Each month for our photo challenge, we like to invite a photographer whose work we admire to be our Guest Photography Judge. This month, we are very excited to feature Jessica Drossin and we really enjoyed interviewing her about the journey her photography has been through. Be sure to enter your “All Boy” photo into our photo challenge by Saturday. Jessica will be choosing her Top Ten favorite photos from the challenge which will then be showcased on I Heart Faces next week!
About Jessica Drossin
I grew up in a small town in northeastern Nebraska, with a population of under 1,000 people. My mother was my high school art teacher. I went to college with the intention of being a serious painter but quickly discovered I needed to find a “real job”, so I worked for 10 years as the Creative Manager for a video game company. I’m married to a music composer and am a stay-at-home mom with two young, rambunctious boys. I take a lot of photos for myself personally as well as for a variety of different types of clients (portrait, licensing, entertainment) and create a lot of digital mini-paintings that I call textures, and recently began selling actions and overlays.
My Photography Journey
Two things happened almost simultaneously: My sister, Gina Kolsrud bought her first camera and I had my second baby. I was unable to return to my freelance design work as quickly as I’d anticipated due to the new demands of having two young children and I was desperate for a creative outlet. Additionally, my little point and shoot was frustrating me terribly and I was jealous of what I saw Gina doing with her kids. She told me what camera and lens to buy, pointed me to a lot of “how-to” photography articles, and
introduced me to the photographers whose work inspired her. She bugged me to join Flickr. She gently insisted that I learn how to shoot in manual. I really don’t think I’d be a photographer today if it weren’t for her advice and encouragement.
Fun Q&A with Jessica
What was your favorite photography moment from the past year?
I think my favorite photography moment of last year was re-editing a personal project titled Mary Magdalene. I conceptualized and shot the work last year but I was never really happy with how it came out. Nothing ever looks like it does in my head, but this in particular, did not meet my own personal expectations. I stumbled on the image almost a year after I’d originally created it and spent an afternoon reworking it. At the end of the day, it was extremely satisfying to see that it was now *almost* where I wanted it to be in my head, and at least to my eye, far exceeding where I’d been with it a year ago. That gave me tremendous satisfaction and confidence that I was headed in the direction I wanted to go and that I was growing in my ability to translate what is in my head to the rest of the world.
What inspires your photography the most?
My non-client photography is inspired most by words and prose: stories, books, lyrics, definitions, translations, synonyms, antonyms — I get inspired by people using words to paint pictures in my head. I feel inspired then to take their words and try to re-interpret it visually in a way that speaks to me.
My client photography is inspired by my clients. I spend a lot of time in my sessions trying to understand who they are and how I can interpret their personality in a portrait. I want them to impact my style more than I want my style to impact their portrait if that makes any sense.
Do you have a “most embarrassing” photography moment you can share?
Oh, I regularly embarrass myself on shoots. I get very focused on my shot and since I primarily use prime lenses (so I am the zoom), I tend to trip, fall, get wet, step in dog doo, and become covered in stickers as I try to frame my shots. I also don’t seem to reliably know my left from my right and so I’m usually saying the wrong one and then making gestures to correct myself.
What is your favorite quote?
That is hard. I have many. I like, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”(Unattributed). I don’t believe kindness is the same as being a doormat, but I do try to see things from other perspectives and do my best to be nice and respectful.
What lens can’t you live without?
What is the best photography advice you have ever received?
To charge more money. A photographer wrote me when I was just starting out after viewing my price list. She was right. Frustrating as it may be to not get work when you are starting out, cheap clients lead to more cheap clients which leads to burnout. Cheap clients don’t want YOU they want your prices. It’s better to slowly develop the right kinds of clients than to get burnt out on the ones who want a lot for very little.
Who are three photographers who inspire you?
How do you promote your photography and services?
For me, photography started as a hobby and I always felt terribly awkward promoting it in my area because I have so many friends that were photographers before me (there are four other photographers in my 5th grader’s class alone). My initial paid sessions were largely from people in my area (Los Angeles) who found me on Flickr or with long-term friends who saw what I was doing. From there, word spread organically. I also do licensing, commercial, and entertainment work which I was able to pick that up because I’ve kept in contact with design firms and production companies that I knew in my “former life” as a graphic designer. I enjoy being very diversified as I think it helps me to stay excited about photography.
What is your favorite type of session to photograph?
I really enjoy being a wedding back up shooter. I only do it for my sister, but when I’ve done it, I’ve had so much fun. It’s wonderful to have access to the beautiful location, the dressed up folks, the decorations with none of the pressure. I can look for interesting candid moments, take arty shots, enjoy the little details and the other photographer is on the hook, haha!
What do you love to do in your free time?
I spend a lot of time with my boys at baseball practices and games. (Note from I Heart Faces: We love this recent baseball photo Jessica posted on her Facebook Page. Wow!!) I really enjoy traveling, just getting in the car and exploring feels very liberating to me. I love finding a good book and getting the time to just immerse myself in it. I am grateful to have friends in my neighborhood that I’ve been close to for years who make me laugh. I really enjoy spending time with them and their children. I feel very blessed to be a part of a vibrant community for the first time in my adult life and I don’t take it for granted.
Where do you see your photography business in five years?
In five years, I hope to be taking very stylized portraits of individuals who interest me. I hope to be able to photograph celebrities and public figures, as well as private people who have stories to share and would like to do that in creative ways with budget for locations, props, and wardrobe. I also hope to have created a few photographic storybooks. Lastly, I have a goal of writing and shooting my own short film.
Connect with Jessica
Thank you for sharing your time with us here this week Jessica! You can follow Jessica on her beautiful website. And we’d especially love it if our community could stop by her Facebook Fan Page to leave a kind comment. You can also follow her on Google + and Instagram.
There’s still time to enter this month’s photo challenge. Submit your “All Boy”entry by Saturday evening!
Having trouble narrowing it down to just one “Boys” photo? Share them all on Instagram, our Facebook Page or Twitter. Use our hashtag #iHeartFaces so we can find them!