Jessica Rae is a Vancouver boudoir photographer. Take one look at her website and you will see she has an incredible ability to create soul and tell a powerful story through the images she takes. Today we chat about how she creates such beautiful images.
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In This Episode You'll Learn:
How Jessica got started in photography
Challenges she faced when learning photography
Jessicas main source of photography education
How Jessica got into Boudoir Photography
What Boudoir photography is
How to get intimate lighting when shooting boudoir to add mystery
What it means to be a Believer in the power of Vulnerability
Weather or not you need a studio to shoot boudoir
Premium Members Also Learn:
How to approach someone to do boudoir when you’re building your portfolio
How to make clients comfortable when in a venerable state of being partially clothed in front of a strangers camera
How to book more clients when its hard to share images on social media
Did you enjoy this episode? Check out more recent interviews with other great guests!
Full Interview Transcription:
Disclaimer: The transcript was transcribed electronically and may contain errors that do not reflect accurately what the speaker said. Because of this, please do not quote this automated transcript.
Raymond: 00:00 Hey Raymond here from the beginning of photography podcast. And today we're talking about getting started in boudoir photography. So let's get into it.
Intro: 00:08 Welcome to the beginner photography podcast with Raymond Hatfields, the podcast dedicated to helping you grow your photography skills. Raymond interviews the world's top photographers in their field to ask questions that will get you taking better photos today. Now with you as always, husband, Father Ho brewer, La Dodger Fan, an Indianapolis wedding photographer, Raymond Hatfield. Welcome back
Raymond: 00:37 This episode of the beginner photography podcast. As always, I am Raymond, your host and a, I've got a bit of a story for you today. This past weekend I had a wedding that I had been looking forward to all year, right? So this wedding, it was a, it was, it was at a nice venue. It was, it was going to be great. And this year, you know, weather has been, has been just so crazy. It has been ridiculous. In fact a lot of what's being talked about on the news about the weather is how farmers are our projected to lose $51 billion in revenue. Because they're unable to plant crops because there's just been so much rain. So I've been really lucky this year. Every wedding that I've had there was supposed to be rain. And then the day of, there was no rain and this wedding was a no exception leading up to it.
Raymond: 01:32 It was scheduled to be rain, but I really didn't you know, factor it in too much. I really didn't care because I just assumed that all the rain would clear up by the time of the wedding. So the morning, you know, comes, I wake up pouring down rain, like, okay, maybe it will clear up just a little bit later. You know, I've, I've been working long enough to to know that I can get all the portraits that I need in about 15 minutes, you know? And if, if the rain clears for that much time, then we will be okay. So I show up to the venue, still pouring down rain, and in fact, now it's harder than ever. We even had flash flood warnings. Our phones could, even though like they were on silent, we kept everybody's phones kept going off because of the flash flood warnings for where we were.
Raymond: 02:22 And what I, I quickly came to the realization that I would not have any, any time that day to do any sort of outside portraits, any sort of like, you know photos in nature, nothing outside, nothing with any sun that was kind of worried today the truth, because the venue, even though it was beautiful, it was very small. It was essentially it's a, it's a barn. It's a barn, you know, and it it, it was, it's turned into a wedding venue. And as you can imagine, there's not really a lot of space to roam around in a barn with like 150 in there. So I thought, okay, what am I going to do? To get portraits? Because as a professional
photographer, I can't just say, oh, I'm sorry guys, it's raining. It looks like you guys aren't getting photos today.
Raymond: 03:11 It is still my job to get this couple beautiful photos, no matter the conditions. So this is where I was so thankful for knowing how to use my my flashes and specifically being able to use them off camera, putting them on a light stand, setting them behind the camera or I'm sorry, behind the couple and just moving them around so that they weren't directly on my camera pointed right at the couple just to be able to get some interesting fun and unique shots that, that were, you know, good quality. Because again, like I said, just because it's raining outside doesn't mean that I get a free pass and don't have to take photos. So kind of the, the, the, the whole point that I'm trying to make here is that I'm, I'm fortunate, right, because I know how to use off camera flash, but that is, that's more of an advanced technique.
