Our “SLR Lounge Artist Feature” articles highlight some of the very best photographers in the world. This article features an interview with Tanya Parada, of Parada Studio (Santa Monica, California, USA).

Read on as Tanya talks about everything from how she got started into photography to the importance of mentorship and education to a breakdown of one of her favorite photographs (lately). As well, Tanya gives some solid business advice!

[Related: “Interview with Anna Nguyen, of Zee Anna Photography | SLR Lounge Artist Feature”]

Tanya, thanks so much for taking some time to talk with us! We’d love for you to tell us how you first got into photography.

parada studio

My grandfather gave me a Leica film camera when I was fifteen, and that’s when I first started taking photographs. In fact, I’ve had a fascination for photography since I can remember.
Growing up, we had a National Geographic subscription. Every month I would come home from school, open the mailbox, run inside, plop myself onto the couch, and get lost in the photographs and stories from around the world. Now, I realize how those experiences influenced my love for blending landscapes with portraiture … That said, and epic locations aside, real moments and story-telling always win out for me. And that’s where I’m really pushing to invest my creative energy going forward in my photography career.

As someone who has been a photographer for as long as you have, what do you look forward to with each wedding you photograph/what keeps you motivated?

parada studio
I have noticed that what keeps me going and what keeps me motivated are two very different things for me personally. What keeps me going is that I simply love photography, and I can’t imagine my life without it in some form or another. However, what keeps me motivated are the goals I have for the future and my constant desire to improve. I’m never satisfied with my ‘normal.’ When I start to feel like I’m becoming too comfortable or I’m shooting too familiar, I realize it’s time to change things up, learn something new, shoot differently, get inspired, recharge, examine my goals, and then get to work. And with each wedding, I bring that same mentality: ‘How can I shoot this differently?’ or ‘How can I better serve this client?’

What’s the best business advice you’ve received?

parada studio

The best piece of advice is a saying from one of the podcasts I’ve been listening to recently (Rob Dial): ‘Ready. Fire! Aim.’ Instead of the typical phrase most of us know, this reordering suggests jumping right in, instead of calculating every single thought before an action. Then, you simply adjust as you go. This process helps take the anxiety out of making the initial decision. Moreover, it combats procrastination and perfectionism.

For photographers just starting out in wedding photography, what business advice would you offer them?

parada studio

  1. Get a mentor/life coach/accountability partner. Work with people who inspire you to be a better business person and human being.
  2. Invest in education and workshops, both for business and photography.
  3. Don’t be afraid to fail. In fact, get comfortable failing. Success comes from failing time and time again. Just get back up and know that the people out there succeeding right now had to—and continue to—do the same thing.

What’s one of your favorite photographs lately? Why?

parada studio

Currently, I really dig this photograph. I love the sun flare, the bride and groom kissing, and the backlit field. I dig it for a couple of reasons. First, it’s not a perfect photograph. And I actually love that I’m okay with that! In years past, I always focused so much on being compositionally sound, or having that perfect pose. Often, I didn’t simply embrace what a photograph made me feel. Now, I photograph more of what makes me feel something. This has given me a ton of mental freedom to explore different techniques, perspectives, and photography styles. It’s also helped me interact more with my clients—to be present with them versus stressing out unduly, which ultimately makes for a better client experience.

What’s currently in your gear bag … maybe something you think other photographers would benefit from and probably don’t carry?

parada studio

I have a keychain multi-tool that I use for tightening up lose equipment and opening things. Thanks to the example of a fellow photographer, I also now carry earplugs for when the reception starts cranking (just don’t get the neon-colored ones and look like a construction worker). And I also carry ‘chapstick’ because I have found so many useful purposes for it. ‘Wax’ for a flyaway hair, shoe polish for a groom’s shoes, insect bite ointment, and it’s even held a ring in place when I needed to hold the ring upright …

Wow! Totally adding some lip balm to the kit. Last question! Favorite podcast? Why?

parada studio

I mentioned Rob Dial above, and I’m currently cruising through his podcast … I listen to it while I edit, or when I’m out on a run. Overall, there’s some amazing info in there about mental fortitude and staying focused. It’s like a little daily dose of audio therapy.

Thanks for checking out our latest interview and artist feature. You can see more of Tanya’s work on her website, Parada Studio. Check out her work on social media as well: Facebook and Instagram!

parada studio