Isn’t she just the prettiest?
Okay, okay if you’ve been here before, you already know Whitney. Or at least her work. Whitney is a Louisville photographer and the master behind the lens of almost all of my outfit pics. She’s also the inspiration behind this whole series. Not only is she incredibly talented but she is a magnet for creative souls. Through her (and her instagram), I’ve had the chance to meet people I would have never met on my own. I’m guessing it’s the mix of her warm, welcoming personality, contagious laugh and ability to make just about anything look good.
Whitney is a true friend and I am thrilled to share more of her work (her talents are best seen outside my outfit pics) with you all – especially her new foray into Super 8 films (you’ll want to scroll all the way through for that goodness).
If you’re looking for a wedding, family, baby, just about anything photography – you’re going to want to give her a shout.
* Name: Whitney Neal
* Company: Whitney Neal Photography
* Title: Artist living in a business owner’s body
* How did you get started in your field? I studied fine art photography at the University of Kentucky, and was really inspired by the work of William Eggleston to pursue a career in fine art. But, I also dreamed of working in fashion photography like Irving Penn, or traveling the world for National Geographic. However, following graduation, friends began asking me to photograph their weddings and families. Immediately, I fell in love and became married to wedding and portrait photography.
* What inspires you? Summer, water, traveling, good/deep conversations with friends, my faith, and my family.
* What three words best describe your work: Artful, meaningful, and timeless.
* What three words describe YOU best: Sentimental, introverted, and a little quirky.
* Why Louisville? So many people end up leaving Louisville, what helped keep you in the 502?: When I was young, my grandfather told me how he moved from Louisville many times, and found that nothing compares to this city – not New York, not Chicago, etc. I guess he put that idea in my mind as a child, and I never challenged it. It helps that I adore my family, and almost every single one of them are here.
* Favorite Louisville Neighborhood: Germantown-Schnitzelberg! Some say it’s the “new Highlands” with a growing list of places to eat and drink, but I love it because it’s a little quirky, steeped in history, and there is this blue-collar culture that keeps me humble. Before buying a house here, we lived in an apartment down the street that used to be a grocery store… one my uncle walked to for candy as a kid. And, as an appliance repair man, my grandfather used to frequent Check’s cafe for lunch, which is a block from our house, and still hopping all day/everyday.
* Favorite Spot for a Drink: El Mundo – their margarita with a side of chips and queso.
* Favorite Lunch Spot: Atlantic No. 5. It’s close to my studio, and they have a GREAT chicken salad sandwich, which I can grab with a cup of afternoon coffee.
* Favorite Dinner Spot: The Holy Grale’s Beer Garden
* You’ve got to try (or go to): Resurfaced
* Favorite Festival: Waterfront Wednesday.
* Favorite Pizza Spot: Bonnie & Clyde’s. My family has been celebrating birthdays here together for as long as I can remember. It’s a total dive (some say hole-in-the-wall), out on Dixie Highway – but what they lack in ambiance, and location, they make up for in the perfection of their pizza. When you go, don’t forget cash, and keep an ear open for “three of hearts”, “six of diamonds” or whatever card you were dealt for your order.
* If someone is visiting from out of town and only has time to go to three places, where do you send them? The Holy Grale, Quills Coffee, and Garage Bar.
* Favorite local collaborators/subjects? What/who do you LOVE shooting?: While my main subjects are families, and couples who are getting married, I love to collaborate with other creatives. I am fortunate to be surrounded with some brilliant graphic designers, seamstresses, bloggers, and floral designers, and working with them really inspires the creativity in myself.
* If you could only take pictures of one kind of thing (like weddings, portraits, landscapes, kids) for the rest of your life, what would it be? Families, who not just pose for portraits, but live life in front of my camera.
* Your favorite camera? Hard to choose just one! It’s either my Contax 645, or my Hasselblad 500c/m, which I shoot simultaneously using this crazy harness system that looks like it would be for guns in the wild west.
* What’s your favorite spot to shoot in Louisville? Inside people’s homes or backyards. It’s comfortable for everyone, and I get to capture ordinary moments, which are often the most special. When couples or families grow, and move, they can look back and remember what bath time, or dinner time, or playing in the backyard felt like.
* What tip would you give someone who is trying to make it as a photographer? For the longest time, I shot with digital cameras primarily because that’s what everyone else was using. But, I realized that film makes me a better photographer – I have to be more attentive, because every shot counts, and I LOVE the way it reads the world. So, use whatever medium you connect with best. Also, don’t look at other people’s work aside from a few folks who inspire you. Focus on you.
* You’ve met a lot of brides? What tip would you give them for picking a photographer AND what advice would you give them for their big day to get the best pictures? When choosing a photographer, I recommend that brides find someone they can connect with, and whose work they resonate with.
For the wedding itself, my biggest piece of advice for brides and grooms is that they take time during the wedding planning process to be really intentional in how they plan their day. Every moment is to be cherished, and every bit of sentimentality is to be embraced, for it all happens so quickly. Get up early, stay up late, and spend time with those who you want to celebrate this once in a lifetime occasion with. Maybe it’s a breakfast with your family and best friends, or a long cocktail hour with those who traveled from near and sometimes very far, or a few minutes when you step away from the reception to enjoy one another in the quiet beauty of the sunset.
* What’s your dream gig? Photographing for a magazine like Travel + Leisure or Condé Naste Traveller.
* What’s next for you? Personally, I’m hoping to wrap up some renovations on the 100 year old house I bought with my husband last year. And adding a dog to the family! Professionally, I’m diving in to Super 8 videos this year – for weddings and families – like this one here: