Three Rights: Hi Everyone! Today we are welcoming one of Colorado’s up and coming photographers. She has done three family portraits of ours so far and we have been thrilled with the outcome!
Hi Courtney, welcome!
C:Thank you, I was honored to be asked to do this.
TR: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
C:Well, first and foremost I am a wife to a wonderful husband and mother of two beautiful and amazing children and I love every moment of it. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints and every bit of who I am today is because of that. I am grateful to have a positive outlook on life and it makes a huge difference in how I run my business. I love meeting new people. I believe there is something beautiful to know about each and every person that can be brought out by listening and keeping an open heart and mind.
TR: How did you get your start in photography?
C: I did a friend’s wedding to help out and because I wanted to see what it was like…I then felt really bad about how they turned out. I thought that because I had a “Nice Camera” I could do really well but that is not at all the case. There is sooo much more to “Good Photography” than just the camera. So I took a little break. It was not until 5 months later that I decided I wanted to make tutus and of course to sell those I had to have nice pictures. I dusted off the camera and decided to do a promotion. I put it out on a Kids gear page on Facebook that I would make a tutu for their little ones for $5 and take photos to put on a disk for $5 and I got about 20 people that signed up! I was pretty nervous because I did not have a lot of experience but I wanted this to be perfect for them.. The tutus turned out great and now it was time to take the pictures . I showed up at my first session with 2 little girls (who were adorable ) and it was just so much fun chasing them around catching their fun times. I was hooked! I am also still friends with those clients today. I then decided to take the photography side more seriously and gave up the tutus after I finished with the list of people from the promotion. I got on a local photography group with other professional photographers who were so kind and willing to help other up and coming photographers learn the ropes… and from that practice and guidance I was able to grow and keep motivated.
TR: What is it that drew you to portrait photography?
C:I kinda answered that in the previous question…But it was the beauty of being able to capture the love, life and fun of a child or family. I am always smiling behind the camera because it brings me so much joy.
TR: Why photography?
C:My Grandfather and Stepfather are both photographers, one is more Portrait and the other Landscape so I’d like to say it was meant to be. When I had my son I found a love of being able to capture the best moments in his life (of course to me that was every moment) I kept hearing I had an eye for photography which never sunk in until I decided to pick up a “better” camera and really test that out.
The more I photograph Families, Newborns, and do weddings, Seniors and just fun events in others lives, the more I just feel so much apart of their joy! I can’t even describe the feeling I get when a client tells me how much they love the photos I have taken. I put so much work into what I do and I don’t just do it because it’s my job I do it because I know how important those moments are and even more so to preserve them.
TR: What’s your favorite part about taking people’s photos?
C: When I can get the real smiles out of the clients before, during, and after the session. It makes my day! I love when the session goes perfectly…and sometimes I love when it doesn’t. What kind of job would it be without the challenge?
TR: How do you view pictures? What purpose do you feel they serve in life?
C: They are so important! For me I have lost some special people in my life and those pictures are all I have of them. I know I will see them again some day but who doesn’t love having a memory of that person or moment. Their purpose, they are a memory, not necessarily to dwell on the past, but a keepsake to remember who you are and where you came from.
TR: How do you stay fresh and current?
C: I read a lot of Blogs, Forums and watch a lot of Tutorial videos from how to’s to what not to do. I also remember that this is not about me and my style but its about what the client wants and capturing the client as who they are and not what they “should be.” I always ask clients to tell me their style when it comes to scenery, props and posing. Pinterest is so helpful because they can show me their style.. I get so many requests from there but I try to put my own spin on it so I am not just copying a pose.
TR: What is the time and effort and money checklist for being a photographer?
C: Photography is more than just having a “nice camera.” That is so important to know.
It takes a lot of time before, during and after the session to make the photos perfect!
1. I have to learn how to use the camera in Manual so that I can apply what I see and not what the camera sees that is how I make it my own.
2. I have to gain the people experience. It takes more than just “say cheese” to make someone smile, especially kids. I always tell people if I did not have kids I could not do this job because when you have kids you know that it takes patience and a warm heart to get a kid to really trust you. Trust is very important in this business.
3. I drive a lot! Dealing with weather to scout a location, meet people for their disk, pick up supplies etc…
4. I have spent a lot of money on equipment and props, gas supplies, editing software, my website, backup drives to save the photos that don’t fit on my computer any more, daycare and so much more . Most people would cringe if I told you how much my camera cost !
5. Editing: it can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes per image, imagine how much time that takes when you have 100 plus photos to edit. And for me that happens a lot, I have such a hard time being the one to pick the best one for the client because I know I love every little face my child makes…but not so much the ones I make on my own 😉
6. Emails, Phone calls, Facebook, networking, advertising, and the list goes on…I don’t even think I could put a time limit to how much I spend on the computer and phone calls to make sure everyone is answered and satisfied (my husband says I am glued to the computer all the time haha!)
