Interview With Neil Simmons

Neil Simmons is a photographer raised in Santa Cruz County and he is lucky to live close to many of his favorite photogenic spots around California. Here he explains to Tiffany Reed Briley while he enjoys the challenge of getting the shots he wants while on the road

Hi Neil! It’s great to meet you! First off, tell us a little bit about yourself!

I’m married and a father of two great kids. My family includes my wife Leanna, Jackie (10) and Jake (6). When I’m not photographing I’m out surfing, snowboarding, hiking, mountain biking, playing with the kids, and playing music in my band Fire’s Fury.

I live and breathe this photography stuff so I’m an up early, stay up late, traveling whenever I can kinda guy. I’ll sleep in my car, backpack in the snow, get my clothes and shoes wet, muddy, and wreck my gear just to get ‘the shot’. I’m obsessed with the timing and alignment of things like the sun, moon, tides, stars and the Milky Way in my photography. It’s been really handy to have an app like Photo Pills that helps me to get creative with these alignments. As an example, Photo Pills helped show me that it’s only in June when I can stand on a certain spot at Twin Lakes beach and see the full moon setting at sunrise aligning our two lighthouses in Santa Cruz. It helped me plan a trip to Death Valley where I caught the full moon setting over Zabriskie Point last spring. It is also very handy as it shows where the Milky Way will be in the night sky at a certain time.

As a full-time professional photographer, I find myself doing a little bit of everything. I have photographed over 500 weddings so that has been my focus for a long time. I tell people I shoot weddings, portraits, fine art and commercial work. Portraiture in itself is a very broad category and includes maternity, babies, boudoir, pin-up, families and high school seniors. My busy summer and fall schedule has me grabbing my camera to shoot a landscape any chance I get in the winter and spring. Thankfully sunrise is a good time any time of the year for me to photograph or surf. The light is great and after an hour or two I can go about my day and it’s only 9 o’clock.

As an example of my week, I shot a new hotel (Chaminade Resort), the owner of the Bargetto Winery in his vineyard, the granddaughter of Alfred Hitchcock for a magazine article, exercise clothing for my friend Patrick’s business Yura Sports. I also photographed ...

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About Author

Tiffany Briley

Tiffany Reed Briley currently lives in Charleston, SC with her husband. They own Charleston Photography Tours and The Photography Workshop Company. Tiffany is on staff at The Landscape Photography Magazine and Wild Planet Photo Magazine. Raised in Alberta, Canada she enjoys photographing the seascapes of Charleston, the majestic vistas of the Canadian Rockies, and is always ready for the next adventure awaiting her.

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