Student Success: Lu Ross

By Michelle Ecker on March 2nd, 2017
After working in the web design business for several years, Lu Ross decided to pursue her longtime love of photography as a full time career instead. After enrolling in NYIP’s Complete Course in Professional Photography to expand her knowledge of both composition and business management, she began working in representational and abstract fine art photography. Today, she is an artist in residence for the Mojave National Preserve, where 40% of the proceeds of the art she creates and sells benefits the National Park Service. In addition, she launched her own business and became a co-owner of Quorum Gallery, an art Gallery in Laguna Beach, CA, where she now permanently exhibits and sells her work. We recently had the opportunity to chat with Lu about her education at NYIP, the work she’s doing now and her plans for the future. Here’s what we learned:
Student Success : Lu Ross

1. When did you realize that photography was the field you wanted to pursue?

I became interested in photography at a young age since I traveled frequently with my family and enjoyed capturing the world I was discovering with my camera. Photography remained a hobby for many years and it was not until I became a web designer that the demand for images allowed me to bring photography into my workflow. It didn’t take long for me to realize that photography had soon turned into a passion and was no longer a hobby. The realization that web design only partly satisfied my desire for creativity and art, combined with my love for travel, made it clear that I wanted to pursue a career in photography. Photography and travel have come together as one, in the subject matter and essence of my work.

Student Success : Lu Ross

2. When did you enroll at NYIP?

I was born in Chile and early on, obtained a B.A. in Mathematics/Statistics at the University of Chile, Santiago. Here I received the accounting preparation, which I would eventually use to run a business. Some years later, working as a web designer I developed expertise in numerous software programs such as Photoshop, Camera Raw, and Lightroom, which I now use in my photographic artistry and workflow.

Once I decided to transition from web design to photography as my primary occupation I realized that it was a must to learn everything there is to know about photography as an art and as a business. That is when I enrolled at NYIP. The Complete Course in Professional Photography gave me the additional knowledge I needed to start my photography business.

Student Success : Lu Ross

3. What was your coursework like?

The Complete Course in Professional Photography was excellent. Not only did it cover every technical aspect and type of photography but also covered photography as a business and how to start your own business.

4. Was your mentor helpful during the process?

My mentor was extremely helpful throughout the course. I always received positive and constructive feedback.

Student Success : Lu Ross

5. What type of work are you doing now?

I am a representational and abstract fine art photographer. I am passionate about capturing the world through photography and bringing awareness of the beauty that exists all around us. My work is a fusion of my love for traveling and my vision of the world. I especially enjoy finding abstracts in the natural world as well the urban space.

I exhibit and sell my work at art galleries, museums and art festivals like the Art-A-Fair in Laguna Beach, CA.

Having a teaching background has made it easier to offer private and group photography lessons. I truly enjoy sharing my love for photography with those who are eager to learn.

6. Tell us about Lu Ross Photography!

Once I felt prepared on all aspects of starting a photography business I founded Lu Ross Photography!, initially working from my home studio. Through my travels photographing landscapes, nature, cityscapes and abstracts I created a large portfolio of images. With this in hand, I used my knowledge and expertise in web design to create my website to advertise my artwork.

Since I was interested in fine art I became a co-owner of Quorum Gallery, an art Gallery in Laguna Beach, CA, where I permanently exhibit and sell my work. Sometimes I sell work that is showing at the gallery and other times I accept and sell commissioned work. I visit customers’ residences or offices, making recommendations on the type of art that best fits their space.

It’s important to me to always give back so I participate in fundraisers and projects to benefit different causes. For example, I am currently an Artist in Residence for the Mojave National Preserve, CA where 40% of the proceeds of the art that I create and sell will go to benefit the National Park Service.

My work has been featured in numerous newspaper articles and published in many magazines such as Premiere OC-Orange Coast Magazine, Hobie Hotline Magazine, Laguna Beach Independent Newspaper and others.

Student Success : Lu Ross

7. How do you find new clients and advertise the work you do?

One of my top promotional opportunities is through my gallery. As a gallery based in Laguna Beach, not only do I get foot traffic but also referral business. I also use social media, newspapers, and traditional email campaigns as well as create special events to attract new collectors.

The museum exhibits, festivals, shows, and fundraisers that I participate in, also provide an excellent opportunity for promoting my business. For example, my image “Reflections” was selected by Solvang’s Wildling Museum Of Art And Nature to represent Yosemite National Park in the exhibit “Celebrating National Parks in California.”

