Photography Interview with Lifestyle Photographer, Jennifer Tonetti-Spellman

February 7, 2013

in Guest Photographer Judge, Guest Photographer Judge 2013, Photo Challenge 2013, Photography Creative Team

I Heart Faces Photography Interview with Jennifer Tonetti-Spellman

We are so excited to feature one of our Creative Team Members here at I Heart Faces, Jennifer Tonetti-Spellman, as this month’s Guest Photographer Judge!  Jennifer is a lifestyle photographer living in Westchester, New York and when asked to describe herself and her business, she replied “I am a die-hard natural light lifestyle/documenter of children.  No props, no staging, just photographing children organically in their homes and local parks that they frequent often that memories are made in. I try to keep my sessions as casual and ‘real’ as possible.”

We are thrilled that Jennifer will be joining us as a speaker at our I Heart Faces Photography Conference for Women in October!  Enjoy learning more about her in today’s interview…

I Heart Faces Photography Interview with Jennifer Tonetti-Spellman

Jennifer’s Photography Journey

My journey started almost 5 years ago as ‘JellyBean’ but my love of photography dates back to when I worked in Manhattan and took night courses in B&W film over (yikes!) 10 years ago.

When I first started to get serious about having photography be my business, ‘lifestyle’ wasn’t as popular as it is now. In fact, I didn’t know WHAT to call what I was doing, but rather likened it a bit to photojournalism. I think I did literally 1 shoot with a baby with props and gave myself a near nervous breakdown. I knew I had to stay true to my voice and what I wanted to deliver to those parents at the end of a session.

Yes, I deliver on the smiles and do tight, more classic head shots, but my true love lies in the moments that wait to be found that, to me, scream “Pure awesome.”

I Heart Faces Photography Interview with Jennifer Tonetti-Spellman

Fun Q&A with Jennifer

What was your favorite photography moment from the past year?

That’s a tough one. But I will share one with you that I know the I Heart Faces community will relate to and appreciate. During December/January I was shooting just for me. I was challenging myself during the downtime of the holidays to embrace light and shadows thanks to Kellie Hatcher. I was feeling a bit burnt out and not so creative at the end of the season last year, as we all do after a full year of shooting.

I’m always pretty colorful and lively with my images, but I was feeling more like an introvert with the way I was shooting that I had no idea how I could marry the way people have come to know JBP and the love I now have for pushing the boundaries. I met this 7-year-old who rocked my socks off. A true original. We met up on a very foggy day.

As I was in her backyard talking loudly (shocked) I noticed an echo. She was on top of the hill, me the bottom. And I just had her scream. That scream was a freeing moment for both her and I. It was like a lightbulb moment. I have to stay true to me to be able to create images and I’m hopeful others will come along for the ride.

I Heart Faces Photography Interview with Jennifer Tonetti-Spellman

What inspires your photography the most?

My daughter Emma’s expressions. I noticed early in her life how super animated her face was and to date, she is of course, my most favorite subject to photograph. Now she gets in on the action, especially with my 365 project. Involve your kids in decision-making with photography, and you will go far (that and peppermint patties!)

I Heart Faces Photography Interview with Jennifer Tonetti-Spellman

What is your favorite quote?

I have two… ‘You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.’ – Wayne Gretzky It is literally the way I live my life. I have no fear of failure (I don’t ‘like it’ but I don’t fear it 😉 ). And ‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans…’ John Lennon. It speaks to the way I shoot and also reminds me to slow down.

I Heart Faces Photography Interview with Jennifer Tonetti-Spellman

What lens can’t you live without?

35mm 1.4.  It is the go-to lens for me for indoor shooting of which I do a ton. From large estates to tiny NYC apartments, it truly is my best friend.

I Heart Faces Photography Interview with Jennifer Tonetti-Spellman

How do you promote your photography and services?

I’m almost all word of mouth with some of it coming from my editorial work and Facebook (which really is word of mouth anyway). From my sessions, to my mentoring, people find me. I come from an advertising/marketing background and don’t believe in straight up advertising for this profession.

I Heart Faces Photography Interview with Jennifer Tonetti-Spellman

Who are three photographers who inspire you?

In no particular order: Kellie Hatcher for her amazing use of light + dark and for being a great teacher, Molly Flanagan a TRUE documenter of life as it is and happens, and Kate T. Parker (who probably thinks I want to marry her by now I’ve been singing her praises so much) for her unique and refreshing style and take no prisoner B&W’s.

Where do you see your photography business in five years?

I love to teach as much as shoot,  so I hope to be dividing my time equally between both shooting and teaching.

I Heart Faces Photography Interview with Jennifer Tonetti-Spellman

Connect with Jennifer

We can’t wait to share the classes that Jennifer will be teaching at our photography conference.  Stop by our conference website to sign up for email updates so you won’t miss any of the fun!

Than you for sharing your time with us here this week Jennifer!  Be sure to check out her website for more inspiration.  And we’d especially love it if our community could stop by her Facebook Fan Page to leave a kind comment.  Jennifer has an incredible gift for drawing out natural smiles, and she shared some of her tips and techniques at our Dream Big conference last fall.  If you’d like to learn more about getting your kids to smile naturally for the camera, visit her website to learn more about her manual “Don’t Say Cheese.”

There’s still time to enter this month’s photo challenge. Submit your “Love”entry by Saturday EST!  Do you have more than one “Love” photo? Share it on Instagram or Twitter and use our hashtag #iHeartFaces so we can see it!

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Veronica February 11, 2013

I love Jennifer’s work! I am following her blog and hoping to make it to the conference to learn from her.


kate t. parker February 10, 2013

I accept. 🙂

HUGE fan of yours and your amazing talent…humbled you are a fan as well. 🙂


Jean Smith February 9, 2013

Fabulous images and Jennifer…you sound so FUN!!! Can’t wait to meet you in October 🙂


Kara February 8, 2013

Awesome article! Jennifer rocks 🙂


Robyn February 7, 2013

Love your style! This was a great and inspiring interview.


angie {the arthur clan} February 7, 2013

So happy that I’ll get to see you again at this year’s conference. Your work is amazing and I know everyone is going to love learning from you!


Jennifer Tonetti-Spellman February 7, 2013

Amy- would LOVE to 🙂 Dana, humbling words to say the least. To hear you say I freed you, makes me beyond thrilled. Keep shooting what you love, HOW you love to and the business comes… So happy we met last year- and this year- WATCH OUT! Fun times ahead for sure. Susan what can I say? I adore your eye. I adore how you truly TRULY are lifestyle and capture real life. Thank you. Looking forward to meeting you as well.


Susan Keller February 7, 2013

Jennifer, in this big wide world of photographers, I just love your style and vision. Can’t wait to meet you in October at the IHF conference!


Dana Suggs February 7, 2013

Jennifer literally BLEW me away when I met her in Dallas at the last conference. I LOVED how she wasn’t afraid to get down and be silly with her clients. I am always so self-conscious and afraid of what others may think of me (especially clients) that I let that hold me back in my photography.

She taught me to LET GO! Get out of my head and shoot what I love, how I love to shoot it! I seriously stalk her now…well her photography. She has FREED me!

One of my VERY favorite photographers!


Amy Locurto February 7, 2013

Yay for Jennifer! Love your work. I want you to photograph my kids someday:-)


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