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BetterPhoto Interview with Vik Orenstein - Part I

Vik Orenstein is next in our series of BetterPhoto Interviews with Professional Photographers. Vik owns several family portrait studios and shares with us her experiences on how she became a successful portrait photographer.

All photos and text © Vik Orenstein, all rights reserved worldwide. No form of reproduction or usage - including copying, altering, or saving of digital image and text files - is permitted without the express written permission of Vik Orenstein and BetterPhoto.com.

Interview with Vik Orenstein

Vik, you have a successful chain of portrait studios in Minnesota for children and families. How did you get your start in photography? How did you end up specializing in this one area of photography?

Vik Orenstein:

contemporary portrait photography - How to become a professional photographer without college
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I started out shooting models' and actors' headshots in 1984 back in the days of film and darkroom. Later, I assisted my first husband on his architectural assignments. Back then I liked photography, but I didn't LOVE it it was a way to make a few extra dollars. Somewhere along the line I realized I wanted to make portraits of children, but I couldn't draw well enough to make a great likeness.

Then my cousin, a photographic stylist, suggested shooting kid's portraits the way fashion was being shot in the 80's in-studio but candid and loose, with lots of leaping and movement. That's how Kidshooters, now called KidCapers Studio, was born.

My passion is for making children's portraits my love of photography only really gelled when I discovered my favorite subjects.




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Did you go to a school to learn photography?

Vik Orenstein:

No. I wish BetterPhoto.com had existed when I started out! I didn't have the money or a lot of time for tech school or university courses, and anyway, I was too shy (believe it or not!!!) at that time to really get excited about a formal classroom learning situation.

But I was VERY LUCKY to rent a studio on an as-needed basis from a very generous, gifted fashion photographer, who taught me a lot. And in that same warehouse building there was a huge community of shooters who shared their knowledge, techniques, philosophies, and sync cords with me!


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Was photography always a passion for you, or did come into it as a way to express yourself, or to pay the bills?

Vik Orenstein:

At first it was a rather cynical choice, I guess I was working as a waitress (these days they call them "servers!") and many of my co workers were aspiring actors and models. They were spending $300 for a headshot session and one b&w 8x10. I figured I could charge half that, still make a few bucks, and everyone would be happy.

That went so well that it led to me write my first book, How To Break Into Modeling (Writer's Digest Books, 1986) but my motivation was still income rather than passion oriented until I started shooting kids in '88.

< -- Instructor Interviews   Part II -- >

All photos and text © Vik Orenstein and BetterPhoto.com, Inc., all rights reserved worldwide. No form of reproduction or usage - including copying, altering, or saving of digital image and text files - is permitted without the express written permission of Vik Orenstein and BetterPhoto.com, Inc.

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