Hi Jennifer, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself
When I was 12, my dad handed me his old Canon camera he had bought in the 1980s. It was metal, a little clunky, and only worked every other press of the shutter button. I didn’t know anything about cameras or taking pictures, but I had been artistic since a very young age, so the possibilities intrigued me. My love for photography blossomed when I saw how I could catch the light just right coming into the lens and create artistic visions of objects in front of me. From the beginning, I wasn’t interested in creating a realistic representation of what I saw, but more of what I felt, the emotion an object invoked in me. Years went by and I eventually bought a modern-day version of that ancient Canon. I never stopped taking pictures of the world around me, but something new had caught my interest. I took my first biology course early on in high school. It was like the whole world opened before me and I never looked back. I pushed the artistic heart of me further and further back, relegated to a place of inferior importance. I truly believed I couldn’t be both the scientist and the artist. I eventually went to college for microbiology and public health, then completed a public health master’s degree in communicable diseases. I began working in a government position that tracked new cases of communicable diseases in Hillsborough County. I began to see things that I never had been exposed to in my sheltered life. Terrible moments of suffering, extreme poverty, horrifying abuse. Things that will haunt me for a long time. It didn’t take long before I noticed I was taking my work home with me. I would dream of the things I had seen during the workday, my subconscious trying to process the reality of how some people lived and suffered. When I would be enjoying a nice brunch or dinner with friends or family, a horrid montage of images would parade through my mind and my stomach would turn, unable to even enjoy the smallest of life’s pleasure. It was here that a small voice that had been held back finally fought its way to the front. I had suppressed the artist in me long enough and it was making it clear that it wouldn’t allow me to continue. I picked up my camera again and began documenting beautiful, soft, dreamy moments around me. Small moments of love between a mother and new child, shy moments between a newly engaged couple, the precious little steps an infant goes through in his first year of life. But I didn’t want to take a picture so it represented that moment in perfect detail. I wanted to look at a photo and feel the emotion radiating out of it; the emotion I had felt in that moment. I used a mix of light, natural locations, and post-processing to create the dreamy, soft, emotional photography that eventually became my signature. That first couple of years when I threw myself back into my photography, the art began to balance out all of the ugly that had entered my life. It created an avenue of healing that I grabbed onto like a life line. I poured all of my emotion that I bottled up during the workday into creating magic at sunset and a wonderful balance was achieved. I now understand how beautifully every side of a person can come together to create the perfect balance that is sometimes needed in life. My clients always point out a particular photo of mine that spoke to them when they were looking for a photographer and they use words like “emotional”, “magical”, “soft”. I love that I can convey my passion for capturing how a moment makes a person feel into photography.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
My struggles were mostly internal as I felt my contributions as a photographer were not as important as when I worked in the medical field. By suppressing the artistic side of my personality, I almost lost a vitally important aspect of who I am.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I love to photograph the magic that is inherent in childhood. I create soft, dreamy photographs that are full of golden light and magical aspects. Children are intuitively connected to the natural world around them, so it makes it easier to create a composition that is outdoors and full of wonder and photograph a child’s place in it. I am most proud of the commitment I give to a project. I only take on 10-12 projects a year so I can fully dedicate my entire attention to one project at a time. I create a story with colors, textures, natural locations, and clothing. Sometimes it takes weeks for a project to come together, but once it does, it will tell the story of that moment in that child’s life. I love seeing the final product on a large canvas or print in my client’s home, so the beauty that can viewed as it was meant to be.
Are there any books, apps, podcasts or blogs that help you do your best?
As a natural light photographer, I have found my best resource to practice. When I was first starting out, I had to learn how to use every angle of light and bend it to what I wanted in my final photograph. There were many frustrating moments when I couldn’t get a photo to look like the vision I had in my head or the way I felt in that moment. It seemed it would always fall short or the photo would fall flat. I recruited friends and family and put them in front of a setting sun over and over until I understood how every angle would work in my favor to convey a story. When I first started using Photoshop, I mainly used YouTube tutorials and practiced for hours and hours until I understood the tools I needed to use to create my final artistic vision.
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: www.southerndreamingphotography.com
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Images by Southern Dreaming Photography