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…
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.”
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!