We sat down with MHC photographer, Jess to discuss everything from how she manages fussy children during photo sessions to shooting live births.
Upon meeting Jess, you instantly get the feeling you’ve known her your entire life. Her big smile and warm, bubbly personality puts you at ease instantly. Being photographed is a rather intimate and personal experience, one that requires trust and a strong level of comfort. Mom to 20-month old Brody and one baby girl on the way, no one can relate and understand Motherhood Center moms better than Jess. With the ability to make any woman feel like her best friend, it’s easy to see that the majority of her photography clients have remained loyal over the years. She brings her expertise, experience and gregarious personality to the Motherhood Center family.
How did you get into photography?
I’ve always taken pictures. I got my first camera from my grandfather as a graduation present. It was a Cannon 35mm film, which I still use today. I like to shoot in film and digital.
In college, I was a pre-med Biology major up until my junior year. Even then, I was always taking pictures! I was the Historian for my sorority, so I shot all of our events. I was also the “go-to” person in my family to take pictures for every holiday gathering or birthday party.
How did you go from pre-med to photography as a career?
I had taken some time away from school and began nannying for a family, still taking classes here and there. When I finally went back to school full-time, I took a Black & White Film photography course as an elective, and my passion for photography grew even more! That next semester, I changed my major to Photography and Art and never looked back!
What do you love about Photography?
It makes me happy! Sometimes I feel like when I’m shooting a session, I am enjoying it more than they are! I love the connection that photography allows with families and especially children. Maybe it is because I came from a big family or my time as a nanny, but my whole life has revolved around family and children.
It’s all about connection! I need to have a connection with the people I’m shooting because it reflects in the photographs. It’s apparent in a photo when there is no connection with the photographer.
What’s your favorite kind of shoot to do?
I can’t decide which I like more, maternity or newborn! Both are such a wonderful, exciting, happy time in your life. It’s so nice to be invited into that moment of their life, when everything is new and full of love! It’s nice being able to experience that with so many people.
What makes a session ‘great’?
It’s a good session if they are having fun. If they are relaxed and are truly enjoying the moment, it creates the best photos.
Capture the moments they can’t see. The way your husband stares at you when you aren’t looking. The way his hand softly sweeps the hair out of your face or lovingly grazes your belly. That’s why I love shooting in people’s natural environment—their home or favorite location. I want to give you what you cannot see. I want to capture those emotions and feelings in a photo, and give you the beautiful moments that are often overlooked.
When is the best time to have your maternity photographs taken?
32 to 36 weeks! This insures you have a great looking belly. It’s right before the time during pregnancy when bloating becomes common, and you’re still feeling good enough to be photographed. Then we can get the photos edited and printed before baby’s arrival! We can also get the ball rolling and secure priority scheduling for the newborn session.
How do your clients approach a pregnancy shoot?
Everyone is different. Every woman has a different image in their head of what they want. Some know exactly what they want, and others don’t have a clue. Both approaches work. For women who have a vision for their maternity shoot, it gives me a starting point. The ones who don’t know what they want are usually pretty open. That allows me to be creative and try new ideas.
I have women who come in here and strip down, and others who are dressed head to toe in boots, scarves and sweaters. Both can be equally beautiful and desirable!
How do you approach capturing flattering shots for pregnant women?
It’s all about angles—angles, hand placement, and lighting.
What brought you to Motherhood Center versus another studio?
I love the hands-on approach and being able to interact with new moms every day—taking prenatal yoga with them, taking my 20-month year old son to Motherhood Music class, and developing real relationships and friendships with women in the same walk of life as myself. I am a mom (with one on the way!). I relate to everything they are going through!
Favorite part of your job.
My favorite part of my job is being able to watch your family grow, and capturing all of those special moments and memories along the way. I love becoming a part of families, and witnessing the evolution from baby bump to a growing family and everything in between. That’s special.
How do you handle cranky or fussy children that aren’t thrilled with having their picture taken?
I don’t like to push anything. If the baby is fussy or hungry, we take a break. The session is on their terms, and should accommodate them. Take a break. Revisit it.
If a toddler is cranky and doesn’t want to take pictures, it always works to tell them, “Okay. You don’t have to take any more pictures. I’m going to shoot mommy and daddy for a little while now.” 9 times out of 10, the toddler wants back in the shot if they feel left out.
What are you tackling next?
I am most excited about shooting live births! Some women are totally opposed to the idea, and others welcome it openly. Again, it goes back to capturing the priceless moments that you might miss.
That would make you on-call.
I don’t care at all! That’s exciting to me! I would be thrilled to be awoken in the night to drive to the hospital and shoot a live birth. That is one of life’s most beautiful moments, bringing a new life into the world. Those are moments that deserve to be captured.
Motherhood Center Photography Studio
MHC Photography services are offered at our in-house studio, at your home or on-location. Jess is available for maternity, newborn, family and live-birth. For more information or to book your next session: (713) 963-8880 x 108.
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