Something about me….I am awkward. I have a history of low self esteem, self doubt, and awkwardness. Through my life, I have always tried to mask this with humor. Feel scared? Crack a joke. Feel uncomfortable? Crack another joke. I am most comfortable isolated. When I chose my full time profession, Engineering was a great fit for me. I am good at math, love science, love problem solving, and well…I am simply more comfortable doing things on my own. I mean….I do interact with people, but it is on my own terms, typically. I don’t have to try to manage people, I don’t tell them what to do, I don’t deal with personnel issues, I don’t have to try to please people….I take care of equipment…period. So why do I bring all of this up, you ask?
A couple months ago, during our lock down, I decided to take a business & marketing class online for Photographers. They made one major point that resonates with me. Your client wants to know YOU! They want to hear about you…your life. They want to connect with you through your happy moments, through your low moments, through your mistakes. This is brutal for me, as I find it so hard to share things about myself. I am happy to share about my kids or my family, but not myself. So I am going to step out of my comfort zone…..and talk a little about me.
Although my business is small, and I am only able to take on limited sessions, I felt like I was behind the times on getting my work out there. How do you connect with young people? How do you connect with older people? How do you know what they are looking for? I have been taking pictures for almost 35 years. You heard me right…..I got my first 35 mm camera when I was in grade school. Anyone who went to school with me probably remembers that I always had a camera in my hand. (Don’t worry, Class of 94, I won’t post any of those embarrassing photos I took at Junior High School parties!) I have been running my actual business for 12 years now. I honestly can’t believe how times have changed!!! First I had to learn how to communicate on Social Media, My Space, then Facebook, now Instagram, and whatever comes next. We have a whole new generation of clients coming up, and it can be difficult knowing what they want out of their photography experience! With the birth of digital, it has really brought out so many photographers and businesses. It is difficult to know how to stand out, and have the courage to still hold on to your individuality. And for me, I base my business on the technical aspects of the photograph. I believe that is what makes my photos different.
When I started my business, it drew me in faster than I ever expected. I had to learn how to talk to people…learn to interact. (This is not natural for me!) As a person with low self esteem, the online compliments on my photos made me feel good….really good. I am an addict, by nature, and simply put, the attention was addicting. My business grew faster than I could manage it. I had no idea how to say no, manage my time, and be there for my family. Around 2016, I found that I had taken on too much. I had no idea anymore how to service people, my actual day job was absolutely insane, and my personal life had spiraled out of control….and alcohol had became my primary coping mechanism. It had always been a problem, but lets just say I found rock bottom. It was time for rehabilitation. It was time to find myself again. I kept praying there was something left to find. It turns out, God will hold our hand through the lowest points in life.
So….back to my business. I quit. I quit taking clients, I quit taking pictures, I didn’t pick up my camera for almost 8 months. This, by the way, was a very good thing! God has a plan. I waited another year before trying to pick up where I left off. What did I learn at this point? I learned that time marches on without us. While I was dealing with myself, and dealing with my life, everything kept moving on. Clients were different, things were different. It had been easy before…..people I worked or I knew needed a photographer for life events. It was easy to reach out to clients because I already knew them. During my year and half sabbatical, I found I didn’t really know people anymore. I didn’t know this next generation or even how to reach out to them. This process is humbling. No matter how good you are technically, or how good you think you are, the primary objective of photography is to please PEOPLE. To bring them in, share their memories, share their moments, and provide something that they will have forever. Something timeless….to form that initial connection. This brings me back to “me”.
So where does this leave me? Well, folks, I am still trying to figure that out! But God has shown me a few thing over the past couple years. He has shown me that in order to connect with people and share their most special moments and memories, you have to connect with yourself first. I am seriously so blessed. I have found myself through my family, my faith, and through nature. My family who has stayed by my side no matter what. My husband….well, I can’t say enough about him. He is simply amazing. Amazing character…so strong, and he has truly brought me back to life. He brought me back to nature, which in turn, is where I found faith again. I had quit believing for so long. I don’t go to church….it just isn’t for me. It is probably a long term effect of growing up in a hard core Catholic family. I believe we all find our spirituality in our own way. Mine may be different than yours, but it is every bit as real. I see God in the mountains, the lakes, the streams, the sky, the flowers. I see God from the top of the world, where most people do not get the opportunity to stand. I see him, and I know he is here because I am still here. I see the beauty again, and I know how to capture it. I know how beautiful and special this life is, and I can not emphasize enough how important it is to document it. People! DOCUMENT IT! DON’T MISS A SINGLE IMPORTANT MOMENT! Whether it is me, or someone else, find a photographer to capture those moments so you can always look back and remember what is important.
So all of this ranting….back to business. A word for all of my anticipated future clients! I am truly hoping to figure out how to connect with you a document your moments!
Here is my guarantee:
- I will capture color – I will capture TRUE color that is real and beautiful!
- I will capture light – Light is what makes an image! Light exposes us in so many special ways….I will capture that!
- I will capture you – I will capture your true self! Your personality, your laughter, your connections….I will document this for you to have forever.
I know this is a long read, so thanks for being here and thanks for listening! My promise to you, my client: I will stay true to my style and myself (you will thank me in the future!) – This is an important one. Because I am getting older, I have seen so many fads come and go. A Photoshop action here, a Lightroom preset there….high contrast, low saturation, high saturation….you name it! I have learned so many things over the past 12 years of business. Digital is awesome, but the primary objective is to capture “people” in a timeless way. I will be true to my skill! I know that the technical aspects of a photo matter….Therefore, I won’t overdo it. Photography needs to be beautiful, but real!
I am going to leave you all on this note: Treasure your family, because they are what matter most! Treasure life! Stop an smell the roses, and go find your own adventure!! And if you need someone to document your adventures, I hope to hear from you! 🙂
I am going to share my latest adventure with you! Eric and I did a big loop through the Cloud Peak Wilderness in Wyoming last week. The scenery is different than anything I have experienced before. God has created a rugged beauty in the Cloud Peak that is different from any other. See it through my eyes, and experience my church!!
P.S…..go check out the history of Bomber Mountain! It was a hard climb, but so worth the effort. Very sad story!
Jen your pics are amazing. You have always been my inspiration. What you see through the lens is what God wants you to see. You mentioned him several times in your post. You believe as much as I do. You believe as your Dad did. I believe you are an inspiration to my family. Love you and know you are an amazing woman.