Raymond: 04:05 I'm not saying that you need to know how to learn off camera flash right now, but what I'm saying is that you need, you still need a strong foundation in photography. You're going to see things like off camera flash and you're going to think, wow, you can create amazing portraits with that. I got to learn that. Or you're going to be able, or you know, you'll see things like tilt shift lenses like wow, you can make incredible portraits with that. I need to get a till CIF Lens. But if you don't have a solid foundation in photography, it's all going to be for nothing. You need that strong foundation to build on because otherwise everything's just going to fall apart. If you don't know the fundamentals of photography and then you get an off camera flash, none of it is going to matter. You're not going to be able to get beautiful portraits because you don't understand the fundamentals of how a camera works.
Raymond: 04:51 And therefore adding in an extra element is it's just not going to turn out very well. And so it's, it's because of that, you know, that I just want you to realize that where you're at right now, that photography is a very long journey and you are at the starting line and just because you're going to see cool things often to the distance, you know, that doesn't mean that you need to rush to get there. The, the, the stronger of an understanding that you have of the basics of photography exposure. You know, how by how to control your settings light where to see it, you know, just where it naturally occurs and how to manipulate it yourself without, you know, off camera flash or anything at this moment. And then composition, how you're going to compose your shot, how you're going to frame it, the stronger of an understanding that you have on those three things.
Raymond: 05:48 Those are the fundamentals of photography. When the time comes to build on that, to look into new specialty lenses, to look into the off camera flash or we're going to be so much better prepared. And I'm just once again happy that that, that I'm at that point because if I were to, you know, book a wedding and think, hey, you know, everything's going to be great and then show up and not know how to use flash. I mean, it would, it would have been a disaster. It would've been an absolute disaster because essentially I just had to create things out of nothing because I, I brought the, I brought the light and could control it all myself. So just enjoy this time that you are in right now. Even though it seems like everything's brand new and that you don't have a full grasp of it, still do everything that you can to enjoy these moments while you grow because one day you will get there.
Raymond: 06:40 You're just not there today and that, that's not a bad thing. Enjoy the ride and you will get there eventually. So that is it. That's a, that's a story that I wanted to share. Hopefully you can take something away from that. But now I want to give a quick shout out to our latest iTunes review. And that came from Kaylee Sorg. Kaley wrote a, I just recently started listening to the podcast and it has quickly become one of my favorites. I am a beginner in photography. And honestly, learning this craft can sometimes be really overwhelming. A Raymond is relatable and breaks down things in an understandable way that takes the
pressure off of learning. This is so helpful to a beginner like me, Kaylee, thank you so much for leaving that review in iTunes. I really do appreciate that. And I think that that kind of relates back to that story that I just shared a few moments ago.
Raymond: 07:36 You know, it's that a, it can be overwhelming, but as long as you enjoy the ride and you continue moving forward, you're going to get there. So if you are new to the podcast or just photography in general, I want to thank you for joining me today and I would love to invite you to subscribe to the podcast for more weekly interviews with some of the world's top photographers like you're going to listen to today. And today's interview is one that we, we talk about a lot. I mean, we really get into it. This is not a technical episode by any means. This is, this is going to get your mind in the right head space to just start shooting boudway right? Why Shoe boot Voir what sorts of things are you looking for? And even more importantly, you're going to learn about a Jessica's journey into Duar and how it helped her.
Raymond: 08:27 So as always, I cut a portion of the interview out just for premium members specifically related to questions about business, right? If you're kind of at that stage where you're slightly past beginner, you understand, you know, the, the foundation of photography, but you want to learn a little more or you want to start making money with your camera. This is the, a portion of the podcast that I cut out. So today, premium members are going, going to hear how to approach someone to do booed wire when you're still building your portfolio, how to make clients comfortable when they're in a vulnerable state of being. You know, partially clothed in front of a stranger's camera, a where to shoot, whether you can shoot in your home or you know, you have to rent a photography studio and how to book clients when it is so hard to share your images on social media.
Raymond: 09:17 So again, this is all business related stuff. So if you're interested and you want to know, learn more about business and photography, head over to beginner photography, podcast.com and click the premium membership button up at the top and you can now become a premium member right away. So that is it. Let's go ahead and get on into today's interview with Jessica Ray. Today's guest is boudway photographer, Jessica Ray. If you just take one look at her website, you will see that she has an incredible ability to create soul and tell a powerful story through the images that she takes today. I'm excited to chat about how she creates such beautiful images. Jessica, thank you so much for coming on the podcast.
Jessica Rae: 09:53 Thank you for inviting me.
