Congratulations! You just about made it through half of the week! Today continues our Fearless Women to Know series featuring my friend Jennifer Claire. Jennifer is the incredible talent behind Jennifer Claire Photography, a business documenting life’s events through beautiful photos. She’s passionate, hard-working and dedicated to her craft which is why I admire her so much. Keep reading for more!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and Jennifer Claire Photography.
Hi! I'm Jennifer Claire. Informed by my experience in the arts – a background in dance, theater, and voice – it’s not surprising that I love the creative and artistic process of documenting life’s big events through photography. I am inspired by life: emotion, whimsy, romance, playfulness, honesty, and real narratives. I may have started my career in motion pictures, but when I discovered my talent in still imagery, I knew I’d found home. I love nothing more than documenting life and telling stories, and I would be delighted to tell yours! As a child, I grew up on a lake in Wisconsin and was immersed in nature all my life; surrounded by so much beauty that my eyes were often overwhelmed (with tears… yes, I’m a sap! And I WILL cry at your wedding... probably more than once!) But seriously, I glean endless inspiration and energy from being outside – any season! – and thus, my favorite events to capture are the ones that are set in the great outdoors! I can't say this enough, if you're getting married in a park, garden, backyard, or conservatory -- I'm your gal! When I’m not taking photos, you can often find me singing or dancing, making pasta with my boo (update: fiancé since December 19, 2015), snuggling our three little guinea pigs (Aldo Leopold, Pasquale Benito, Lucca Tullio), drinking a spicy chai latte, running 5k races, eating my way through a new city, daydreaming about a (future) farm life - complete with goats and additional guineas! Or relaxing on the porch of a small cabin in the peaceful, secluded woods.
How did you get into photography?
My first love was film... as in, the movies! In college, I initially pursued a degree in production (tv, motion pictures, radio) …but, I also took some photography classes along the way - darkroom style, not digital! But, things were changing immensely throughout my undergrad years, and I eventually made the jump and joined the rest of society with a growing love for mainstream/digital media. At the beginning, I did a lot of portraits and hobby/travel photography - just for fun, while I worked in advertising. And later, once I felt grounded and stable with my 9-5, I was inspired to build a small business and focus on weddings! So, I upgraded my equipment, took my education and experience in ‘storytelling’ with film, and I applied it to capturing an entire wedding day; a unique and beautiful love story!
How do you find the balance between a regular 9-5 job as well as your photography business?
Well, I can honestly say that there wasn’t much of a balance for the first year. Because of the fact that I planned to eventually make this my sole income, I was determined to do anything and everything to be sure that it happened. And, unfortunately for me, I was completely blind to how quickly I would run myself into the ground… I look at things very differently now; and I’m 100% content to just take on a few ideal clients every year and serve them to the very best of my ability! When I first launched the business, I said ‘yes’ to pretty much everything - I wasn’t valuing myself appropriately, or really at all… I overworked and underpaid myself for about 18 months. Now, I have created a good amount of space and several hard/fast rules for how many commissions I take in a year, when I respond to emails, if I offer promotions, where photos are shared or published, etc.
Do you have a photography bucket list? Are there any locations, people or moments that you’d love to photograph?
It’s not exactly a bucket list, but I do intend to widen my breadth of work and photograph more landscapes and do travel photography again. Weddings are amazing, love-filled, BEAUTIFUL stories - and I enjoy being a part of the excitement and romance… but there is certainly more to life; I want my photography to take me to new places, for new experiences! And I’m excited to capture them - not for clients, but for me. :)
What are some tips you can share for anyone breaking into the photography world? Any lessons learned or tips to be heard?
Oh boy… where to start! I guess I would suggest two things: find your niche, find your (photo) family. It is a heavily saturated industry, that can be discouraging and hard to navigate if you aren’t hungry AND you don’t have thick skin!
A quote I like to say to myself when I feel ‘comparison’ setting in… “Stay in your lane!” Meaning, look only in front of YOU; don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Focus on your goals and your ‘why’ for doing what you do. I remember that I often felt anxious and disheartened, in the beginning - in part because I was (perhaps, too frequently) thinking about other people I looked up to, and how I was falling short… This is not productive.
A mentor is a great way to learn fast and integrate yourself into the community. Be open to learning and receiving feedback - always! Really and truly, my favorite part about photography is that I learn something new or polish a skill EACH AND EVERY time I go to shoot… You will never ‘peak’ or reach a plateau - I promise!
Thank you for being one of our fearless women to celebrate for Women’s History Month! Leave us with a little inspiration for the other fearless women who are reading.
“Don't dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.” ― Elisabeth Elliot