in the last few months i was fortunate enough to stumble across Jessica Paige’s flickr account and was instantly enthralled. i discovered a world full of rich sunlight, dainty flowers, pretty golden haired girls and babies with big blue eyes and it was easy to see that Jessica has a lot of talent in her trigger finger! not only are her photos divine, but she’s also such a sweet soul who divides her time between her beautiful family and her 5D. Jessica kindly agreed to be the first photographer to be interviewed on this blog and its been wonderful to get a little insight into her world and work, i hope you enjoy reading the results. if you’d like to see a more of her photography then pop over to her flickr page
or her heavenly photoblog
for tons of gorgeous photos! ♥
Hi Jessica, can you give us a little background on yourself?
Hi everyone! Well you all know I love photography but above that I am a wife and mother. I’ve been married to my husband, Jared, for nine years. We have five children between the ages of fifteen and one. Together we own a small restaurant which we both ran until the addition of our forth child. At that point, I stepped away from the business to stay home and somewhere during that process my passion for photography sparked. I have always loved the arts and been intrigued with photography but it never clicked that this would end up being a true desire of mine.
My children are my biggest inspiration so I suppose they were the biggest motivator. I wanted to capture moments of their life as I saw them, my own little way of freezing time. I still have plenty to learn and am continually looking for opportunities to stretch and improve my skills. Most of my free time, which really isn’t much, is spent working on photography one way or another… I am in love with it :) My husband thinks my photography is an obsession but I say it’s passion. :) I adore natural light photography and love sun flare… I can’t get enough. I enjoy so many different styles and feel that my own photography is fairly diverse but I am constantly drawn to whimsy and vintage styles.
How long have you been shooting and what first drew you to look through a viewfinder?
I purchased my first DSLR in late 2006. It was a Canon Rebel XT. I remember the moment vividly… staring at all those buttons, knobs and wheels, having absolutely no clue what any of them meant but feeling so good about holding this wonderful piece of equipment in my hands. Then my reality set in after I read the owner’s manual or I should say, attempted to read the manual. I quickly realized I had no clue what I was doing. After multiple attempts to translate the owners manual I became content with leaving it in automatic.
In April 2009 I mustered up the courage to enroll in a beginners on-line course at Rawsii. This is truly the reason I am where I am today. As I mentioned above my biggest inspiration is my children. I wanted to freeze those beautiful moments and memories as my eyes saw them. I wasn’t achieving this in automatic. So with some guidance, in April I turned the dial to manual and it’s been there ever since. This opened up a whole new world for me.
I upgraded my camera in late April to the Canon 5D and purchased a new lens. My interests have grown and I am continuing to stretch as a photographer. In the past few months, I have been drawn to still life photography as well… it tends to be a little more cooperative! The possibilities are endless and I love creating beautiful images. It’s my hope to open an online store to sell my prints in soon. I’ll feel so delighted and successful when I am complimented by seeing one of my creations hanging in someones home or business.
It’s not difficult to notice that you really love to take shots of your beautiful children, how do they find having a photographer mum?
Haha, I’ll have to ask them. I think they may believe my camera is a part of me… :)
What is your secret to getting them to say still long enough for a good shot!?
My oldest is fifteen and my youngest just turned one so photo shoots are always very different. Right now my six year old daughter and the baby are the easiest to capture, I can somewhat direct them into the scene for the image I am hoping to capture and come out of the photo shoot fairly successful. The only one I can really get to sit still is my teen, but he will rarely let me see him through my lens.
My two four year old boys are by far my biggest challenge. I gave up on the chance of getting them to sit still, so I have found that capturing them during play is the best way to a good image. Basically, I set the scene and make sure it includes some imagination on their part and then just let them play. I will usually play a bit with them first and then start taking some pictures. I often end up preferring these over the posed shots because they are more natural. Now, if I can figure out how to get all five of them together in an image, I’ll be very happy… you can be sure I’m working on it though! :)
Can you tell us about your processing techniques?
To process my images I use Lightroom 2 and Photoshop CS4. Many of my images are processed using Eye Candy Actions and Textures from Florabella. I have just began creating and using my own overlays as well. I am planning on having these available to the public in the next few months. As I continue to grow my photography knowledge I am learning to get it ‘right’ in the camera so that I spend less time at the computer processing.
I always shoot in RAW. I love the range of flexibility it gives me for exposure but most importantly control of my white balance in the computer. For me it’s worth the larger file. I am often asked about the lighting in my images, so here’s a bit about how I work with the light. The majority of my photos are taken during sunset. I love the warm light and deep shadows it provides. Sun flare is my absolute favorite and if I can get some sparkly bokeh in there, I am in a dream!
