We had the good fortune of connecting with Tessa Rehbein Machmer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tessa, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Honestly, I have never considered not having a creative career. As a very young child I wanted to grow up to be a ballerina. Ask my mother, I was dancing before I could walk. As I grew, I spent every night at the dance studio from 4:00-9:00pm and filled my weekends with rehearsing for shows. I loved it. In dance, you are always working to achieve perfection, and as humans, we know there is no such thing. I couldn’t get enough of dance because there was always something new to learn and try to perfect. While I was in high school, I also immersed myself in all art electives; pottery, glassblowing, photography, theatre, music theory classes, etc.. I hated math and loved English… stereotypical of a “left brained” artist. I continued on the career path of dance into college causing my father to nearly faint when I told him I wanted to get a Fine Arts degree. Nevertheless, I didn’t question it…until I had to start paying student loans, but that’s another topic. After college I joined a modern dance company that performs locally and is involved with some amazing outreach work in the greater metropolitan area. After a bit of time with this company, my partner and I made the decision to move to Nashville to pursue an opportunity for him. I planned on finding new dance opportunities and although I loved dancing, I started to feel artistically unfed and burnt out. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, I just felt an urge to try something new. I felt an urge to learn something different, but I didn’t know what. I took a break from dance for a few months and ended up feeling very lost. Funnily enough I had an epiphany while sipping a coke and sitting in a McDonald’s parking lot contemplating what the hell I was going to do with my life. A voice in my head said “photography” and suddenly my mind was flooded with creative ideas that integrated movement and photo. It felt so random and strange! I thought to myself, “everyone is a photographer, why should I be?” Nevertheless, I latched onto that idea and decided to dive in headfirst and buy a very expensive camera and some gear. And yes, it was a quite impulsive decision. I have never been an impulsive person but I remember having a positive feeling of hope and excitement. After learning (and continuing to learn) the ins and outs of my camera, the editing process, and the tedious business side of things, I realized I had a new passion, something I never anticipated. Photography has given me a creative outlet I never thought possible. I lose track of time when I photograph, I go into another world. I love what I get to do every day. I feel as if my drive, innate creativity and sometimes lack of practicality, has helped me to achieve things that others may miss out on because of unnecessary limits they place on themselves. So I hope that answers the question. The reason I chose an artistic career is because I cannot imagine doing anything else.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Having history in dance has given me a keen understanding of movement aesthetic. Knowing dance technique is crucial to being a dance photographer. It is an extremely specific and intricate art form that takes a long time to understand. I have also dabbled and trained in pilates, yoga, barre, CrossFit and rock climbing. This experience, in addition to practice behind the lens has aided me to become knowledgable on how to make movement look authentic in a picture. I help guide my clients throughout the process and my sessions tend to feel like a collaborative and symbiotic experience. My work captures movement, whether you are a rock climber, yoga instructor, or dancer, I work to create photos that help people in the fitness and movement industry put their best foot forward. I tend not to pose my clients, but guide them to do what they do best; move! Catching a moment in the midst of movement feels most natural and authentic to me. It has not been easy building this business and it has taken a lot more time working behind the computer than out in the world taking photos. But, it has definitely been great being my own boss. I have always been very self driven which has worked in my favor as a small business owner. I have also been forced to be way more social than I ever was before and I have to say, I kind of like it! I’m still learning a lot of lessons, but one of the biggest lessons I have learned along the way has been to value your work and worth. If you don’t ‘t take yourself seriously, neither will others. I love working with others and making them feel good! That’s a big reason why I love photography so much. To me, that’s the most rewarding part.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I like this question. I’m going to approach this as a non-COVID times scenario. Day one, take ballet class at Denver Dance Center, then get coffee at Queen City and take a walk/throw frisbee in Washington park. Day two, drive up to Fort Collins and spend the day doing tours of micro breweries. Day three, yoga on the rocks at Red Rocks, then a movement photoshoot after (with a permit, of course). Day four, hike the flatirons and hang out in RiNo during the afternoon. EPIC Brewing and Odell are great! Day five, spend the day relaxing at home and then go to el Chapultepec or Dazzle to listen to some jazz.
Shaye Fitzgerald! With ten years under her belt in the photography industry, she was the one who taught me how to use my camera and all the ins and outs of the gear. She helped me jumpstart my transition from dance to photography. Also, my partner, he has always been super supportive of whatever I do. He likes to help assist on long days of shooting and has been the best cheerleader anyone could ask for!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shaye Fitzgerald! With ten years under her belt in the photography industry, she was the one who taught me how to use my camera and all the ins and outs of the gear. She helped me jumpstart my transition from dance to photography.
Linkedin: Machmer Movement Photography
Tessa Rehbein Machmer