Getting To Know: Paige Newton of Paige Newton Photography
Paige is one of those people that I am so glad the universe worked in its mysterious ways to put us in each others paths. My husband and I were fortunate enough to be invited to an Elephant Table dinner this past summer, and the secret location was in Paige's backyard photography studio. She and her husband Ben opened up their home for an intimate dining experience, and we stayed WAY past our bedtime enjoying the company of the late night crew.
It was there that my love for this woman started, and I have been so fortunate to work with her over the past few weeks to crystalize a marketing strategy for her photography business. Paige is a brilliant, kind, and fun-loving woman who has a knack for truly seeing you as you want to be seen, and making you feel at home to show up just as you are. I can't put my finger on what it is exactly that makes you feel so effortlessly comfortable around her, but I do believe it's this unique quality and her amicable demeanor that makes her such an incredible portrait photographer.
Take a peek below at some of her work, and dive into her site to view her full portfolio. I promise, you won't regret it!
Let’s dive right in! Tell us about your background and how your photography biz came into being.
I had graduated from UT Austin with a PR degree and couldn’t find a job in my field, so I’d signed on as a live-in nanny for a year. I’d just spent a season working for a non-profit out in San Diego, and I was definitely having a quarter life crisis in terms of where I wanted my life to go—there were so many things I was interested in pursuing.
My dad and I were driving somewhere together and he asked me, “If you had to choose your dream job, money and rules and challenges aside, what would you do?” and I surprised myself by saying, “A photographer.” It was always a hobby of mine, but it had never crossed my mind as a potential career path. And to have his support and encouragement in that was the push I needed to really consider it as an option for my future.
Around the same time I had that “lightbulb moment,” out of nowhere, people started asking me take their photo because they knew it was something I did for fun. I had a few high school girls that I’d mentored in college ask me to take their senior portraits and a few friends took a chance on me as their wedding photographer. Luckily, my nannying gig provided financial stability and a super flexible schedule which allowed me to really test the waters with my business. When my year contract was up, I went full time into photography, and I’ve never looked back.
What aspect of your work is the most life-giving for you?
Collaboration, for sure. I love having my own vision or sharing a vision with someone else and working with other talented people to bring that to fruition. Allowing other creatives to do what they do best and to capture the essence of that is a really exciting thing. This can be in the form of a fashion editorial, collaborating with a blogger or brand to create content, or photographing a dream scene for a florist. I just love working with other people because that’s what this is all about for me.
Was there ever a time when you happily ignored external validation or outside advice about your business so that you could follow the True North that you created for yourself? If so, how did making that choice to follow Your Why impact not only you, but your business?
I’ve honestly experienced such incredible support from my friends and family so this one is tough to answer. I can’t think of a specific time where this happened. I’ve chosen to ignore little comments here and there from other photographers questioning how I do certain things—it doesn’t happen often but when it does, I’m a little surprised. I think that all of us freelance photographers are unique to one another, so none of us are going to do everything the same as the next. There’s no one single way or right way to run your business or to take a photograph. That’s what makes it exciting.
You’ve had some pretty dreamy clients! What have been some of the most memorable shoots for you, and why?
Previously I served as the Photo Editor and primary photographer for an online fashion and arts publication called Velvet Dust. We shot heaps of really fun and interesting editorials—it was an absolutely free and open arena for my creativity, so I loved that. One editorial that stood out was when we turned a room into a camera obscura, and on another occasion, we photographed aerialists hanging from trees next to these enormous orbs. Velvet Dust really allowed me to play around and experiment with different things and grow my “bag of tricks.” Outside of that, some other favorite shoots have been with Australian designer Casey Tanswell; my husband is from Sydney so I’ve collaborated with her on several shoots that I absolutely adore. She always just lets me run with it, and I love the imagery we’ve created together.
You are the queen of gorgeous portraits and really fun fashion shoots! And I know that you’re starting to build up your unconventional bridal portraits and boudoir portfolio, so I’d love to know: What draws you to this work?
I’ve shot weddings for my entire career, and while I do have a big love for my sweet clients and capturing those moments, I have a lot of fun getting to play more outside of the box. This is why fashion and editorial work always appeals to me. And now, as I’m in a season of growth and change with my business, I love the idea of being able to bring my love for fashion photography to a typically traditional format: the bridal portrait.
This isn’t the bridal portrait your mom thinks she wants, this is for the chick who is fashion forward and wants something completely unique. I’m really excited for the possibilities here. Boudoir is something I’m still building, but I love the idea of providing imagery of women to celebrate their beauty and strength. This is also something I want to be really different from what you typically see.