Here are a few tips from my experience so far with sun flare. To get the flare I still meter for the skin of the person I am photographing. I usually adjust to expose the subject at +1 but with flare I typically adjust to 0 on my exposure meter. Positioning is equally as important. I try to avoid the center of the flare directly on the subject because it can totally take over and create distortion, so I keep the sun just above or to the right or left. I have found that my 50mm f/1.8 works much better for catching the flare, it seems the more expensive lenses try to block it… at least in my opinion. Sometimes your camera may have a hard time focusing because the direct sun causes it to go crazy. When this happens, I will cover the end of my lens with my hand blocking the sun, focus on my subject and then move my hand and take the shot. I am totally self-taught with sun flare so there are likely many other ways to achieve your desired light, these just happen to be mine. :)
I‘ve seen some lovely wedding shots on your blog, do you shoot many weddings or would you like to in the future?
Yes, wedding photography is definitely an interest of mine, there is certainly something magical about weddings. Funnily, I said I would never shoot weddings, but I shot one this summer as a favor and loved it! It was an awesome experience but I realized I still have much to learn especially in low-lighting situations. I believe this will be an avenue I explore once all of my children are in school. I am hoping for the opportunity to shoot as a second for an established photographer in the next year or two.
Are there any photographers who have really influenced you on your journey?
I am continually inspired by so many talented photographers. I like so many different styles but there are a few who have directly influenced me and have helped me spread my wings. The greatest influence has been Christi Nelson. She is an incredibly talented photographer with an amazing style and eye for detail. She was my on-line instructor at Rawsii and I attribute much of what I know to her influence and knowledge.
Then there is a dear friend of mine, Rebecca Lily. She and I met just a little over a year ago and have shared many of the same life moments together. Although we have never met in person, our paths kept crossing eventually leading us on the same photography journey. Her images are so inspiring and her support of my own personal photography gives me motivation to improve each day.
Another, is Sheye Rosemeyer. I do not know Sheye Rosemeyer personally but admire her photography from afar. Her photography style is what I aspire of my own. As I have mentioned I am drawn to many different styles but I do tend to prefer natural light, whimsy and vintage inspired. Sheye’s style is all of these combined perfectly.
Can you share the most important lesson you’ve learned as a photographer so far?
The greatest lesson photography has given to me is the ability to see. To see the beauty in the places I used to pass by without a second glance. I only wish I had learned this much earlier in my life but feel totally blessed to have it now. It is a true desire of mine to share this with my children.
Is there any event that has made a big impact on your work to date?
I wouldn’t say an actual event, but what has impacted my work tremendously is sharing it with other photographers, both hobbyists and professional. I learn so much from photo sharing and tutorials on blogs and flickr and it’s FUN at the same time!
When you’re not taking photos what is your favourite thing to do, what else brings out your passion?
Photography has certainly become my ‘me’ time. Because I have five kiddos I have very little free time so the little time I have is often filled with just photography.
Describe a typical day in your life (if there is such a thing! lol).
Ha, how much time do we have?? I won’t go on about all the adventures of my day with five kiddos (not sure there’s enough space on here for that) but I’ll talk about how I fit photography into my hectic schedule. My day typically starts at 5:30am and often ends well after midnight. I usually like to visit all my photography friends streams and blogs before my kids get up at 6:30am . I’ll often download a picture or two to my flickr stream or blog then as well.
I usually spot visit my computer throughout the day and try to process a bit then usually during nap and quiet time. Almost all of my editing and computer time is after my children are sleeping… yes, sometimes it makes for some late nights. All of my photo-shoots are before 10:00am or after 5:00pm. Those are the times that work best for me and honestly the best time of day for the most beautiful lighting. It’s a constant juggling act for me but as I mentioned before I am a wife and mother first so I have to be really careful managing my time and keeping a good balance.
What are you most proud of achieving in your life?
My family is by far my most cherished accomplishment.
What do you like to do best when you want to relax and have some ‘you time’?
This is something I really need to get better at… ‘me’ time. I love to grab my camera and head out to a field or garden and explore. There is something about breathing in the beauty of nature and it’s quietness that instantly calms me. I also adore sunsets, I could sit and watch one every night.
Do you have a favourite photo from your own shots?
Oh, I have so many it’s very hard for me to choose just one. For nostalgic reason I love certain ones more than others but narrowing it down to one… I’m way to indecisive for that. So, I asked my husband for his fave and this is the one he chose:
Eadaoin, thanks so much for having me. It’s been a true pleasure to be your guest. Thank you all for taking the time to hear a bit about my photography journey… I hope I was of some help! I’ll be happy to answer any questions left in comments.