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Christi Tolbert a.k.a. Tntgraphics is diagnosed with a serious photography obsession. Photography came to her along with the birth of her first son 10 years ago and she has spent much time nurturing it ever since. Her photos are all about attention to detail and the ability to evoke emotions. She loves the “charge”, the memories one can capture and the freedom of expression that photography provides. She is just in love with photography....

Photographer: Tntgraphics / Christi Tolbert
Country of Origin: United States

1. Production Equipment: Please list the production equipment that you use on a regular basis (eg. Cameras, lenses, flash & lighting, photo editing software).
  • Camera: Canon EOS 50D, Canon Rebel XT
  • Lens: Canon Zoom Lens EF 24-70 mm 1:2.8 L Series USM, Sigma DG 28-300mm 1:3.5-6.3, Canon 50mm fixed, Canon 18-55mm 5.6

2. What do you think of photography these days?
I'm OBSESSED! I wake up in the morning and check my stats, everywhere I go I am thinking of new stock scenarios, and I can't look at anything in nature without mentally having a shutter speed and f-stop popped into my mind!

3. What did you want to be when you were younger?
I've always wanted to do something that involved art. Becoming a graphic artist was a way to do that and still get paid.

4. Tell us about the time when you first got started in photography.
It was when my first son (now 10) was born. I didn't like any of the photos we were taking of him so we took him to a professional, and I thought, "I could do this". I bought a reasonable-quality 35mm Canon and was hooked since.

5. In your opinion, what does it take to become successful in this industry?
Creativity, knowledge of how to operate a camera, and the drive to shoot, shoot and shoot!

6. What was your biggest challenge coming into this industry?
I had a lot of confidence when I first started submitting photos so the first few rejections came as a blow. But I chose to shake it off and learn from it. That's what made me a much better photographer, and not just for stock.

7. What are the best perks as a Photographer?
Being able to work doing just about anything, even while enjoying a party or spending a day at the park. And I love having the ability to capture my kids the way they really look. Photographing my memories is priceless.

8. How do you plan for your shooting sessions?
I love overcast days for shooting people. I don't have a lot of money for lights right now, so every cloudy day with nice even light is a gift. I make sure my equipment is clean, and usually try to bring a couple of props. When photographing weddings, I always have a shot list to make sure I don't forget any special people or moments the bride and groom would miss.

9. How would you describe your work to first time viewers?
I pay attention to details. I strive to take photos that will evoke a certain emotion. But I also want my photos to be technically well done and color-corrected.

10. Do you shoot to what your heart tells you or do you go through a complex check list in your mind when you produce your work? Describe the feeling/check list.
When I first started photographing, it was all about heart. I took pictures of anything and everything that appealed to me, but soon became frustrated that I couldn't get the images to come out the way I wanted. Then I took some classes at the local college and Internet, and learned the technical end. For awhile, my photos actually suffered from that. I was so busy trying to get the settings right, I was forgetting to pay attention to the subject matter and composition. Only recently (within the last few years), do I feel that my photography is starting to look the way I want. Now there is a good balance of knowing the settings almost intuitively, so that I can focus on the details that make a good photo a great photo. The moment, the expression, the SHOT.

11. From your experience, what subjects gives you the greatest satisfaction? Any examples?
I love to shoot everything, but I love that "charge" when I know I've got the shot I want. No matter what the subject, every once in awhile I can just feel that I got it right. Whether it's a stock shot that I just KNOW will sell, a great expression from one of my kids, or a moment that I just caught. That, for me, is what photography is all about.

12. From your experience, what subjects are the hardest to work with? Any examples?
My weakness is group shots. When I shoot weddings, I'm always petrified when the bride and groom want a group shot of the "whole family". I can handle 6, 7, 8 people, but if they want a shot of the whole family, I'll panic. Positioning that many people is a big challenge for me.

13. What is your philosophy when it comes to your work?
Anyone can take photos so if I want to be a photographer and expect to be paid for it, I have to be able to get shots that not just anyone can. That doesn't mean every photo has to be a treasure, but it certainly means I need to make every effort to deliver the best shot I am able to.

14. Describe who/what inspires you, tell us why?
All successful photographers inspire me! I have great respect for photographers who love what they do and constantly work to better themselves. Sites such as this also shows that there are a number of talented photographers with many special talents out there.

15. What do you do when those creative juices just seems to evade you. How do you "get creative"?
When I feel like I've been trying too hard with no results, I find it works for me to just do something else. Go somewhere different, take my camera, bring model releases(!) and see what happens. Watch people. Look around. Smile at couples. Even if I don't end up taking any photos at all, that will usually give me some ideas for what to shoot later.

16. Tell us about a time when inspiration just hits you, and you felt the insatiable urge to create. What did you do with that energy?
My family laughs at me because I don't sleep! Very often I'll stay up well into the morning hours working on a graphics job, a photo, or even just uploading something special I've shot and can't wait to see processed!

17. What have you discovered about yourself through photography?
I've discovered that I'm a perfectionist. I can find fault even in my favorite images, and have a much easier time admiring others' work than my own.

18. Whose work do you admire the most? Why?
I admire photos that I don't know how to take. I'm drawn to photos that I can't figure out how the photographer got to the finished product. I love to look at a photo and guess the settings, lens, filter, etc, and love when I can learn something from it.

19. Do you have any advice for those who are just getting in to stock photography?
Have thick skin! If your photos aren't selling as quickly as you would like, or are getting more rejections than you would care to see, keep at it! I'm constantly learning from rejections and constructive criticism. Sometimes one little suggestion can make the difference between a best-selling photo and one that gets buried in the masses!

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