I’m excited to share an interview with the very talented and passionate Photographer Jennifer White. Jennifer is the owner and photographer for Timeless Moments Photography in Ozark, Missouri. Jennifer’s body of work focuses on Landscape Photography as well at Portrait Photography locally. The beauty of the world and Jennifer’s keen eye for capturing natural lighting have provided the perfect formula for her inspirational photography.
Jennifer, thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us and thank you so much for all your thoughtful responses. It’s not every day we get a behind the scenes view of someone with such talent.
Can you please tell the readers a bit about yourself?
I come from a creative family on both sides. We made a lot with our hands because we couldn’t afford much. I used to design my own clothes and originally wanted to be a fashion designer. I modeled locally for approx 15 years and my specialty was the runway. (I think the modeling helped me with my photography.) My Uncle was also a photographer and worked for a local studio when he was younger.
My husband and I have a 14-year-old daughter who is active in gymnastics and band. I own and operate 4 businesses (2 part-time, 2 full-time) including my photography. My photography is a full-time job, but I’d love to just rely on it to make a living someday. My other full-time job is running a monthly publication/magazine for a local high affluent neighborhood. Basically, I work 7 days a week but I always make time for family and fun too!
Where do you call home?
I was born and raised in the Springfield Missouri area. I’ve lived in Hollister, Springfield, and now reside in Ozark.
When did you first become interested in photography and how long have you been involved with it?
I have been doing photography for as long as I can remember. I was always the one at school with a point and shoot camera even in elementary. I have friends and classmates who now reach out to me if they are looking for a photo. It wasn’t until 2009 that I started doing it professionally.
Are you formally-taught or self-taught?
I’m self-taught by reading and watching a lot of videos on Youtube. Even though I’ve been a shutterbug my whole life, my husband bought me an old professional Cannon 35mm film camera after we had a baby in 2003. That’s when my true love of the art in photography started. I studied about my camera and learned photography terms and settings. Then we would take the family to a nearby lake and I would practice taking photos of our daughter.
A few months later for Christmas, my husband got me a digital Sony A100 camera. With it being digital, I went crazy taking photos of anything and everything.
What inspired you to be a photographer?
I don’t have the best memory, so my photos and family are so important to me. I didn’t like how I easily forgot moments and memories, so I take a lot of photos.
My family and friends kept telling me I should do photography as a profession. Finally, I took the plunge and did my first family shoot with my neighbor.
There are so many beautiful aspects of this world that God created, so I want to share it with the world. There’s so much negativity out there, and this is something positive. Not everyone gets to travel and photography helps them see the world and see what they may have not seen before. I feel photography and art are inspiring.
What is your favorite and least favorite part of owning your own photography business?
My favorite is just taking photos and seeing the beauty all around us. My least favorite would probably have to be the marketing side of it. It takes a lot of time to market and gets your work out there because there are so many talented photographers/artists out there. The expense of photography is also the least favorite. It’s a VERY expensive hobby and job.
What type of photography shoots do you look forward to?
I love it when we get to travel, especially to the beach. My favorite shoots are when I get to take long exposures. I love to capture the movement in water, or the city lights at night. When it comes to portraits, my favorite is newborns.
When shooting subjects, what do you find most challenging?
Wildlife, especially when they are on the move. It takes a lot of patience and time to capture that right moment. If you’re not ready when that moment comes, it’s too late. You don’t get a second chance. I’m still learning a lot when it comes to wildlife.
How do you keep your photography fresh and how do you stay motivated to keep on learning?
It’s my passion so it’s not really hard to stay motivated. It’s something I love to do and don’t really consider it a job. However, it can be hard to get motivated to market it sometimes, but I remind myself why I do it and if I don’t work at it, then I won’t get results.
What’s the best part of being a photographer?
Getting to travel and show the world what God and man have created.
Share with us your favorite image and why.
Oh, wow. That’s a really tough question. I have so many favorites and my walls at home are full of photos I’ve taken. If I just have to pick one, I guess I’ll go with one of my very first favorites and that is my photo titled Ozarks Misty Gold Morning Sunrise. It’s one of my first fine art pieces and what really gave me the push to start doing fine art photography. I took this from my back yard on a morning full of thick fog. I have this on my wall and it’s one of my most popular and most sold pieces locally. I even submitted this to Tony Northup for his advise and he responded he really liked it. He complimented me on the light and said I did great. I’m not sure if I even still have that email from him.
