SmugMug Corner #99: Colleen M. Griffith

We're 2 weeks away from the 100th SmugMug Corner interview, but don't breeze by the interview this week. We've got a dozen photographs and a great read by Colleen Griffith, a full-time photographer from the beautiful city of San Francisco.

Name: Colleen M. Griffith

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Colleen M. Griffith and I currently work as a full-time freelance professional photographer. I grew up in the northeastern part of the US, but am now based in San Francisco, California. I currently utilize photography to create fine art and provide services in the areas of studio and environmental portraiture, pet portraiture, event coverage, weddings, and photo safaris around the San Francisco Bay area.

While I have spent roughly a decade taking photos, my small photography business is relatively new. My first career was in the field of Chemical Engineering, Operations Management, and Change Transformation. My intention is to continue part-time consulting in those fields due to a love of the role and the opportunity to make a difference, while continuing to grow my photography business.


What is your background/training in photography?

My learning of photography has been largely through experience, on-line communities and forums, publications, workshops, mentoring, and texts. I also actively seek out feedback and engage in new learning experiences.

I am an avid consumer of anything photographic in nature and am always asking lots of questions. It's amazing how quickly technology in the digital photography world changes, especially in the area of post-processing – creative avenues seem boundless there. Networking, social media, and on-line communities really keep me on top of these tools and help with developing and maintaining a creative edge.

Low Tide


How long has photography been a passion for you? When, where and how did it start?

My passion for photography was ignited when I purchased my first point and shoot camera with the idea of capturing my experiences with some of my crazy adventures. Like just about everyone else I know who is passionate about photography, I wanted to capture how I felt during those moments, and put it in a proverbial bottle, to be savored again and again. Over time, my style has evolved and I really enjoy images with vibrant color and dramatic light. For my portrait work, I aim to capture people "in the moment" in a natural environment.

San Francisco Icons

What equipment is in your camera bag? What piece of equipment will be added to the collection next?

My primary camera is a Nikon D700 and the three lenses I most often use with it include a 24-70mm f/2.8 ED Nikkor lens; a 70-200mm f/2.8 ED VRII Nikkor lens; and a 105mm f/2.8, VR Micro-Nikkor lens. I also find my tripod and Acratech ball head are indispensable.

For environmental portraiture, I like to travel light since I always incorporate multiple locations, and typically a short hike, in any photo shoot. So my bag generally includes two wireless Nikon TTL strobes (SB900, SB600), a light reflector and associated accessories (like light stands, gels, clamps, light modifiers and reflectors, filters, spare batteries, monopod, etc). The next item to add to my camera bag will likely be a fish-eye lens.

I also have quite a bit of fun using my iPhone 4 camera. It travels everywhere with me, and since there are some really great apps out there, I can capture cool in-the-moment pics around town that I would otherwise likely miss.

The Golden Gate

What are your favorite places/subjects to photograph? Why?

Anyone who has seen my website knows that I am a bit infatuated with San Francisco's bridges and other iconic structures as well as nearby Lighthouses, beaches, and natural tidalpools along the coast. I especially love on-location environmental portraits that incorporate these locations as a backdrop.

In addition to photography, anything that involves adventure or experiencing new cultures or beautiful scenery is my passion. Some of my favorite past-times include rock climbing, water sports such as windsurfing and sailing, and traveling. I really enjoy combining these passions with the art of photography.

Little Cup of Sunshine


Who are your biggest photographic influences? Why? What about their work influences your work?

My two primary sources of inspiration and influence for my work come from the great portrait and landscape painters of the 19th century as well as modern day photographers.

Renoir, Cezanne, Degas, and Monet are my favorite 19th century artists. I have visited Musee d'Orsay several times and was finally able to see the Musee de l'Orangerie in Paris last year. I am also a frequent visitor of museums when I travel as well as a member of the local museums in the bay area – I always make a point to see the traveling exhibits.

Modern day photographers I have learned from include Mike Langford who I had the opportunity to work with in New Zealand in improving my landscape photography. I have also taken a workshop from Rod Evans and really enjoy his studio portraiture – the colors, lighting, and poses are outstanding. Recent additions to my must-follow list are Keri Meyers for newborn and infant photography and Frank Bruynbroek for pet portraiture.

The Kiss

How long have you been Smug with your photographs? What features do you most enjoy with your SmugMug account?

I have been "Smug" with my photographs for about 5 years. I have a pro account and I feel it provides me with a really great value. I have a lot of flexibility and artistic control on my site set-up and display of my photos. I can make photo galleries public or private depending on the client's wishes and it's easy for them to place an order. SmugMug has developed strong partnerships with high-quality vendors for their secondary services such as printing photos on a variety of mediums like canvas and metal. They also have a satisfaction guaranteed policy that is real and not just lip-service. There are several very active on-line photo-sharing communities that I find are a great source of inspiration, and a vehicle for feedback. My favorite is the Daily Photos community because it has such a large and active membership.


If you had do sum up in 50 words or less the impact SmugMug has made on your photography/photography business, those 50 words would be...

SmugMug has proven to be a valuable vehicle for inspiration, continuous learning, on-line sharing, and selling of my work. SmugMug has truly been a great partner for building and growing my photography business.


The Need for Speed

If you had to give one piece of advice to those wanting to pursue photography, what would you tell them?

Actively participate in a few good on-line photography communities and social networks. Start sharing your photos with the community and commenting on others' photos as well. You will learn and grow by leaps and bounds by doing this. The best way to get started is to just put it out there, with no fear, and see what happens. You just might be pleasantly surprised with what happens as a result. :)


Posted by Tim L. Walker on Fri, 2011–07–15 14:31
Categories: SmugMug Corner