We met Hilary and Xavier Cinque earlier this year through fellow shutterbug and Flea Style vendor Natalie Shelton. Natalie recommended their photography company Shay & Olive to man our headshot bar at our winter summit for VIP ticket holders (good news: this station will be back at our fall summit, too).
Along with Erica Connolly, Hilary and Xavier operate the Dallas-based photography company that specializes in capturing beautiful and authentic wedding shots and portraits. The biz is named after the creatives’ dogs and the trio is so passionate about animals that they donate a portion of every wedding package to no-kill animal care and adoption center Operation Kindness.
We recently chatted with founder Hilary to flip the lens on this big-hearted business.
Can you give our readers a few key tips to capturing a great shot?
To me a great photo is all about telling a story. Think about ways to go beyond capturing what’s in front of you. For example, if you’re traveling and you stop to photograph a building think of visual elements you can incorporate to communicate the scale of the building, the movement around the building, the architectural elements that drew you to the building, etc.
Do you have any advice for people who want to get into photography? Where to start and what camera equipment to invest in?
My biggest piece of advice is to know your equipment inside and out, no matter what it is. The manual is long, but read it cover to cover! As photographers we’re creative and we’re excited to experiment but if you know every function of your camera you’ll have the control to be more creative and conceptualize your ideas. Too many of us upgrade before we educate ourselves!
What do you and your team shoot with?
Canon 5D Mark iii and Sigma Art lenses.
What is it like working with a team at Shay and Olive?
It is so incredibly fulfilling to work as a team! When I started this company I was working alone and it was exhausting! Building the team and creating community has been a game-changer. I love that we have the opportunity to inspire each other, critique each other, and cheer each other on.
How do you create consistency in your images but also let the client shine in their own way?
Our subjects and surroundings are always changing but we always look to capture authentic emotion! What binds our work together is our photojournalistic style and our gravitation to vibrant color.
Kathleen Robbins. Her work is incredibly moving.
Where would you like Shay and Olive to be in 5 years?
We all love to travel and explore new places. I would love to book more destination work!
What do you use to edit your images?
I use Lightroom and I often use Mastin Lab presets as a base. I pull images into Photoshop if I need to retouch them.
Tips for taking a cool but professional head shot?
Get the subject in his/her element! Blazers and power-poses don’t make sense for everyone. When we photograph small business owners we often ask them to bring in some of the things they work with on a daily basis so we can capture them doing what they love and understand how to take a head shot that makes sense to their customers/colleagues.
Watch how light hits your subject in real life before looking through your camera! Pay attention to what it does to your subject’s eyes and skin tone. For so long I would shoot subjects in “safe” lighting situations and check the back of my camera for the results but I’ve found I can utilize light better if I really look at what it is doing to my subject before I touch my camera.
Sunrise or sunset?
Sunset– I’m a night owl and I haven’t seen a sunrise in awhile!
Coffee or tea?
Coffee all day long!
Netflix or Amazon Prime?
Snapchat or Instagram Stories?
Dogs or cats?
Dogs! Shay & Olive is named after dogs!
Cupcakes or cookies?
Pompoms or tassels?