8. What qualities do you think a successful, aspiring photographer needs?

I believe that the primary quality required to become a successful photographer is passion. If you love what you do then you will be successful. My goal is to share my love of photography by creating compelling images that inspire and connect with the viewer.

Dedication and patience is important as well. It takes long days and many hours of work to create a top quality image. Not only do you spend long days in the field but also in post processing.

You also need to have a strong interest in learning. We live in a digital world and not only do you need to learn every aspect of your equipment but also learn how to use the vast number of software programs to post-process your images, such as Lightroom, Photoshop and many others.

Student Success : Lu Ross

9. What do you always carry with you in your camera bag?

  • The equipment in my bag(s) consist of:
  • Body Canon 5D Mark III
  • Body Canon 7D
  • Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II
  • Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L II
  • Canon Teleconverter EF 2X III
  • Canon Extension Tube EF25 II
  • Canon Speedlite 580 EX II
  • Really Right Stuff TVC-33 Tripod
  • Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ballhead
  • Timer Remote Controller TC-80N3
  • ND filters
  • Extra Batteries & charger

10. What’s the most interesting thing you learned at NYIP?

It was very interesting to get an overview of all the different types of photography. Even though I obviously don’t specialize in all of them, this knowledge can open doors to new opportunities. For example, I don’t specialize in portrait photography but I have been commissioned to do portraits multiple times and have acquired many repeat customers.

11. If you had to pick one, what was the most memorable photography project you’ve ever completed?

Although I’ve enjoyed many of my projects I believe that shooting and traveling through Italy significantly impacted my photography. I remember the evening while visiting Venice, Italy, waiting for a Vaporetto on the Grand Canal, being struck by what was in front of me; the history and the beautiful architecture that comprise this remarkable, floating city, as well as the beauty of the sun setting on the structures on the canal's waterfront. Once again I was inspired not only to capture nature's beauty but also to depict the beauty created by humankind.

Student Success : Lu Ross

12. Describe a workday in your life as a photographer.

My life as a photographer is not always behind the camera as I have a business to run as well. I spend many hours running my gallery as well as doing post-processing work. What I love the most, of course, is going out on the field. I continually do research for both wilderness and urban locations and plan my trips in detail. I use many different applications when planning a trip. I use Google Earth (for terrain), The Photographer’s Ephemeris (for sunset, sunrise & moon information), Stellarium, Star Walk & Clear Dark Sky (for night photography) to name a few and I always take a topographic map with me. Sometimes I fly, drive and hike for hours to get to my destination. When I finally get there I scout the area during the day and go back to shoot at sunrise and/or sunset, when colors peak in their vibrancy. If I have an overcast day I take advantage of photographing the small details, which can make great abstracts. If I’m doing night sky photography I usually take a break (and maybe a nap) so I can stay sharp all night. When photographing the skies (the Milky Way being my favorite) you can stay up all night and don’t realize it until the sun starts coming up. The view is so spectacular it keeps you in awe and quite awake.

13. What’s the most rewarding part of studying photography?

For me, the most rewarding part of studying photography is that I get to make a living doing what I love to do. My two biggest passions are travel and photography. I get to travel and photograph the world; its nature, cities, people and cultures. By sharing my images I intend for the viewer to make an emotional connection to these subjects and at the same time I want to bring awareness of the beauty that exists all around us. Photography has opened up a whole new world for me and I hope that my work impacts my viewers in a similar way.

Student Success : Lu Ross

14. What subject is usually your favorite to shoot?

My travels inspire a wide range of subject matter but I believe that my favorite is water, in all its forms, either as the main subject or as a portion of the image. Water is a wonderful element that shapes our environment and creates magical moments under the right atmospheric conditions. Water forms ice and snow, it creates clouds and roaring waterfalls, its responsible for fog & rainbows, it reflects the world around us in a breathtaking display of light and color, and can create stunning images.

15. If you could give one piece of advice to our current and prospective students, what would it be?

Create your own style. You can study the masters but stay true to yourself. Know your camera. Learn all the buttons and dials by touch if possible (it comes very handy when doing night photography).

Learn to shoot on manual and thoroughly understand the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO.

Learning is a lifetime process so keep learning and stay up to date. Technology moves fast!

Want to learn more? NYIP offers accredited photography classes that can help you learn photography or start a new career. Request your free course catalog