We are so excited to welcome Jean Smith to the Blog today! Take a moment to learn more about Jean and visit her website Jean Smith Photography . Thank you so much Jean for taking the time to share your work with us today!
Where did your inspiration for photography begin?
I can pinpoint a very specific time in my life. Right before we moved to China in early 2006, I received my first DSLR camera, and my love for photography began. While we lived there, I spent hours and hours of reading and studying. I then started practicing in every type of situation I could…low light, noon light, rain, dusk, sunrise, indoors. I experienced sounds, textures, food, and pretty much anything else you can think of for the first time, but I quickly found that I was extremely drawn to two things…light and people. Six years later, light and people remain my main inspirations and I am always striving to improve or find new ways to work with light and people in my photography.
How would you describe your photography style?
I think three words…emotion, relationships, and lifestyle…pretty much sum it up.
Did you study photography in school or are you self taught?
Self taught, baby! I had always appreciated art and photography growing up, but it wasn’t until I got my first “real” camera and moved to China, that the obsession and passion for this art began. In the beginning, it was all reading and studying. Then it was learning my camera. Then it moved to photographing objects and people. And finally, practicing in every kind of light possible and trying new things.
Do you shoot Canon or Nikon, and what is your favorite lens?
Nikon. My favorite two lenses are my 24-70mm 2.8, and 85mm 1.8 (with my 70-200mm 2.8 in a close third).
Do you have any tips for photographers on working with light?
First, look for good light over anything else while shooting. I notice many people worrying about posing or location over lighting. None of that matters if you don’t have decent or great light on your subject. Second, start noticing light without a camera in hand. Understanding how your light will effect your subject or an image is the single most important thing in photography. Third, learn to create your own light. Natural light is the most beautiful light available (in my opinion), but it can be limiting in many situations. You can use natural reflectors (building, sidewalk, etc), photography reflectors, video lights, or learn basic off camera flash to manipulate the light so you can create the exact image you have in your head.
What do you feel is the most challenging thing about starting a photography business?
Balance. Find balance from the very beginning of your business. I let my business rule me for 3 years, and finally figured it out after much stress and many tears. List your top priorities and everything else comes second. For me, this meant deciding on a schedule that made me happy and sticking with it NO MATTER WHAT. It also meant pulling away a bit from photography related things (blogs, Facebook, etc) to take care of myself and spend time with my family.
How do you sell value to your customer when the price tag may be higher then they expect?
I think a lot of this has to do with confidence. You don’t have to be the most creative or inventive photographer out there to boast value and quality. You just have to be confident that you can produce quality images (focus, white balance, exposure, composition) every time at every session/wedding/shoot and NEVER apologize for your price tag.
What is one of the best tips or pieces of advice you have learned in the past year you can share with photographers?
Get rid of anything that sucks your joy.
If you could encourage a new photographer in one area, what would it be?
Figure out what it is that you dislike in your business, and get rid of it. Much of it can be solved via outsourcing. Hate taxes? Hire an accountant. Hate album design? Outsource it! Hate editing? There a million online editing companies. Hate cleaning? Do an extra session or two and hire someone to do it for you. The list goes on and on. If you want to continue to love photography, and be in business for the long haul, you have to let go of things that are overwhelming or are taking up too much of your time.
What do you love most about being a photographer?
Wow, so many things. But, I think the fact that people pay me money to do my favorite hobby in the world still tops my list.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I always feel I should specialize in one genre. But, I just don’t think I could give up photographing newborns…or kids…or weddings…or high school seniors. So, I think I’ll keep them all, but I will have added in more commercial and editorial work. Hoping Anthropologie calls soon. I’ll also accept Tyra Banks 🙂
About Jean: I am a photographer living in New Hudson, Michigan, with my husband and four little boys. I adore my family more than anything, and also love exercise, reading, travel, travel, travel, and delicious food.