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Meet Ginger Rabe of Ginger Rabe Photography

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ginger Rabe.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Ginger. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I fell in love with photography when I was 9 the day my dad handed me my first Polaroid camera. He acquired the camera because he bought my mom a new washer and dryer and that was the gift that came with it. I happened to be with my dad and he looked down at me and said here. I immediately started taking pictures of everything when we got home. My very first picture was of my sister in our house, it was crooked, dark, and blurry. I had no idea what I was doing but I knew I wanted to document everything. My dad was a self-taught photographer and had a Minolta and Canon film camera. After watching me run around for about a week with this Polaroid not knowing what I was doing he decided to teach me how to take a picture. He taught me how to frame up a picture, how to make sure there was lighting and to take my time. I soaked up all of his advice and did just that. I remember hearing the pop of the flash bulbs on top of the camera, the film spitting out making that winding noise as it fed out a black piece of film. I would wait and wait for it to turn into a picture and would be so happy when it was exactly what I wanted.

From there, I transferred into shooting with film and using my dad’s camera. It was years later and I decided to be on the yearbook committee my junior and senior year of high school so that I could have full access to a dark room. It was perfect for getting access to film and as much as I wanted. They let us roll all of our own film so I would shoot about 15 rolls of film a week and develop it. I really learned a lot about lighting and how a camera works. My dad taught me about f-stops and ISO that I still use to this day. During this time, I was also on the other end of the camera, I was a runway model for many years. When I did have to do print I mainly would ask the photographer all kind of questions about their camera and how they got to where they are. I basically had a photography lesson 3 to 4 times a week. It was great. I was able to learn from some of the top fashion photographers and they seemed happy to tell me everything they knew.

I think this is where my love of fashion photography formed. I learned angles, movements and now how to be creative. I started putting more creativity in my own photos. Many years after high school when my son was 3 I decided I was going to do photography professionally. This came as two-fold. My grandmother had passed away years earlier and while visiting my grandfather one day with my son I came across a picture of my grandmother in front of a dark room. I asked him what this was and he told me the whole story of how her first job was a photographer for the Navy and that is how they met. It showed me that it had been passed through our family from my grandma, to my dad, to me, and now my son works for me learning about photography. It threw me into the profession even more. The second half was I finally invested in professional equipment and I dove in with both feet. I was very lucky during this time to have a good friend Von Ware, of Ware Studios, teach me the ropes of my business, as well as how to push myself. I took in all of his advice and pushed myself. I knew I wanted to do pin-up photography and at the time there were no female pin-up photographers. So I became one of the only ones at that time in my area and it was amazing. Doing pin-up, I like to push people out of their comfort zone to get them to make art not just a picture. It always works. I push them to the line, they jump over and what they get are high fashioned type pictures that look like artwork not just a photograph. I recently have gotten back into scenery pictures after spending some time in Maui and traveling the island for 7 days taking pictures.

There were a few years where I was not sure what I want to photograph. I think I was burnt out and feeling stuck. I knew I needed to push myself to get to a new level but I was afraid of what would happen. During these few years I photographed families, children and weddings. I have to say I did like the weddings because I am not a typical photographer, I am very candid. So the clients I had wanted fun pictures which is what I gave them.

