Inspire Speaker/Team Member: Carla Ten Eyck

In this series of blog posts we are introducing people who are speaking at and attending Inspire 2015. We are delighted to introduce Carla Ten Eyck. Carla is an Inspire team member and will also be teaching a workshop that can really have an impact on our business How to Stand Out in a Saturated Market


After being a professional photographer for over 12 years, I think I started to think I was into some type of groove thing with how I shot. I think I started to feel that I actually had a certain way of seeing that was a common thread in my work. How I saw light, in particular, became my hallmark. Man, I loved some backlit bullshit! As soon as I saw light I just KNEW how I was going to make my camera interpret it, I felt it just make sense to me. It just…worked.

How many of us have those photography ‘things’ be it compositional style, lighting, how we frame, layer etc. that just feels good in our bones? It’s the first ‘thing’ we think of when given a chance to be in charge and not be a reactive photographer. When given a choice? I choose to let light dictate the type of dance I do. Where I put my subject comes from where I see the light. And how I see that light!

During portraits if there is a big window and there’s soft flattering light filtering in…well we all know the types of portraits we can get with that one window, am I right? But what if there is no big picture window with dreamy light? What if you are in a dark, cavernous shop with little to no ‘natural’ light, but filled with lamps and dark nooks? How do you maintain your personal style and photograph light the way you like to? At this particular shoot, in this actual dark, cavernous shop filled with stuff… I had to find little pockets of quiet to photograph in. I stopped. I assessed the room and thought about how awesome my camera is and how far I could push it. I am not scared of using a high ISO and shot most of these portraits at ISO1600. I let the light remain soft, I moved lamps around until I had them lit the way I wanted and I pushed my camera to give me what I wanted! I did not want to use any strobes, I wanted to just use what was there. Only later, after several shoots like this did I realize- THIS is my trademark style. This, taking what is given to me and making it work to create something beautiful- this is me, all the way!

In June I had the opportunity to go to a conference and decided to do a portrait project and try to photograph as many people as I could. I just wanted to make beautiful portraits of my friends and strangers! I wanted them to feel what it was like to be in front of my camera, for me to see them and create a portrait of them that just used what I had there- available light, no strobes, no fancy back drops or set ups. Just some Kamikaze Bull Shit! It was exhilarating, I was not stressed, I felt like this was me, in my element, being motivated by the people I was photographing, by my surroundings, by the light that was just…there. I walked away from that experience feeling like an even better photographer for pushing myself and taking risks, and with people I truly wanted to impress! Risky! In the end, I left knowing I thrive under pressure and that I trust my gut instincts with how I see light and how I use my camera to work for me!