Congrats are in order since you recently launched Head Shot Happy Hour! Tell us more about this new service and who you think might be able to really benefit from this fun new service.
Thank you! This is something I’ve been sitting on for awhile, and I am incredibly excited to finally launch it! Head Shot Happy Hour melds together something you may not love—having your photo taken by a pro—with something you definitely love—having drinks with your friends.
I’m super awkward in front of the camera. The few times I’ve been required to have my photo taken, I’ve provided myself the luxury of an adult beverage beforehand just so I can loosen up a bit. I think we all feel much more comfortable having our photo taken when our inhibitions are just a bit lower. And when you have your friends around you to tell you, “Laugh a little,” “Relax your shoulders,” or “You look freaking awesome!” the whole experience becomes way easier.
People will purchase sessions as a group, typically 4 to 10 people, and tell me their beverage preference, and then everyone gets a little bit of time in front of the camera. It takes place in my South Austin studio, so it’s a really informal and fun way to get a good photo of yourself.
Getting your photo taken can be nerve-wracking, which is why I love Head Shot Happy Hour gives you some liquid courage before hopping in front of the camera! If someone is preparing for a portrait session, what do you think are the most important components they should consider before the shoot begins? Also, are there any questions that you would recommend the client ask the photographer up front to ensure you get exactly what you want, and it’s the best use of the time you have together?
Obviously liquid courage is my number one recommendation for photo shoot preparation but second to that is getting comfortable with your photographer. Lots of my clients have become my friends, and that’s because we connect on some level. Sometimes it’s hard to figure that out prior to a shoot, but I think a great method is to get on the phone and have a chat or even try to meet in person before you shoot together. If you can’t meet before the shoot, allow a little time at the beginning of the shoot to just chat instead of jumping straight into the photos.
In terms of questions, you want to make sure you’re both on the same page of what your goal is for these images. Are they just for your personal use, or are they for your brand? Do you want to come across as warm and fun? Serious and strong? Approachable and confident? Getting into the nitty gritty of what you want to say with your photos helps your photographer come into the shoot knowing what they need to say with their imagery.
What are some other brands or photographers that are absolutely killing it right now and keeping you really inspired?
Oh gosh, SO many! This is always the hardest question for me to answer. I love Carlota Guerrero, she’s a Spanish art director and photographer. She worked with Solange on her recent album artwork and music videos, and they’re insanely stunning. All of her work is really incredible- somehow really simple and really complex all at once.
I love the way you have created your life so that it supports your inner travel bug. I feel like many of us who work for ourselves strive to be at a place where we are location-independent and/or where we can create our own schedule to allow for more travel in our lives. It’s clearly important to you, and you’ve made it happen! For those of us still trying to let go of the 9-5 mentality, or trying to save up enough to make that next trip happen, what advice do you have for building a business around your travel plans?
I’m not going to pretend I’m the most financially responsible or organized gal but I sort of live and die by YOLO. :) We literally have one life, and I want to make the most of it and experience as much as I can. My husband is from Sydney, so that’s where most of our travel funds go, but we recently took a trip to Spain and Portugal which was incredible. I go into trips trying to be as responsible as I can with my money, but also knowing that before I go and when I’m come back, I’m going to be hustling. And that’s fine by me. I’m super lucky to be able to have a career that I love and that allows me the time to take off, so I’m going to make the most of that even if it means some days that extend well beyond 9-5. Also, get a good travel credit card, use it, and pay it off every month so you can earn points. Hello, plane ticket.
Let’s get dreamy for a minute. If you could take a look at the future, what do you see for not only yourself personally, but also for Paige Newton Photography? What are you doing today to help you realize that vision?
I’d love to be able to split more time between Sydney and Austin. Australia has some incredible things going on with fashion and photography. I’d also love to travel more for my work. I’m always trying to connect with people as I go through life, so creating those relationships will ideally lead to more fun opportunities worldwide in the future. I’d also love to keep seeing more people in my home studio whether that’s for Head Shot Happy Hour, a cool and modern bridal shoot, or for a dinner party. :)
Want to know more? Eager to connect with Paige? Here's how:
@paigenphoto (personal + work)
- @photovelvet (Yes, I’m one of those people with two accounts- this one is fully fashion focused)
Want to work with Paige?
Shoot her a message via Instagram or an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Fun little extra:
I’m giving away one Head Shot Happy Hour to a group of 5! This one will be BYOB, but you’ll each receive 10-15 minutes in front of the camera and 3 edits for free!