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Photographer Bethany Schrock on Art, Success, and the Internet (Sponsored)

The Minnesota photographer Bethany Schrock, aka BethCath, lives by the motto “Be kind, and do things differently than the rest.” Whether she’s working with a major brand or an emerging small business–and she’s done plenty of both–she approaches each and every project with the goal of creating striking and unique images. With a clean and playful aesthetic, she creates authentic, relatable stories about products ranging from jewelry, clothing, and cosmetics to coffee, cereal, and ice cream. When a company hires Schrock, they do so because they want to stand out from the crowd. Her photographs draw you in with beautiful light, and they stay with you because of their emotional impact.

One look at Schrock’s website introduces clients to her sophisticated sensibility and whimsical disposition. We asked the artist about the ins and outs of working with brands, building a successful business, and staying true to her vision. Along the way, she took us behind the scenes for a glimpse into the making of her online portfolio and shared some of the perks of working with Squarespace to create an elegant, customized website.

You can try Squarespace free for 14 days. When you’re ready to subscribe, be sure to use coupon ‘FEATURESHOOT’ for 10% off your first purchase.

What’s the most elaborate shoot you’ve done so far?
“Last week, I think, I shot my most elaborate shoot. It was a promotional shoot for a women’s conference, and there were a lot of moving parts. There were twenty models, including some kids, and the shoot involved renting a studio space, pulling wardrobe for each model, coming up with concepts for each woman, and figuring out how to group them. I could go on and on. What made this shoot more intense is that I wanted each woman and each set to tell a story. I didn’t just want to take a bunch of pretty photos of girls to be used as promotional material on billboards. I wanted each image to captivate the audience.

“I embroidered three different T-Shirts with hearts on the chest but kept the thread long and tangled outside of the shirt. Then one heart was tied to another woman’s shirt, right next to her, who was of a different age and race. Then that last thread tied to another woman. Different yet connected. That’s just one example of the multiple ‘scenes’ I had set up for this shoot. All the brain power behind each photo was oh so worth it. When you invest time and energy into a project, you make sure the payoff shows. And man, it shows.”

What kinds of projects excite you the most?
“I love when a client and I can come up with a concept that visually tells their story. Working with someone who is passionate, eager, and ready to give you creative control is like Christmas Day. When you’re able to connect with your client and really build something together, it makes the work all the better.”

You have a large Instagram following–why do you think your feed speaks to so many people?
“I have this rule for myself that I’ve lived by for the past five years of my photography business. Shoot like your dream client is going to see it. I want to shoot every project, big or small, with the excellence and intentionality I would put in if I knew my dream company was going to see it. Don’t do lazy work just because you’re bored with a project. Whenever I post something on Instagram or on my website, I live by the same rule. I only want to put out my best work and things I’m proud of. I’ve been pretty transparent lately on social media, which I find refreshing. People want to connect to a real person, not just a “best of” or #Sponsored account. Don’t be afraid to share a little bit about your life, and definitely don’t be afraid to show your work!”

When you’re working with models and products, how do you keep your images looking authentic and natural? Any tricks for capturing genuine, relatable moments?
“First and foremost, be prepared whenever working with products or models. I always print out my inspirations for the shoot on paper and tape them to the wall. This way, I can keep myself on track with the stylistic direction so I don’t need to be thinking about that when shooting. When working with models, professional or not, I want them to feel comfortable. I look them in the eye, use their name, and tell them to ‘shake it out.’ I flap my arms back and forth with them to help them loosen up. I then tell them to take a deep breath and relax their hands. I tell them that we’ve got this. Just having that moment to connect with the person before I start shooting and bossing them around really does help.

“When working with products, I always think, ‘Would I like this photo if it wasn’t mine?’ Sometimes we can set so stuck in our own heads that we forget the reason the client hired us: because they like our style. Stick with it! Be your own filter. Don’t hand over or post work you’re not a fan of!”

You’re not afraid of mixing it up with black and white, color, double exposures, or even animations–why do you think it’s important to keep challenging yourself to try new things?
“It’s good to keep ourselves challenged because we are artists. We get bored easily. Our attention spans are pathetic sometimes. We struggle with FOMO. If you don’t push yourself to try something new and uncomfortable, you will eventually get discouraged. Stay out of the creative rut by keeping yourself on your toes!”

Why did you select Squarespace when you were looking for website platforms?
“The honest answer is because it was the new web format that looked good and easy to understand. I’ve stuck with Squarespace (for five years, I might add) because they aren’t afraid to mix it up as well. They are constantly coming out with new templates and keeping their pages clean and beautiful so your work gets all the attention. I chose a template that was really image-driven. As a photographer and stylist, that’s ideal. And their templates are really easy to customize. If I’m feeling bored with my website, it’s easy to tweak two or three things, and the site will look brand new. I’ve learned ways to add new pages and grids to make it exactly how I want it. Oh, the beauty of Squarespace.”

Your portfolio has lots of space for both text and images. Why was it important to you to incorporate both into your site?
“When building my website, I wanted to show my work and also explain to the viewer how I made the photos. I wanted to tell the story behind each project, which I find adds a lot of value.”

You keep a journal on your website. What role has that fulfilled?
“I have a Journal page on my website for small projects that I love and am proud of. They may have been photographed just for the heck of it (artists need to make work for themselves too; don’t forget that), or maybe the project was on a smaller scale. By adding journal entries to my site, I get my SEO rolling by posting more on my site as well as showing the variety in my work. I strongly recommend having a blog on your site and using it!”

What was your number one goal for your website when you first built it? Has it met that goal?
“I wanted a place to show off my work and be proud of it. With years of portfolio building, lots of bad photos, some good photos, hard work, and a few tweaks later, I have definitely met my goal. I love my site and all it holds.”

You can try Squarespace free for 14 days. When you’re ready to subscribe, be sure to use coupon ‘FEATURESHOOT’ for 10% off your first purchase.

Squarespace is a Feature Shoot sponsor.

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