Can you trace the place in your history where there was a sudden flash of knowledge that told you that you were going to be a photographer? What spurred it? For Scott Milam, it was feeling something in himself that he wished to share with others. “While in college, a buddy of mine (who was a photography major) took a picture of me, and for the first time I liked a picture of myself.” He told me. “I felt beautiful, attractive, and confident. And after seeing it, I was so thankful to him for making me feel good about myself!” It was that which drove Scott to pursue photography for himself. “That next semester I needed a fine art credit for school and there happened to be an opening in photography 101 (black and white film photography). After that semester ended, I begged my parents to help me buy a digital camera. So I bought the Canon Rebel XT (which in 2006 was only a year old) and started shooting every day. I took 1 digital photo class and then went on to teach myself the rest. After about 4 years of messing around, and slowly upgrading, I bought a 5D MK I and people started paying me to take their pictures. After things started going really well, I dropped out of school and started shooting weddings full time.”
Being a wedding photographer, Scott understands where his emphasis must be. People, their emotions and their ties to each other drive the power of his imagery. “My style is People-Centric. I want my clients to see the images I shoot of them and really see that they are beautiful.” To Scott, it’s less important that they recognize him as a good photographer or that the setting in which they are standing is pretty. He wants them to see “that they matter.” Scott continues, “In my pictures, I want my client’s story to come first and the rest (composition, scene, depth of field) will fall into place.
And obviously I love to shoot people. I have always been drawn to portraiture, and I think that’s just a reflection of how much I love people, and relationships, in my every day life. I also love documenting my adventures. There is something about seeing things for the first time, and I love creatively capturing those experiences. Adventure compels me to create.”
Scott understands that what he does is technically “work,” but there is more to it than than that. “My own craft starts with work, especially because photographing weddings is my full time job, but what is exciting is that from there, it turns to art. Clients approach me to tell their story, and I love that each couples story is already art: I just get have the challenge of capturing it.”
What lies ahead for Scott? “I want to move into telling the stories of missionaries and non-profit organizations around the world. There are people all over who struggle desperately to raise money to help people, and I want to be able to make it easier by photographing and filming the stories of their efforts in hopes of raising support. My buddy started an organization to start doing just that called Missionary Films and he was the one who planted the original idea in my head to help others in this way.”
Scott’s Favorite Gear
Yongnuo 560 III
Cowboy Studio CX Pro Pack battery pack for speed lights
3 Manfrotto Nano light stands (fits in my carry on luggage)
Lastolite EZBOX 24″ speedlight softbox
Think Tank Speed Racer v20
Think Tank Street Walker Backpack
2 fun quilts for brides to sit on
5.5′ giant white reflector
Scott’s Advice to Emerging Photographers
“I have spent an hour every day intentionally studying and seeking inspiration in hopes to never stop growing in my craft. Make it a point to really learn each day, or else you will lose inspiration.”
“People ask me all the time how I started getting paid for photography. The only thing I did was shoot constantly. I would bring my camera every time I hung out with friends, I would come up with shoot concepts each week and practice with them. I shot 2-3 a week without every getting paid. But slowly, people starting seeing that my work got better, and then finally, they started paying me. But it wasn’t because I had a fancy Facebook photography page (because I didn’t) and it wasn’t because I put a fancy watermark on my pictures. It was simply because slowly earned their respect through shooting constantly and working hard.”
“Stop having L-glass envy. Third party lens manufacturers are getting way better and you will barely know the difference. I used to obsess over that red ring, and now I know better. Do the tests yourselves and you’ll see.”
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