I had first met Jessica Blaine Smith when we were both hired to work a wedding together. She was the photographer and I was the DJ. We hit it off immediately and even though I have left the wedding industry altogether, our friendship stuck because we both had erratic schedules and understood what it was like to build a small business from the ground up.
Jessica Blaine Smith, along with her work has always been someone I admired. She’s funny, creative, organized and smart. Here’s what life is like as a professional photographer and how she designed her life and career:
What made you want to become a photographer?
As a teenager I was always interested in art but found that painting and drawing were not realistic enough for me. From the moment I received my first camera, it just felt right. Photography was something that came naturally to me and I just knew that it was what I was meant to do. Back then the process seemed magical. Shooting film, processing the negatives and then making prints in the darkroom was incredible.
Jessica Blaine Smith Photography
What was the one non-negotiable thing when designing your lifestyle and work life?
To never have a regular schedule. I never wanted to work a regular 9-5 job. I wanted different hours, I wanted random days off during the week and I wanted time to travel and see friends.
What is the typical day in the life of Jessica Blaine Smith like?
There is no such thing as a typical day for me and I love that. A couple of days of the week are spent shooting and a couple days are spent at my studio doing post-production.
On shooting days, I’m getting my equipment together, charging batteries and then either heading on-location or to my studio for the shoot. I photograph every type of portrait from babies to weddings to editorial work for magazines so the location and approach of each shoot really varies.
After the shoot, I head to my office and start downloading cards. From there, the images are processed. In between all of the actual photo work, I’m blogging, replying to emails, doing bookkeeping, having consultations with potential clients and showing my portfolio to art directors. It’s all a bit wild and I love it.
For those of us playing around on our camera phones all the time, what sort of elements make a good photo?
Exposure, composition and focus. You have to nail down those three things and then you’re golden. Filters on apps like Instagram are fun but they shouldn’t be there to try to make a photo better – start with a great image first. The best photos are those that actually capture a moment in time so that you can hear the laughter in your head when you look at them later.
What do you enjoy doing in your downtime?
My boyfriend is a bartender so we love going out to try new bars and restaurants. I love traveling and fly out somewhere, often to Mexico, at every chance that I get. I love running along the lake, seeing bands play at small venues like the Dakota Tavern, reading magazines and hosting dinner parties. Oh, and I secretly love crocheting. (Nerd alert!)
Best piece of life advice to share?
Never be afraid to take risks. The worst thing that can happen is that you fail. But from failing at something, you will learn from the experience. Go with your gut and believe in yourself that you can do what you set out to do. And when someone says, “No”, use it as ammo to step it up and prove them wrong. Life is for living and you have to give it your all.
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