The first one I asked was Jen, as her work is AMAZE BALLS!!!! She is a women's photographer in Glen Allen. I met her in early 2012 in a small photographer group, again at a meet up we had. As I aspire to do more women's work in the future, Jen is a great inspiration to me.
Pictured with her husband Matt, photo by © Jessica Smith Photography
1. When did you notice you had a passion for women's photography?
I realized that I wanted to work (almost) exclusively with women shortly after starting my business a little over 2 years ago. 100% of the women with whom I've worked are beautiful... and most of them don't see it at all. It's important to me that females of all seasons, shapes, and shades feel confident and secure in who they are, that they love themselves. I adore working one-on-one with my clients, giving them all of my attention and energy, to make that happen.
Oh, this question makes me laugh and cringe at the same time because I don't have a ready answer! I guess I'd say that my style is "true," which isn't really a typical response. People tend to use words like "soft," "colorful," and "romantic" when describing their style, but mine is really more about the person than the picture.
What I mean by that is that if my client happens to be soft and romantic, then the poses and prompts I use with her, the lighting, her wardrobe, and even my post-processing will reflect that... likewise if my client is bold and sassy. I value consistency in the quality of my images, but I don't want the content of them to be "cookie-cutter."
I'm located in Glen Allen, just outside of Short Pump. I have an in-home studio where most of my Intimate Sessions (boudoir) take place, but I also hold them (as well as Traditional and High School Senior Sessions) on-location throughout Richmond and Hampton Roads.
My business motto - and tagline - is "Redefine yourself." It's an invitation to my clients to break free from the day-to-day roles that they're in - wife, mother, daughter, employee, caregiver, student - and either get back to or discover the woman within. It also serves as a reminder for me to not get comfortable, to keep things fresh and new, to keep growing and learning.
Wow. This is a tough one because everything about my job is rewarding! I love it when my clients get excited about their sessions, when a shy one comes out of her shell, when they experiment with new looks, when they rave about their images, when they refer their friends to me because they had such a great experience... but I think the very best part is when my clients tell me how comfortable, relaxed, and beautiful I made them feel. It's one of the most amazing feelings in the world to know that I made a difference in someone's life, and I treasure being able to do so.
The best advice that I can give to photographers working with women is to actively pursue learning opportunities (workshops, tutorials, assisting other photographers, etc.), respect the vulnerable position that your client is in, appreciate and be worthy of the trust that they're putting in you, and don't think of them or treat them like they're just another sale walking through your door. Treat them the way that you'd like to be treated if you were in their shoes. Or corset, as the case may be.
My brand is all about my client's satisfaction and her experience.
I do not book as many women as I can possibly fit into my schedule, only spend about an hour with each of them, burn their images onto a disc, and call it a day. I know a lot of people price shop; they want the cheapest photographer and 300 photos thrown onto a disc for $50... even if it means that their photos are noisy or their children's skin looks green. If that's what they want, well - they're getting what they pay for, bless their hearts, and more power to them - I'm not the photographer for them.
Rather, I get to know my clients - and what they hope to walk away with from their experience - from their initial inquiry. I guide them from start to finish with the candor and consideration they'd expect from a trusted friend. I treat them to little extra touches (like chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne), I gather information from questionnaires, I collaborate with them on Pinterest regarding their hair/makeup/wardrobe, I respond to them immediately, I have only the best people on my Creative Team to provide hair styling and makeup artistry, I make them feel comfortable and relaxed, I joke with them, I give them a kick-ass session, I educate them on products and digital files, and I create custom, heirloom-quality products that suit their needs and lifestyle.
Again, my brand is all about my client's satisfaction and her experience.
I've recently been published several times and I couldn't be more excited! With the exception of some photos I did for a musician friend's magazine interview in 2011, I'd never submitted anything for publication before last month! I'd only seen wedding and engagement images get published, so I didn't bother. Then Laura (of Laura Matthews Photography) and Hollie (of Hollie Dyson Photography) told me that publications were accepting boudoir images. My work's been accepted 11 times total now and I'm giddy about it!
My work's already been published at Pretty Pear Bride (http://prettypearbride.com/