I see the world photographically. It wasn’t until years later while pursing my masters in Photography, which I did not finish, I had a professor tell me this. He told me you cannot be taught this, you either have it or you don’t, he said I had the eye. It was great to have an answer to how I always looked at things walking down the street. Basically, I can see exactly how a photograph will look before I even shoot it. I have always had the ability to interpret light, convert surfaces, and see variations while viewing places and people. I always think of how I can take all those moments and make an entire story about them and wrap it all up in one picture. Most of my pictures are candid. This is how I capture the moment. I want to push myself harder than I have ever before for the next year to make some amazing pieces that make the audience stop and think. I say this because I feel that my pictures are never good enough. I feel like I am constantly doing it wrong and it is scary. But then I think if I thought it was perfect, that I was the best, or it was easy then there would be no way I would try even harder than I did the day before or push myself to become the photographer I want to be. I think I have my company, my clients, and photographs today because I am always wanting to push myself. That is why I think I got to where I am today, because of fear as well as wanting to show the world what I am seeing so they can have a piece of it.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has not always been a smooth road to get where I am today. In the beginning of doing this professionally I had to convince people I could take a picture. I had to do some shoots for only twenty-five dollars just so that they would spread the word. I did have one thing going for me though I had learned Photoshop many years earlier so I knew I could do all my own editing and not have to hire anyone for it. Also for about 2 years I had to work with equipment that was not up to date. I made it work somehow learning tricks, researching, reading. I learned a lot from this man at the camera store. I think I asked him about a hundred questions a week trying to find what type of lens I should get. I had to save up, I worked three jobs, was going to college to finish my bachelor’s degree, and raising my one-year old son as a single parent. I did end up buying my Canon 7D and all the lenses I wanted. It was a struggle but without it I would not have learned to keep pushing through and reinventing myself. I have to say some years ago I almost completely gave up. I had a client that was so unbelievably hard to work with that no matter what I did she was not happy. I retook her photos for free twice, I paid someone to reedit her pictures with putting in people from other pictures because she was not happy with the four she received from me before, down to blaming me for her own printer’s mistake who was in another state (that one made my jaw hit the floor). I tried very hard to make her happy and it was not until I dissolved our contract after 6 months of this that I thought I was done. I didn’t touch my camera for an entire year. Then my good friend Lamar, who is a singer/songwriter who does a charity event for families every Christmas asked me to take some pictures for him that I realized I wouldn’t let one person win over what I know I am good at. So getting over the struggle of knowing that some time shoots don’t go as planned can be difficult at times but it has paved the road for how I now run my business and it has been smooth sailing ever since.

Ginger Rabe Photography – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
My company Ginger Rabe Photography is a full photography company.

I am the owner, the photographer and the designer.

I specialize in pin-up photography, landscape photography, and I have recently been crossing over into extreme sports photography.

I am very well known for pin-up photography. A lot of this has to do with having an all-woman team as well as I have been on the other side of the camera. I walk the clients through how to pose, stand, look, think, dress. Many times, I even get down and show them myself how it needs to look and why.

I am most proud of my company being able to fit everyone needs. I am also proud I am a woman business owner that not only takes pictures but can forge through business practices. I also am proud that Ginger Rabe Photography is a family business now that my son is interning with me.

What sets my company apart is that I personally get to know everyone before I ever photograph them. We talk on the phone, meet in person, and talk many times before the day of their photograph. I personally find out what exactly they are wanting the pictures for and tailor the shoot all around them. My clients become friends. It makes it so that they are so comfortable that it’s a very fun day. Pictures should be a memory and a good one, a fun one. I feel that because I do truly care about the people I photograph that they get what they are looking for. This is also why I have clients come back again and again, from out of state and down the street, and it usually turns into a longtime friendship where we are involved in each other’s lives.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Our industry is constantly changing. When it was film cameras you really did need to know what you were doing, how to use lighting, how to use your camera because you only had 24 shots. Now that digital has come into our industry anyone can be a photographer and trust me they are popping up like weeds in this industry. One day someone decides I can do that, they buy a camera and it makes it that much harder for us photographers that have studied this for years and really worked hard at it. I see the industry changing more and more in the next 5 years. I see that you will need to know technology very well to keep up with taking photographs. Especially digitally now that motion is being put into still photographs. I think as a photographer we will have to work harder explaining why we know what we do and why we call ourselves photographers. I do know that such avenues like National Geographic will always need journalist photographers because documenting this world is crucial for history and learning. That I am happy for, that the photography industry will still be needed, but I do see changes happening and not sure where exactly they will take us in the next 5-10 years. I just know that industries always evolve so I am sure it will be exciting.


  • Most photo sessions start at $275.00 depending on the type of photo shoot.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Ginger Rabe

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