Welcome to the sixth installment of our new column “On Our Radar”
Is there a photographer whose work you find yourself going back to again and again? Maybe you have never heard of this photographer? Perhaps they are “flying under the radar”? It happens but I want to find those photographers. I want to celebrate their work. 2017 is the year of discovery at Senior Style Guide and I am counting on our readers to lead the way!
Each month we will be featuring an artist who is inspiring others, who may not necessarily be someone you have heard of. From time to time I will be enlisting the help of the SSG community to nominate an artist. I want to hear their story, share their triumphs and hear what they are doing to make this dream of theirs a reality. We can learn from others whether it be through inspiration, education or everything in between.
This community will only get stronger if we are there to uplift and give as many people as possible a voice.
Our “On Our Radar” artist this month is Emil Rodriguez-Powell of Slice Of Lime Photography
Nominated By: Vickie Black
When I first discovered Slice Of Lime Photography, I knew I was going to love the imagery. I have been secretly stalking their social media a lot lately and just loving what I am seeing in my feed! It seemed to be a perfect fit for this to be our next “On Our Radar” feature!
Tell us a little about yourself…the things that make you YOU!
These questions always make me feel like I’m writing a dating profile intro ha ha ha. So let’s give this a try…
My name is Emil (which is prounounced Eh-meal, ya know like breakfast, lunch or dinner.) I run Slice of Lime Photography (which in case you haven’t figured it out..No, I don’t have some weird obsession with limes. LIME is EMIL backwards! My husband is a clever man and I give him total credit for coming up with the name!)
I am a “closer to forty than I want to admit” gal living just outside of Harrisburg, PA with my hubby of 8 years, Jason, and our trio of black and white rescue doggies in our little 1920s bungalow. I was born in Puerto Rico, where my parents and I lived until we moved to the suburbs of Philadelphia and my parents proceeded to pop out another four children besides myself. I am always thankful my parents raised us bilingual; but let me tell you that trying to run one of my senior consultations in Spanish the other day, left me mortified at how awful my Spanish has become.(I’m talking having to look up words on Google to remember how to say them in Spanish. #TrueStory)
I am a lover of plants, coffee, music, fashion/style, writing, and PEOPLE. I just love to connect with others. I worked in the social work/child welfare world for 15 years until I left my full time job in March as an adoption supervisor at a foster care/adoption agency. I feel that those 15 years in the social work world really honed my skills of being able to talk to anyone/anywhere from any walk of life. Despite leaving the field, I’m still passionate about children/youth finding forever families. As such, I continue to stay involved by volunteering my photographic services to the Statewide Adoption Network by photographing children still in need of finding their for forever homes.
How long have you been photographing seniors?
Slice of Lime celebrates 6 years of business in November. I started building my senior portfolio the summer of 2013 with 4 girls, who became my first official street team/senior reps, and I started booking seniors for the first time that following summer!
How has the industry changed in that time?
Each year I see more of shift in the senior industry to offer seniors more and more and more and more. From the addition of destination sessions all over the world, to adding video, to having street teams, to hosting gatherings and being more of a mentor than just a photographer. All of this is awesome and provides each of us with ways to stand out within our own markets. However, I think as photographers, you need to decide for yourself what experiences/services you specifically want to offer, rock the crap out of those specific things, and not feel less than or pressured that you need to do things to “keep up with the joneses”. If it’s not something that fits in with your values or your brand or you vision for your business, then don’t do it. One of my taglines for Slice of Lime is “we all shine differently” and I believe to my core that applies to all of us as photographers too, not just my senior clients.
Your work is turning some serious heads right now! Tell us about it and why us senior photographers need to take notice!
I’m still in shock that I’m sitting here even being interviewed for this feature, so a million times thank you!
For me, what I think is crucial and has continued to allow me to grow, is to stay true to who you are as you are growing your business. As I mentioned in my last answer, there are these awesome ways in which our industry is changing and growing, but you have to pick and choose what is for you and be confident in that…but also be open to exploring and trying new things as well that initially you may not have been as open to exploring. You also need to surround yourself with people who you can check in with/mentor with as well. Let’s be real, running a business is hard stuff and you need people you can trust and rely on to vent, give you guidance, and tell you to “SNAP OUT OF IT” when you get too in your head.
