interview: Enna Grazier

Enna Grazier, alongside her husband Matt, runs the wedding and portrait studio Grazier Photography.  She lives in Exeter, New Hampshire with Matt and her two boys, a black lab named Jackson, and grey tiger cat Emmett. www.grazierphotography.com Enna is collaborating with Krista Guenin to teach the Sustainable Vision/Sustainable Brand session at Inspire 2011.

Where do you find inspiration? in a few words?  in nature, sitting on a rock, looking at the sky...

What was your first experience in photography? My mom gave me a brownie camera when I was about 8 years old.  I took it to a rodeo where I photographed the bronco riders... bronc riding is pretty violent, and one cowboy in particular was thrown from a horse and trampled.  I took pictures of the action from the grandstands, and even now, I look back and still feel how much excitement and pain and action was happening when I captured (probably all blurry and over-exposed) those frames.  The world has moved on, the cowboy healed, I'm grown up, the rodeo is gone, but that moment still exists in a very real and emotional way... I've always been fascinated at how many elements crash together to form a single moment, some of them seen and some of them unseen, and how we hold onto them and use them to describe and understand where we came from. Aside from photography, do you have other creative outlets? I love to bake and cook.  Also, it drives Matt crazy, but I love to move our furniture around.

If you could go on a trip where would that be and what would you hope to do there? Oh I've always wanted to go to Iceland.  I want to go on a road trip there with my camera and Matt, and explore all the wild and strange landscapes, soak in hot springs, and hopefully see the northern lights.  I will not eat blood sausage though.

What advice do you wish you had received (or followed) when you were starting your business? I probably was given all the right advice, but didn't heed all of it.  I most wish that we had charged top dollar for our albums from day one.  We didn't understand how to price products when we started out, so our albums were severely under-priced in the beginning.  Albums are expensive to produce, so that was really challenging to recover from.

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up? I went through a lot of career plans... For a while I wanted to be a doctor - that's probably the career aspiration with the most longevity. I always wanted to be an artist (painter, writer, filmmaker, poet, photographer), a national park ranger (how cool is it that they can live in the mountains all summer long), and a composer (but I don't play an instrument, so go figure!).

If you could have any superpower, what would it be? definitely flight.

What do you think of the current state of the wedding industry? I think we are at a major crossroads, just like every other industry that is affected by the current economy AND by digital technology and internet trends.  The economy is forcing people to downsize.  They are still making emotional purchases and investing in luxury items, but I believe they are investing a lot more time and thought into those purchases, there aren't so many impulse purchases now.  Digital technology is developing so rapidly that I couldn't possibly predict what technologies we will take for granted in another 10 years.  This puts a lot of pressure on us as image producers and creators.  Consumers of media are ravenous.... people expect to see images quickly, and once they see them, they generally won't linger; they are ready for more and different images.  We have to be careful that this haste doesn't drive us to take less care and attention with our work, or to overlook making images that are compelling to ourselves as artists.  On the up side, I believe that the image-viewing public is becoming much more sophisticated, simply because they are being exposed to so much visual media.  People may not know how to speak in "art criticism" words, but when they are hiring a photographer they definitely have complicated and varied hopes for composition, lighting technique, and story-telling.  I love that our viewers and our clients are becoming so sophisticated... I feel confident that our average client will appreciate and enjoy images that push the envelope as far as the traditional definition of wedding photography.  One area where I believe photographers need to tread carefully and not give into the demands of an internet society is the delivery of a final product.  Many photographers are either giving or selling their digital files, yet they are not seeing their images through to a finished tangible product.  I believe that a tangible product such as a fine art print or a custom-bound book are priceless, and personal photography commissions such as for portraits or weddings SHOULD culminate in a finished work of art, not just an image that is viewed for a few moments on a computer screen.

If they made a movie of your life, what would it be about and which actor would you want to play you? I would have to say it would be about my childhood. It's hard to even describe briefly, because my childhood was so different from anyone I have ever met.  Until I was about 10 I lived on a farm in Eastern Oregon.  My step-dad was an alcoholic, brilliantly creative and awfully mean.  My mom, also amazingly artistic and creative, ran the town newspaper from our farm buildings, and somehow kept us anchored to the community of about 300 ranchers.  She taught me how to print in her darkroom, and I had a lot of jobs to help out with newspaper.  I also spent a lot of time by myself, exploring coyote tracks and cattle trails, climbing trees, making up stories that made sense in that wild setting.   I have no idea who would be lucky or unlucky enough to play the role of me as a kid...

Tell us about a unique or quirky habit of yours. I take a hot bath every single night before bed.  That's not so quirky, until you see how hard I work to get that bath no matter where I live or am visiting.

Last song you listened to? I'm loving the "Tiny Desk" concerts and "First Listen" concerts on NPR.  I have really eclectic taste in music and love discovering new sounds.  The latest tiny desk concerts by Iron and Wine, City of Refuge, and Red Barked Tree are all concerts that I'm listening to over and over again these days.