Inspired, A Very Special Project | Jessica Drossin Photography
First off I apologize for some of these Inspired Posts for being belated. Being fall and busy season some of the photogs had to reschedule so we are running a little behind which is totally, totally okay and understandable. We are all professionals but we also all have our families, our work, our schedules and everything in between. I am SO excited however to be able to feature the AMAZING and yes emphasis on amazing Jessica Drossin Photography. I have followed her work for a very long time. Not only is she uber talented but sweet as it gets! I just adore her. I could seriously gush and gush but I know you are probably anxious to get reading and I honestly have a full plate today moving our entire household with some nasty cold/flu bug I have been shaking forever and four kiddos that are rambunctious (and two sick so I don’t get it!). So I have to move it along lol!!!
Lets get to know you! How would you describe yourself in three sentences?
Hmmm…. 1) I am a contrarian, I dislike doing the popular thing, I like finding exceptions, I generally find myself arguing the other side no matter what that side is. It’s either annoying or endearing. I hope for the latter. 2) I am a creative person and I enjoy telling stories in a variety of forms. 3) Behind my sardonic humor, I really do strive to be a good wife, mother, friend, and businesswoman. That was more than three sentences. Sorry. That is also very me.
What sparked your passion for Photography?
Two things happened almost simultaneously: My sister, Gina Kolsrud bought her first camera and I had my second baby. I was unable to return to my freelance design work as quickly as I’d anticipated due to the new demands of having two young children and I was desperate for a creative outlet. Additionally, my little point and shoot was frustrating me terribly and I was jealous of what I saw Gina doing with her kids. She told me what camera and lens to buy, pointed me to a lot of “how-to” photography articles, and
introduced me to the photographers whose work inspired her. She bugged me to join Flickr. She gently insisted that I learn how to shoot in manual. I really don’t think I’d be a photographer today if it weren’t for her advice and encouragement.
Whats in your camera bag?
Canon 5D Mark iii (just upgraded from the Mark ii), 85mm 1.2, 50mm 1.4, 16-35mm 2.8, 45mm tilt-shift, 50mm Lensbaby composer, 16mm fisheye.
What Camera/Equipment did you start out with?
I started shooting with a Rebel xTi and a 50mm 1.8 lens.
If you could only use one lens an entire session which one would you
choose and why?
Hmmm. Depends on the location I think. I would generally say my 85 1.2 but more and more I’m getting into showcasing the landscape and my 85 is not great for that, if I have a truly outstanding location, I would shoot only with my 16-35.
What advice would go give to someone just beginning in photography and
hoping to have a business of their own?
First, I would recommend really focusing first on discovering who you are as an artist before you begin charging for your services. When you do begin charging, don’t be ashamed to ask for adequate compensation for your time and talent.
What was your first official Photographer crush if you had one?
Nichole Van. She was doing portrait work unlike any I’d ever seen before.
What kind of photos do you like to take for just yourself when not working
I’m very lucky. I used to feel like there was a division between “client work” and “my own work”. I think it’s mostly one in the same now for me.
If you could photograph absolutely anyone who would it be dead or alive?
When I first thought of this question, a million celebrities and world leaders came to mind. But as I kept considering, I settled on Howard Hughes. I’ve not seen the movie about him, but years ago, I read some biographies and was very intrigued with the man… He would be a fascinating subject, provided he would allow me to document him in ways he might consider unflattering. His wealth, obsessions, phobias, genius, good-looks, and contradictions are endlessly fascinating to me.
Describe your style in 3 words.
Versatile. Layered. Different.
Most embarrassing moment on a session would be?
The first celebrity I ever photographed was Rider Strong, from Boy Meets World. I had mostly worked with children at that point in my career. As I adjusted him in a pose, I got a little maternal and called him “sweetie”. He was very nice about it and I accidentally did it two more times, much to my utter embarrassment and his amusement.
Any challenges you have had to overcome to be where you are today?
I’ve had a difficult time overcoming shooting anxiety. For most people, it improves over time. For me, it was still a major struggle until recently. While it’s still an issue, it’s improved since I’ve retooled my business. I used to live in fear of disappointing clients and as a result, I over-analyzed everything. In the past year, I’ve worked to really define who I am and I only take on clients who want to experiment with me and have faith in how I will interpret their session. It’s been a joy and a relief to work with clients who want to collaborate, with the mutual goal of experimenting to create beautiful and interesting images.
Favorite time of day to shoot is?
The hour before sunset.
If you had to stop taking photos right now, what would you do instead?
I think I would love to write fiction. I think about stories all the time, but I am afraid I lack the talent and attention span for it.
Have you attended college or had any formal education in Photography?
I went to college at the University of Kansas in Lawrence and graduated with a BFA in Painting. I also took many Graphic Design and Illustration classes. I took two photography courses to fulfill requirements for my major, but that was in the days of film. I was never a person who was good with things that involved tricky steps in the dark with smelly chemicals. I must admit, traditional film processing was just not my thing. It is kind of funny to recall that even back then, I was thinking about trying to be experimental in my work. For one assignment I coated myself in baby powder (for texture, naturally) and then created multiple exposures of me acting creepy. Good times.
What do you do to get your clients to relax with you?
