Denver Photo Betties

Member Feature - Lisa O'Dwyer Photography

Member SpotlightThe Betty Board2 Comments

Its time for another member feature!  Introducing Fine Art Film Photographer, Lisa O'Dwyer!

Genre of Photography: weddings mainly, but love portrait commissions and landscapes too


What's your 'photography story'? (How you got into photography, how you decided to go pro, etc): It's a long story! I have always been interested in art and history, and very nostalgic. My aunt and uncle were artists and lived a bohemian life in Pittsburgh. I always enjoyed going to their parties and listening to jazz music, and watching their slideshows of the places they had visited around the world. When I was in college, I studied Art History & Fine Arts. I took a B&W photography course and used my mom's manual film camera from the 70s. I really loved the magic of creating the image, developing the film in the darkroom, and making the prints. I ended up studying abroad a year in Europe and bought a nice film camera to take with me (1998). I loved taking photographs of the people and places I saw. When I met my irish husband while teaching in Japan in 2002, i was still a film shooter. I ended up moving to Ireland with him in 2003 and couldn't find work in Art History. I started my own photography business in 2006 with a digital SLR. I shot about 50 weddings with the digital cameras and then realized it wasn't my style. I had always hated Photoshop and missed shooting film. I went back to film in 2011, and started using it professionally in 2012. I am so happy now with my photography! Film just fits my style and personality! I feel at home with it and feel it is the best tool for my vision. I moved to Fort Collins in July 2013 and am looking forward to shooting Colorado weddings!


Tell us about your very first shoot: My first professional shoot was a wedding in Ireland. I had a friend who knew someone who was getting married. They hadn't planned on hiring a professional photographer. She mentioned I was going to start my own business and her friend hired me to shoot her wedding. So I jumped right into it! In hindsight, I should have assisted a professional photographer first so that I knew how the day would unfold and where I would need to be. I have some beautiful bridal portraits from that wedding as the bride was very elegant, modern, and a beautiful Japanese woman! Of course, I tried to make the photographs look like film (wedding was in 2006). So glad I did because the shots look timeless to me. Unlike some of the weddings I shot in 2009 when I played around with "digital filters"!. Those look very 2009 to me.


What 3 words best describe your style? Classic, timeless, artistic


What do you find most rewarding? I love that I can create art for my job! I love being able to give a gift of an heirloom…something that they will treasure for generations to come.


What do you find most difficult about being a photographer? Creating beautiful imagery in crappy light! Light IS photography. A photograph is only possible when the aperture of the lens is open and the shutter opens to expose light on film (or a digital sensor). Poor lighting is the enemy of photography! 


What websites/blogs do you visit often? I'm a nerd. I read books and love museums. I like social media though. I love Instagram!


If you could go anywhere and photograph anything, where would you go and what would you shoot? I would always choose to stay with my family and photograph my boys as they grow up. My dream was to photograph a wedding in Italy, and it came true! I get to photograph one in Rome in July 2014!


If you could be photographed by any photographer, living or dead, who would it be? Tough one! I love Julia Margaret Cameron. She photographed women in a subtle beautiful way. If I won the lottery, I would fly John Dolan here for a family session. He is a film photographer from Ireland, but based in NYC.


What one tip would you give a photographer starting out in your field? Assist a real pro whose style you love! And study about business! Taking photos is only about 40% of this job. You need to make a profit to continue to have this career if you want to last more than 5 years.


If you were stranded on a dessert island with only one camera, lens, and accessory, what would you hope they would be? My OM-1n camera which is totally manual and so I wouldn't be worried about batteries dying or getting it wet. I would have the 50mm 1.4 OM Zuiko lens. I love this length and I love the look of the old Zuiko lenses. They are very sharp, but atmospheric at wide apertures. I guess a lens cap for the accessory? Or lots of Fuji 400H, Portra 160, and Kodak Tri-X film!