Raymond: 09:54 Of course. So as I mentioned there your work kind of stands alone, right? If you just look at your work compared to another photographer's work, I think that there is something that differentiates it from a, from a visual standpoint. And that's really exciting to see us as somebody who, you know, as, as, as a collective of people who just see tons of social media images every single day. But I'm sure that it took a while to get to this point to where you are today. So can you tell me how you got your start in photography in the first place?
Jessica Rae: 10:27 I was about 15 years old. I won't, wow. I don't care if you know my age, but anyway, it was a long time ago and back in the day where we still had dark rooms in our schools. And so I actually took zoom class and learn how to develop my own negatives and we did our own prints in the dark room. So that's the only formal education that I've had as far as photography goes. I've always been heavily into visual arts, whether it's drawing, painting, sculpting, woodwork. I've Kinda tried my hand at all of them. I didn't actually take up photography seriously until about 2010. And then I didn't start my career or my full time dive into the photography world until about 2013.
Raymond: 11:16 Okay. So what was it between those years when you were in high school learning photography, being in the dark room? What was it that, that, that didn't?
Jessica Rae: 11:26 I think I let my old man get to me and I didn't think I could make a living being an artist. And so I tried to do the nine to five grind. I tried to make a steady paycheck and all those things that, you know that generation kind of scared you into. And I wanted, I knew I wanted to start a family, so I kind of, I made, I made making a regular paycheck and starting family my priority. I'm at a young age, so it's funny because I didn't start taking myself seriously until I became a single mother. And then I started to realize that I, yeah, I having three little children takes up 24, seven, three 65 days of your time and there's not much left for you. So I think I got back into photography more as a self care and drawing and painting and all that felt, you know, when you've got three, I, my children are very close in age, so having three little children are running around, pulling out all the oil paints and getting into all of that. It was, it's too labor intensive and it's too messy and it's too, it's too involved. So I think I liked the act of photography that for me at that time in my life, it was kind of a clean art. There was some instant gratification with it, but I also was able to document life and moments and tell people's stories. And that's kind of really what pushed me into going, no, I need to do this everyday, all day, all the time. I need to come fully immerse myself into this genre.
Raymond: 13:08 Yeah. So when you were in high school, you mentioned the dark rooms or you're shooting film. When you pick the camera back up again, first part of the question was, was it like riding a bike where you could just kind of pick it up naturally again or are I guess? And then part two what sorts of hurdles did you find when you, when you switched to digital?
Jessica Rae: 13:28 It was, I mean I had all the basics. I knew, you know, my shutter speeds and my ISO is and you know, in my f stops and how those all work together. But learning, I think honestly once you have that knowledge, it's just about learning light and I think light is the most important factor when it comes to photography. So there was still a learning curve there. And going to digital, I mean, I was able to experiment a lot more. I was able to take more risks because it wasn't like I'm wasting money or I have to wait weeks on end to, you know, see the results, remember what my settings were and you know, versus getting my film developed and back. So I definitely was able to be a lot more experimental and try new things, which inevitably got me to where I am. Cause that was that. I think that's the best and most fun part of, of digital photography. But I won't lie. I'm getting back into film. So
Raymond: 14:28 I love it. Now just to clarify, the best and the best part of digital photography is the instant gratification. Is that it?
Jessica Rae: 14:35 I think there is no, that was just photography in general. Painting was just more of a process. Oh my gosh. I think it was not having the fear and being able to let go and experiment more. Yes. The pro to digital for sure.
Raymond: 14:50 Okay. So, so you picked back up the camera, you started photographing the kids and kind of documenting their life. How did it turn? How did it go from there to where you are today? Shooting Boudoir?
Jessica Rae: 15:03 I've, regardless of what type of art I was doing, drawing, painting, sculpting, whatnot. I've always done portraits. I've always drawn or documented people and body scapes. So that was just without question that when I started photography I wanted to focus on people. I didn't take pictures of landscapes. I didn't take photographs of, you know, it was just, it was just life. And it wasn't even necessarily focused on, on my children. It was just just moments in day to day. Because of, I'd say where I've gotten now and why I think I got back into it was really important. Being a single mom, I didn't have a very healthy relationship
with my ex. And so for me at that time in my life, it was really important to shift my focus to being not just a mother, not just a wife, not just that it was being a woman. And so that I think is what first propelled me into the booed wire world was that I got to work with women and help empower them and help to let them take control of their own bodies and their own selves.
Raymond: 16:12 How did you first discover boudoir?
