The low down on Jessica's Technical Specs:
Canon 5D mark ii
50mm Sigma Art
Do you use any actions?
Yes. I sometimes use Florabella and Greater than Gatsby
Do you retouch?
Portraiture! You are doing yourself a huge injustice if you are not using it (just my two cents)
How do you market?
Word of Mouth, and that includes facebook as I believe it's another form of word of mouth advertising. Any woman that sees the value (or wants to see the value) in herself. She's willing to invest in who she is.
Inspiring client stories and issues with clients and how you resolve them - tell us the goss!
I have had a number of women come to me after a cancer diagnosis as they work on redefining what beauty means to them and are often working on loving and accepting the changes in their bodies. My most recent client, Dana had a moving analogue that needs to be heard and I made a video documentary of her session... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRj-fOpqLuI I believe her words can translate to every woman. Whether we have had weight loss or gain, carried and given birth to babes or undergoing treatments to reclaim our bodies from such things as cancer. We all change and transform and I believe it's important and valuable to document and capture this transitions in life.
Jessica Rae's welcome packet can be viewed
What products perform best in your studio?
Albums and Metal Wall Art
I have a separate studio space within my home. It's about 350sq ft (that includes a makeup prep area, not all shoot space) It's not a huge space but I make it work well for me. All of my pieces are easily moved around so I can change up the look and feel off the studio to keep my creative brain happy.
Do you have any plans to change and/or grow from your space in the near future.
I have been in my separate studio area for only a few months, before that I was using our main living space that I shared with my family and had to setup and take down for each session. So I'm VERY happy with my new space. There's no overhead, I just have to walk downstairs and I'm at work! My hope though is to upgrade to a bigger space in the next 4 years. I don't know yet if that means a commercial space or what.... but I know I want to upgrade!
Do you keep strict hours of operation with your clients?
yes! I have a young family, so I feel it is really important to maintain as much balance as I can. That doesn't mean I never work weekends, but I only check and respond to emails and phone calls during business hours and I don't wavier much on which days and times I shoot.
Natural Light, Studio Light, combination of styles? What's your preference? What are your strengths and weaknesses with lighting?
Primarily natural light. But I do have some LED constants and AlienBee Strobe that I utilize from time to time depending on the look, feel, mood I am going for with the image. Learning how to use OCF (off camera flash) was life changing for me! It opens up so many more options and I am not at the mercy of mother nature.
Do you have makeup artists you work with in your studio?
Yes! I love my HMUA's and it is important to me that they have a strong work ethic, are professional, flexible and amazing at what they do! They play a very important role with my clients, they help to set the tone from the very start of the session. Average rate I pay is about $100 for makeup and basic hair styling (usually loose curls) They leave as soon as they are done, If they client requests (which has never happened as of yet) then there would be an additional fee to compensate them for their additional time
BUSINESS IN GENERAL:
How long have you been in business? What were you doing before you started your photo business?
Full time boudoir, 3 years. Photography in general as a part time business 6 years. Before photography I was in the print industry. I worked my way through production to sales and marketing.
Did you go to school for photographer or are you self taught?
I took a class back in highschool (going to date myself here... 1996 I think?... whoa 20 years ago! haha) We learned on black and white film cameras, developed our own negatives and prints in a dark room. It was amazing. I tried to get into post secondary photography courses but they were always full and after 3 years of trying I gave up and went to work full time. That is the only technical training I have had, everything since has been self taught.
Did you always want to be a photographer or was it something that came later in life?
I have always been a visual artist. I explored many mediums in my youth (drawing, painting, ceramics and of course photography) Photography has always been my strongest passion. When I couldn't get into post secondary avenues with photography (classes always filled up and I couldn't get a seat) I decided it wasn't my time and took on working full time. That was 18 years ago and now I am doing what I love. I have no regrets in waiting this long, I feel I am right where I was meant to be.
What is your biggest struggle in this business?
For me, the biggest struggle is the back end of the business. Book keeping, taxes, pricing. It is my least favorite part for sure, but then I wouldn't have a business without it!
Is there a reason you shoot boudoir and do you shoot any other genre? If you're excusive, and/or recently went exclusive can you give the readers some insight into why you did. If you've only ever done boudoir, again we'd love to hear why.
