Welcome to another Bloom Forum member interview … today’s spotlight is on Jenny Watts.
I was first introduced to Jenny Watts, a Dallas child and family photographer, when she took the Bloom Workshop. I’ve been a huge fan and a total blog stalker ever since. Jenny and I participate in a weekly Photo of the Week Challenge and I’m always blown away by her images. They are gorgeous!! I hope you enjoy getting to know this wonderful photographer.
Here are some links to keep up with her work.
Blog | Jenny Watts – Dallas Child and Family Photographer
Facebook | Jenny Watts Photography on FB
Website | Jenny Watts Photography Website
Can you share some of your tricks to get your clients comfortable?
- Sure. Not sure that they are really tricks though. I just start by having casual conversation with the family. I look at it like a first date. You want to know a bit about them already so that you have touch point topics you can reach to if needed. I always want to start with connecting to and calming the parents so that they don’t feel rushed or surprisingly directed then quickly focus most of my attention and energy on the child. I get on their level – literally. I play, I goof off, do awkward things that make them laugh – but sometimes just simple play works the best – they can see the gimmicks. Sometimes I’ll just simply engage with basic ?s. Things like – tell me about what you had for breakfast this morning or what’s the best dream you’ve ever had? It’s in moments of those ?s I get the wide-eyed thoughtful look or the belly laugh that I was wanting. Beyond anything else – I don’t push. I’m really working on letting the session evolve and not push it. ”wait for it” – that’s my new motto. :)
How much interaction do you have with your clients before their shoot?
- Honestly – not as much as I’d like to. For the most part I’m physically meeting these families for the first time. I talk on the phone and/or email quite a bit before the shoot but other than that – not much else. I’ve recently started working on styling before the shoot so I’ll get to go over – run through their closets and get to spend about an hour with them before the shoot – sometimes even a few days or week before the shoot. I LOVE doing this as it helps me get to know them and have the family get comfortable with me before hand. What I’ve loved the most is that this process excites the family even more than simply showing up and not knowing what to expect.
How do you market yourself and what was the best marketing move that you ever made and what was your worse?
- Right now I’m just WOM. I’ve yet to do any paid traditional marketing/advertising. I’d probably say my best marketing move was really networking within a local private school where my best friend’s children attend. I don’t have children at this point so for now – I’m all over her and her connections – thankfully she doesn’t mind. Actually now that I think about it – she’s probably my best marketing move. Between her and her sister I have a built in FREE PR firm. :) They’ve been a huge help to spreading WOM for me that translated into some amazing client relationships. (FYI – this image below is of my best friends kids that sparked this entire journey)
- Hmmm – worst marketing move. I’m a bit worried it hasn’t happened yet. EEK. Probably the least effective to date was a wknd of mini sessions I did. I think I played the ‘desperate girl’ too much and gave away the farm when I could have priced it out much differently. Certainly – lesson learned. Don’t be the desperate girl. :)
How did you get started in the business?
Actually kind of a short / long story. I was in broadcast television Media Sales for about 11 years prior. So I was certainly the ‘corporate girl’. I was wrestling with my career path for about 2 yrs before I actually threw in the towel. I sat back and thought – gosh – I love this career b/c of the money and the friends I’ve made but I really didn’t LOVE what I was doing. I was in my early 30s and completely took my life for granted. I thought about going to teach, work with a non profit - the list was long and random. I left and started my own small business that was still in Media. Then I started literally playing with photography as a past time with my best friends children. I sat and looked at what I was doing and thought – why did I leave Media to just do the same thing but working for myself. Seemed silly and I quickly discovered I wasn’t enjoying it. I remember exactly the day and time the path really shifted for me. I was sitting at home on my computer and my friend emailed me pics of her cute child that Beth Janson did. Immediately I thought – wow look at the life in these, the color the fun, the memories – could I ever be that talented. I became obsessed with scouring the www for other child photographers and thought – I wanna do this – this speaks to me. Why not? I’m only this age once – go for it – try it – if all else fails – corporate america is waiting. So here I am 2 years later. Still feeling like I just started my business yesterday. :)
Do you style their clients?
- See above question about meeting clients before hand. Would love to do more of this – not overly styled ‘propped’ sessions – just a fluid styled look that came straight from their closet. Clients are amazed at what’s already in their home and they always thank me and my stylist friend for helping them save some money from buying new outfits. I laugh and say it’s a savings so they can actually reinvest back into their images from their session. :)
Are you more comfortable talking about yourself or your photographs?
- Gosh 2 years ago I would say … ask me anything as long as it’s not about myself. But now – I’m a fairly open book about anything. And as you can tell I’m a bit wordy too. If I had to pick – I guess I’d say myself. Sometimes I feel as if I can’t exactly articulate how I feel about one of my photographs enough to give it justice. I may love it but just can’t find the perfect words to support the ‘why’ behind it – sometimes it’s just a feeling.