This past year I have really focused on learning new skills, collaborating with friends who have different skill sets/strengths than me, travelling to shoot, and really making time to shoot for ME and taking it back to what it’s about…the SENIORS. I love fashion, I love my style consults with my seniors, but last year I found I was getting too focused on the details and the outfits, and the styling, and I started to feel disconnected from my work. When I heard Spanki Mills speak at Con 12 in Miami last October, she said “THEY are the Art” during her presentation and that hit me in the gut. While I continue offering my seniors style consults and still have a serious love and obsession for fashion inspired styled shoots, I feel I’ve been creating my best work these last few months for my clients and in my personal work because I’ve really allowed the client in front of my lens to be what inspires how I shoot their session.
I know this answer is getting obnoxiously long now, but shooting seniors has become about so much more than just clicking that shutter, so it’s important you devote time to nurturing yourself and things that fuel you as well to help you stay connected with your work and what you are creating. All those things will make you a better photographer, artist, business person.
Your adjective is?
Anytime I’m asked a question like this it’s always so hard!! I asked my siblings, my hubby, and some photographer friends how they would describe me and their answers were all over the place! From exuberant, to eclectic, to kind, to fearless, to silly, to motivating, to inspirational…but from all those words, I chose one not mentioned: GRATEFUL.
I never thought in a million years I’d have a physical studio or be able to leave my full time job to run Slice of Lime and that fact that was able to finally happen this year, makes me GRATEFUL beyond description.
Your super power is?
My super power is making those in front of my lens feel CONFIDENT! There’s nothing more thrilling than seeing my senior’s eyes open wide when they see the back of the camera and exclaim “WOW!! That’s me!” and then seeing how there’s an added pep in their step/twinkle in their eye for the rest of the session!
What was your aha moment in the senior industry with your business?
I would have to say that my “aha” moment happened over time as I grew more confident in who I was, in my skills as an artist, in who my ideal client was, and what what I wanted to create.
Basically, my aha moment came when I realized, I don’t have to be doing what everyone else is doing. I don’t have to edit a certain way because “everyone is editing that way” or hop on every trend that comes out in the senior photography world. I believe in growth and always seeking to improve your skill set, but not in compromising who you are if a trend or the latest “new thing” isn’t a fit for you. There are a million different right ways to do things and if marching to the beat of your own drum is your thing, then rock it!
In 5 words describe 2016
Successful , Stressful, Exciting, Fulfilling, Out-of-Balance
What are your top 3 goals for 2017? Are you achieving them-if not, why?
My top three goals for 2017 are:
- To leave my Full time job to run Slice of Lime
- Practice and improve my OCF skills
- Balance between work and home.
#1 I left my full time job in March. So number is checked off my list!
#2 My studio mate is mentoring me to improve my OCF skills and we recently started #MessAroundMondays where we get together on Monday nights to experiment with lighting of all sorts. I finally feel confident enough to bust out the OCF during my senior shoots. Still have a long ways to go, but I’m enjoying building this skill set.
#3…man I’m sucking at that one hard core. I am thankful for a husband who is encouraging, patient, and who in between driving me nuts, always keeps me laughing.
What is the one thing you want all of us to know about YOU?
What I want everyone to know is that knowing how to make a pretty picture will only take you but so far. Passion, having business sense, being able to connect with your clients/their parents, never getting “too comfortable” that you stop seeking growth/experimenting/trying new things and FINDING YOUR TRIBE of people to share with, grow with, mentor with….all those things have been an essential part of me finally being able to achieve my goal of going full time as a photographer. If you’re feeling frustrated/stuck/discouraged…t
What will Slice Of Lime being doing in 2018?
In 2018, I hope to continue to prioritize collaboration shoots/travel with my photographer friends (in hopes of someday in the near future hosting a shoot out for photographers) and to improve and tweak all my “business systems” to continue to not only improve my client experience, but also make my life easier and help me with that work/life balance issues I have.
Don’t you just love Emil already? Want to see more?
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