With a career spanning just over 20 years, editorial and commercial photographer Buff Strickland has some of the best stories from behind the camera! From how she got her start in photography to tricks to make reluctant kids laugh during shoots, this Texan lady has one for every day (and then some). Just check out her Instagram for snippets brimming with magic!
As fate would have it, Kinship + Craft connected with Buff when putting together the feature on antiques dealer/designer Sharon Mrozinski and architect Paul Mrozinski (interview here), and we didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to hear her story too. Don’t miss her fantastic advice sprinkled throughout!
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
K+C — Hi Buff! Can you tell us how you got into photography?
I’ve been taking pictures since middle school. My friends and I would put sheets up on the bedroom wall as backdrops and spend hours taking photos. Boy, do I wish I still have those photos! In college, my love of photography continued, but I opted for a degree in Marketing which led to a job in San Francisco for five years working for Esprit. I continued my photography studies at UC Berkeley evening classes [California, USA], taught by some amazing commercial and editorial photographers.
Finally, I decided to quit my day job and started assisting. My shooting career started in New York, where I moved in 2000, and eventually returned to my home state of Texas, moving to Austin in 2011. Since then, I’ve continued to shoot for magazines but also have a great roster of commercial clients.
K+C — What do you enjoy most about shooting artists, designers, or other makers?
I’ve been shooting artists since the early days of my career. Working side jobs in the restaurant business, I always met budding artists and makers who were happy to let me photograph them. I find the process both collaborative and incredibly creative. I love being let into their world for a brief period of time. A few of my shoots have led to lifelong friendships.
K+C — How do you typically prepare for a shoot? Likewise, how do you suggest your subjects prepare to be photographed?
If I can scout the location before the shoot day, I would do that. It’s not always possible. If not, I can ask the subject to send me pictures. Since I usually work alone on these shoots and don’t have an assistant, I try to work with natural light. I don’t ask too much of my subjects to prepare. I like things to feel natural and not staged. I try to shoot them working on something, so sometimes there’s a discussion around that.
K+C — Are there go-to lenses that you have found make your life easier during a photoshoot?
I have a 24-70 lens which I use much of the time. But also a 50 and 85.
K+C — You’ve traveled extensively for photoshoots. What are 3-5 helpful takeaways you have learned from those experiences?
- I have an equipment checklist that I go through for every shoot.
- I often check with clients (magazines I work for usually) to let them know where I’m headed and sometimes they’ll have something that needs to be shot in that city. I put it out there on social media platforms as well.
- Ask your subjects if they know anyone else in the city you’re traveling to who might make for an interesting subject.