Boudoir is my bread and butter and what I enjoy photographing. I still shoot a handful of weddings per year but I'm very selective! I only do intimate backyard and elopement style weddings. I also love doing creative editorials and collaborate with out industry artists! At the end of they day, I love working with women, in whatever fashion that may translate.
If you knew someone who wanted to be a photographer, and could give them one piece of important advice, what would that be?
practice, practice, practice. push yourself outside of your comfort zones, it's the best way to learn. And do not sell yourself short.
Have you ever done a boudoir session yourself? Do you think it's something that is important for female boudoir photographers to do?
YES! I have done 3. They are SO important to do. One, I'm practicing what I preach! Two, It puts me into my clients shoes. I had many of the same thought processes that my clients go through and it was eye opening. I feel it helps to better relate to my clients and empathize with them which only makes them more comfortable.
How do you feel about the male / female debate regarding boudoir photographers?
I think that every artist (male or female) has a different and unique approach. Some female clients feel more comfortable with a female photographer while some would prefer a male. It really depends on the client, what they are comfortable with and the perspective of images they want at the end of the day. Personally, I actually will shoot specific angles and poses if I know my client is coming in with the intent of gifting the images to their male partners that I may otherwise forgo if she is doing the session just for herself.
What do you do to avoid burn-out? Is there ever a time when you just want to throw your camera out the window?
This is pretty much me every single day, hahha. I have a very supportive partner who does what he can to gently remind me that I'm taking on too much and I need to pull back. It's usually few a session past when he makes a comment about my schedule that I realize he's right! That being said, I thrive on being busy.
What do you love about the business?
The relationships I build and the diversity of women (and people in general) that I get to meet. The sense of accomplishment that comes not only to myself as a professional and artist but to my very core when I can help another woman see what I see, her raw beauty.
What do you hate about the business?
That our industry lacks much in the way of standards, specifically regarding pricing. Majority of industries have set standards when it comes to what an apprentice vs a journeyman, etc can charge with minor variables. In the photography industry, these days, there is noting like this. It's difficult for someone starting out in the industry to know what they should be charging, not to mention our poor clients. How can we educate them on the value of their investment when they see that Tom, Dick and Sally are essentially giving away their services for next to nothing!
Are you a member of any professional photo organizations like PPA, WPPI? What benefit do you feel you get by being a member?
I am only a member of AIPB
Do you compete and do you have any opinions on it? AIBP runs contests regularly. Do you participate? If not, is there a reason you don’t?
I do, but I am selective. If I feel I have something worth submitting for a particular contest then of course! I enjoy the recognition and it can push my out of my current comfort zones, which can only make me a better photographer at the end of the day!
SOME FUN MORE PERSONAL STUFF:
Favorite food? Sushi
One guilty pleasure in life? Red Wine - All red wine
What is your favorite piece of clothing? PJs
What's one song on your playlist? If I ever stray by Frank Turner
What's your favorite movie genre? Example? Acoustic indie folk and Alt Rock (Sara Bareilles, Birdy, Sublime, Chris Cornell)
Favorite shoes to wear? Flats
What are you currently reading? Seekers (It's a series about young bear cubs going on a journey together.) I am reading it with my 3 young boys each night <3
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would that be? Scotland! My homeland <3
If you could go back and do over anything in your life, what would that be? Nothing. I wouldn't be who or where I am today without the experiences and choices I have made in life. Regret is a waste of energy. It changes nothing and does not benefit you.
If you could meet and photograph someone famous, who would that be and why? Neil Gaiman. I admire people that can write and his work excites my brain and heart <3
What do you struggle with the most in life? (not photo related) Focus / Balance. I tend to hyper focus on something for a time and then get overwhelmed when I realize that I'm hyper focusing and I've neglected other things and have to play catch up!
Are you married, single, have kids, husband? Is life a juggling act for you? I'm divorced (well, still need to file that paperwork but...) I have an amazing man in my life now, who is extremely supportive and wonderful. I have 3 boys of my own that live with us full time, and a step daughter and step son who visit regularly. We also have 3 cats. Is life a juggling act? - That's a rhetorical question, right?! hahah
Who inspires you the most in life? Work? Anyone that doesn't let their struggle become their identity! Anyone that has faced adversity and risen above it and succeeded despite the odds <3
If you could provide one single piece of advice to influence a young person's direction in life, what would that be? Do what speaks to your heart. It's YOUR life, don't live it by anyone's terms by your own!