Today, we turn the camera around, literally, to focus on the talented woman who has photographed StyleBlueprint Louisville’s FACES for six years: Adele Reding. This woman has shown the true beauty of Louisville’s women time and time again. Across the board, every woman we have ever profiled has been nervous and anxious to get their picture taken … that is, until they meet Adele. She puts her subjects at ease with her gentle, calm nature and assures them that she will make them look their best. She always delivers. This Elizabethtown native has only lived in Louisville seven years, moving her family here to expand and grow her photography business. Her husband Sean is her partner, and together, they make quite a successful team. Recently they moved their studio from Frankfort Ave. to their home property, so that she can simplify her life and spend more time with her family. Now she can concentrate on doing the personalized, innovative photography she is passionate about: headshots, high school seniors and family portraits. Adele attributes her success to the relationships she has with her clients and that is very evident in all of her work. Read on to see her advice about how to take a great picture and the best thing to do with all your pictures.
How did you get started as a photographer? When did you know that it would be your career?
My parents have been amazing photographers since before I was born. Even though it’s not their profession, it was a huge part of our lives. I remember watching my Dad in the dark room as a kid and the smell of those chemicals. I was an only child, and my mom drove me crazy taking so many photos of every single thing. But now, I’m so grateful because I treasure them all. They bought me a camera when I was about 16 so that I could shoot on a couple of trips abroad with my high school. I loved it, and I was hooked! I planned to join my Dad’s psychology practice or be a counselor like my mom. I absolutely never thought that I would be a photographer. I wanted to follow my parents lead and help people. My undergrad degree was psychology, and I was accepted to U of L to get a masters in social work.
Then, I met and fell in love with Sean. We were engaged a few months later and married less than a year after we met. I was a social worker at the time, which was very fulfilling. Fifteen months after we were married our first daughter, Sloan came along. I quit working right before she was born so that I could stay home with her. During those long, but precious days, I found myself taking lots of photos of her because I knew those moments were fleeting and wanted to remember them all. That led to me taking photos for friends in our mom’s group at church. I also shot wedding day candid black and white photos as wedding gifts for good friends. The overwhelming response, encouragement (and downright insistence) of those closest to me pushed me to have the courage to make a career out of something that brought me so much joy. I will always be so grateful for that.
You have shot our FACES of Louisville for over five years. What is the common thread that all these women have?
It’s hard to state one common thread, but I always admire the courage, strength and resilience of those women. Very inspiring!
Which FACES shoot subjects have been the most memorable and why?
Hands down, Chef Kathy Cary! Aside from being my favorite restaurant, Lilly’s has been a special place for our family for as long as I can remember. We’ve celebrated countless birthdays, anniversaries and big milestones there over many years. It was so cool to sit and chat with Kathy before photographing her. (Isn’t she beautiful?!) I loved being able to ask her about things I’ve always wondered about, including that big painted mural on the wall. The best part was being invited to hang out in her kitchen while she chopped up a bunch of veggies and prepared her famous chicken pot pies. So yeah, that was surreal.
You have been taking photographs for over twenty years. What do you love about being a photographer?
The relationships that I have with the people that I photograph makes it so much more than a job. Many have been with me for years and it’s so rewarding when they tell me that I’m part of their extended family. I love the big hugs and seeing the happy tears as they see their photos after the sessions. These amazing people who trust me with documenting their milestones and lives have no idea what their friendship means to me. Or when a mom tells me that her teenage daughter left my studio a different person after her senior portrait experience and realizes that she is truly beautiful and special — that’s just everything to me. More than anything, photography has given me the opportunity to spend time with my family, which is priceless.
Just like the cobbler’s kids have no shoes, do you have a lot of personal pictures? Are they framed and displayed perfectly? Or are they all in books? Or are they just laying in a box somewhere, hoping to be organized some day?
I wish I could tell you that I’ve got it all together and everything is perfect, but that’s not the case. I sometimes feel hopeful that I will one day get caught up on my own photo albums, but I have a hard time doing that when I have client orders and deadlines waiting. So I do the best that I can by carefully considering our favorites to go on the walls as large artwork, as well as smaller frames around our home. Seeing those portraits makes me smile and keeps me going. I’m working on a new grouping now that I’m eager to enjoy.
Do you think that the rise of photography with smartphones and social media photography helps your business or hurts it?
It absolutely helps — social media has allowed us to connect, share, grow and discover like never before. The use of smartphones lets everyone discover their inner artist, and it’s so cool to see the beauty and creativity captured from so many unique perspectives! On another level, since we don’t advertise, we rely on referrals and people seeing our work. When someone posts our shots with logo/photo credit, it instantly boosts awareness of what we are creating, which leads to new bookings. I recently created a new Instagram account for the studio, and I’m blown away by how quickly we’ve felt the positive impact.
What are some words of advice you can give to someone wanting to take a really great picture?
Turn off the flash, avoid a busy background, get close, then get closer! Take your time, think about what you want, and don’t rush. The best advice? PRINT YOUR PHOTOS! We are creating a generation of kids who may not know what they looked like growing up. It’s not enough to back up the photos or throw a disk or jump drive in the drawer to just become corrupt or get lost. Phones break and images are lost forever, so back-up/archive and print your favorite photos because it’s all we have.
What are three words that describe you?
Loving, creative, passionate
What advice do you treasure?
Value experiences over things. Love others, and show them how they are loved. Wear sunblock on your face everyday, even in the winter. Be yourself — there’s a reason God made only one YOU.
Favorite thing to do in Louisville?
When we moved to Louisville from Elizabethtown almost seven years ago, we felt like we were on vacation because there were so many things to do! We are still enjoying all of the things that make this city so great — the arts, the incredible parks, fantastic restaurants and amazing boutiques and shops.
Tell us some of your favorite local restaurants.
Lilly’s for lunch and special occasions. LouVino, which is the perfect date night place in nearby Middletown. Mojitos is great anytime, love that place and the staff. Mussel & Burger Bar is always great, and there is something for everyone. Finally, Wild Eggs, and I’m embarrassed to say how often our family is there, separately and together, but we can’t help it — it is so good!
What’s on your personal reading list right now?
Right now I’m reading Chase The Lion by Mark Batterson, and I was excited to read this because Batterson is an incredible writer who also wrote The Circle Maker. It was about praying circles around your fears and dreams — that book changed my life. Next I’m going to tackle Tim Ferris’ new book, Tools of the Titans. Sean is reading it now and raving over it.
What are three of your favorite things right now, aside from faith, family and friends?
Since our sweet French bulldog, Lula, counts as family, my favorite things right now are: an electric teapot for super-fast boiling water, fresh flowers from Oberer’s and planning for our summer trip!
Photography of Adele Reding is by Sean Reding. All other photography is by Adele Reding.
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