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#CreatorConversations: Zooms Vs Primes For Doc Work, How To Get A Project Made & More From Our AMA With Documentary Filmmaker Taylor Rees

#CreatorConversations is an AMA (Ask Me Anything) series hosted by @sonyalpha on Instagram. As part of the series, we were joined by Sony Artisan Taylor Rees (@taylorfreesolo). See some of the highlights below as she shares her tips and techniques for storytelling. Visit the Instagram post for the full AMA and make sure you’re following @sonyalpha and #CreatorConversations to stay connected.

“Given Covid-19 and the need to stay home, I’ve fallen in love ever more with the art of photography in its most simple form, a way to capture the unexpected beauty around us and the personal moments of our lives.” – Taylor Rees #CreatorConversations

"Can you tell me how you learned to use your camera? Was it trial and error, YouTube or classes? Did you have a mentor?" – @ferrouswelding

Taylor: “The honest answer would be a combination of it all! I needed to set my custom settings ASAP because having fast access to the basics of white balance, ISO, picture profile, focus, etc was important, and so dialed that in just with YouTube and intuition, and then as time has progressed I have learned meticulously how important the ‘bible’ of deep camera menu settings is for every aspect of my photography. I highly suggest getting nerdy with it.”

“How does the collaboration with the people around work? The idea of simplistic beauty in the everyday is amazing— and that every day is what empowers the photo further!” – @pgdotclub

Taylor: “At the most fundamental level, collaborative creativity is about openness and listening and being willing to amend your vision knowing the collective vision of which you are a part is so beautiful and worth exploring.”

"I’m a photography teacher teaching a high school introduction to photography right now during this crazy time. I meet with them once a week online and the work they are producing is amazing! What is one piece of advice you have for a kid just getting into the world of taking photos?" – @janerenyk

Taylor: “Wow, what an amazing place to be and for your students! When I was in high school, I just wanted support to shoot what I felt was meaningful. At the time that was friends and family (and prom dates). Getting too big and worldly felt unnecessary. I would encourage you to provide technical support to them as they create whatever draws them in.”

(Continued..) “Any advice for them during this time?”  – @janerenyk

Taylor: “For high school age creatives? Absolutely! What a prime age to connect deeply to what inspires you, and you are passionate about. It’s hard to wrap your mind around the world’s issues but any of us can know what we understand and love and can speak to. Encourage your students to embrace their voices. Their personal experiences and desires and ways of being in the world.”

"Do you have a favorite lens when you are shooting journalistic portraits?" – @joelbalderas

Taylor: “For photojournalism I love the Sony G Series 24-70mm, but for film I love the primes.”

“My question is how do you complete a project like a documentary or photo assignment in it’s entirety? From gaining the trust of the people to tell their story, to funding it, to post production/editing, to getting it distributed and making sure that these stories get shared in the way that they deserve?” – @thebenburton

Taylor: “A very BIG and important question, of course. Difficult to answer that in an AMA on Instagram, but there are so many resources out there from IDA to the doc community which can help get you started. As for the trust, never forget to ask yourself ‘Why am I motivated to participate in the telling of this story?’ If the answer to that question makes you feel good and you know it’s right, then trust yourself, and you will learn how to navigate trust with others simply by being honest and transparent at every step of the process.”

"Any advice on getting over my fear of photographing public spaces? I feel so invasive and disrespectful and am trying to figure out how to balance that when it’s sometimes impossible to get permission from every person in a space." – @caitlin.o.farley

Taylor: "Such a great question! For me personally I always ask myself, ‘Is this a situation where I need to be photographing?’ (For a purpose, a story, for personal creative expression and engagement, for fun). If the answer is actually yes, then like anything you get over fear by moving through it – engaging with the art of street photography and its ups and downs. And learn how to do that by navigating it in your way! Sometimes the answer is No. No I don’t actually need to write, now I can take the pressure off and just be here, and that’s nice too."

"What are some ways to turn photojournalism from a hobby to a job? How did you convince your first clients or bosses to take a chance on you?" – @thesassy_squatch

Taylor: "The most important part of my journey in this was not making it an expectation for that to happen. Photography and filmmaking had been my passion since I was 9. I did a bachelor’s and master’s degree in ecology and environmental science and spent years in the restaurant industry and bagging groceries while I gave myself permission to love the art and craft of photography. I never stopped trying to progress and I believe if you do the same you will find a way to make it a ‘job’ if indeed that’s your goal."

See the full AMA here.


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