Young, talented, and courageous photographer Isabella Griffith shares her heart and story of launching a photography career.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with up and coming photographer Isabella Griffith of Fera Lux Photography here in Santa Barbara. Personally, I love photography and the idea of capturing a moment in time forever but what most excited me was the opportunity to peek into someone’s world and see someone light up talking about what they love.
I arrived at her coffee shop of choice a little early to gather my thoughts and scope out the perfect table, a cozy corner table felt a bit more secluded and I deemed it interview appropriate. As Isabella walked in she gave me a wide eyed hello smile when she noticed my little wave from the self proclaimed interview table. I could tell from the moment I met her that Isabella has spunk. She’s the type of person that you know believes what she says before she even opens her mouth.
After ordering a iced coffee, chai latte, and the exchange of hellos and how are yous I asked Isabella about how she got started, why photography?
“I had gotten a film camera from my dad when I was nine years old, it was a camera from a thrift store but it was a working film camera.”
Isabella explained that growing up she continued to mess around with the camera but things started getting more serious when she turned fourteen. “My best friend Christine at the time was where I am now with photography, and she let me use her camera and started teaching me different tricks. I started to realize that it was something I love and really wanted to do.”
Isabella moved to Santa Barbara just over a year ago all the way from North Carolina to follow her dream of pursuing photography full time. Although she left her quality BBQ and bright red fall leaves (that she misses desperately) she brought her hospitality with her.
“At the start of my shoots we usually carpool and get coffee or hot chocolate to make things more homey, and then I ask them about their day and week and get them more comfortable with who I am” Isabella explained that it’s very important that her clients feel comfortable and themselves during her shoots.
“How do you actually make that happen? I mean I can be pretty awkward in photos?”
“I like being super awkward and ridiculous because it makes them just laugh and relax and be like, wow this girls an idiot, I don’t have to worry about looking like one. Which is nice because I don’t mind looking like a ridiculous person if it makes the photos turn out better. I just want it to seem very natural so I try to make them feel as much at home as possible.
I asked Isabella what her dream photography job would be, she took a moment and really thought about it. You could almost see the flood of opportunities and images flashing through her mind until her eyes widened and she popped straight up in her seat.
“I would love to photograph a really big trip. If patagonia hired me to go follow rock climbers or surfers or spear fishers, or anyone really just to follow them and capture them doing what they love to do around the world. Not only to travel but to see people in their natural habitat doing what they love to do because I just really love people.”
Are there any photographers that you look to for inspiration or that you really admire?
“SO MANY. Because social media is a thing there are so many photographers out there that you can basically browse through and see so many people’s work. I really like Alex Strohl he does mainly adventure shots. Always going and doing crazy things. He has a really great media platform and he knows who his market is, he seems confident in his branding.”
“Another favorite would be Sam Hurd, not necessarily because he’s the best in the business but his innovation is what I really appreciate. He’s got a niche that no one else does. He takes a prism, a glass prism and puts it in front of his lands and shoots with it, it creates this beautiful light effect. He was the first person to do that and now it’s a technique that lots of people use.
Isabella mentioned that one of her passions apart from photography is sustainability and supporting ethically made products.
“Have you found any way to mesh your love for the environment and photography together?”
“It’s kind of hard to because you have these really great cameras that are not likely ethically and environmentally sourced but I use Artifact Uprising and they are forest stewardship council certified. I carpool to places, I do donate 10 percent of all of my print shop profits to 1 percent for the planet.”
Isabella went on to share about her love for nature and shooting outside. Clearly it’s not just talk because beautiful natural light is my personal favorite part of her photos “I like to be outside and figure out how to use light to my advantage.”
We ended our conversation looking toward the future. We talked about the excitement and the struggle of putting yourself out there even if that could mean taking the risk of quitting a job to pursue your passion full time. Even though she’s made many sacrifices to follow this dream you could tell Isabella really did have hope for the future “Hopefully 2017 is a year where I can really expand on what I can do and learn. 2016 brought so much of upgrading my business and learning about who I am and what I stand for. I’m excited for what 2017 is going to teach me and all of the new experiences and opportunities it will bring.
As we wrapped up I got to talk casually with Isabella and genuinely enjoy her company. I walked away from our corner interview table with a friendship and new perspective on photography (and as cheesy as it may sound) on life. I now see why Isabella has launched into success so quickly in Santa Barbara. Of course her photos are beautiful but there is something about her that is contagious and comforting. She has a spirit that you want to root for, and one that can bring change and joy to people’s lives one photo at a time.