For this week's interview we fueled up the SeniorInpire Cesna and took a quick plane ride to Kansas City, Kansas where we were to meet up with Robin Addleman, the owner of West Elm Photogaphy!
Once we landed we realized Robin's studio was actually in Missouri and not Kansas. So we hopped a bus and half an hour later we had the chance to sit down with Robin...
SeniorInspire So your studio is located on the Missouri side of Kansas City. Do you ever wish you lived on the Kansas side?
Robin Addleman I'm only 20 minutes from the State Line so a lot of my daily errands involve heading into Kansas but in all reality, I enjoy Missouri more, I find a lot more culture and art driving around Missouri.
SI You have a very distinct style and I can always spot a West Elm photo in my feed. To me your style is very bold and fresh with vibrant color. How long have you been in business and how long would you say it took you to develop your style. Talk a little about how your style came to you.
RA I've always been one that enjoys being different, standing on my own and finding my own art through photography. However, being a self-taught photographer, in 2009 when I first picked up a camera I would try to mirror what other photographers were doing, thinking that is the way I was supposed to be but it was never fulfilling. I was never truly happy with my work but then one image changed my course and this was about 5 years ago, the image was perfectly "imperfect" and I fell in love. From that day on I realized my style was not the tailored look like everyone else but it was finally a style where I saw the true and real beauty of the individual ... in the most imperfect style. Now it's all about the individual's beauty no matter the pose, the background, the wind in the hair, when you see your subject's beauty through your lens then all the other pieces fall together.
SI There's a photo of yours of a girl wearing your grandmother's dress and a small group of skaters in the background. Your IG caption says there was a time when you would not take a photo with people in the background, but you've come to realize the skaters are part of the story you're trying to tell. I love that! Is there anything that inspired you to come to that realization about your art?
RA A lot of this plays off my previous statement with being different and imperfect. To see a girl in heeled boots, puffy vintage pink dress with full makeup in at a skatepark, the clash of the two is my art and to have the actual skaters in the background really gives it more of an editorial feel yet very natural and realistic. I've had girls pose in laundry mats and when a barefooted toddler comes up to chat, I will leave the kiddo in the image because editing the toddler out would change the story. By the way, thank you!
SI A new photographer from another state comes to you for advice and you've got two minutes to share some wisdom. What do you tell them?
RA I would say, stop comparing yourself to others, follow inspiring artists on social media - not just other photographers, don't ever put the camera down and know your worth. Find the beauty in everyone, photograph from your heart and never undervalue yourself. Find different ways of editing, you don't have to be a photoshop wiz but learn how to make your images sharp and not grainy, play around with settings.
SI What's something you like to do after a disappointing sale?
RA Drink Margaritas! lol - I put so much heart into my work and when a client walks away without my favorite images or an album of all the work, I will change my mindset to that of financial reasons and most likely that is the reason behind leaving art behind. To help myself feel better I will post those favorite images of mine on social media so at least I can still share with everyone. I don't stay sad too long because I think of what a great loss it is for them. heehee
SI Top three songs you'd want on a desert island?
RA Fade into You by Mazzy Star, Workinonit by J Dilla, and Monkey Man by the Rolling Stones
SI I'm not familiar with J Dilla's work, but seriously love the other two! Who are some photographers, artists or influencers you follow on Instagram you think others may not know about?
RA I love what Collective Trend puts out as far as artistic shots and Brittni Schroeder as far as marketing strategies plus she's a beautiful soul in person too. I follow my photography friends because it's always good to show your support but my absolute fave is my good friend and total opposite of my own work, Shelley Jensen because she offers the pureness of photography and the more traditional images that we have all grown to love in senior portraits.
SI Alright, great! Gonna check all those out on my way back to the plane in Kansas. Thanks again for sitting down with us, it was great to get to meet you!