I’m a pretty approachable person. People talk to me in the market all the time. My Facebook fans call me “Jess”. It helps a lot that I’m a pretty laid back girl and I’m always cracking jokes, usually at my own expense. That said, most of the really good shots happen at the end of the session when I’ve done the “expected” poses and people are feeling bored and we’ve already gotten their outfits dirty. There is a shift in the air and it’s like both I and my clients just start to let our hair down and have fun and experiment. The last 20 minutes in a photography session are inevitably the best. I shoot until the sun goes down.
What are your photography related goals for 2012?
Well, it’s pretty exciting because I’m actually seeing many of my important goals start to fall into place for this year. My business and clients are changing in a way that reflects where I am trying to take my photography. Over the past two years, my client base has evolved. I’m increasingly working with really artistic individuals who want to collaborate to create unorthodox portraits. I am also doing more entertainment-related shoots for TV and film projects. I recently got an agent for book covers, and also just made some arrangements for selling my work in galleries and in print. I find it intensely fulfilling to work on a wide variety of projects that allow me to really follow my own creative vision with essentially no restrictions. It’s turned a great job into a dream job.
How do you push yourself to keep growing and learning? Any Big Aha!
I’ve had a series of big a-ha moments this year.
1) Being OK with being myself. It used to perplex me why some photos received like 10,000 likes on FB. I felt like a loser if I didn’t get 10,000 likes on my pictures. I figured it was because I have a bit darker, edgier aesthetic and so I tried to make my work feel brighter and happier. Then, one day I put up a picture by Eugene Smith, “Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath”. It received about 40 likes and maybe about 4 comments. Not to in anyway compare my work with Eugene Smith, who is a photography idol of mine, but in that moment I decided that while “likes” are very nice, they also essentially worthless in determining the true value of your work. I decided that worrying about people’s reaction was not a very sincere way to be an artist and it was very freeing realization. When I was too focused on what I perceived others would like, I wasn’t paying enough attention to what * I* liked.
2) You can’t be good at everything. I’m not doing Holiday photos this year. I have no passion for it and it shows. Feed what gets you inspired to work and you will receive more of it.
3) Don’t make assumptions. Photos I thought people would hate they loved. Photos I thought people would love they were like: “Meh”. Back to point #1: Make yourself happy. Do what feels right for you. If others agree, it’s a bonus.
4) The second I get bored, I do something different. I do not worry about adhering to “my style”. I am me and if I’m doing what feels right for me, it will be my style. I refuse to put myself in a box. I expect my style and my work to evolve. I’m only four years into this career and if I think I’ve somehow “arrived” then I would be an idiot.
Biggest Photography related insecurity?
I can’t manually focus. It’s an issue when I try to use my TS or Lensbaby. I think I need to get contacts 🙁
Digital or Prints?
How do you set yourself apart from other local photographers?
Well, I’m barely a photographer. My weirdness works for me. You go to other people if you want a traditional look, you go to me if you are wanting something different.
What do you think your next photography related investment will be?
Underwater housing for my Mark ii. Then the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.
If you had to recommend ONE thing that a photographer needs in their
camera bag what would that be?
Honestly, it’s not the equipment. It’s your imagination and making the most of the gear you have.
What would you say your biggest muse is?
People’s stories: People have amazing stories to tell if you are willing spend the time talking to them. Some people are willing to share more than just a practiced smile for the camera, they will let you in and allow you to document a real part of their inner self. Great portraiture artists (Goya, Velasquez, Sargent, even Warhol) understood how to extract a part of the inner self from their subjects. They captured their details in interesting ways, and thoughtfully incorporated symbols, settings, color, and mood. I think it’s why someone like Annie Leibovitz has been so successful: She thinks about shooting portraits in the same way a good
painter would approach a commission.
Favorite Color: Moss Green
Favorite Season: Fall
Biggest Guilty Pleasure: Red licorice
Pet Peeve: When my classic rock station plays Rush songs
Favorite Pandora Station: Never tried them, lol. I’m a Spotify girl. I
listen to the 70’s channel or Florence and the Machine.
Studio or On location: Location. But I do want to do more studio work in
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A singer until I realized I
couldn’t sing around the age of 10. Then I settled on becoming an artist.
One thing no one knows about you is: I made an all-raw chicken bikini for
a performance art project long before Lady Gaga wore the meat gown to the
MTV awards 🙂
Pc or Mac: Mac
Lightroom Or Photoshop: Photoshop
Film or Digital: Digital
Props or No Props: Depends. Props are OK as long as you’re not relying on
them to make your image. The minute it becomes more about the props than
the subject, you’ve lost.
If you could travel anywhere it would be: India
Glass Half Empty or Half Full: Half Full
Favorite photo ever taken:
One of my boys, probably about a month into
having my first camera. It is a clear case of mommy-goggles, but it has
made me very happy for about 4 years. My heart simultaneously breaks and
lifts every time I look at it.
Raw or Jpeg: Jpeg. Sometimes I shoot RAW too in certain situations, but
honestly, I prefer jpeg in a lot of ways.
Favorite Music to Edit to: Florence and the Machine or music from the 70s.
Favorite Quote: “Buck up!” (Monson family motto)
Most valued material possession: My wedding ring.
I try to process to fit the mood of my shoot. I use
textures, I hand edit, I experiment. I am not the world’s fastest editor. I work the images until they seem done.
Coffee or Tea: Coffee (but really Diet Coke)
If you could photograph a Celebrity who would it be? Mary-Kate Olsen.
What kind of Camera bag do you rock? Epiphanie Clover. And a Canon