This weeks photographer interview is with newborn, baby and maternity photographer Jennifer Wilcox Photography! I have been following her beautiful newborn photography work for a few years now. I’m sure you are going to love her photographs too! Make sure you have joined the newsletter so you don’t miss out on more photographer interviews to come! If you would like to be featured fill in the easy form here. Let’s take a peak into the life of photographer Jennifer…
Where do you live? Puyallup, WA (near Seattle)
Tell us a bit about how you began your journey into photography. How long have you had your photography business?
I have been in business for four years. It all started with a dream to have a little business of my own. I needed a creative outlet and revenue to decorate my new home and fund all the ambitions I have for my four children. One day I sat down and survey my talents, decided which one had the best chance at being profitable and took a leap. I wouldn’t say I have a natural talent. So it has been a lot of hard work and seeking out mentoring from photographers that I admire. I never thought that deciding to specialize in newborn photography would be so rewarding and so much work at the same time.
Describe your photography style. What invaluable lessons have you learned that helped you develop your distinct style?
If I were to describe my style in three words they would simple, natural and emotive. I don’t know if I am there yet….always reaching. I really try to keep the focus on the baby. With my sibling shots and family shots I aim to highlight relationships and connections. To be honest I know that style is not unique. Many amazing photographers aim for those same goals. What makes me unique I think is the way that I care for and interact with my clients. I remember going to a Jamie Shultz workshop at WPPI years ago and hearing her say that one of the most valuable lessons she ever learned was, “It is not all about me and what I can do for me. It’s about my clients and what I can do for them.” Something along those lines. She inspired me (and still does). I want my clients to come away from a session with me feeling like just got the royal treatment.
Are you formally taught or self taught? What has been the best form of education you have taken (workshop, mentor, online classes etc) if any?
A little of both. I have taken a few workshops, on-line courses and mentored with some of the best newborn photographers in the world. I am a learning junkie. Every year, as part of my business plan, I sit down and analyze where I need to focus my efforts to improve. One year it was posing, another year it was lighting. This year it is to learn photoshop and find my own editing style. Then I seek out professionals who really have that aspect of the craft down. I am learning that I personally learn best from online classes and 1:1 mentoring.
What is your favourite photography genre to photograph (newborn, maternity, family, weddings etc)? Why?
Newborns for sure. I just love babies. My job definitely satisfies that baby hunger, which my husband is grateful for. I feel like it best suits who I am. I would be an utter failure at shooting Seniors. Heaven forbid. There isn’t a “cool” bone in my body. Let’s just say I am very maternal.
If you photograph newborns what is your favourite technique to get them to settle and sleep?
A warm room. Sometimes I find myself sneaking into my studio the day before a session as it is warming up (winter in Washington is cold) just to have a happy moment. I figure if warmness relaxes me it works for tiny people too. I also wrap babies up in a soft blanket and hold them close. This may be more for me than them….Most of the time a successfully sleepy baby has more to do with my clients prepping well for their session more than it has anything to do with what I do during the session. Other than the warm room. That’s a must.
Natural available light or studio lighting? Studio or on location sessions?
Studio light. First, because I am a control freak. I love that it is always the same and I don’t have to constantly be checking the back of my camera during a session. Second, because there isn’t much light in Western Washington 9 months out the year. There are natural light photographers here, and I think they are brilliant. I don’t know how they do it. I shoot in my home studio. I couldn’t imagine hauling all the stuff I would need for each session to a clients home. Not ever going to think about it.
Nikon or Canon, other? Favorite lens?
Canon. My favorite lends right now is my 135L. I don’t use it for newborns, mostly for shots of my own family. But I am so in love.
How do you find the balance between work and your personal life?
I keep work hours. I try to only be on the computer when my kids are at school or after they have gone to bed. I only shoot 2 to 3 sessions a week. And I do not let the digital world control me. I could do better. But I’m pretty happy with how things are going.
If you had one piece of advice to give on how to co-ordinate and choose your props for a session, what would it be?
Start first with your beanbag blankets. That is what I do. I pick two or three colors. Then I grab a selection of wraps that coordinate well and then I pull out hats or hairbands. But I always start big and get smaller. My best advice is to really know what you love and what suits your style and buy only those things that fit. Sometimes I am tempted by something that I think is so cute. But then I run it through the Jennifer Wilcox Photography filter. Do not buy things that are not YOU. And once you find a vendor that is a perfect marriage to your style stalk them.
What is your favourite Baby Joy Studios Product? Why?
Headbands for sure. I feel like they are the perfect balance as an accessory. They add just enough of a feminine touch without taking the focus off of my baby girls. Plus the colors and materials are so versatile that I can use them with lots of color combinations. I have never had a complaint. Definitely one of my very favorite vendors (and yes I stalk you).
What is your favourite photo you have taken and why?
That is really hard. I am not a “favorites” type of personality. If I had to choose it would be this one. Only because he is a dear friends baby and every day of his life is a miracle. My family prayed daily for his healthy deliver. Doctors told his mom, and my friend, that they didn’t know what to expect when he came. He could be blind, have a massive head, have heart failure, be brain dead and worst yet – not survive the labor process. He had so many rare complications. The day he joined his family and I went to visit at the hospital I can remember holding him and thinking to myself how perfect he was and is. I feel like he is a triumph of faith and love. So that makes this possibly my favorite.
What photographers do you admire and inspire you?
Way too many to list. I would leave someone out for sure and that would break my heart. I have a group of virtual friends on facebook (some I have met in person) who are literally the wind beneath my wings. Cheesiness aside: they inspire me, teach me, make me laugh, look our for me, share and are just in general the best group of women a gal could hope to call friends. I have to make mention too a sweet friend at home who gave me the courage to even get started. She is always there for me. And I love her.
When you are not working, how do you love to spend your days? Hobbies, family, travel etc?
Gardening, reading, traveling, taking a nap, eating chocolate, snuggling my littles on the couch and exploring my beautiful state.
Thank you so much Jenifer for sharing with us! Keep on eye on your inbox for another interview coming in next weeks newsletter! Submit your interview application here. Shop newborn and baby photography props in the shop.