Artists view the details of their surroundings differently from others. Where some might just see a vase of flowers, artists will appreciate the composition of the arrangement. An artist will notice the slight changes in wall color when the sun goes down, or the way in which shadows and lighting will soften or harden a subject. People with an eye for such things can use that gift in various artistic ways to create beauty for the rest of us. I've always known I was an artist, but dabbled for a while in photography, pottery, cake decorating, sculpture and more before finding the way in which I was going to use my artistic gifts. I've often wished I'd taken lessons in photography, but never have. Anyone can take a picture, but a true artist's photograph will tell a story worth a thousand words.
I've had the pleasure of working with a pair of very talented photographers twice now...first for my wedding and more recently for a photo shoot in the Valastro home to showcase the design work I've completed for TLC's Cake Boss stars, Buddy and Lisa. This wonderful husband and wife team have made me look good TWICE now, and so I thought it only fitting to share their talents and background with you. I highly recommend them for any upcoming occasions you might have!
Sandy and Kevin Gardner, Gardner Photography
Please share your background experience.
Sandy, from Colorado, has been involved in photography both in front of and behind the camera since 1998. Her interest in photography was sparked during a class in which she used a Pentax 35mm camera to learn the basics of film, composition, and darkroom techniques. After shooting her younger brother's senior pictures, she went on to increase her knowledge of photography by taking another photography class, taught by her now husband, Kevin.
Kevin from Pennsylvania, began his photography career shooting crime scenes during investigations as a police officer in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Later, after relocating out west as an outdoor writer in Colorado, Kevin began supporting his articles with photography to enhance his offering to the magazines he was associated with. He later went into business as a freelance photographer in Loveland, Colorado.
With formal photography training through the New York Institute of Photography, Kevin focused on modeling portfolios and scenic and wildlife stock photography as his primary business model. He began teaching photography by conducting private lesson at his studio in Loveland and has continued to teach since relocating back home to Pennsylvania at Allegany College of Maryland’s Somerset and Bedford campuses. Aside from teaching, his photography work in Rocky Mountain National Park, Yellowstone, Mesa Verde and Moab are some of his life-work highlights.
How did you meet and decide to work together?
We met while working together in 2002. Sandy took private lessons from me and a year or so later when we got together at a party celebrating a new modeling portfolio release my business partner Nickle and I threw, she challenged me to a game of pool. I let her have every shot that was easy and she changed from stripes to solids about a dozen times. She called it "easy ball", most guys don't have the ability to let a girl win like that but it paid off in a very big way!
Later, after relocating back to Pennsylvania we had several friends who insisted that we do their wedding photography for them, so we bit the bullet and started buying the equipment for wedding shoots and retiring most of the wildlife and modeling gear. Sandy really wanted to do the business, so I agreed to be her support, and it has really been fun.
What is your favorite subject to photograph?
For Sandy it is details. She really likes the small details, the things that matter later when a person has the time to breathe and take it all in, the things they saw during their special event but didn't really "see".
For Kevin it has always been modeling portfolios. Making a subject look like they came straight out of a Cosmopolitan magazine is a rush. "I love making a woman look beautiful. It is the hardest part of the wedding process, getting time alone with her to relax her and make her look beautiful". "But the shots I get during those moments alone are the shots that really matter". Wildlife was probably the staple "favorite", but they never pay their sitting fee invoices where the models do.
What is the strangest request or job you've had?
For Sandy it was a photo project for her class when she was taking private lessons from Kevin. She was assigned to shoot an image capturing motion. Usually a student shoots some moving object like water or a friend running, but Sandy chose a toilet flushing and spent hours in her college aprtment bathroom with camera equipment flushing repeatedly to get it right. She called the shot "John Falls". Her roomate thought she had lost it.
For Kevin it was pregnancy photos for a woman who was about to pop right there in the middle of the public park where the shoot was conducted.
As a couple though, the Cake Boss baby room shoot was certainly the most novel.
What does your future hold?
We are just working to grow our wedding business. We have been fortunate to have such great clients and would like to be in a position that we can always have the "right client/right terms" approach. We think that makes the work fun. Pennsylvania is not a hot bed for modeling and modeling portfolios, but we get to do a little of that through the senior portraits, engagement and wedding shoots. "I just miss the half day sessions really working with a subject one on one and seeing the result".