What do you feel that your photographs say about you?
- Not Enough! But I’m working on that this year. I’m constantly trying to be more self aware and insightful and I’m hoping that over the next few years I can really discover me a bit more and put that into my photos. Right now I think they reflect that process of insight, they show care and concern, they show love and emotion but more or less they show a journey – as that is what life is exactly.
Do you recall the first photograph that made you go WOW?
If you are talking about a photo of mine – then yes…. This image of my other best friend’s child in my back yard about 3 yrs ago. It’s overly saturated, not in focus and technically not that great – but i love the moment – I might have actually been ‘panning’ and didn’t even know it. :)
Does the thought of failure or not being good enough ever enter your mind?
100% of the time and all too often. I’m not sure if it’s an ‘only child’ thing or what but I certainly have fought with self doubt my entire life. Very rarely do I get glimpses of … ‘wow jenny you are on the right path – that was amazing – you rocked it’ etc. But when I do – I relish in it b/c it is certainly a fleeting moment. I don’t feel this way just in photography – but in pretty much everything in life. Sounds sad – but I don’t look at it that way. It’s just the driving force that keeps me on a forward moving path. If we were all perfect already (especially in our 30s) – my god – how boring would life be?
Who or what are you still waiting to capture?
- Easy. My own child. Until they get here I’ll continue to hunt down my friends children. :)
Before you show the world your images, do you “run them by someone” for critique?
- Very rarely if ever. I figure – I’m the photographer so I show pretty much what I want to show for reasons that I want to show them. I like the images I like for certain reasons and present them so that they can be shown as MY art. I don’t want other people’s opinions misguiding my own – which can easily happen with me. I very rarely even show my partner my images until they have already been presented to the client. She’s super opinionated and I love it but I don’t want that influence during my edit process.
What’s one of your proudest projects to date and why?
Definitely my work with a local children’s hospital. Last year they commissioned me to take images of their patients for various internal and external marketing pieces they had. At first I thought – WOW – great opportunity and would love to have a tie to that hospital. Once the project started it evolved into everything but that. I have met some of the most amazing kids with various different medical issues. From prosthesis to various orthopedic and neurological conditions – regardless of their challenge each of these children is much stronger, wiser and full of LIFE than any other child I’ve photographed. They’ve been through ‘it’ and manage to seem stronger every day b/c of it. For the most part these families don’t have the money or the time to hire a photographer for their child. However through this they’ve been able to get great images of their kids for their home and in the hospital. Each of the images embraces the WHO the child is first and foremost but works hard to not hide their condition. We wanted them to feel even more comfortable sharing their uniqueness and I believe we did that. We just started our 2011 project and I can’t wait to see it grow! Here is info on the project: http://www.jennywattsphotography.com/blog/2010/12/about-time/
What do you love/hate about the career of being a photographer? (ADDED but don’t have to include)
- LOVE: the challenge each session brings, the flexibility of your schedule, meeting new people, being my own boss, working from home, constantly learning.
- HATE: ditto on the above
For all the reasons I love photography as my career are mostly the reasons why I can struggle with it at times too. I come from such an active, social, engaging career where you had an IT department, an accounting department, company policy, set hours, co-workers, expense accounts, free training programs, consistency, routine, great salaries – etc etc. That change has been a challenge but at the end of the day – so worth it to me. I embrace the difference and I’m lucky I get a chance to ‘see the other side’ of things.
Which do you like the most, sunrise or sunset? – SUNRISE – love the start to a new day although I rarely see it.
What is your favorite children’s book? - The Giving Tree
Angry Birds or Words With Friends? – Angry Birds 100%!
Board games or wii games, xbox or PS3? Which ones are your favorites? – Board Games and the like…Rummikub, Giant Jinga, Sequence.
If ever stranded on an island, what three things can you not live without? – Creamy Simply Jif Peanut Butter, Bananas, Whole wheat toast. You can have them alone – in any combo and it’s great sustenance. Oh and my iPhone if i could charge it there.
If you could re-live the last ten years of your life what would you do differently? – be more daring, break more rules, travel more – not care so much about what others think.
Are you a dog person or cat person? - easy…DOGS. In LOVE with my dog Chloe. She’s 19 and she’s my child right now. I’m afraid this is her last year and my heart will break into pieces when she’s not here.
What was your favorite TV show growing up? What is your favorite TV show now? - Who’s the Boss (totally wanted to change my name to Sam). Current Fav – gosh – if I had to pick one it would be United States of Tara (others are Grey’s, Shark Tank, Oprah – long time fav of course, America’s Next Top Model – yes I said it and MODERN FAMILY – a classic!!!)
Tell us something quirky about you that no one knows. - I have an odd ability to guess the exact time – to the minute. freaky but true.
What is your go to stress reliever on a stressful day? – a good glass of wine.
Thank you so much for sharing your gorgeous work with us!