New York is a city that is on most people’s wish lists to visit. Lisa Combs, who’s lucky enough to live there, encapsulates the essence of New York in her stunning photography ensuring that for those of us not lucky enough to live there, we can still be inspired by the magnificent city.

Can you introduce yourself, where you’re based and explain a bit your journey into how you started selling your photos on Fotolia?

I’m a metropolitan New York based photographer.  I have a background in photography and graphic design going back to my college days.  After years of putting photography aside to raise a family, I rediscovered my love for shooting about 10 years ago. I quickly became obsessed.  My family encouraged me to try earning extra money doing what I was quickly spending nearly every waking moment thinking   I knew this would only be possible if I could find a way to sell my work while maintaining scheduling flexibility as well as creative freedom.  That’s what led me on my path to sell stock photography.  A  google investigation brought me to Fotolia.  I was thrilled with Fotolia’s open-mindedness to not only accept typical stock photos but also allowing more artistic type of images into my portfolio.  Then the real bonus;  I started seeing sales!

Sunset view of New York City looking over midtown Manhattan

How would you describe your photographic style? What has influenced and shaped it?

My graphic design background has definitely shaped my eye as a photographer.  Capturing a cluttered, confusing world and putting into a tiny well composed frame I guess makes me a little bit OCD but it’s what I do.  That however is only a piece of the equation. I love traveling and experiencing new places in my own city. I can’t imagine enjoying it the same way without capturing it on my camera.  That being said, I don’t know if I can describe my ‘style’.  I not only shoot what moves me but I’m always looking at things and questioning if they have commercial value.

Grape vine at vineyard under idyllic sunset

What is it about your photos do you think that has made them so popular?

I think the diversity of my portfolio has helped in getting me exposure.  I know some may argue that you need to find your niche but for me my niche is my camera goes where I go.  I could be shooting the Eiffle Tower one day and a few days later shooting my pot roast dinner on my dining room table.

Has your photographic style developed since you started in the stock industry? If so, in what ways?

Oh my God, my style has absolutely changed since I started in this industry.  I have become a much better technical shooter.  The standards for shooting stock forced me to REALLY learn my camera and lighting.  I remember when my initial submissions were rejected for focus and I viewed my rejection full size and was shocked to see just how awful it was.  Focus, composition, white balance, noise….getting my shot right directly out of the cam.

Colorful collage of variety of doors

What, in your view, are the key ingredients to creating a fantastic photograph?

Besides the technical aspects and aesthetics, the key ingredients change according to subject matter.  One common denominator is knowing your objective.  Are you trying to selling beautiful travel location that will motivate the viewer to visit there?  Or are you trying to tell a story as a photo journalist?  Are you trying to project a concept?   Are you trying to take an attractive portrait or portrait that gives the viewer a glimpse of the character of your subject?  It’s helpful to have a vision.  That being said, sometimes you just get lucky.

Narrow Flume Gorge at Franconia Notch in New Hampshire

Your images may not be considered typical ‘stock’ photos in that they portray some unique themes/characteristics and an original style. How do you come up with these and whom do you think they relate to the most in terms of clients?

My camera is simply an extension of my everyday life.  I’m a mother of teenagers.  I see their daily routines and moods as ideal opportunities. I’m always begging them for permission to grab a shot.  Most of the time these aren’t staged or in a controlled studio.  That’s my kid, in my kitchen. Real life.

What is your favorite piece of photographic equipment that you use?

I have many toys.  I love how a different lens will totally change the vibe of an image.  I couldn’t live without out my super wide lens for shooting travel shots whether its city or landscape.  But surprisingly my lenses is my cheapy Canon $99  50mm F1/8 is one of  my favorites.  It takes a great shot and is so light.

What are you favorite images from your Fotolia portfolio and why?

I love this photo of fallen cherry blossoms surrounding a bench.  I remember seeing it and thinking it was magical.   

Tranquil garden bench surrounded by cherry blossom trees

I also love the shot of the Welcome to Vegas Sign.  I enjoy adding textures and post processing.  I know it’s cheesy but seeing this iconic sign for the first time was such a thrill for me!

Famous Welcome to Las Vegas sign with vintage texture

My night winter landscape is another one of my favorites.  It was a freezing winter night when I took this but well worth it.  I’d hang it on my wall.

Night winter landscape with snow and trees

What places have you visited that are have photographic poignancy in your mind and what places are on your ‘wish list’ to photograph?

New York City obviously, Death Valley, Sedona, Ireland, London, Italy, Las Angeles, Maine, Vegas, Route 66, Colorado Rockies, Grand Canyon.   I’d love to visit some more of the National Parks out west.  Germany is on my wish list.  So is revisiting Italy, especially Florence.  I had my camera stolen there with a couple of hundred irreplaceable shots before I learned the value of backing up my photo’s daily while traveling.

Can you give us a bit of background behind this photo, it’s fantastic?

Sedona Arizona seen at night

I took this one night sitting on my hotel deck in Sedona.  It was a beautiful night and I was relaxing with a beer enjoying the magic of night photography.  I took about 25 long exposure shots till I got one that I was happy with.  I think the tilt makes it come alive.

If you hadn’t of become a photographer, what do you think you would have done instead?

I work with special needs children as a School Aide to this day.  But as far as being a photographer,  I would be a photographer whether I was working professionally or just for my own personal desire.  Photography, like any other art, is a creative expression.  I don’t think I could suppress it. It’s not an option.

Thank you so much to Lisa for taking the time to speak with us. You can discover more of her work on her Fotolia portfolio as well as her website.