Can I let you in on little secret? Elizabeth Messina is my girl crush. Sure, Kate Middleton or maybe Jennifer Aniston might be more popular as far as girl crushes go, but for me it’s Messina all the way. Not only is she talented beyond anything I will ever understand (her images have literally taken my breath away before – no lie), but she is also caring, compassionate and gorgeous on top of it all. So when I got the chance to ask her a few questions, my giddy meter registered off the charts numbers. Like a school girl talking to Justin Bieber, that giddy. But getting to know her just made me love her even more, and I’m pretty sure it will do the same for all of you. So settle in for a little Q&A with the one and only Elizabeth Messina – and don’t forget to stay tuned for a giveaway of her gorgeous book, The Luminous Portrait, coming up oh so shortly!

Tell us about your photography background.
My love for photography started long ago. I was twelve years old when my mother gave me my first camera. Just like any love affair, there have been many ups and downs along the way, but we are still madly in love today. I received a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Although that time was truly formative and I learned a lot, much of my style has developed over the years through trial and error. I’ve shot thousands of rolls of film and made countless mistakes and through it all, I have a passionate inclination towards natural light, and my style is intrinsically connected to that.

Where do you draw inspiration?
Inspiration is elusive, and it changes all the time. Sometimes it comes from within, a feeling, an urge to create … and other times it is seemingly simple moments: the steam rising from a hot cup of tea, a sleeping child, a kiss. I think true inspiration comes from being open, seeing the world around you and taking it in…

What is your passion?
Is this a trick question?? Photography is my passion … an extension of my heart and my dreams. My children live inside my soul and mean more to me than anything on earth….

If your life was a musical, what would be your signature song?
It depends upon the day. I listen to a lot of soulful R&B, and I love to listen to hip hop. On some days it’s Van Morrison and Fleetwood Mac. My love of music is eclectic and changes with my moods, but I am mostly in an R&B mood…

If your photographs could sing, you would want them to sound like?
Adele…

What do you wish all couples knew about hiring a photographer?
Aside from the obvious considerations, such as “Do I like their photographs?” and “Are they in my budget?” I think couples should follow their hearts, so to speak. No two photographers are alike, and it is often hard to compare one’s personality or work to another. For that matter, photographers’ pricing structures can vary a lot. The intangible element that is most important is your comfort level. A photographer is intimately involved in so much of a couple’s wedding day, so you want to feel at ease.

How do you derive such beauty from your subjects?
Life is beautiful … love is beautiful … the beauty is in front of me. The trick to capturing it in a soulful and gentle way is this: First, learn to identify and utilize beautiful natural light, and second, be genuine and calm while you are working. The single most important element in any photograph is light. Recognizing also that any image is a collaboration is also important. The more relaxed your subject is, the more their natural beauty will come through in an image.

Do you have a single single image that represents who you are as an artist?
I would say I have a collection of images that represent me as an artist. It is really a body of work rather than a single image that defines a photographer’s style. Any image that evokes an emotion or causes you to pause for a moment, that is a successful photograph to me.

Click here to see even more of Elizabeth’s breathtaking work!

Oh I love her so! And the best part is we still have more Messina coming you way! The next post may or may not involve a book giveaway, so stay right where you are SMPers – this is a must enter giveaway. Can today get any more lovely? We think not.

Photography + Answers: Elizabeth Messina