This week, Pretty welcomes Jen Bebb of Bebb Studios! We are so excited to have Jen share her and her husbands work with us today and hope you enjoy getting to know her better!
Where did your inspiration for photography begin?
I don’t think I can pinpoint one moment – I took my first photography class when I was 10 years old, shooting and developing my own black and white film. I took pictures all through trips to London and Mexico as a teen, but the camera was not my constant companion otherwise.
And then one day, after shooting a wedding for a friend, going through my film I had a moment where I looked at a photo and got goosebumps. It probably was not a perfect image, although the light and the depth were perfect to my eyes. It was a perfect moment, between two people in love, as they shared their first dance. I could feel the love and see it in their eyes, and to this day that image still gives me goos bumps. It was the first time I realized photography was about more than pictures, it was about being part of a family’s visual legacy.
How would you describe your photography style?
After years of struggling with this very question, I give up. I can’t describe my style anymore than I describe what makes me who I am. My images are a collaboration between myself, my subject and the viewer and, as such, are outside style descriptions.
Every time I work with someone, I come in fresh, with an open mind, using who they are to guide the images I make. Some of my images are more natural, others more posed. Some of my images are more stylistic and fashion inspired, others are very relaxed and carefree. Some of my images are soft, some are not. But all of my images are made with intention and purpose, whatever labels others put on them.
If you were to make me pick one word, though, it would be “genuine”
Did you study photography in school or are you self taught?
I’m Steve taught 🙂 Steve took a couple of classes and really knew the technical aspects of image making, inside and out. He taught me the technical, I taught him the heart of image making.
Do you shoot Canon or Nikon, and what is your favorite lens?
We shoot Canon and my favorite lens actually changes almost weekly. I go back and forth between the 85 f/1.8 and the 135 f/2.0
Do you have any tips for photographers on how to find the light?
There is a difference between what our eyes see and what our cameras see, so learning how to see light and what that will mean to your camera is super important in my opinion. Light is something you see or you don’t see – once you see it, you’ll never stop seeing it, but it takes time to recognize. Start looking for nuances of light and shadow, start watching for bounce from windows or other surfaces, turn lights on and off and see what happens, walk your neighbourhood at different times of the day and see how it changes. Walk around your subject and watch the light change from frontal, to side (with rim light too) to backlight and around again. Take images at each angle and see the way the light is different from each perspective. Be patient – it takes time to train yourself to see this way if it doesn’t come naturally.
What do you feel is the most challenging thing about photographing weddings?
How important is pricing when starting a new business?
It’s important, but it’s not the most important thing. I think you need to be able to make pictures of equal or better quality every time you shoot, first. Then you need to really think through the business side of this – it’s complicated, hard work and will take the joy out of image making if you’re not ready for it. Then it’s time to look at how much money you need to survive in your life – every single dollar you need to live for a year. Then triple that amount and that is what you have to gross from your business to just survive. Divide that number by the number of jobs you want to shoot each year and you will quickly learn what you need to charge to make this work.
Pricing is not simple – there are a lot of factors at play. Almost every photographer I speak with has underestimated what they need to make to live, not to mention grow their businesses. Starting too low will cause problems later, starting too high will hurt you when you can’t back it up. But if you look at what you need and weight that against what you have to charge, that will go a long way to helping determine your price.
How do you sell value to your customer when the price tag may be higher then they expect?
I don’t know that you can sell value per se. I think clients see value in what you offer or they don’t. All we can do is build a solid brand reputation, work hard to make exceptional images each and every time we shoot, and treat our customers like gold to build a strong referral base. People will pay more for something they value, so it often comes down to what you’re selling. If we are selling the first images in a family’s visual legacy then people expect to pay more than if we were simply selling pictures.
What is a good lesson you have learned this year in photography or in your business?
Trust your gut and be true to each moment as it unfolds.
If you could encourage a new photographer in one area, what would it be?
Know your camera inside and out. Understand image making. But most importantly, build a business that is right for you and your life.
What do you love most about being a photographer?
The reactions from our clients.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
That’s the great thing about being a creative – I could be just about anywhere in 5 years. I have a feeling I will have written more books, run more conference, mentored more creatives in business and photographed more weddings. I will have traveled more, fallen more in love with my husband, raised my boys to be men, and be planning the next big move in my life. One thing is for certain, I won’t be sitting still 🙂
About the Artists: To Steve and Jen, life is a progressive journey with obstacles and successes scattered throughout. Passionate about everything they do, these two embrace life as though each day counts, more than the one before. And despite all their professional accomplishments and accolades, their proudest project to date is the two boys they are raising to be men. They truly believe in leading by example and always being the very best you can be.