This month, we sit down for an interview with Jennifer B. Short, from the United States .
Flying on the Rooftops (above) – I love the idea behind this image. It took me two separate sessions to get it right. I used this image for DPChallenge’s DPL contest. I had teammates that helped with comments to improve the image which I am thankful for. It is a favorite image of mine due to the concept of it.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Jennifer, and I was born in Los Angeles, California. I lived there for most of my life and just recently moved to the Pacific Northwest of the United States. I am a mother of two, whom I often photographic, and have been married for 15 years to a wonderful and supportive man.
What is your occupation?
I graduated from college as a physical therapist, and worked in an acute care hospital for 15 years before trying something new (photography). The last three years I have been running a small studio photography business, and receiving my certificate to teach reading to students with dyslexia.
When and how did you get into photography?
I became interested in photography in the year 2000. I received my first digital camera in March (a 4 megapixel camera) and began photographing everything. Later that year, I took several pictures of my kids and showed them to my friends. They thought the pictures were great and asked if I could take some pictures of their kids….and their friends kids etc. etc.. I practiced for many more years and booked my first real paying client in April of 2006. She was the greatest marketing tool a person could get. She told her friends and so on and so on. I became busy quickly, and converted my garage into a make shift studio to start part time photography at my home in Los Angeles. When we moved I quit physical therapy and concentrated on my growing my photography business.
Have you entered you photographs into any competitions?
I have entered many competitions including DPChallenge. I have won Best Portrait for the entire state of Washington… my portraits have won at Betterphoto and SOAphoto, I have been the published featured photographer at Fotoblur Magazine, published in National Geographic, I have several images that are book covers, published in a national children book, and the biggest win was a Millers Photography contest with over 10,000 portrait entries and my image ‘A Delicate Balance’ won first place.
I love the intensity on the girls face. She was concentrating so hard to balance that pose, and you can see that in her expression. That is what takes this image to the next level for me. The intense posture and gaze on her face.
On which websites can our readers find your photographs? Do you have a personal website?
Do you have any formal training?
I do not have any formal training. I practiced for several years on trying to find my style (which I feel is still evolving). I like to read….so I got my hands on many photography books and read and flipped through the pages to learn techniques and composition. I like to browse websites and figure out how things are lit, or study the composition of an image and see why it works for me or does not. The best training you can get, in my opinion, is practice and more practice on friends and family, or anyone who is willing to be in front of your camera.
What type of camera equipment do you own and why?
I have the ancient Canon 5D. I only own two lenses and do most of my portraits with my 24 to 105 L series lens by Canon. It is a great work horse lens with very good results.
Which do you prefer, colour or black and white photographs?
I prefer the tones and impact of black and white photography over color. I feel a stunning black and white can set the mood and story of an image better than a color. I do love color as well, but tend to gravitate towards black and white images more. I find a lot of impact with the color removed.
What camera mode do you usually shoot in? (Av. Tv, Manual, Auto…)?
I shoot everything in manual. The freedom to be creative in manual is greater than with any other mode. I like sometimes to over-expose or under-expose an image, or blur or miss focus. Manual mode lets you do that.
What type of lighting equipment do you use for your studio work?
I use Hensel lights and Larson softboxes. I have four lights…but often just work with two lights and two stand alone reflectors. My favorite is a large 4 by 6 foot softbox by Larson that provides really nice wrap around lighting. I use that softbox for 90% of my studio images.
I really enjoy the expression on the her face. It tells a story to me. It was raining, and I stuck her underneath a rain spout coming off of a roof. I love shooting in the rain. I feel it brings the picture to the next level….and this is a great example of how rain can do that.
Do you have a favourite lens?
I only own two currently in working condition (100mm has a crack in it). I really like them both. I have the 70 to 200 L series by Canon and the 24 to 105 L series, also by Canon. I have rented the 85mm f1.2 lens before, and I would say it is a favorite. The images are wonderful and crisp and I love the option of a really shallow DOF. I do not own it yet, but have had the opportunity to use it on several occasions and it is terrific.
What software do you use to edit your photos?
Almost everything is in Photoshop CS2. I did just upgrade to CS5….but need to learn the in and outs of the new features. I have several other programs that I have tried, but really about 95% of all my editing is in Photoshop. Lightroom and Corel are the other programs I own.
Do you have any tips for aspiring photographers?
There are three important ideas I always try to keep in mind when I am photographing a portrait. Communication: A good portrait communicates with the viewer. The mood, the character, the soul, should connect with the viewer and bring him/her into the photograph. Connecting: a good connection with the subject should be established if possible. When the photographer has a good connection with his/her subject the portrait becomes full of life. Making your subject feel comfortable, catching the personality, the quirky movement, the laughter, the sadness…is all important in connecting with your subject. Impact: almost seems cliché to mention. For me personally…it is all about emotional impact when I view a portrait. This can, and usually is, different for everybody. Impact is very powerful, either in an over-the-top or subtle way. For me, this is the most important aspect of a good portrait. To practice these principals is important…..that is where friends and family can help. Practice on them….establish a rapport and practice a lot.
Who inspires you?
My mother is my greatest inspiration. She is an amazing woman with loads of patience and grace. I am a lucky girl to have her in my life. As far as photography I have two photographers that immediately come to mind, Dani Brubaker and Jennifer Hudson. Their images speak to me…I love the use of story and the calmness and easiest I feel from their images. These are two really great photographers that are worth checking out.
What aspect of photography do you find the most difficult?
My hat goes off to all of the terrific landscape photographers out there. I enjoy viewing terrific landscape images, and I do try my best to study the composition and light….however, I do not have the knack for photographing them. Landscape photography is an art form all of its own.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Well, I hope to continue to be successful in the photography world. I want to continue to brand my work and find my niche in the community. I want to try my hand at teaching photography too. I have started to develop a teaching program this year and I hope to be able to comfortably teach the art form in the years to come.
What do you love most about photography?
I love it when a client comes over the view their images and I can see the joy on their face. I love it when they say “I did not know I was photogenic”. That feels the best. I love it when mothers cry when they see their kids, or high school seniors smile with pride, or brides squeal with delight…..the emotional impact a photograph can bring to someone, for me, is what I find the most joy in.
Thank you very much for taking the time to participate in this interview Jennifer. Best of luck in your future endeavours. – PhotoWeeklyOnline