Friday, May 15, 2009

PhotoFANatic Friday featuring Mary Jane Photography!

Today's PhotoFANatic Friday feature is on Mary Jane Photography! Mary Jane is a Santa Barbara based photographer specializing in weddings and families. She has an eye for color and her black and whites are dreamy. She's got a Masters in Photography from Brooks (WOW!) and truly knows her stuff. But from reading her blog, I can tell her personality resonates and she really connects with her customers in a way that leaves them vulnerable, therefore producing incredible images. And I can tell you that after exchanging a few emails with her that she's as sweet and genuine as can be!

And now on to the Q&A!

    1. How did you first get interested in photography? I guess I have always had a love for photography. I remember I used to sit and look at old photo albums as a kid. I would do this for hours and hours upon end – maybe I was cultivating my eye at a young age and not even knowing it! I was also very involved in the yearbook staff and high school newspaper. But, it wasn’t until I moved to Santa Barbara and discovered Brooks Institute that my life and all it’s possibility truly began. I had always thought of California as somewhat of a promised land. (JJ's note: yep, it is!) So I figured, if a perfect job was going to be anywhere – it was going to be there. Well, the “perfect” job turned out to be nothing more than a glorified secretary at an old historic hotel. While secretly hating my life of file cabinets and fax machines, little did I know that a path was being laid out – I just had to be patient and trust. I knew that God had me there for a reason…I just wasn’t sure what it was just yet. Every day on the way to work, I drove by this gorgeous building…and always wondered what it was. Well, it turned out to be Brooks Institute. One day I satisfied my overwhelming crave to explore the campus and ended up signing up for just one class…But three years later I was finishing up my Masters course work in photography. And the historic hotel came into play too because I did a lot of my first weddings there.

    2. In your opinion, what makes a perfect shot? To me the perfect shot is one that is unscripted, full of life, laughter and love. But an even more perfect shot is when the light on the subject helps to tell the story of the moment. When light and emotion meet – it is the most beautiful, alive photo you’ve ever seen! To capture these, you have to be really in tune to your clients, but most of all you have to be willing to wait. The moment always comes; you just have to be in the right place when it does.

    3. What has your professional journey been like? I’m sure you’ve heard of the snowball effect, right? Well, that has been a little bit like my journal thus far. I actually went into weddings kicking and screaming (if you can believe it) and if it weren’t my mom forcing me to shoot my brother’s wedding – I don’t know if I would be shooting weddings today. I shot my first weddings while I was still in school at Brooks Institute. I was shooting weddings for $400-$800, which at the time, seemed like a lot of money. I gradually starting raising my prices and I was so blessed that I got into a really great referral circle of a big group of friends. I also had a great contact at the old hotel I used to work at…and things just started snowballing. I definitely had a lot of help along the way from amazing parents and friends Amy Nave, Philippe Berger, Gary Fong and David Jay (and many others). They pushed me to be better – so from the very beginning I was never satisfied with where I was – so I was always trying to raise the bar. Early on, I also realized that marketing, branding and presentation was so HUGE! So not only did I have to take great photos, I had to find a way to present myself to the world. That is definitely a process that takes time and self-examination. I had to figure out who I was as a person and a photographer. And more importantly, what did I have to offer – and how was it different? I also learned that I couldn’t wear every hat in the business and still do what I do best. So, outsourcing was very incremental to my business growth.

    4. What's been your absolute favorite shoot and why? My favorite shoot is always the last one I’ve done! I really do love all of my clients and it would be so hard to pick just one favorite shoot because they are all so unique and wonderful in different ways. But, I guess my absolute favorite shoot would be one in which the couple is completely free and willing to do whatever it takes for a great photo. The best photo shoots are the ones where my clients trust me enough that if I say jump, they say, “How high?” Haha. NO, really, the location is important, but the connection and trust that is created with my clients is even more important. So, any shoot where I walk away knowing that I’ve made a new friend – (and got some killer shots too) is one that I consider a favorite!

    5. What's the best piece of advice you were given when you were just starting out? Oh, that’s a great question. Can I give two? One of the earliest ones that I can remember was in the very beginning stage of my business. I was a little timid and afraid to really own what I was doing. I always though to myself, “What if I fail?” I wasn’t sure when I was officially considered a “wedding photographer”. Was it after 1 wedding or 2 or 3? And I remember David Jay said to me – you are wedding photographer NOW and you need to shout it from the rooftops! Tell anyone and everyone you know about your wedding photography business. Guess what, I did just that! It was a great lesson on confidence and what an important part it plays in selling yourself to a client. If you don’t believe in yourself – why should somebody else? My friend Gary Fong gave another great piece of advice to me. It’s a very simple concept but it really resonated with me and was something I built my business on. He told me – nobody needs a salesman knocking on their door but EVERYBODY needs a friend.

Wow...thanks for opening up so much and sharing your journey and thoughts!!! Your authenticity is really helpful to me and I hope to many others who are reading this! Truly, thank you for sharing your thoughts and the images below...which may I say are ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS!

I also just HAD to post a pic of her studio...I have a crush on it. The design junkie in me is kinda obsessed with it!

{images used with permission}

If you're in the Santa Barbara area and are looking for a tremendous photographer, PLEASE run directly to Mary Jane Photography! You can sit in this darling office and meet with an even more darling woman. Thanks, Janey, again for participating...I hope we can meet someday in the near future!


Be sure to come back next week as we meet a fabulous Michigan-based children's photographer and hear her story! And to all of my new friends who have popped over from iHeartFaces, thanks for stopping by...I hope you make this a regular Friday visit!


Boybarian Dad said...

What a great post. What a great lady and beautiful work.

Thanks for sharing this with us.

B Dad

Mary Jane said...

I loved being apart of your blog! Thanks for the invite. I can't wait for more posts. :)