Jessica Rae: 16:15 I don't really remember actually. I mean, I can tell you who some of my early influences were definitely you and failing of last 40% who has now gone on with his wife, Brianna, to create, do more photographer community. They were definitely a big inspiration. But I can't tell you specifically if there was a moment, I mean, coming from a fine art background, I've always done life drawings and new drawings and, and, and whatnot. So I think it's just always been ingrained in me. So boudoir, when getting into the photography genre of art just felt like a natural progression for me.
Raymond: 16:53 I see. I see. That makes sense. Okay. So I guess before we go any further can you give those who don't know a, a can you describe what Boudway is?
Jessica Rae: 17:07 First. funny enough, I don't actually love the word boudoir because it has such a, either lack of definition or too broad of a definition. I think that there are many people define it differently. I mean, you go to the while, the textbook definition dubois rate in a woman's bedroom and people take that a little too literally. And so if you all of a sudden are taking photos of someone out in nature or outside of the bedroom and into another type of environment, all of a sudden it's not booed wire. And that's, that's not what that means to me. I connect more with the term intimate portraits because I feel like good wire is to pigeonholed by, by at least the general population. Budweiser to me just is an intimate portrait. Doesn't have to be a woman, doesn't have to be a man. I don't care how you identify. It's just having a nice, vulnerable, intimate, candid, authentic capture of a human being.
Raymond: 18:14 Okay. So,uI'm trying to put myself in the listeners shoes real quick. And,utypically,uthe boudoir photos are wearing like intimate clothing or like,
Jessica Rae: 18:25 Yeah, we're good are typically would be lingerie in a, in a bedroom and typically it would be a woman.
Raymond: 18:30 Gotcha. Okay. Okay. Gotcha. So if anybody's listening now you understand going forward what it is that we are going to be talking about. So you mentioned earlier when, when you, when you made the switch to digital, you focused a lot on, on light, right? Because that is one of the most important things that is not in the camera that you need to be focusing on. And when I reached out to the beautiful people of the beginning photography podcast, Facebook group about questions that they had about boudoir photography, one of them came from Isabelle and she wants to know about lighting. She wants to know about intimate lighting. And I figured if there's anybody who's going to know anything about this, it's going to be you looking at your photos. I've seen some behind the scenes photos and you also work with some artificial lighting as well, which is awesome. So can you talk to me a little bit about lighting and kind of the miss the mystery I suppose that you create?
Jessica Rae: 19:24 For me, I would say I'm 90% natural light. I do like to experiment and play and I encourage every photographer to kind of break past their comfort zones and their norms and to try different things. So I do incorporate some strobes or some constant led lights at time. Sometimes you just get a different look and sometimes I live on the Pacific northwest. It's very rainy and cloudy here a lot of the time. So every now and then if it's a really gloomy day, I need to kind of just help the sun out and give a little boost.
Raymond: 19:58 I love that. So what is it that you're trying to create with, with, with your lighting?
Jessica Rae: 20:03 For me, my photography would be described as dark and moody lighting versus light and airy. So a lightened area is going to be a very well lit light all around, kind of 365 degrees, kind of. And it has its place. It's just not mine. I feel like the dark and Moody Lighting we're, we're really playing up. The shadows really helps to create Beyonce and drama and mood. And for me it's going to convey a lot more emotion and a tele, a lot more of a dramatic and dynamic story.
Raymond: 20:44 Okay. So spending more time in the shadows. I love that.
Raymond: 20:48 I love that. Accentuating the shadows or playing up the shadows rather. So does that mean, so how, how would you, how would you approach a situation? Cause I know that a lot of new photographers are worried about shooting like in low light situations. Is that, is, is playing with shadows the same as working in low light conditions?
Jessica Rae: 21:08 It is, but there's a huge misconception with dark and moody photography that it's either a very low or having a lack of light and that is, can be farther from the truth if you walk into my back bedroom, for example, where it has my absolute favorite lighting, it's a north facing window so it doesn't get any direct sunlight, but it has the most consistent and even even and predictable lighting. Regardless of the weather outside, it's actually a very bright room. So if you're walking in there and you have no idea how I've created my work, you're going to be like, oh, you must close to curtains or you must do this. And that's just not, not true at all. It's not about a lack of light. It's about the direction and the placement of light. So if I have a room that's going to have multiple, like say a forest, you know, you're in a box round, there's four sides to a square.