Do you visit any photography related websites or blogs on a regular basis and if so, which ones?
There are several Youtube photographers I watch when I ever get time. Just to mention a few: Tony Northup, Matt Granger, Mike Brown, DigitalRev, Gary Fong, John Sison and more.
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer just starting out?
It takes a lot of practice. You just have to get out there and take photos. You have to learn the use of light. Lighting isn’t really something taught, it’s learned more than anything. Learn how to use your camera in manual mode, there’s so much more you can do when you understand how everything works and how different settings come together.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What is your favorite lens?
I use the Sony A77 as my main camera and I also have a Sony A100. I’m looking to upgrade this year into an A99ii or I’m waiting for Sony to release a new alpha mount version (rumored A77iii). The lens is really the most important piece. My favorite lens is my Sony G Series 70-400mm lens (on my A77 it reaches 600mm). The glass is amazing, it’s just a matter of learning to hold it because it’s heavy. I keep a tripod around when using it. The most common lens I use for portraits and landscapes is my Carl Zeiss Sony 16-80mm lens.
What is your favorite photography accessory?
I love my Hoya ND400 filter. It provides 9 stops of light and is a must for long exposure photography during the day.
Do you plan on purchasing any new equipment and if so, what are you on the lookout for?
As mentioned above, I’m waiting for Sony to release the new Sony A77iii or I’m thinking about the A99ii which I’ve been saving for. My goal is to get one of them this year.
How important is Photoshop or other image editing software in your final images?
Very important. I do try to keep from having to edit a lot to save time, but I always touch up every photo in Lightroom. In today’s digital world, I feel editing is important if you want to sale your work. You can really make a great image pop even more. There are so many possibilities with editing, especially when you get into mixed media and digital art. There are some photos I’ll spend an hour or more on when I’m combining photos, or adding any special effects.
Can you tell me about one of your favorite or most memorable photo shoots? What made it so great and why did you like it so much?
That’s another tough one. One story I like to tell is about my Alaska midnight shoot. I was hired to take photos of a wedding in Alaska in June. We made a vacation of it. The first night we got there, we stayed in a cabin in Talkeetna Alaska along the Susitna River. Even though we were tired from the long flight, and then the long drive from Anchorage, I was determined to capture the midnight sunset/sunrise (the sun doesn’t set in the summer). I was warned about moose and bears in the area and a moose had been spotted that day. That night I went down to the river (went out in the river area on some exposed rock areas) by myself and my heart was racing as I watched for wildlife. I didn’t know what to expect since it was our first night there. Thankfully the rain that day subsided briefly and I was able to capture a beautiful sunset/sunrise over the Denali Mountain range just as clouds from another rain system was moving in. I was taking long exposures and each time I’d take a shot, I’d have to wait so I’d look around watching for animals. Being by myself, I was nervous and tried to make some noise so it would scare anything off. I got more comfortable the longer I was out there, but then I moved to a location further into the river to reposition the camera and while waiting for that exposure I looked down and saw a bunch of fresh claw marks and footprints of a bear. It looked like it had been fishing. My heart really started to race but I wanted to get a few more pictures in. Those long exposures seemed to have lasted forever but I got some of my favorite Alaska photos during that moment.
Do you have any projects that make you look back and shake your head? What made the experience so unpleasant?
I sometimes look back at some of the first portrait sessions I did, and first fine art photos I took. There’s so much I had to learn, and I’m still learning. Of course, I have to remind myself technology changes and I was using my older equipment at that time. There are some older photos that’d I’d like to go back and retouch if I can find the time.
Are there any areas of photography that you have yet to pick up on that you’d like to learn?
Astronomy Photography. I’ve taken photos of the moon, and long exposures are my favorite, but to capture the stars is something I’d like to do. Capturing stars is hard because with a short long shutter speed they can have trails and not be as sharp as I’d like. I think an upgrade in equipment will help me out there.
Do you see yourself as a photographer many years down the road?
Yes, I hope to keep doing this for as long as I can hold a camera and see. It would be nice to retire, then travel and capture the world, so I can then share it with the world.