TR: Who are your favorite people to photograph?
C: Hmm I really don’t have a favorite…I know what I am good at, and what I need work on but I just love them all!
TR: How do you make it work as a mom of two little ones?
C: Well for a while it was crazy! I was going to sessions when my husband got home from work then coming home and going straight to the computer for a sneak peek then to edit another session. Then during the day I would be editing sessions all day and sometimes have only a little time to spend really with my children…I did not like that part. Now I have a schedule since I know what it feels like to stay busy (still getting used to that part ). I still have sessions in the evening and come home for a peek. I don’t edit at night when it is family time. I have time during the day schedule that I edit for 2-3 hours (if needed) then the rest is spent watching and enjoying my little ones grow. It pushes back my wait time but I know most people would agree family time is so much more important! Plus I feel like my photography has gotten much better to the point that it does not take nearly as long to edit and weed out the bad ones as it used to.
TR: What are your goals for your craft?
C: Making people happy! It sounds cheesy I know, but that really is my number one goal! I don’t do this so much for the money, I am told I should charge much more…but I feel as though I have been given a gift that I can share with others without making it difficult for them to afford. I intend to raise my prices as I grow and have had much more experience. For now I enjoy how much experience I am getting and how many wonderful people I am meeting. I am still at the beginning of my business and I still get sessions that I am not used to which tells me I am still growing and learning. I can’t please everyone but if I can do something good for someone else and still provide for my family then I think I have not lost the essence of who I am.
I originally had a specific look for my photos in mind…more of a vibrant and really edited look…But I really like where its at right now, it feels natural.
TR: What would your dream for your business be?
C: Well I used to dream of being a famous photographer…but really I just like what I am doing now I am doing what I love and I am meeting so many fantastic local people.
I think if I had to be somewhere else in a few years I want to be a little more structured. I want to have cute CD covers and do prints more often and maybe even be knowledgeable enough to teach others.
TR: Who would you pay money to photograph?
C: Hmmm I have never thought about that…I really have no answer…but hey, if the cast of Castle wants to pay me to go take their pictures ..I’m game 😉
TR: Who are your role models, and why?
C: Well in life my role model is my Grandmother, she has always taught me to be kind to others and to just love. I get my laugh wrinkles from her.
My Step-dad Bryce: He is the one who really got me started, he does not really go by the book, he just takes pictures of what he thinks is cool and I admire that he never changes that. His pictures are amazing!! He is a Landscape, Insect, and just about anything photographer.
My Kids: They have taught me to be patient and have so much love and I want to show that in what I do every day !
In the photography world:
Jasmine Star: she is a famous wedding photographer who also offers advice to other photographers. I really like that she helps others grow even where she is now and she still loves what she does. Thats where I want to be.
Susan Broderdorp: She is another local photographer in town .. and a very dear friend who I just look up to as a person and a business person.
TR: Some advice for others wishing to start a photography business?
C: Practice, Practice, Practice…and lots of money…you are going to spend more than you make for a bit but it will be worth it to know your images are good quality and your knowledge is…learn your camera in Manual (best advice I received).
Don’t just show up to a session and expect to receive smiles right away. Remember what I said about trust, that is so important. You need to let the kids know they can trust you and that you are fun and you need to let the parents know that you are going to help them look their best! Not everything will go smoothly but it helps to have a set of poses for each type of session ready for when your creativity runs away screaming 😉 Also…RELAX! It helps to be very patient in stressful session situations.
TR: What’s it like being behind the camera as opposed to being in front of it?
C: It is the same but different. When you are behind the camera you have the pressures of knowing what you are doing to position them the right way, to make sure they are in the best light, to make sure your camera is in the right settings in order to catch that perfect moment that most likely wont happen again…You have to be prepared for anything !!
Being behind the camera you feel kinda awkward at first like you have to look perfect for every shot…also being in front with your family is a whole other situation. You are so worried that your kids aren’t smiling and then of course you have to worry about your husband smiling (in my case) and not frowning or just looking bored !
I know when I am taking pictures of a family that I could stand there all day and wait because I know what it really takes to get a good photo (Time). I get a lot of people that say sorry about their kids not standing still or taking too long to smile and I just laugh and say… “No worries I have kids of my own.” I never understood though why they kept saying that till I had my own taken, you do kinda feel bad that nothing is going right.
Courtney Jacobs is an up and coming photographer who works in Western Colorado and Eastern Utah. You can visit her website at Courtneyjacobsphotography.com and her facebook site facebook.com/CourtneyJacobsPhotography. If you have any questions for her just post them at the bottom of the page and I’ll send them on!!