This month's awesome artist spotlight goes to the talented photographer and Abigail Bickers aka Sommer Haus Studios!!!! Check out some awesome photo work and learn more about her below!!
So, where are you from?
I’m from Charlottesville but currently in Harrisonburg, VA
How did you come up with your business name?
I really love summer themes and vibrant colors so I wanted to go with something “summery”. I started out as “Moon Prism Photos” but I felt like I had grown out of the name and wanted to create a new brand for a broader audience. Sommer Haus just felt right to me
What is your favorite gear setup to use for your photo shoots (body, lenses, lights etc.)?
I’m a big Canon fan, I’m pretty spontaneous so I like to just grab my two favorite lenses and keep them in my pockets and roll with it! My best friend bought me this giant light for Christmas and I’ve used it a few times but I’m definitely looking for more opportunities to bring it out
How long have you been doing photography? What do you think has been the greatest change in the community since you’ve started your art form?
I really got into it around Christmas time last year in 2018, I got a camera set on Black Friday and started out doing blog-styled flat lays of makeup and skin care for my old website. I still consider myself a novice in the field, so I don’t feel like I’m terribly educated on the subject, but I’ve noticed great editing techniques will get you pretty far
If you could give one warning to someone entering the world of conventions, what would it be?
I would say try to take everything with a grain of salt and know your personal limits. It’s so easy to overexert yourself and burn out quickly. Take plenty of naps, decompress when necessary and stay hydrated!
What is the biggest challenge that comes with cosplay photography, in your opinion?
In my opinion, the biggest challenge would be ignoring a lot of industry stereotypes. I believe a lot of artists can be easily influenced by more experienced artists and can doubt themselves and doubt their final product; if you don’t feel like your photos are the best or cosplay is the best, it can be frustrating and discouraging as a creator. It’s important to remember that as a creator, as long as you are creating you’re making progress
And personally, what is YOUR biggest challenge when it comes to cosplay photography?
I’m definitely still on the novice side but I enjoy learning as I go, keeping up with editing styles and self-teaching can be tricky. I’m also prone to trying to burn the candle at both ends and fit in as many shoots as possible and showcase as much talent as possible, I’m learning my limits and to take more time for myself between sets
Do you have ‘a style’ or certain photographic elements that you would say most people would know you for?
While I’m still developing a personal style, I would say I’m more prone to showcasing my work with lots of vibrant colors, and a “light and airy” feel I picked-up from doing bridal shoots. You’re not going to find me doing much over-editing either; I’m a skincare junkie in real life so my goal is to showcase a “polished” version of my subject
Which of your shoots has provided you with the most challenge so far? Which one has been the most rewarding?
The most challenging shoot I’ve done was at Katsucon 2019, it was my first time going and I had no idea what to expect. I had easily set up around 20 mini shoots that day and between scheduled shoots and hallway shoots, I was dead by the end of the day.
The most rewarding shoot I’ve done was a recent “urban bridal” collaboration with my hairstylist. We had her cousin come in and wear her wedding dress she never got to wear but had kept for about 4 years and gave her the hair and makeup of her dreams then took her out downtown for some shoots and she was a natural and got tons and tons of compliments that day. It definitely gave me the warm and fuzzies to experience so much positivity first-hand
What is your favorite part about taking photos of cosplayers?
I love their reactions, their creativity, their energy, it’s like getting a drawing from your child and hanging it on your fridge. I’m so proud of them and I want them to shine; I love making people feel beautiful and making them shine
What is the worst part about taking photos of cosplayers?
I wouldn’t necessarily say that there’s an exact “worse” part, but it can be difficult to coordinate larger groups who have a lot of ideas and poor execution. I would advise large groups to try and choreograph beforehand if possible, it’ll save you so much time and your photos will look stellar! I’m a mess myself, so I can help improvise on the spot
What is your favorite convention to attend and why?
I would definitely say Magfest, I was spoiled and that was my very first convention and I’ve just loved it ever since
What are your hobbies outside of photography?
Outside of photography, I work full time for an accounting firm, freelance as a makeup artist at weddings, pursue my first degree, and try to play as many video games as possible and create as much art as possible
How do you balance that with your normal everyday life?
I would describe myself as a little bit of a neurotic person, I’m not happy unless I have a full schedule and lots of activities to do. I’m either super social and super busy or haven’t left my apartment for days. I’m dramatic about my workload sometimes (even though I literally chose these things lol), but I’m just an extremely ambitious and goal-oriented person
Is there anything else you want to tell people thinking about stepping into the world of cosplay photography?
I would give the same advice I give to people entering the beauty industry: don’t be afraid! Experiment with your shoots, be transparent and open to criticism, communicate with your clients, be respectful, and just have fun! The more you play the more you’ll learn. I would also say that networking is key, it’s great to know a lot of people in a similar industry to recommend a back-up if you can’t take a certain job. Your clients will respect you for recommending someone you trust, and you’ll build a relationship with the people you network with; it’s a no brainer
Where can we find you on social media or check out some of your work?