with Courtney Slazinik
Have You Met Abbe McCracken
Have You Met Abbe McCracken

Excited about our Have You Met series where I showcase YOU, the photographers of our community. We had over 400 photographers apply for the series in less than a week. I can’t wait to showcase the talented photographers. There is a mix of hobbyist and business owners as well as full-frame and crop sensor users. This may be my new favorite part of the site.

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks in advance for supporting Click it Up a Notch. I am no longer accepting applications for this series.

  • No.
    Tell us a little about yourself and your photography journey.

    My photography journey began as an elementary school pinhole camera project. The positive impression that project made on me didn’t show up until years later, but that was definitely the start. I loved that project. I loved photographing my house in the snow and developing my own film. That was the only time I’ve been in a dark room because the rest of my journey involves a DSLR.

    Like many, I got serious when my first child was born. That need to document it all and do it well was strong. My friends noticed. They wanted pictures too and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Twenty-five excuses, formal training and a few school buses later, Abbe McCracken Photography in Charlotte, NC was born. That was 3 years and over 200 sessions ago.

  • No.
    What is the best advice you received so far on your photography journey?

    Shoot. Shoot. Shoot. And then shoot some more. For years, I played with every setting, every button and every mode until I knew what they did without really knowing what they were supposed to do. The best way to learn is to try and make mistakes. Mistakes lead to mastery.

    Abbe McCracken Photography_07 AW1 Shot

  • No.
    Where do you find your inspiration?

    From my kids and the events in their lives. That’s why I initially picked up a camera so long go. They still inspire me daily but now that inspiration is mixed with my love for capturing joy and connections. I’m inspired by the connections my subjects have to each other and to me. Those are the moments I want to capture. Those are the moments I want them to remember.

  • No.
    What type of background do you have? Self taught? Formal training? Mentor?

    My background includes both self-taught and formal training. I was self-taught to a point but then knew that if I really wanted to get serious, I should learn from the pros. I’ve never stopped learning. I still take professional classes to advance my skills and creativity.

    Abbe McCracken Photography_06

  • No.
    Are you currently doing any photography projects? If so, what?

    I’m almost finished with my second Instagram 365 project – one iPhone picture a day, 365 days a year. I’m a huge believer in the best camera being the one you have with you and my iPhone is always with me. I print my monthly 365 images using Artifact Uprising’s Instagram Friendly Books. Every single day someone picks up one of our books and laughs at our memories. So worth it.

    In January, I’m starting a 365 project with my big girl camera. There I said it. Now I have to do it. I recently printed my 2013 (yes, I was a little behind) Project 52 album and my family loves it. My husband even commented on the quality of the work and asked for more. So you see, you have to hold me accountable for this new project!

  • No.
    If you could only use one lens for a year, which would you choose?

    I’d like to abstain and chose the whole Sigma Art Glass line. No really. I just bought the 50mm 1.4 and should pick that one because it’s new. But that lens and I speak the same language. I instinctively knew how to use it the minute I pushed the shutter button. If I could only use one lens for year, I’d shoot with the Sigma Art 35mm 1.4. I’m so inspired by the images this lens can produce, but its wider angle is out of my comfort zone. If you must limit me, then I must issue myself that challenge.

    Abbe McCracken Photography_05

  • No.
    Share links to 3 of your favorite photography tutorials and tell us why.

    There’s No Room In This Room! 4 Tricks For Photos In Small Homes
    It really doesn’t matter if your home is small or big, light-filled or dark, cluttered or organized, it can be hard to see your own space in a new way. This tutorial really helps with angles and low light.

    Snapshot vs. Good Photograph: 7 Photographers Weigh In
    I learn so much from other people’s perspectives and feedback. This takes you through the minds of seven acclaimed photographers as they discuss happy snaps vs. professional photographs.

    Comparison: The Trained Ninja Thief In The Night
    I love this post so much. I’ve already shared it with everyone I know. It’s more inspirational than tutorial … armchair psychiatry at its best. Photography is art. Your art is your very own. My art is my very own. Social media makes it impossible for us to ignore the plethora of images out there so be aware, be inspired; but find joy in your own journey.

  • No.
    What is your favorite image right now?

    FAVORITE - Abbe McCracken Photography_01

    This is my daughter Kate and our dog Max. I shot this while we were waiting for the bus on Kate’s first day of middle school. I love the connection, the color and the moment: a goodbye and till-we-meet-again.

  • No.
    What type of camera and lenses do you shoot with?

