Alumni Interview: Shirley Cronkite

We’re excited to introduce you to another one of our talented alumni, Shirley Cronkite:001A

Website: Sweet Exposure PhotographyFind her on facebook here:

Where do you call home?Ayr, Ontario Canada

Describe Your StyleI’ve always had a hard time nailing down what kind of style I have….but….My style is a mix of modern meets tradition with a kiss of dreaminess and a smack of happiness.

What made you decide to become a photographer?I’ve always LOVED photography…when I was in school, I had a choice with my two passions – law and art….and went with law (which was 15 years ago!) Landed a great law enforcement job and then I got married and my wedding made me want to become a photographer and follow my passion in arts and creativeness, then I had a gorgeous little boy who I tortured by photographing him so much that he won’t let his school photograph him for school photos!


How did you learn? Degree? Self-taught? Workshops?I am always learning!! First I tried to teach myself….then I went and got my diploma in Photography, then I took a number of workshops including Lisas…which I LOVED!!!! and I keep learning and experimenting and I find there is never enough time to just play and figure out more things about my passion and camera.


How long have you had your Photography Business?I will be going on my fourth year of photography…which in a sense still makes me new, but because I dove in like a damn cannon ball I think I have come a long way in my style and knowledge.


What do you love most about having your own business?The part I love about having my own business is that it is me. Every single ounce of it is me. I pour my heart, love, sweat, tears, and blood – cause I literally lit myself on fire during a session! – into my business. It is my outlet, my heaven, the one thing I know I did all by myself and I am proud of it.

What do you love the least?The thing I love the least is trying to manage my time properly. I need to always put my family first, and  unfortunately they get bumped from time to time.


What do you wish you had known prior to starting your own photography business?Oh my gosh!! This should be reversed and say “What do I wish I hadn’t known!” There is SO much about owning a photography business! Taking pictures is like 15% of the business! I didn’t know I had to be good a math, accounting, web marketing, social media, a good people person, a comedian, an editor, a cosmetic surgeon!(LOL), a counsellor….should I stop!?!?! I think I should stop….It is just so much more than just taking photos…but I love it all the same!


Studio or on-location?I am a studio and on-locatoin photographer. I do newborn and boudoir in studio and family & weddings on location. I love both types, but I am still trying to harness my studio goddess and conquer my studio insecurities.



What’s your biggest a-ha moment?Leaning how to backlit was my A-HA moment! I would get so so frustrated and as much as I would love to provide you with examples of my failed attempts at backlighting, they are under lock and key!!


Where do you find inspiration for your art?I find my inspiration with almost anything….when I am driving with my boys down country roads, or tossing them on my bed and hearing them giggle and seeing their smiles…every time they make an expression, or have a cute moment, I want it frozen in my camera for me to adore and never forget later on in life.

sc4Something you’re still learning?…I am still continuing to learn EVERYTHING…just when I think I might have something almost to what I want it to be, I learn another thing that makes it so much cooler and unique. And…I am still learning about my workflow….I don’t think I will every capture that beast!


How do you create balance between your business and the rest of life?It is so hard to keep a balance. I specifically do not book anything on Sundays unless I absolutely HAVE to and then it is only like 2 or 3 Sundays a year, and then I do a “unplug” day every couple weeks…I turn off all things photography (or I try!) and just focus on my kiddies and soak up their giggles and smiles.


sc12How do you measure success?I don’t know how to measure success. I think my confidence in some things I photograph show me how I am successful. It isn’t about awards, or how many likes I have on Facebook, or “reviews”, its when I come home from a session, pull up the pictures and see that I nailed the session and the client is going to love their pictures.


What has been your most memorable shoot & why?My most memorable session was a family session, the family was super duper cute and we were all done and the little boy locked mom’s keys and new baby in the car….it was warmish, baby was content for the time being and we had to call a tow and then 911 cause the tow was taking forever, baby was getting fussy and upset and we could see the stress level of everyone going up….but she is all safe and sound and was only in the car for like 15 minutes


What’s your Favorite Image? And why is it your favorite?It might be a wedding photo I took when I first started. The lighting is perfect, the scene and couple were amazing and it was just my favourite image that made me realize I can do this…I am a photographer.


Favourite gear?Favourite gear….well, I always carry with me my bag of essentials….It’s a big pink bag that I always have my 5D, my 50mm and a bunch of props – whether it be an old quilt, a chalkboard, a banner, twine, suckers, bubbles, noise makers,….if I get stuck at a session, I pull it out and we have fun.  What is your go to lens & why? My go-to lens is my 50mm 1.4…it is on my camera probably 90% of the time.


RAW or Jpeg?I always shoot RAW, unless I am just out and about with the kids at the park and I might throw it onto Jpeg, even though i”m a photographer I still want those silly, “crappy” photos that anyone takes to remember the time as a mom I have with the boys.


Nikon or Canon?I’m a Canon girl!! LOVE those warm colours!


Mac or PC?Mac all the way! I used to be a PC girl and I was so close to sending my MAC packing…but I kept at it and now when I am on a PC I get really angry!  Lightoom or Photoshop (or both ?) I am photoshop all the way! But wanna learn more about Lightroom…I heard it might help me in my workflow!

Which 5 words would your friends use to best describe you?Loving, Passionate, hilarious, stubborn and Gassy…as in farty….yes.


What classes have you taken with The Milky Way?I have taken Illuminate (studio lighting), but want to take them all! I always go back into and review the videos for a refresher and it has been my saviour for studio lighting! Thank you so much!

{learn more about upcoming classes here}

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