’s one of the things she loves about her work. But as a photographer she’s most in her element when she’s outdoors with friends, without the pressure of a specific assignment, with a film camera in her hand.
“You only have 36 exposures on a roll, so you can't
just put it into continuous shutter and shoot all of
the photos,” she says. “It requires you to really look
at a scene, think about the lighting, and think about
“When I have a film camera
in my hand…I think so
much more about each
photo and how it's going
to turn out. It's so easy,
when you have a digital
camera, just to kind of fire
away. Film is so simple,
and it just really requires
you to be in the moment
and think about
Whitney’s been into photography since she was a kid growing up in Bend, Oregon, a locale known for its surrounding beauty and opportunity for time spent in the outdoors. After studying entrepreneurship in college, and continuing to grow a hobbyist’s passion for photography, she decided to dive into photography as a career.
She cut her teeth working full-time as a photographer/videographer for a local brewery for a while before deciding to take a risk and become a freelancer. This decision was as much about the lifestyle she wanted to live as it was the enjoyment of taking photos. Always suspect of the typical 9-to-5 lifestyle, Whitney craved a life where she could travel continuously, taking her dog Jasper along the way, and still make a comfortable living. It’s a life that offers a significant amount of freedom for the type of person that is up for the challenges.
“It definitely takes a lot of self-motivation,” she says. “You don't have anyone sitting there telling you how many clients you need to reach out to, or how much work you need to be doing, or what your hours are. You create all of that on your own, so you need to be able to get up and get yourself motivated and get your work done.”
At first, the clients were few and far between, and she
spent far more time reaching out to potential clients
than actually taking photos. There was a ton of rejection,
and to this day there is still a lot of rejection, though
she’s learned to take it in stride. She moved into her van
to save on expenses but still didn’t always know how she
was going to pay for her
The van life came with its own challenges, with an onslaught of mechanical breakdowns right at the beginning—the engine and transmission going bad all at once. But with the help of her mechanic stepdad, she got her home on wheels back up and running.
“We basically replaced
every mechanical part on
the van,” she says. “So not
only do I now know
everything about the van
and know how to fix so
many different parts of it,
I think it was just proof
that I wanted this so bad
and that I was willing to
literally rebuild an engine
as it was snowing in
central Oregon to get
back up on the road and
make it happen.”
Back on the road, she gradually began to make a name for herself and grow her business by word of mouth and pure hustle. She carved out a path for herself one client and one photoshoot at a time.
“When I did decide that this is what I wanted to do, I didn't really see anyone who was doing exactly what I wanted to do,” she says. “There wasn't a clear example of someone that I was looking up to, that I wanted to be like. I just knew that I didn't want an office job, that I had this skill that I could utilize. I kind of just said yes to a lot of different things, and through that learned that I do love all sorts of different kinds of photography. I do a variety of different things, and that is part of the structure that I created for myself.”
Those things range from product photography for numerous brands, to commercial work for real estate and construction companies, to her bread and butter—which is outdoor-focused lifestyle photography for companies to use in their catalogs, websites, and social media. So many of her clients value her ability and willingness to travel to remote and different locations—this allows her the ability to capture diverse and varied locations and looks in her photos.
Though she now lives in a more permanent home base, the van is still her preferred mode of transportation for longer trips, giving her an excellent base to live, prepare shoots, and edit photos out of. Whitney describes her photography style as very in-the-moment and natural, and the van allows her to get to the perfect settings for this type of shooting.
Her favorite shots, she says, are candid genuine photos taken with friends. Like her film photography, they probably aren’t the photos that are going to pay the bills, but they’re the authentic moments that she wants to remember and that led her to photography in the first place.
“I just love a genuine laugh or a genuine smile,”
she says. “I really like to just capture moments
as they happen.”
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