Tea Ho is a wonderful, happy, peaceful, smart and fluffy dog loving photographer! Tea and I took a Shakespeare class together in high school. There was lots of acting, giggles and philosophical conversations. After graduation Tea did something brave, she became a professional photographer. She is one of the best photographers I know. She just captures magical moments and I’m honored she took the time to answer my questions. In the past I have just emailed my questions to other photographers but after talking with Tea about what I hope to do with these interviews she suggested that we chat in real-time over the computer. So this is a transcript of our conversation. I hope you all learn for her as much as I did! And without further adieu…here is Tea Ho!
Tea Ho: Hi!
Tea Ho: Thanks for interviewing me.
Becca: I figured this might be an interesting way of building a young “photography community.” At least it gets photographers talking to each other…sharing tips, tricks etc.
Tea ho: right, right. So how do we do this?
Becca: ok. Well, first things first I guess…Can you introduce yourself (for readers who don’t know you). kinda awkward…I know, lol.
Tea ho: Ha ha!
Becca: oh, and three fun facts about yourself!
Tea Ho: Well, hello Becca Barrett’s readers! My name is Tea Ho, I’m a photographer based in Berkeley, California. I focus on wedding photography, lifestyle photography, and portraiture. I started my business Dreambox Photography in 2010, providing photography for the San Francisco, Berkeley, Walnut Creek, San José, the Bay Area, and Northern California. I also travel.
Three fun facts: 1) I do parkour! 2) I love giant fluffy dogs 3) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is my favorite movie =)
Becca: haha, very nice! and what first got you interested in photography?
Tea Ho: I got my first camera when I was 11. It was just an old film camera, but I loved the idea of being able to capture memories and make them mine. In middle school and high school, I was always that-girl-with-a-camera. I just shot everything, but didn’t think of it as a career or anything more than a hobby. I primarily painted, but tried signing up for a high school art class only to land in photography instead. My high school photo teacher turned my hobby into a real passion.
When my brother got married in 2008, I was one of the bridesmaids but ended up taking a bunch of photos. He and his now-wife ended up being displeased with the photos their professional photographer took and started recommending me to their friends. I realized that I had a talent, a passion, and a real desire to make beautiful photography affordable and attainable for people so I started a business. =)
Becca: That must have been a really big scary leap! To decide to become a professional photographer. I guess this is a hard question for me to ask…because I go back and forth on pursuing photography professionally a lot…but I guess I should just ask, what was it that made you take the leap in to the industry?
Tea Ho: Honestly, I hated what I was doing at the time. I was working a bunch of dead end jobs where I was expendable and realized I didn’t want to do it anymore. I realized I had a talent and all I needed was the business smarts to survive. I wanted to spend my time doing the things I loved so I just leapt in. Luckily, I also had a huge support network at the time: great friends and family. I knew this was something I could do.
Becca: :-) That’s really great that you knew what you are passionate about and went after it. So I see that you shoot a lot of different things: weddings, babies, graduation photos, even themed shoots! What is your favorite type of shoot and how do go about finding those clients?
Tea Ho: Every shoot is so different and I love them for different reasons. I love portrait sessions because they allow me to spend one-on-one time with a person and really find out about them. The photographs are just part of the conversation I have with them and it tends to be easier for people to let their guards down in front of the camera when no one else is around.
I really enjoy doing couples’ shoots because I love capturing people’s love. I love being able to capture real moments, real looks, real giggles, real smiles. It’s important, I think, for couples to have these images of ridiculous giddy love to look back on when they’re going through rough patches. Weddings are exciting for me even though I’ve done countless ones because they’re still new and exciting for the couple. I love the excitement and nervousness and how that just all goes away when they say I DO. I love the excitement when the ladies are getting ready. I love how the guys usually try to act calm and cool, but then the groom ends up crying when he sees his bride and I love the crazy dancing at the end…I love baby shoots because babies are adorable and I tend to have a really easy time working with them. I could go on… ha ha! I just love my work. I really do.
