Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Graham.
Hi Jennifer, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I got my interest peaked in photography at a very young age. In high school, I was able to take film photography and learned how to take pictures on an old black and white Minolta film camera. I would have to wait two weeks to see if anything turned out good (and often it didn’t!). Back in the ’90s, I learned how to develop film and make prints in the darkroom. My how times have changed since then! After high school, I went to college for web design and development, but my calling was always photography. I switched my major to get my Bachelor of Fine Art in Photography. On that journey, I got married, had two children, and started my own photography business, J Renee Photography, here in the midwest. I had some setbacks along the way with being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, but I worked through them and succeeded. I found my niche in wedding photography and portraiture. I love to shoot weddings everywhere, but Kansas City holds a special place in my heart. Plus, I love the food here.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
The biggest challenge I have ever faced was my diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis at 25 years old. When I first started my photography business, I completely lost all of the feeling in my body from the neck down. After months of tests, the doctors finally figured out what was wrong. It took two long years to recover the use of my hands, even to write my name. That obstacle was incredibly humbling and made me appreciate everything in life but never take the little things for granted. Since my diagnosis, newer medicines have come to manage my MS.
I am happy to say I have been exacerbation-free for many years with no significant disease progression. I was able to jump back into what I love doing with photography and start building my business from the ground up again. Other challenges were things like lights falling in ponds during a portrait session, cameras breaking, and of course, memory cards failing. All of these were hard for sure, but as long as you have the determination, you can overcome any obstacle life throws your way! I take it as wisdom lessons that only help me grow and be a better photographer.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I love my career (and my boss is pretty cool too). Being a wedding photographer is a lot of fun. I get to shoot something different at every wedding and tell a story of that client’s wedding day. I primarily specialize in weddings & Quinceanera’s, but I also do most portraits such as seniors, engagements, maternity, etc. I love to do commercial photography when I get the chance as well. In my free time, I set up cosplay photoshoots for fun and get together with others to create something unique. I travel all over for weddings, even overseas! I like to make more editorial-style images, so every wedding or portrait session gets something very dynamic with a huge wow factor.
I just had one of my images chosen for the cover of Curated Quilts for October 2021. I have received several portrait and wedding photography awards from expertise, the knot, wedding wire, and wedding rule. I strive every day to improve to be better than the next. I am constantly going to workshops and practicing every day to perfect my skills in photography. I love the freedom of being my own boss and working my own hours. There’s still a lot of sacrifice in running your own business, but the rewards are great. I challenge myself to create the most beautiful and meaningful portraits I can for each of my clients.
Is there any advice you’d like to share with our readers who might just be starting out?
If only I knew then what I know now! Starting is so hard in photography, no matter which niche you focus. You will take horrible photos, you will mess up, and you will sometimes feel like giving up, but there is light at the end of the tunnel! One day you will look back on that time and laugh! The best advice I can give a new photographer starting is not to rush the process. Practice every day to hone in on your craft, go to meet-ups with other photographers to learn, take workshops on lighting, posing, etc. Focus on learning the skills of photography before jumping into the business.
You have to stand out in this industry with your images and your service. Always remember to keep your head up and forge forward through the obstacles. Take your time, and you will succeed, but it’s hard work, long hours, and many sacrifices. Be prepared to give up your holidays and personal time with friends and family so you can be there to capture the moments for others. Remember that photography is a business just like any other. Do not devalue yourself or your time. Charge what you are worth and be a sustainable business when you are ready. Above all else, always have fun with it! You will never stop learning and growing in this industry. Last but certainly not least, I encourage you all to print your work!
- $300+ / Portrait Sessions
- $1800+ / Wedding Coverage
- $300+ / Events
- Email: info@jreneephotography
- Website: www.jreneephotography.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/jreneeportraits
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/jreneeportraits
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/jreneeportraits
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZdj5R298kYH53h1xEkj6aA/
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/j-renee-photography-wichita-3
- Other: https://www.pinterest.com/JReneePhotography/
J Renee Photography