Jessica Rae: 22:02 If you're going to have lights on either opposing sides or all three sides, you're not going to be able to achieve that dark and moody lighting. You're going to get more light, even airy lighting because there's light all around. So it's definitely going to be about the direction of the light and the placement of the light in conjunction with your subject. So you don't want to have your back to the light that's going to create a more flat lighting scenario, do you mean? Yeah. Right. So the let, I don't want the light to my back. Gotcha. I want it to my subjects side or back. So the light source for me is always to my side or in front of me. Gotcha. Okay. And then that way my shadows are created facing the camera cause the light sources to the side and behind. So that suspense play up more of the shadows. Correct. Like Saris is behind me and facing my subject, I'm getting a flat lighting all around and I'm losing all of my shadow.
Raymond: 23:05 Yeah. Yeah. So let's say that a, you weren't in this room, right? You had to go out and shoot somewhere else. I think at times, like when I see a lot of like intimate portrait share though the lighting can be either very soft or it can be very hard, like to accentuate aspects of the body. So can you talk to me about how you like how, how hard or how soft do you like your lighting?
Jessica Rae: 23:31 I'm definitely a fan of hard light. I love contrast. I love I, yeah, high contrast is definitely my jam. Do you
Raymond: 23:44 Get that through, through window in that bedroom?
Jessica Rae: 23:46 Absolutely. Yeah. So I only have, have a foresighted square in the room. There's only one wall with a window. Now to control that. And you can, I have blackout curtains on there as well. So I mean I can close them to a degree. It's kind of funny when you
start looking at it. I'm usually utilizing my natural light window, like a studio light, cause if it's fully open, it's like a big giant soft box. But if I'm closing it, all of a sudden now I have a tiny little strip box. So I mean it's just about having the quality and the direction of the light versus just filling a room completely with light
Raymond: 24:30 Come in from everywhere for sure. Right,
Jessica Rae: 24:31 Right. So I mean, while I still prefer natural light, you can definitely get all of these, this the same dark, moody look using strokes and using artificial light sources as well.
Raymond: 24:43 Very cool. Very cool. So I kind of want to go back to when you first started, I asked there earlier kind of how you found boudoir and how you moved into that space. Can you tell me about your first Boudoir client? Like how did I want to know how you booked them? Where are you nervous and how did it turn out? Hey Raymond here and if you're listening to this, it means that you are listening to the free version of today's podcast, which means that you are missing out big time. You know, if you become a premium member, not only do you unlock the full interview with today's guests where they share so much more valuable information on how to become a successful photographer, but you also get access to the entire back catalog of past interviews with some of the world's most renowned and experienced photographers who open up and share how they got to where they are and what they would do if they had to start all over again today. Now, if you want to find out, become a premium member by heading over to patreon.com Forward slash beginner photography podcast or just head on over to beginner photography, podcast.com and click the link on our homepage. That's it. I hope to see you there in of course. And that makes sense. That makes sense. Yeah. On your website it says that you are a believer in the power of vulnerability. And you talked a little bit about this earlier, but can you, can you expand on that and what it is? Did you mean by that?
Jessica Rae: 26:12 I think I'm an empath and I've struggled with that most of my life. I remember being little and everybody you'd be like, Oh, there goes Jessica. She's going on a tangent talking about herself again. She's so self involved and I've learned through life that that is never been my intent. It used to hurt my feelings when people would say that. Cause I'm like, that's not what I'm trying to do. I want to connect with people, I want to relate to people. So I share my story with you so that I can be like, do we have something in common? Do you understand how I feel? Or you're telling me something that happened to you? So I talk about something similar that happened to me so that you can see, I relate to you. I understand. And I think that that is being vulnerable.
Jessica Rae: 26:57 It's not about being vulnerable because I'm half naked. It's not about being violent, it's just stripping down all of the layers and being candid and authentic and genuine and just connecting with other human beings. And like I was saying earlier, that vulnerability is brave and it is courage. And so I think it takes a lot of being brave and being courageous to connect with other human beings. It's kind of a scary thing, right? To put yourself out there to tell your story and risk people either making fun of you or being like you're the only one that's, that's ever happened to you. And that's just not the case. That there's always somebody else that maybe needs to hear your story, to know they're not alone or you need to tell it so other people can come to you and be like, it's okay, I understand and you're not alone. So that's kind of my whole message is that I just want and want people to share their stories. And that doesn't have to mean that they verbally spilled their guts to me or that they write all their life story. But I just need them to go there in their own mind, in their own heart and in their own self through our session that they're kind of working on it. I'm not a therapist. Same. I'm not.
