We are so excited to introduce our next Captivating Creative to the blog! Welcome to the blog, Jennifer Trahan Co.
Captivating Creatives Feature | Jennifer Trahan Co. | Fine Art Wedding Photographer
Meet Jennifer! Based in Austin, TX, Jennifer focuses on fine art wedding photography and is inspired by the love couples have for another! Her portfolio of wedding photography is stunning and her detail shots are swoon-worthy! We are so excited to introduce you all to Jennifer and her amazing business!
Now, let's get to the interview!
How long have you been in business?
Why did you get started in your industry?
In 2010, I attended the prestigious Brooks Institute of Santa Barbara, California earning my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Professional Photography degree in 2013.
What has been the most rewarding project you have worked on in your career?
I am grateful that my entire career is exceptionally rewarding, not just one project but all the weddings I get to be a part of. The most joyous moments are when I get to witness the profound love so many of my clients and their families show each other. The ability to capture those private moments as well as being present for them are my absolute favorite and most rewarding times in my career.
What does a day in the life look like for you in your business?
The majority of weddings happen on Saturdays. Now capturing images are just part of a larger process. That process is a seven day a week affair typically with my computer and editing software. Oh, and coffee, lots of coffee. But on Saturdays you wake up extra early and stay up extra late. It is a day you plan for all week, from gear prep to clothing choices depending on the weather and ceremony location. But the day itself, Saturday, starts with the mind. When I wake up I immediately get in the wedding day mindset. It definitely is a feeling you have to get into; the mindset is knowing that the Bride and her family are looking to you for guidance all day. They will ask for your opinions and thoughts. Having the best answers for their exact needs are something one must be aware of at all times. You must know your gear and your art as well. It is like what my scuba instructor once told me at the beginning of my training: "splash some water on your face so your brain gets the notice that you are about to go underwater". The Wedding Day is an underwater experience and you need your oxygen tank to be full so you can stay alive. Mindset is everything on a wedding day. Then of course you have to be sure you can rise to the challenge for the entire day and that starts with nutrition as well as hydration - I don't just pack camera gear in my bag. This is where you take care of you: water and healthy snacks are a must and they must be easily accessible as well as unobtrusive. You have to be willing to forgo breaks, lunch, and even dinner. Wedding cake alone is only good enough for the typically long late night drive home. Now heart is the one that differs from the mindset and body portion of the day, those two are what I consider the technical side of the wedding day. The heart portion is the part that holds the creative spirit within you. With everything else you have to do like staying on schedule, expecting the unexpected, and predicting the next move before it occurs, yes that is all PART of the job. However the flip side is the heart that goes into the image, it is you being in the moment, stopping the constant rush of thoughts about the shot list and lighting. Heart is you listening to the client and their thoughts and feelings during their day of marriage. This is what allows for the best and most candid images to be captured. It truly is a Saturday of Wedding Day Combat Photography, you must have it all to conquer the day and night if you wish to come out a shining bright light for your clients, which is always the mission. Once you achieve these three key components the rest is time management and knowing your art. These are my typical Saturday's, now Monday - Friday are a different story! More "day of" rapid fire tips for you: arrive early and safely, be unobtrusive whenever possible, always have a backup plan in every situation including the little CF cards in your camera or if your flash gets knocked over by a guest at the reception, have insurance, know your gear, always be willing to stay late, NEVER leave your gear in your vehicle EVER no matter what, grab a piece of cake, and always drive safe or get a hotel room for the night. Lastly, once home immediately backup the images three different ways, always having one off-site backup. Oh and of course have fun.
What has been the best investment you have made in your business?
As a digital photographer, it is very hard being in an industry where anyone can become a "professional photographer" nowadays. This is where I must differentiate myself to survive in such a saturated market. I do so with two things, one is by shooting film photography as often as I can alongside the digital portion. Film brings my passion for photography back to its roots. Film photography allows a photographer to really understand the foundation of photography and a photograph; it is heavenly having that profound understanding and ability. The biggest and most obvious to me though is my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Professional Photography degree. It isn't the piece of paper though that most think I am speaking of. It is, in fact, the experiences I achieved while at Brooks Institute. The friendships I still have with classmates and instructors. The life lessons as well as the career lessons I learned. Also by having the backstage pass to my "currently working in the industry" instructors. Their generosity to share their most treasured lessons they learned or picked up along their journey as photographers themselves helped me in ways a YouTube video, online course, or workshop couldn't. I always say to those who ask, "no matter how much we all said we couldn't wait to graduate, or how much we dreaded the extremely hard work, and late nights mixed with early morning classes, I would still do it all over again tomorrow". If only for the experiences especially with the people I hold so close to my heart and so high up on the pedestal of gratitude and idolization I have for them and their work.
What advice would you give to a person just starting out in this industry?
It is funny to me that this question is being asked of me now, when just yesterday I read the Winter Edition of the Brooks Institute Alumni Newsletter. This exact question was asked of a few Alumni too. I find it funny because two responses that were total opposites stood out to me then. I did have my own opinion of what I would say and in fact did say to many who looked to become a photographer by ways of Brooks Institute. You see, I was a Tour Guide at Brooks while attending the classes, you could say I was knee deep in it all. Now anyone could get through the humanities or math classes, yes, but the photography courses were a different thing entirely. As I went through my photo courses I became very aware of those who I sadly knew just couldn't cut it, not because of their skill but because of their lack of passion. Witnessing this curated my elevator speech, the speech I always gave while on my tours with the potential students and their families. Here is my advice: If you think this is going to be easy it won't be. If you think it's just pictures, you're wrong. If you don't have the passion and the drive to keep going when you feel like everyone hates your work well then photography isn't for you. You may want to work in photography as a hobby but to build a successful business out of photography, that is a life-long achievement, not a side job. The learning, technology, equipment, software, and clientele are always changing and you are always learning, improving, changing, and investing just to stay one or two steps ahead. If you don't have the consistent drive to do all that and more for the rest of your life then you won't cut it as a business in Photography. Now one of those Alumni stated simply this: "Don't become a photographer. You missed the boat and the market is too saturated for you to join". I feel this is incorrect. Talent is out there always, new and improved with a different way of thinking and doing. If you carry the passion and the drive then do it, learn and become a photographer. The second was the opposite stating anyone can do it if they want to and that you just have to try hard to become a successful photographer. In my opinion, that is not entirely untrue but it takes more than that. Becoming a photographer is becoming a kind of history note taker. Your notes may be different from mine but they both are relevant to the future to come. If photography is just a way to make "easy money" then please just empty your bank account out now and donate it to an animal shelter where it can be useful. Photography isn't just manual mode and auto focus with your kit lens. Photography is an art to be learned and perfected, there are almost 365 days times 3 worth of knowledge put into my brain all about photography and its art and there is always more to be learned, attempted, and achieved. The schooling alone not to mention the amount of gear and software plus the business knowledge needed, as well as building client relations which let me just say takes time and time is always money in photography. Can you do this all? You must know that you can do this wholeheartedly from day one otherwise don't start what you can't finish. It will only be a waste of your time and money. If you do in fact have the guts for this all, well then, welcome I am here to help you!
Jennifer, thank you so much for being a Captivating Creative, articulating your business advice so well and inspiring others with your gorgeous photography and the heart behind it!
Facebook: Jennifer Trahan Co.