This week, we are in conversation with Rachel Helfand Giuseppi – an american photographer based in France. Belonging to a family of photographers, Rachel started to pursue photography at an early age of 15. After completing her education in language studies and art, she established herself in the commercial art world. She has a keen eye for detail which is reflected in her work.
Rachel is currently working as a commercial photographer for products and portraits. She has been hosting her online portfolio using Pixpa for quite some time now. We caught up with her to learn more about her life and work. Read on to know more about her journey.
(Checkout her complete portfolio at Rachelhelfand.com)
1. Tell us something about your early days. Was your path planned right from the beginning because of your family background or was it an epiphany that led you to where you are today?
I’ve always had a big mix of interests in my life: classical ballet, art and languages. My early years were spent full time in a ballet studio. I then went on to earn a BA in French then an MA in Art history and eventually worked in the fast paced commercial art world in London. Since I come from a family of professional and enthusiast photographers a camera in my hand has always been a natural thing. My family is quite competitive though, so it took me a while to have the confidence in my talent and command over the technical aspects of photography to say “I’m a professional.” Ultimately I am grateful for my pursuit of those different interests because they definitely come through in my photographs.
2. Your photography covers many different genres. Which genre do you most identify with?
As a professional, one must be quite flexible to suit clients various needs. I would say I identify more with being a product photographer though whether the product is a sculpture, a macaron or a person offering a service, my works aims to show off that item in the best way possible.
3. What was the most difficult roadblock you faced as a photographer and how did you find your way around it?
Getting the right gear has been a challenge for me. The technical standards for professional photography these days, has never been so high and the digital cameras on the market are producing amazing results. The price tags though can make them seem totally unobtainable. I am like a kid in the candy store when browsing gear and I want to buy everything at once! The trick I’ve found is not getting discouraged and to keep shooting everyday even if I haven’t got my dream camera on hand. A good camera bag can be built over time and amazing shots can be had in the meantime. Ultimately, the best camera is the one you’ve got with you.
4. What kind of equipment and lenses do you use?
My grandfather always bought Canon and so I followed suit. I am proud to say I’ve got his entire 35mm film kit, body, lenses and filters at hand. My go to camera though is Canon’s 5D markIII and my favorite 50mm f/1.2 L USM lens which is fantastic for most product and portrait work. I am eyeing some of the new full frame Compact System Cameras on the market as my shoulder could definitely use a break!
5. How important do you think is to have a portfolio website for professional photographers like you?
For professional photographers a website is absolutely vital: if you don’t have a web presence you don’t exist. Prospective clients not only find you via search engines, but they see how serious you are by the care you’ve put into your presentation. When I worked for an art gallery in London, I wouldn’t have dreamed of hiring a photographer without first seeing some of their work online.
6. Do you have a piece of advice for budding photographers who wish to pursue commercial photography?
The main challenge with photography is finding a unique style, an individual voice. Technical specs on cameras have never been so high, making it even more difficult to create a sense of individuality in the photographs to set you apart from competitors. My advice would be to figure out exactly what it is that makes you tick as a person and to follow your passion with your lens.
7. Finally, share with us your experience with Pixpa.
Pixpa has given me exactly what I was looking for in a portfolio website: a clean modern interface to show off my photos to their maximum. I don’t know how to code, and I prefer to spend my time in the field–not fiddling with web design. Easy to use, fresh templates and incredibly quick customer support response time Pixpa lets me spend my time where I should: on photography!