Raymond: 28:14 How do you get them in that spot?
Jessica Rae: 28:17 It's a lot of talking. I talk a lot. My Camera, I say I talk more than I shoot during a session. And again, I'm not a therapist. I'm not sitting there like, you know, I can help fix your problems or, or, or make everything better. But sometimes people just need somebody there to listen and to relate and to have empathy. And I think that that's, I feel, I think that's what I've learned over these years is that that's what I excel at. And that's what I do. I mean, every single client, I've never had a client leave here without saying, you made this, made me feel so comfortable. Like I have lots of clients that don't come in expecting to get negative. They're like, no, no, I'm not kidding naked. No. End of the session, you're like, okay. And they're walking around my studio naked in front of me and talking to me, and they're like, I did not expect to feel this way. And so I can't tell you what my secret sauce is. I don't know exactly what I do to, to help people to feel that comfortable other than I just talk and I relate and I just tried to connect with them in any possible way that I can.
Raymond: 29:21 Let me ask you a side question. Do you know who Kristin Kalp is? I do not. Okay. Kristen Kalp and I, I don't, I haven't kept up with her in a while. I'm not sure how much she still does, but she did a lot of like copywriting for photographers and in one of our books she says that I maybe it was her email list, but she says that like smalltalk is like the worst thing in the world that like she can imagine she would rather than just like fall into a volcano. Then like make small talk and just like talk about the weather. Would you say that that it's similar for you? Would you rather have someone
Jessica Rae: 29:57 Yeah, it's not small talk. I asked big questions. I tried to go deeper and I always tell people, I'm like, if you're not comfortable talking about this, just tell me to shut up or fuck off. You know, like you don't have to have to talk that. But I, I don't do it in a way that I'm sitting here interviewing them and asking them 20 questions. Right. I'm just naturally letting it come up in conversation. So it might start off as small talk. I'll be like, so you know, like how many kids do you have or do this or what do you do for work? I mean, I need something so sure to start with. Right? So I mean it's gonna start that way, but I also send out pre questionnaires before my sessions that kind of, again, open asking, open ended questions because most people want to talk, right? So if you give them an opportunity to, and that's hard for me because as you can tell, I like to talk is to shut up and listen too. Right? So if I ask somebody something, I just listen and then I engage when I need to to show that empathy and to relate and connect. But at the most time I'm just letting them do most of the talking.
Raymond: 30:58 [Inaudible] Do you think that I take that back. I don't want to, I don't want to load that question. What do you find are some common mistakes that a new boudoir photographers make?
Jessica Rae: 31:10 A feeling like you have to do everything right. 24, seven, right out the gates, whether that's with your shooting style, whether that's with how you're running your business. There is no overnight special secret that's gonna make you an instant success or an instance, you know claimed amazing artists. It's a process and it's a journey and it can be painful and slow Tom Times, but just enjoy the ride. I mean, I blinked and I'm like, how am I here? How am I, you know, how are you sitting here interviewing me right now? I don't remember. Never stop learning. Don't get complacent.
Speaker 6: 31:48 Yeah.
Jessica Rae: 31:49 When you get complacent, you stop learning and then you stop growing and then your work becomes stagnant. I'd say the biggest, yeah, I think it's just, they just feel like they have to get it all right right away. Right out the gate. And it's just, it's not
possible. Yeah. So don't get hung up on that. Be Afraid. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, to experiment, to try new things because the only way that you're going to learn is by doing.
Raymond: 32:16 Would you be, would you be willing to share some of the early mistakes that you made early on that you wished that you didn't
Jessica Rae: 32:24 Like? My husband's looking at me like I got a whole bunch here for you because [inaudible] no they are. I'm, I'm guilty of a lot of this at the, at the beginning I thought I had to light it a certain way. I thought that I had to pose a certain way. I got so hung up on posing early on in my career that I thought it was so important. I mean obviously it is, we don't want to, you know wound another human being by taking an unflattering photo of them and being like, Hey oh see there goes my train wreck again. My brain is just,
Raymond: 33:01 Oh, the window. Ask Your question again. It'll no pocket mistakes I made. Sharing any mistakes that you made early on? Yeah,
Jessica Rae: 33:10 I, I think posing, I think posing was my biggest one. And lighting. Yeah. I felt like I had to do it a certain way and had to look a certain way. People expected a certain thing. And once I finally was just like, why am I stressing about this? I might not even like it at the end of the day. But I did it because I thought that's what the clients wanted or what my peers wanted. And I just was like, I'm just gonna do me. Things got a lot better. And I started attracting the type of client I wanted instead of the type of client I didn't want. I, you know, even as, as recently in the last year I used to do very, my black and whites were super contrast. [inaudible] Super sharp. I'm just like, just have a very specific look. And I was, so I missed film, I wanted greeny gritty, beautiful money, black and whites still with contrast, but like they were just so different than what I had been putting out.
