Spotlight on CPC 2015 speaker Nessa Kessinger

1655139_625863147450309_429874660_oThe incredibly talented Nessa Kessinger will be speaking next year at CPC and has taken the time to chat about her personal life, her topic for the convention and photography. Before reading this interview check out her CPC Video below!

CPC205 Nessa K from Jasser Abu-Giemi on Vimeo.

Let’s get personal! We would love to know a little bit about yourself, so let’s start way back! What did you want to be when you grew up?

An illustrator. My seven year old self wrote I wanted to be “a drawer” in my journal but I’m assuming that’s what I meant instead of a piece of furniture. My dad always thought I would paint; I always had access to easels and paint supplies growing up.

Amazing! So now that you have become a full time wedding photographer, rather than a “drawer”, tell us about how you would spend a Saturday if not shooting a wedding?

I’m a serial hobbyist (I get it from my parents who are constantly busy, too); I make videos, paint, read constantly, I love sketching, playing ukulele, journaling, cooking, taxidermy (unrelated from cooking. And also a lie). I limit myself to 25 wedding bookings per year because I really enjoy my down time.

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We have seen some of your Ukulele videos, are you self-taught? Do you play any other instruments?

I would have loved it if there were a ukulele class around when I was learning, but it’s just 4 strings so there wasn’t much to learn! I’m actually the least musically inclined person in my family (lots of fiddlers and banjo players) but in high school I played the clarinet (Bb and bass clarinet) and I took some guitar classes.

You have posted comments in the past about upcoming films, what are your top 5 visually appealing films?


Daisies (1966 foreign film)

The Fall

Pierrot le Fou

Moonrise Kingdom.

I feel so predictable with that list!

nessa k cpc 2015 05We would love to know some details about CPC! You have attended CPC in the past, what initially drew you to attending the conference, and now to return as a speaker?

I got to attend CPC in 2013 and I really loved it; the speaker list was incredible that year and so many photographers I love and admire were either talking or attending. I’m obsessed with both teaching and learning new things and I thrive in a formal educational system so getting to have a nerdy lecture time slot all to myself makes me insanely happy.

We are really looking forward to seeing you there! Tell us about your topic for next year.

It’s about using light! Mostly natural lighting; about approaching light on the wedding day, for portraits, and how to talk to your clients about lighting considerations. I’ve done a lot of one-on-one mentoring sessions where people wanted to talk about processing and my answer for almost every issue is just to see and think about light in a different way when they’re shooting, rather than spend time on Presets. It solves so much to just get things right in camera.

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That really is such useful advice. How did you get into photography in the first place?

I picked photography by random from a list of majors on a college pamphlet. My high school art teacher was incredibly supportive of my paintings and told me to go to college for art. I said “OK,” applied, and decided I’d go for photography. I’m pretty lucky it worked out, right?

Umm yes! It totally worked out! Why weddings? What do you absolutely love about weddings? On the alternative side, what do you find challenging about them?

I second shot weddings a few times for a friend in college and inevitably decided I wanted to shoot weddings because I get to spend an entire day documenting one event that incorporates every type of photography I love in one day; fine art, portraiture, photojournalism, architecture, food photography (all the details), studio (lights at the reception), sports (the bouquet toss and super drunk guests dancing). The most challenging part of shooting weddings for me is honestly the business side of things; wedding photography is 95% business and 5% shooting. I didn’t know I would be a real legit entrepreneur going into it!

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Speaking of business, you and Sam have recently made the move to Baltimore, how did you find the move affected your business, if at all?

We did move to Baltimore! It’s only about an hour away from DC so it hasn’t affected us at all, really. I still market to DC. :)

Do you find being in a relationship with another photographer is a benefit to your creativity?

I surround myself with photographers and I love having so many artists as a support system for me to bounce ideas off and troubleshoot with, but I can’t put into words how awesome it is to get to live with one of my favorite photographers (and favorite person). Not just because Sam gets what I do and why I do it, but he’s just so inspiring as a person because he sees the world in such a unique way. We don’t talk about photography as much as one would think and don’t really work together (though we do share a studio space). We both love our leisure time; we’re much more likely to watch TV all day, make meals, and fly kites than to go out and photograph together. He’s my perfect fit.

Other than Sam, who and what inspires your photography at the moment?

I’ve done so much traveling and reading lately. Sara, Dylan, Sam and I toured the coast of California and Oregon in March and I’m still reeling from it. Seeing beautiful vistas in person makes the imagination so much more vivid. I’m also addicted to my Feedly app which is full of travel and fashion feeds. I like pretty things amen.

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Do you have a recent favourite session or photo that you have shot? If so, tell us about how you created it and what you love about it.

I have to go back to this foggy photo from an engagement session in the middle of nowhere. I drove an hour out from my house, kept ducking down side roads until I got to this dead end where the fog hangs on the ground for an hour after sunrise. I told my clients that I didn’t have good photos of it and I know it’s kind of a drive, but I want to shoot there and they said “Definitely!” I’m so thankful to have clients totally open to getting up at 5 a.m. and driving out to do these kinds of things with me. It makes me love the photo that much more that clients instill that kind of trust and love into their engagement pictures.

What piece of advice would you give someone in a creative rut?

I’ve read so many books on creativity and creative people (and their daily lives) so my honest answer from research (and tried and true practice) is to just keep making shit. If you’re creating something once a week and you’re unhappy, it’s because you’re only creating *one* thing every week. Your standards are higher because you’re making less art and you want each shoot to be perfect. Produce more work, get your bad ideas out of the way, progress faster, and the rut is no more. :)

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Incredible advice, that I am likely going to use for myself ;) Would you mind sharing your wedding locations Bucketlist?

Oooh. A lighthouse in Maine. Or a really small chapel in England or Scotland with rolling hills and livestock around. I think I could just do those all the time, actually. I don’t dream of traveling for weddings, really, though; I like to travel and I love my job, but it sounds stressful to try to sustain a life that includes too much both. I’m all about stress free living. :)

Stress free living sounds amazing to me! Nessa, so many photographers are looking forward to having you as a speaker next year! Thank you so very much for taking the time to chat! One last question to end things on, what are you most looking forward to in this upcoming wedding season?

The new cast of players! It’s my fifth year shooting and going to weddings feels like coming home. I’m excited about every single wedding I have booked this year. :)

Written By: Jennifer Moher

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