The South 40 Creative Spotlight showcases creative talent we love to work with! Discover some of our favorite photographers, videographers and more!

Some photographers just have a knack for something special. This month’s Creative Spotlight draws us into her photos, with all the sights, smells, and sounds found therein. Sally Konarzewski, aka Snaps with Sally, is a creative who truly knows how to utilize the backdrop to make it part of the story. With experience shooting a large variety of family and professional photos, she comes to a photo shoot with plenty of ideas to help clients capture memorable shots, whether it be for holidays, work, company branding, or just capturing memories.

How did you become a professional photographer—what led you down this path?

I have a degree in communications and a minor in business, so in term of running my photography business, you could say I am using my college education! As for my actual photography work, most of my knowledge came from taking online classes with Creative Live, along with a few in-person courses taught at the Canon camera store. My husband studied and dabbled in photography as a hobby, sharing his expertise with me, and all creatives learn from simply “doing” it every day.

With such a wide variety of photographic genres, which styles have come easy, and which have been harder to master?

Since I love chatting with people, family photography has always been one of my favorites. I really like getting acquainted with people before their sessions; it helps me to discover ways to bring out their personalities and to help set them at ease for our session. Mini sessions with babies and kids are so much fun; their smiles and high energy keep the sessions moving naturally. Studio and newborn photography have come with more of a learning curve as I mastered ways to use indoor lighting and found methods to work with and pose babies safely and sweetly.

How do you tackle some of the bumps you incur photographing outside? Do you have any funny stories to share which led you to modifying your approach?

Tennessee has its share of wild weather! There have definitely been some bumps in the weather while photographing here in Tennessee, especially with such beautiful locations like South 40 calling to me. I’ve done entire shoots in the rain and created fun shots with umbrellas and puddles.

Clients may come to your shoot with a vision that is…well, unrealistic. How do you hang on to their vision while making adjustments which allow you to create a successful shoot?

I understand when clients have something in mind, so I try hard to make at least some part of it come true. I always start by discussing their vision and letting them know what we can easily accomplish while giving advice how we can modify the rest of the shoot and still create something really special and beautiful.

Children are definitely favorites for many photographers, but they come with their own quirks! What is your secret to capturing such innocence and joy in the kids you photograph?

It helps to break the ice with children. I love to get to know them, talking with kids about what movies or tv shows they like to watch or learning about toys or games they enjoy. With younger ones, I ask them to sing some songs they know or show me something silly right before I take the shot to capture a genuine expression.

What was the hardest part of setting up your professional photography business–the investment, building a clientele, finding the right options for your shoots, or maybe something else?

The taxes—LOL! No, but it really was the taxes. The business side of it is hard to master, trying to determine each year if I have set my business up correctly for my industry, while keeping the ability to make changes or scale as the business grows. There is a lot of recordkeeping; everything from the people I hire to charities I donate to, and the countless other expenses and revenues I must monitor in the line of business is challenging. Taking photos is certainly the fun part of it!

South 40 has grown in popularity thanks to photographers like you who know how to showcase the beauty found throughout the property. What would you say to newcomers considering utilizing the South 40 facilities?

There is no place quite like South 40! It is a gorgeous location to capture beauty all year round and feels like your own private farm to explore and take pictures at. I just cannot get enough of the place! I am looking forward to going back to take winter and spring mini sessions.

What is your favorite piece of equipment and is there a story to how you chose it, purchased it, or the best picture you took with it?

My favorite photographer’s tool is my Sigma 24-70mm 2.8 lens! It is truly my go-to lens, sharp as a tack, and gives me the range and flexibility I need to keep up with fast moving kids as well as the ability to shoot in low light.

What advice would you give new photographers looking to move from amateur to professional?

That shift from being an amateur to a professional creative can be daunting. I recommend starting out slow, not taking on more than you can handle. This will help you keep your quality up. Be confident at your shoots, even when you don’t feel it. Finally, just keep learning!

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