Today we’d like to introduce you to Tarah Jansen.
Hi Tarah, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
The story that shaped my journey into family photography started 20 years ago. I began teaching kids with special needs swimming lessons in my small Wisconsin hometown and immediately knew I had a passion for helping kids. I worked for 12 years with kids on the autism spectrum both in their homes and in the classroom. Fitting kids into a structured environment is hard and unnatural. They learn best when moving when they are interested in what they are doing and when they are free to explore and learn at their own pace.
Fast forward five years, two moves, and three kids later. My sister came to me with a fun Christmas gift idea for us to do together. See the lives in Chicago and I live in Kansas City so we were excited to find ways to chat and connect from far away. Her co-worker and friend, Amy Tripple, had a photography basics course teaching manual photography for parents who wanted to start documenting their kids’ lives. This was where I realized my passion for photography. Learning and manipulating my camera settings to create challenging images like a slowed shutter, shooting wide open with the correct depth of field, and double exposure brought me so much joy.
Before this, I hadn’t had any professional photos take since my wedding day, in 2010! I always valued photography and I am pretty sure my wedding photos were half our wedding budget because that and good music were my only two requests. I didn’t get photos done because I didn’t love them, I just was in survival mode with three kids and the thought of doing anything for myself seemed selfish and overwhelming. And let’s face it nice outfits, forcing smiles, and posing didn’t seem like a priority.
So my life experiences, background in early childhood learning, and passion for photography quickly came together and made what is now Wildwood Photography, LLC! I wanted to combine my love of inclusion and child development to help all families get photos. I want to provide a fun adventure and not just a photo session. Every session included activities that are targeted around the kid’s interests and we go their pace, follow their lead, and I sneak in some great shots while having fun.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
I am first and foremost a mom, that is my main and most cherished role. So yes, there are always going to be challenges that revolve around keeping a balance between my work and my family; however, these challenges have been supported and encouraged by my entire family and my partner too. My youngest son and husband just spent father’s day morning planting sunflower seeds in our open field specifically because I had a vision. Whatever challenges I have been thrown have been little and even though at the moment they can seem overwhelming, they are small and easy to push through with the right support! I also have been blessed with amazing clients that understand motherhood, so when my kid strolls into our pre-session zoom call in their jammies, they are welcomed with smiles and hellos. Although if you ask me this question again come fall when every hour of my day is scheduled, I may be a little more scatterbrained!
As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
What I do: Photography and mixed media graphic art.
Specialize in: Taking lifestyle and documentary-styled portraits and editing them in an artistic way. Taking a good photo consists of many things like lighting, placement, posing, editing, and framing the image. The real truth behind a beautiful photo though is in the emotion. A truly beautiful photo makes you feel intertwined and bonded with it. A staged photo of your family is comparable to an encyclopedia look at your history, you get a brief and basic look at it. It is like your family but skimmed over. I think my biggest specialty is telling the unique story of my clients.
Most proud of: My perseverance and passion for what I do. I love learning and growing and every month, I have new goals I am working towards. This keeps every session fun and challenging for me, which also makes me grow as a person and artist.
Sets me apart: We are so quick to clean our homes, plan out outfits, and portray how we think family photos should look. In doing this, we remove our true story, we portray what others want and not what is our raw and authentic self. I think the thing that sets me apart the most is the I love each individual story I tell and welcome all the chaos. The real stuff help tells the story and you want to see your real true family in ten years, not the one you felt like you had to be. You want to see the real emotions, the quirky faces your kids make, their intrigue, and your love.
Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
My passion sparks creativity and growth!
- Adventure Sessions starting at $300+
- IN-home Cozy Sessions starting at $425+
- Your Brand- Your Narrative Sessions starting at $500+
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: photosbywildwood.com
- Instagram: @photosbywildwood
- Facebook: facebook.com/photosbywildwood
- Other: https://g.page/photosbywildwood?share
All photos by Wildwood Photography, LLC