Becoming a celebrity photographer isn’t as easy as the paparazzi makes it look.
It takes practice, dedication, focus, and genuine love to become a great visual artist. Recently, I had the honor of speaking with an amazing celebrity photographer, Rowena Husbands. Rowena’s resume is spectacular, her work includes Rolling Stone and Vibe just to name a few publications. She’s even photographed fashion designers Marc Ecko, Jennifer Nicholson, and recording artist Alicia Keys. Read the interview below as Rowena speaks on social media, being a self-taught photojournalist, her shooting process and more.
Ru Porter: In terms of female photography in the urban landscape, you’re the only one in that lane. Does that position come with added pressure a responsibility?
Rowena Husbands: To be honest with you I’m not the only one I may be the one who is the most recognized. No, it doesn’t come with any added pressure for me and as far as responsibility; I always have a responsibility to my clients to produce the best work for them.
Ru Porter: Now that you’ve solidified your brand, is it still hard to navigate the industry or is your job easier now that you’re experienced?
Rowena: I wouldn’t say hard, I would rather use the word challenging at times the good thing is that I have the resume and it does help to open doors but I still have to produce good quality work.
Ru: What are some must-have essentials for someone who’s building their portfolio?
Rowena: It’s so much easier today with all the social media platforms when I started it was your book and your business card. Now you have websites, FB, IG and more to showcase your work.
Ru: What fundamentals should be learned before making a decision to pursue photography as a full-time career?
Rowena: Although I’m am self-taught there is always room for growth taking a lighting class couldn’t hurt. With editing programs and digital cameras anyone can pick up a camera and be a photographer and turn it into a career.
Ru: You’re a celebrity photographer, manager and most important, a mom. At this stage in your career, do you struggle to find balance, between each role given how demanding your job is?
Rowena: Well there is always going to be some sought of a struggle trying to balance being a photographer and a music manager. I’m very lucky that it hasn’t caused a problem yet but I’m always going to go with the ones that pays the bills first. My daughter Tralynn is 26 now, so it’s easier when it comes to her. When I want my mommy-daughter time I have to see if she can fit me into her schedule lol.
Ru: How do you maintain your spot with the influx of younger photographers and the popularity of social media?
Rowena: I don’t worry about that at all because I have built a name in the industry. I welcome the younger photographers I’m inspired by some of them I feel there is room for everyone. Social media is a great way to showcase your work and reach more people than you would have in the past.
Ru: I watched an online video where you talked about not wanting to charge clients when you first started out because of your love of the craft. How important is it to be able to separate business from emotions?
Rowena: Well it wasn’t that I didn’t want to charge I just wanted to take pictures of my daughter who at the time was a baby it wasn’t until a friend of mine Robin Dunn saw the photos and said that I had a great eye and that I should start to charge people for my time. I don’t think there is a need to separate the business from the passion of it.
Ru: You’ve worked on Broadway, in fashion, television, on music videos and more. Does the process for each shoot differ by industry? If so, how?
Rowena: No the process doesn’t differ if I’m shooting I’m shooting the only thing that would differ is if I’m shooting with flash or without a flash on sets.
Ru: What are some of the valuable lessons you’ve learned from being self-taught without any formal training in photography?
Rowena: I have learned to always be professional, staying humbled and grateful knowing that I AM truly blessed to be able to earn a living and still doing it 20 year later.
Ru: In what ways does being an outsider put you at an advantage from someone who went the traditional route? Are there any advantages?
Rowena: I wouldn’t call myself an outsider and what would be the traditional route? If your work is good it really doesn’t matter. People want good quality photos the advantage that I have is I have great relationships and friends with many of the people in the industry who make the decision to hire.
Ru: Is there anything in the industry that you’d like to change or improve on?
Rowena: The industry is constantly changing and evolving so I have to continue to evolve along with it and stay up on the latest camera equipment, lens, and editing tools.
Ru: The entertainment industry is very fickle. And to have longevity requires thick skin; something you know quite well having grown up in a single-parent home with four older brothers. How did those experiences prepare you for the highs and lows of your journey?
Rowena: Having thick skin is important, and honey, you have to have a suit of armor. Seeing my mother work hard to provide for us made me realize that whatever profession I chose I would have to work for what I wanted. Growing up with my older brothers definitely toughened me up and prepared me to be able to deal with the men who 20 years ago wasn’t too happy to see a female photographer. Nothing can really prepare you for the highs and the lows of the industry you just have to know that if you’re professional and provide the clients with great photos they will continue to call.