The Ulmers: rocking it

One of my very favorite husband and wife photographer teams — the Ulmers.  I love their instagram feed and their family and of course all their wonderful photos.  Josh and Amber have a way with their couples.. and this engagement shoot in the woods with Zack and Dani is proof!

Why do you shoot?  What drives you?  What inspires you?
Amber: I shoot because I want to remember & reflect. I want anyone I photograph to have those memories & moments to look back on or pass on to their loved ones.
I am driven by the desire to never forget. The desire to document a relationship.
The desire to stir emotion in people when they look at a photograph.
My inspiration comes from relationships.
Love. Honesty. Raw & real emotion. True laughter. Tears of joy or sorrow. Just realness.

Josh: I shoot because I feel that is how I see life. It’s like it’s just a part of me. Maybe something in me longs to sit in the moment longer than what real life allows. It’s a grasp to hold onto the moment just a little bit longer.
I am driven by the need to document. I didn’t come to that realization until recently. As I see my kids grow, have family pass away, etc…I realize how quickly things change around us and that even an old farm house doesn’t pause in time. These things are what drive me, to capture something that I wish could just be paused in time and not change. Inspiration comes from a lot of things for me. Music and nature are the biggest players…just hearing a song or walking out in the woods with snow on the ground inspire me to want to create. Also, I would say the “what drives me” is also what inspires me.

Do you shoot film or digital?
Mainly digital, but Josh loves to shoot 35mm & old polaroids!

If film, which films do you prefer and why?  And how do you shoot them? over or at box speed?
I (Josh) have a current love of Portra 160. The tones are so rich to me and real! 160 I rate at 100. Then typically expose using in camera meter at just about 1/2 stop over exposed.
When it comes instant it is a toss up between Fuji 3000b on a $2 Polaroid Super Shooter or PX70 by Impossible Project on my SX70.

If digital, what is your processing workflow?  Do you use actions?
One of the biggest things that has helped us with our processing workflow is actually setting a custom kelvin setting for every shoot. Then we use Lightroom and have used some VSCO presets that we essentially have ripped apart and made our own.

Which camera/lens are your favorites and why?
As far as digital goes we both shoot with the Canon 5dMKIII. Amber loves the 35L. Josh could probably if he had to choose just one lens would live with the 85.

If I (Josh) had to pick one and only one camera to shoot with and could, most likely it would be a form of Polaroid. For me there is a sense of magic & mystery to it.

Any tips for shooting children?
Ha we get asked this a lot because we have two kids! Biggest thing, patience. Believe it or not our kids don’t really like the camera, especially our 4 year old daughter. I (Josh) will for the most part just wait for things to happen. I think too much of the time we as parents want these perfect pictures all the time. The thing is this, life isn’t perfect all the time, I would rather wait for the little moments in between that are quirky or unplanned and capture those. Life is chaotic, messy at times, and rarely ever perfect to our expectations. I feel like photos especially of kids should reflect exactly who they are. So have fun and if you plan on taking them to have their photos taken, let them just be kids, let them jump on their beds, let them fly through the air on the trampoline. These are the moments we live for when we capture a family!

Where do you look for creative inspiration?
Amber: I think I find creative inspiration from body language & truly seeing the relationship between people. The way they hold hands. They way they look at each other. The small affections. The kind gestures. Those things are fun to discect & learn about each new couple.

Josh: Being out in nature. Movies I like to look at the tones that help to create moods in movies. Moody photos of cabins & farmhouses also are inspiration to me.

What personal work do you shoot?  Any ongoing projects?
Amber: Im too busy being a mama!

Josh: I have something in the works shhhh.

Best piece of advice you could give to a new photographer?
1.) Don’t be afraid to suck and move on. Sometimes ideas you have just don’t work. Learn from it, don’t do it again and try something else.
2.) In engagement sessions and wedding work the less preconceived ideas and notions you have the better.
3.) Life is mess, get dirty, roll with the punches and keep on moving!
4.) Don’t be afraid to explore. Too often we think we have found the thing that “works” for us. If you have found that place, then it probably means you need to go and explore life again!

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