April Lambert finds her niche in photography

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 10, 2011

By Joanie Morris
For The Salisbury Post
When her kids started playing sports, and her husband coaching, April Lambert felt a little left out.
“I don’t have that huge love for sports, so I needed something to keep me occupied while I was there,” said Lambert.
One day at a weekend tournament, she pulled out her digital camera and started snapping pictures. With just a regular lens, the pictures didn’t turn out that great. So she invested in a nice sports lens for her camera.
After shooting the ball players with a sports lens, she liked what she saw. She took copies of the pictures to the parents the next weekend and was hooked. “They just loved it.”
Photography started filling a hole that Lambert, 42, didn’t realize was there.
“I don’t want to say something was missing, but everyone had their thing,” she said. “My husband was coaching my children, the kids were playing and they loved that. It fulfilled something that was missing. I wasn’t unhappy or anything.”
It was more like a realization of something that could be, she said. While at a dental appointment in Winston Salem one day, Lambert saw a business card for Sally Gupton Photography. She went online and liked what she saw so much she booked a family session with the photographer.
Lambert describes Gupton’s style as relaxed. One of her favorite pictures from that session shows Lambert with her eyes closed, laughing as her children tickle her. Lambert feels that reflecting those life moments is what photography should be.
When she told Gupton she was interested in photography, Gupton took a look at some of Lambert’s sports photos and encouraged her.
Gupton started showing Lambert the ropes in 2008, with Lambert visiting her office and just absorbing everything she could once a week. She started shadowing Gupton on photography assignments, taking notes and asking questions about procedures and different settings she used on her cameras.
“She was really open,” Lambert says.
Although she was never really interested in doing weddings, she would go to wedding shoots with Gupton, learning everything she could.
In 2009, she was convinced by a friend to photograph a wedding. She charged $300, using her camera, two lenses she owned and a third she rented. Because of her experience with Gupton, she knew the process, as well as which lenses Gupton liked to use. Soon, she was hooked on weddings.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” says Lambert. She booked five weddings in 2010 and assisted Gupton in just as many. This year, she says she’ll do 10 weddings, and has become Gupton’s second shooter on weddings. In return, Gupton is also Lambert’s second shooter on weddings.
Beach weddings are her favorite because of the natural light and beautiful settings. She and her husband recently got to go on a cruise to the Bahamas so April could shoot a wedding. The bride paid for Lambert’s ticket, and offered to pay for her husband’s ticket.
She began doing senior pictures not long after her first wedding, also in 2010.
“I looked around and a lot of the photographers were doing a senior representative,” Lambert says. The chosen senior would get a free session and the photographer gets word of mouth advertising.
Lambert will work up a card with the senior’s photograph on one side and her own information on the other. The senior representative then hands those out to friends. In 2010, she did nine senior sessions.
“I just really wanted to be able to use that as my thing,” says Lambert about senior sessions. Photographing seniors is a fun alternative to regular portraiture because it’s a very creative process, with pieces of personality coming out in the photos.
Without a studio, Lambert captures seniors across Rowan County in natural light, often outdoors. Since there’s no studio, there are no limits on the variations she can do. One senior wanted to do a more model-like approach, using the streets of Salisbury as a backdrop. Another used her guitar as a prop, showing her love for creating music in her senior pictures.
“I really want to focus on their personality and their interest,” Lambert says. “I take them to several locations. I really like if the parents will just let me take them and do it, because I feel like I can get more natural, real looks out of them.”
If parents are there, the students often look to them for approval or stress about their reactions. When they’re not there, Lambert says, students feel free to let their hair down and act silly.
“Usually the last pictures are the best pictures with the seniors,” says Lambert. “They get more relaxed towards the end.”
Lambert feels that students respond well to her, and she feels a connection to the them.
Because she appreciates Gupton being a mentor to her, Lambert likes to give back. She has an intern from Salisbury High School who helps her at times, and she sponsors school teams and AAU teams.
In addition to that marketing, she believes Facebook is one of the strongest tools in her virtual toolbox. With a beautiful website, Lambert could leave it at that, showcasing her talent for those who know about the site to see it.
But by utilizing Facebook, she’s able to reach a broader audience. For example, if she takes a senior session and does a “sneak peak” on her Facebook page, she can tag the student in the picture. That picture will show up on that student’s page, so not only will the 1,200-plus people who like “April Lambert Photography” on Facebook see the picture, but so will the friends and family of that student. And if a friend or family member turns around and shares that picture on their page, even more people will see it.
“It’s like word of mouth gone viral,” she says. “I don’t pay a dime and it’s really great advertising. People see that and they think, ‘I want to do that.’ ”
She’s always looking for new subjects and different ideas. For that reason, she’s always trying to hone her craft through conferences and classes. Last year, Lambert went to Las Vegas to a conference to learn more. And this year, she’s branched out to even more different sessions.
“Lately it seems like people are getting more creative,” says Lambert.
For more information about April Lambert Photography, visit www.aprillambertphotography.com or call 704- 239-6262.
Joanie Morris is a freelance writer for the Salisbury Post. Contact her at 704-273-3050 or news@salisburypost.com