Becca: That shows in your work and in your blog posts. You always seem really happy with what you do🙂
Tea Ho: I feel lucky to have found something I truly love to do. OH! And how did I find those clients? Through word of mouth, mostly. People also search for a photographer on Google and I show up sometimes.
Becca: that’s really cool! You are being googled
Tea Ho: Yeah! I have couples from all over who find me and I’m not sure how they do.
Becca: So how would you describe your style of photography? and what drew you to it?
Tea Ho: I’m told my style is whimsical, dreamy, playful, honest. I’d agree with that. There’s an artistic flair to my style of photojournalism. I’m drawn to it because that’s who I am. I’m a kid at heart. I love whimsy and romance. I’m not too serious.
Becca: Your style is a part of you then.
Tea Ho: It’s a reflection of my worldview.
Becca: I like that you called yourself a photojournalist and that there is an artistic style to it. Mostly because I’ve always approached photography as a photojournalist. I can totally identify with where you are coming from.
Tea Ho: Yeah I think people don’t realize that as photographers, we really shape how people remember events. We don’t just “capture things as they are.” That’s a lie. Because with photography, you can choose what’s in a photo and what’s not, angles, even WHAT to photograph, we actually create those memories. So photojournalism is the ability to tell a story through an image. And there is an art to what you’re putting in that story.
Becca: I LOVE that! So you use a lot of new media tools to show your photography. You blog, have a website and have a facebook page. How has the use of new media affected your photography?
Tea Ho: It just makes my work more accessible to people. Not everyone is going to visit my blog, but when I show up in their Facebook feed, they’ll leave a comment. My blog just lets clients and potential clients get to know me better and keep up with my work.
I love keeping up with other photographers’ blogs, too. That way, I can see their work, which is ever-changing. I try to see what works, what doesn’t, and what I can experiment with or incorporate into my own work.
Becca: yeah, I find it’s a great way to learn and a great way to push yourself to do something different. Ok, getting technical here: What camera do you use and what is your favorite lens?
Tea Ho: I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark II. My favorite lens has to be the Canon EF 24 mm L lens.
Becca: How come? Lens are something I know NOTHING about
Tea Ho: It’s versatile. It’s fun. The wide-angle makes for some fun composition, but the 1.4 aperture makes it work as a portrait lens, too. It’s especially useful during wedding photography because you can fit a lot into the frame
Becca: cool, cool. We are almost done here. Two more questions: Can you recommend any photographers that new photographers should study from? Like visit their sites and get inspiration, tips etc.
Tea Ho: Why don’t I just tell you who inspires me, instead. Photographers and otherwise. Because you have to figure out what your own aesthetics are rather than just looking at other photographers’ work. Find what creates your sense of aesthetics.
Becca: perfect! that was a weirdly worded question I gave you….
Becca: interesting. I like that you bring up that artists in other disciplines can influence our work as a photographer.
Tea Ho: Chrissie White: http://www.flickr.com/photos/prettypony/
I think if we’re only influenced by other photographers, our work will end up being carbon copies of each other. Oh, and Hung Liu is a portrait painter who tells amazing stories through her images.
WAIT! There is totally one more. agh, I can’t remember right now… it’s okay.
Becca: ok, well one last question: if you could be a photographer for anyone in the world who would it be?
Tea Ho: Man, do I have to choose one? Let me choose two.
Becca: for sure!
Tea Ho: My parents. I’ve been meaning to take portraits of both of them, but they’re both kind of camera shy and our calendars are difficult to work with. But they’re beautiful, amazing, inspiring people with whole lives full of stories. They’ve made me who I am and I’d love to capture their faces and their stories. =)
Becca: aw, that is wonderful. Well that’s the end of my questions
Tea Ho: Thanks a bunch, Rebecca =)
Becca: thank you!