    I shoot with a full-frame Nikon d610 and a family of primes lens: Nikkor 85mm 1.8, Nikkor 50mm 1.8 and the Sigma Art 35mm 1.4. I also own the mirrorless, all-weather Nikon1 AW1. Taking that camera underwater opened my eyes to a whole new world. It laughed in the face of summer’s sun, sand and surf, and I loved the creativity and freedom it gave me.

  • No.
    Let’s light someone else’s candle, who is a photographer you think we should check out?

    You need to know my amazing friend, Kellie Brindley-Koonce. I find her work so inspiring, yet so different from mine. She shoots wide. She tells stories. She prefers black and white. She captures the big picture and she’s a freelensing master. She’s going to help me deconstruct an old lens (a.k.a. break it) so that I can try my eye at freelensing too. I can’t wait. I’ll never have a better coach. Check her out!

  • No.
    What is your biggest challenge when it comes to photography?

    Slowing down. Life moves fast. I move fast. The kids I photograph move fast. It all happens so quickly with or without a camera in my hand. I want to slow down and be even more intentional about every shot I take.

    Abbe McCracken Photography_03

  • No.
    How do you display your photos?

    I love albums but I’m also currently designing two wall art displays for our home. One installment is a floor-to-ceiling framed print gallery of our favorite family moments. The other will feature large canvases in a more graphic pattern. Until then, our albums will get all the love.
    Abbe McCracken Photography_04

  • No.
    What is the strangest thing you carry in your camera bag?

    Nail polish remover because … little girls. In the midst of preparing for a photo session, nail polish is often the last thing a mama notices at home and the first thing she sees en route. If it’s too bright, too funky or too chipped, it’s gone in about two minutes and I’ve saved myself a lot of editing time.

  • No.
    What is next on your list of things to learn this year in photography?

    Lightroom. After watching your recent webinar with Cole’s Classroom, I really want to learn Lightroom. I bought the starter tutorials because you scored us all such amazing deals. Thank you! Putting those tutorials into action is my winter homework. I currently use ACR and Photoshop. I love both and they’ve been all I ever needed. But Lightroom has such a huge, positive presence in our industry now. Many of my product suppliers are incorporating Lightroom shortcuts into their workflows. I want to be able to take advantage of these time savers, so I’m making time to learn.

  • No.
    If people want to follow more of your work where should they go?

    You can find more of my work on my website, Abbe McCracken Photography and more of my life on Instagram. Every now and then, I show client work on Instagram too, but for the most part, it’s a peek into my everyday – a behind the scenes look at life as a mom, a photographer and a business owner. You should probably add dog walker and taxi driver too.

    Abbe McCracken Photography_02

  • Esther Ayers
    October 19, 2015 at 11:33 AM

    Indeed, an amazing photographer to know!!! Keep up the great work Courtney and Abbe!

    • Abbe McCracken
      October 19, 2015 at 4:33 PM

      You’re a pretty amazing friend and photog yourself. Thank you!!

  • Cole
    October 19, 2015 at 5:06 PM

    Awesome interview! Glad you enjoyed the webinar :)

    • Abbe McCracken
      October 19, 2015 at 9:04 PM

      I loved it Cole! Now I just need to use what I bought!

  • Anne Jeschke
    October 19, 2015 at 8:40 PM

    Abbe! Wonderful interview – you are an amazing artist – your images are so beautiful! I’m sure your clients appreciate your talent as much as your friends and followers do!

    • Abbe McCracken
      October 20, 2015 at 8:03 AM

      Anne! You are so sweet. I’m so lucky to have you cheering me on and so lucky to have met you in person! Yeah for Click Away. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  • Beth Wade
    October 19, 2015 at 9:02 PM

    Fantastic feature Abbe! I’m stealing that nail polish remover idea too ;)

    • Abbe McCracken
      October 19, 2015 at 9:06 PM

      I’m good for something every now and then! Thank you for reading <3

  • Kathy Roberts
    October 19, 2015 at 10:09 PM

    I loved reading and learning more about you Abbe! Those albums you print every month from your 365 are fantastic!

    • Abbe McCracken
      October 20, 2015 at 8:01 AM

      Thank you Kathy! I really appreciate you taking time to read and comment. Those albums are the best! They couldn’t be easier either. Make one! Are you frozen this morning? I had to turn the heat on last night ;-)

  • sandy
    October 20, 2015 at 9:51 AM

    Abbe – this is a fantastic interview!! Congratulations and job well done!! Very proud of you!!

  • Tish
    October 22, 2015 at 6:41 AM

    Great interview Abbe! I just love following you and your work! I, too, am going to steal the fingernail polish remover idea! That will really come in handy!

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