In the first of our series “Industry Insider”- articles created by Event Vendors, for Event Vendors, URBACEOUS interviewed Jennifer Michelson of A Girl and A Camera Photography.
Some people craft amazing stories in written word, others tell beautiful tales with music. Jennifer takes pictures, photography is her voice. Find out what it’s like to be a photographer in the competitive events industry, hear her perspective… Let her inspire you!
Business: A Girl and A Camera Photography
When did you first think of becoming a photographer?
I was inspired at a young age! My dad was a photographer so when I was growing up, cameras were always around. To me, being in the darkroom was always a magical experience. I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of capturing a brief moment in time on paper. I have a collection of old photographs. I don’t know who the people in the photos are or when they were taken, but looking at them is like looking into a time machine. When I view these old photos, I imagine what life must have been like in that moment in time.
What aspect of Weddings do you most enjoy photographing?
A wedding day is filled with so much raw emotion. I feel so lucky to witness and capture all those raw emotions in images for a couple to re-live and enjoy for years to come.
Do you have a method for gaining new clients?
Honestly, no. I feel that “if I build it, they will come.” The majority of my clients find me by word-of-mouth. I believe that taking care of my clients – delivering an exceptional experience – brings future clients.
Who are some of your favorite photographers past or present?
I love photojournalist James Nachtwey. He has a way of capturing the heartbreak of humanity and making it beautiful. Fer Juaristi, is definitely a stand-out in the wedding photography world. I love the humor and irony of Elliott Erwitt. I love the story and work of Vivian Maier, the American street photographer, who was a nanny for 40 years and pursued photography in her spare time and no one really knew. It’s so interesting. These are just a few of my favorites.
What cameras and lighting gear did you start with and what are you currently using?
I started with Nikon film, switched to Canon digital, and am now back to Nikon (digital). Each has its pros and cons, but I’m really happy with Nikon right now.
What are some of the key elements to consider when shooting weddings?
Expect the unexpected. Sometimes (rarely), a wedding day goes as planned, but the majority of the time, it doesn’t. This is something I really enjoy about weddings. Each situation is unique and my challenge is how to work within the situation to capture what I need.
What have you found to be the best way to get your work out there and get exposure?
To get exposure, I expand my reach, whether it be posting on social media or submitting to wedding blogs. I think the key is diversity.
How do you utilize social media and online tools?
I try to be consistent. I post on social media daily. Geotagging can be quite beneficial. For example, I did some traveling in Myanmar and shared images of my travels on Instagram. A bride who was from Myanmar saw my images and contacted me because she loved the images I posted on Instragram. She hired me to shoot her wedding this year. This is the power of the internet!
What would you say the benefits are for event organizers to work with photographers and videographers?
A great event organizer is the key to success for any event. Clients look to event organizers for guidance in all aspects of an event, including recommendations for reputable and exceptional vendors, like photographers. If an event organizer partners with a circle of trusted business contacts to recommend to clients, this benefits not only the client in need, but also positively benefits the reputation of the event organizer.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a photographer?
One of the biggest challenges is a saturated market of photographers, some of whom are not professional photographers, but “self-proclaimed” photographers. Some photographers charge less than their worth. This really hurts the industry and undervalues our industry.
What advice would you give to photography students or those looking to pursue this career? What can they do to stand out and get noticed?
The best advice I would give is to shoot often and be yourself. Really get to know your craft and find your voice. Technically, you want to know what to do in every situation. At a wedding, you often find yourself in less-than-ideal shooting situations and you need to know how to make it work every time. Oscar Wilde once said, “Be yourself because everyone else is already taken.” As an artist, it’s one of the most important things you can do. That’s when you create truly authentic work.
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URBACEOUS’ Industry Insider Panel showcases 10 respected industry experts invited to speak and share their vast knowledge of the events industry.READ MORE