Jessica Rae: 34:14 And I was so afraid to start posting those because I was scared that my clientele wouldn't like it or I mean my peers were less of a concern because I was worried about the people booking me and making me money or like, like they might not like it or they're used to seeing this, this is what they expect from me. And so then I got hung up on the idea of, oh, I need to create a whole separate session experience if they want this and I, and then I didn't produce the work that I wanted to because I got so stuck in this, how do I create the second session? How do I explain this and articulate it to a client so they know the regular Jessica Raila versus the ones she really wants to produce. You know? And, and I, I got hung up on that and I wasted valuable time and I tortured myself without reason until I finally was just like, why am I doing this? Why am I putting other people's perceptions, which I don't even know on myself. And I just said, fuck it. And I, I just went with it and I just fully jumped in both feet and committed. And now I get people messaging me like, Oh my God, I love your grainy black and whites. Oh, I love this. Or Oh, that was why I booked you because I love the way you use the light. And I like this. And I'm like, wow, why was I in my own way for so long?
Raymond: 35:29 I would imagine that that would be incredibly frustrating, especially after putting in all that stress and kind of heartache into a, into that. But I think, you know, I think, I think that you figured out what Vat, a lot of people don't really know what they're looking at when it comes to photography and that, yeah, we as artists, our, our inside of our head all the time and are often the most critical people of our own work. It's funny cause I, I often share in the group that whenever I go to shoot weddings, I'm so critical with my work that when I look at it, I either love it or I or I hate it. Right. When I deliver a wedding, I always find that my brides will like make their profile picture. Like one of the photos that I was like, oh, this is terrible. You know, from a technical standpoint. But that doesn't mean anything to them because that's how they felt.
Jessica Rae: 36:19 Do you know, I think that's one reason I really like the genre of Boudoir. I think that it has the most, this is going to sound weird, but the most room for error, okay. It doesn't have to be perfectly lit and perfectly tack sharp focus. And that's like, oh well it was really dark and I had a shoe at 3000 ISO and my images are super grainy. I meant to do that. Oh, I missed focus. I meant to do that. Oh, there's a motion blur. I meant to do that. Like it, it adds to the art. You know, like I feel like we just have a few more graces in, in this specific genre then you do with others. And again with weddings you can kinda get away with that a little bit. Any genre you, you can, but you know, like the headshot was super noisy or out of focus. You don't go no good. That doesn't work. I'm so I feel like, I guess mood bar is more artistic and you have more, more room for play.
Raymond: 37:23 Do you think that that's just the, the lens that a you've put on it or do you think that that's the thing that's interesting because I think that, I think that a, a kind of what you discovered there is, is really important. You know, cause it's, it's playing around with those settings and figuring out what works and doesn't work. And oftentimes you can find things that you love through a situation that you didn't mean to be in, you know, like by using a slower shutter speed or something like that and giving yourself that. Okay. Is super important. Yeah.
Jessica Rae: 37:52 I can't tell you how many times when I was starting and I was experimenting and I would look at the back of camera and I'd be like, oh, I don't like this. And then I would stop doing it and I moved to something else and then I'd get it on the computer and be like, oh, that didn't suck. And so now I've made a conscious effort when I'm trying something new, shoot at least 10 or 20 frames of that, you know, like, just do it. Be like, you know, it's not my favorite. It's not my go-to. But it doesn't mean it's bad. And you just kind of have to let it percolate a little bit. Sometimes you come back, you're like, okay. Or at least you can look at it and go, I can see what I would do different. All right, but change it. So again, don't be afraid to experiment and just fully commit because I did not do that enough when I first started.
Raymond: 38:35 I'm not sure if there's a way to in this interview, better than that. That last statement was was perfect. It was perfect. So thank you very much for sharing that. Thank you. Jessica. Before I let you go, I want to be conscious of your time. Before I let you go, can you let everybody who's listening know where they can find you online and see more of your work?
