Wild Plum Photography

A tech expert turned photographer, Hari Simons brings a fresh perspective to portrait photography. Working mostly with natural light, her images are slices of real life. In a landscape of portrait photographers, Hari's honest and free approach to portraiture sets her apart from the crowd.

Using Zenfolio for her main website, Hari has created an elegant online portfolio that is integrated seamlessly with her external Blog. She loves that she can keep design elements simple so that the focus is always on her work.
Hari understands the importance of social networking to drive word of mouth referrals and loves that she can use the Export to Facebook functionality to feature new work and spread the word.
Hari uses Zenfolio as her portfolio website and for all client proofing and ordering.

Where were you born and raised? Where have you put down roots?

I'm a California girl. I was born in Los Angeles and my family moved to the Bay Area when I was one. I've lived elsewhere -- San Diego, Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania), and even a few years in India -- but I always come back to the Bay. I met my husband here. We live in San Francisco now and love it.

What type of photography do you shoot? What type of photography are you most passionate about shooting?

I love people, and I love to show the beauty in their lives and relationships. For me it's about finding moments that show the bonds connecting people -- watching parents experience the world with their toddler, the excitement and optimism of newlyweds, the wonder of a newborn.

How long have you been a shutter releaser? What led you to this profession?

I've been fascinated with making pictures for as long as I can remember. It started innocently enough, as a way for me to express the beauty I saw around me in the everyday world. When I started photographing my camera-shy friends the challenge of drawing out someone's personality in front of the camera became evident. And then I was really hooked. I started thinking of ways to break down the camera barrier and get through to the natural, un-self-conscious beauty of the person in front of me. I didn't set out to pursue photography as a career, but over the years as I continued to photograph and learn, it became clear that I had a gift for seeing people that I needed to use.

How has Zenfolio helped your business?

Wow, Zenfolio has been a huge help. I started using Zenfolio to simplify the proofing and printing process, and I've gradually been moving more and more of my site over as they keep adding new things. Having an all-in-one solution like this makes it so much easier to create and maintain a great online presence that's easy for clients and for me. It's become quite indispensable.

MAC or PC?

Mac.

Do you have brand loyalty for Canon, Nikon or something completely different?

I do love my Nikon.

Is there a place you have never been that you long to visit and yearn to photograph?

I've been fortunate to travel to many countries around the world, but I have yet to visit Japan. I've always admired the Japanese aesthetic and would love to spend some time photographing life in Japan.

Are your photography skills self-taught or were you classically trained?

I guess I'm somewhere in between. I don't have a photography or art degree, but I'm a big fan of formal education and make a point of fitting photography classes into my schedule. There's always more to learn.

What advice would you give a new photographer just starting out?

Experiment and shoot all kinds of things to help you find your niche, then consider taking a business class specifically for photographers. Learning how to price and protect your work, the taxes you're required to collect, kinds of contracts you're likely to encounter, etc. can help you avoid common photographer mistakes and put you on the right track from the start.

Surf or turf? Veggies?

I'm a lifelong vegetarian (thanks parents!).

What inspires you as a photographer? Or who?

I'm always inspired by being outside and taking in the beauty of nature. When I need to reset, I climb a hill for a sweeping San Francisco vista, or head out to the ocean. I also love looking at all kinds of photography -- it's fascinating to see the world through other people's eyes.

What are your thoughts on using social networking sites to market your photography business?

I think social networking used wisely can be a fantastic marketing tool. Be yourself and provide something that's interesting or of value to your network. But it's worth deciding how much time you're willing to invest and holding yourself to it, because these sites can quickly become time-sinks if you're not careful.

Tell us the last movie you went to and if it's a thumbs up or thumbs down?

I don't go to the movies much... and actually I can't even remember the last movie I went to.

What is the very first camera you ever owned?

My very first camera was a point-and-shoot that my parents bought for me when I went to India. I don't remember the brand (I was 9 years old), but I think it used 110 film cartridges.

Is there a book in your bag? Which one?

At the moment I'm reading The Importance of Living, by Lin Yutang.

What piece of equipment or doohickey do you have with you on every shoot?

I rely on natural light for many of my shoots, so I always have a digital gray card in my bag to get accurate white balance. It's a huge time saver in post-production.

Final words of wisdom on being a first class shooter?

Shoot as much as possible and never stop learning! Find what you love and trust that the rest will follow.

Hari Simons

The Pro

Hari Simons,
Family and lifestyle portraits, San Francisco, CA

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