What’s your birthdate?
November 24, 1977. I was born on Thanksgiving.
When did you first pick up a camera? Tell me about that.
I was 8 years old, and I received a Fisher Price camera for my birthday from my parents. It was the film camera, blue plastic with sturdy rubber grips on the side, and a flash cartridge you had to buy to pop in the top.
Natural talent or learned process? A little bit of both. I loved the arts, art was my favorite subject and I excelled at it since I can remember (3rd grade & on). I never disliked art class. As I got older, 6-7th grade, I went to the UNCG All Arts & Science camp in the summer. That is where I took my first photography class. I will never forget what the dark room smelled like for the first time. It was a new experience. It was fun being around other creatives at such a young age, during the summer and meeting new people from all different places. It’s also where I met one of my first real boyfriends; gosh he was so cute!
From then on I loved taking pictures wherever I went. I was known to be the one at the function with my camera. People would say, “Oh, Jennings will be there so I don’t need to bring my camera!”
In college I didn’t major in it – I majored in Graphic Communications at Clemson which is basically learning the commercial printing process from start to finish. We were required to take two photography classes. I did and loved it – it was still film back then so we worked in the dark room again, learning how to master developing your pictures with the enlarger and burning & dodging. Taking pictures of each other and classmates wandering around the Clemson campus finding new things to take pictures of. After I graduated in 2000 – that was when digital came out – but it just wasn’t there for me. I literally didn’t pick up a camera until 5 years later, when I bought my first digital camera, a Nikon D60. From then on, I started taking pictures of families in Raleigh, NC. My first portrait session I charged $50 for the session with the digital files- that I really didn’t even know how to edit that well. It was a very gradual / word of mouth process after that. (As I was a pharmaceutical rep at the time.)
What do you love to photograph?
I love beautiful things, such as brides, and details, china, and flowers. Old things, sentimental things, and people that may or may not be around for much longer.
Who are some of your photographer icons and/or mentors?
I know this sounds crazy, but I really don’t have any famous photographers I look up to or read about. I’ll watch a program on any photographer that I see is on or a movie coming out, but I don’t go out and read about anyone in particular. My first mentor was my own wedding photographer, Kellie Kano. She is still our family photographer and I learned so much from her as I was starting my business.
You get to have dinner with 3 other people, alive or deceased. With whom would you dine? What would you ask them?
Wow – this is so hard!
1) My dad’s mom – who died of cancer the year I was born, 1977. We never met each other. All I have heard are wonderful things about “Jeanne Cornwell” – I would ask her what it was like raising my dad and what he was like as a child.
2) My mother’s mom – my grandmother “Pat Jennings” – I tribute most of my creativeness to her. She passed away the year I was pregnant with Miller, my son, so she never met him. I would ask her, “How much more fun is Heaven than earth?”
3) Goldie Hawn – I just LOVE her – if she acts in person as she does in character – she would be my best friend I think. She would bring laughter to the table and I know my grandmother Pat would also love to meet her too. I would ask her, “What has been your biggest mistake in life?”
Do you know when you have a spectacular shot, or does that come about in the editing process?
I’d say 75% of the time i know when I have a good shot – I usually scream out loud! But then again 25% of the time there are a few that I just didn’t noticed on the back of my camera (shoot only digital) for one reason or another and I discover it in the editing process.
What makes you feel connected to your subject?
Knowing them, asking questions, likes / dislikes. everything really. I come from a sales background so relationships are really important to me.
What’s on your photographic bucket list?
To go back to Italy again. Any foreign town to me is so beautiful, any place outside the US. I like experiencing different cultures.
What inspires you?
Color, light, simplicity, classy, traditional, timeless, and from another direction…business, entrepreneurship, work ethic, passion, women, mothers.
How would you handle a difference of opinion with a client?
Just listen to them; in most cases the client is right and should be right. I also come from a customer service background, so I am always trying to please my clients. Talk it out…not sure i have ever had this happen to me before!
What advice would you give an up and coming photographer?
Take business classes (marketing) and sales classes. it’s not just the art that will get you places, you have to learn how to sell yourself, and do it the right way.
Are you involved in any kind of continuing education or professional groups?
I often do workshops, participate in continuing ed and networking through Engage!, or just pop up workshops that come to Charleston with different photographers. I am a member of the Nikon Professional Service.
What makes you feel loved?
My husband – he is my biggest cheerleader! My son miller (4 yrs – one & done) – calling me mommy and telling me how much he loves me. My family in general – I love everyone in my family, we are all very close!!! We are a huge support system for each other. Or at least they are to me. I learned so much from my parents! From my father: business side of things, marketing, sales, relationships, the love of life…and from my mother: strong woman, speak your mind, leader, SMART, independence – i feel I am a great mix of both my parents
What are your favorite conditions/lighting/circumstances to shoot?
Well of course, natural light! I have found that a little bit of fog or mist really makes beautiful pictures…the diffusion creates great skin tones!
What are your social media handles?
What makes you feel pretty?
When my husband tells me so…he is very good at affirmation…also when I actually have make up and clothes on. Since I became a photographer I work from home – so it is very rare I get dressed up with make up everyday now!
Do you have any other thoughts or things to say about your profession?
I LOVE what I do! I love working hard. “Work hard, play hard” is my motto. I love the people I meet, life long friendships, truly. That goes for clients and coworkers in the industry. Being creative has been a part of me, and I love that now in my life I am able to do it as a job. I consider myself very blessed and lucky. I especially love being in Charleston, my husband brought me here in 2009 when we were engaged to be married. It’s the perfect place for us.