Jessica Rae: 38:57 Ah, yes. My website is artist Jessica ray.com and Ray is r a e and all my social media is exactly the same. So facebook.com artists, Jessica Ray, Instagram artist, Jessica Ray. I keep it simple. Yeah.
Raymond: 39:13 And you're going to be doing some teaching soon with the a is it the do more camp or,
Jessica Rae: 39:17 Yeah, camp do more. This will be its second year. Takes place just outside of Toronto and Ontario, Canada, this June. We're sold out this year. But I'll definitely be back next year is the most amazing experience ever. I've been to a few different conferences and retreats and count do more is definitely unique in the way that they have structured things. You can come and just attend. You don't have to take all of the classes. You can just come hang out. Everybody kind of does Durham shootouts and hangs out. I mean, it's Kinda like a n a nudist camp with people wearing cameras running around. It's, it's an incredible experience. But they have a lineup of amazing educators, instructors every year. I think there's like eight, no. Is there that many instructors? There's not that many. I think there's like eight to 10 instructors each year. And it's a variety from business to shoot style to everything in between. I mean, there's definitely something for everyone. I only took two
classes last year just to kind of get my feet wet. This year I'm teaching three classes and I'm going to take every other class I can when I'm not teaching. So
Raymond: 40:35 I recently interviewed a Michael Sasser for the podcast. Yeah. And when I told them that that's, he said he was a, I told him that I was interviewing you and he was a, he was super excited to to, to meet up at that at Camp Dasha.
Jessica Rae: 40:47 Fabulous. I love him. He's a great, I'm excited to get to meet him in person. And I do. Even if you're new and you're feeling intimidated to go to these type of things, please don't. These communities, especially with the booed wire community, I mean, and I think you can attest to this with the wedding industry is huge. There's so many groups, there's so many pockets, there's so many things put voir really is intimate. It's, we're a smaller industry, we're a smaller, you know genre and we are, I don't, I just, everybody I've met has been so awesome and so welcoming and so amazing. And they're all so different. Like it's just great. And I was the number one concern of people that want to attend camp and habit was they were having social anxiety and they were really nervous. I can tell you that probably 85% of the people going have social anxiety. So don't fret color coded. We have color coded name tags. Cause we have this big joke with you more about who's a hugger and who isn't. So we had blue name tags for the people that were like, yes, I'm open for hugs. And red is like maybe once I get to know you are asking me first. So we're very conscious of everybody saying that you wear a blue name tag. I am, yeah, I guess. Yep.
Raymond: 42:09 Well, again, Jessica I want to say thank you again so much for coming on the podcast and sharing everything that you did. I look forward to keeping up with you in the future and I wish you the best of luck at the camp. Do more.
Jessica Rae: 42:20 Great. Thank you so much.
Raymond: 42:22 Oh man, I loved my time in talking with Jessica. She was so insightful, you know so insightful. When I first started photography, I think one of the things that I looked out for most was the technical aspects, right? I wanted a definitive answer on how to do things. From a, from a very technical standpoint, I wanted to know what settings should I use. I wanted to know where I should point the camera, what Lens I should be using. And after this interview with Jessica, it just really reaffirmed that those things don't really matter. I mean they matter to a degree, but it really is you know, how you interact with the camera, how you interact with your clients, how you make your clients feel. And in fact, my biggest takeaway from this episode was, was even though the, how photography was, was kind of became a form of therapy for Jessica, like the self-expression that she found through her photography.
Raymond: 43:21 And it just goes to show, you know, how powerful photography itself can be because we as photographers think that photography is, is his most powerful to the viewer to the person looking at the photo when in fact it can be, which, you know, Jessica is proof of. It can be just as powerful to the photographer as well. So Jessica, if you're listening, I want to thank you so much for sharing everything that you did with the listeners and myself included taking the time out to chat with me. I really did enjoy our time and everything that you shared. So again, Jessica, thank you so much. One last time. I want to again, invite you to subscribe to the podcast so that you can get more weekly interviews with some of the world's best photographers like we got today with Jessica. All right, that is it for this week's interview. Until next week, I want you to get out. I want you to keep shooting. I want you to stay safe, and I want you to focus on yourself. That's it. I'll talk to you next week. Love you all.
outro: 44:21 If you enjoy today's podcast, please leave us a review in iTunes or your favorite podcast player and continue the conversation with Raymond and other listeners
of the podcast by joining the beginner photography podcast Facebook group today. Thank you. We'll see you again next week.
BPP 152: Jessica Rae - Powerful Boudoir Photography
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