MA Photographer / Published Photographer / Boston Voyager Magazine
May 15, 2018 | By: Jenee Cook Photography
Boston Voyager Magazine Featured Photographer.
I was so thrilled when Boston Voyager Magazine discovered my work and contacted me for an interview! They wanted me "to focus on the human story," what make's me and my journey to becoming a Photographer in Boston. I was also asked to give some advice for newbie Photographers as well.
I'll paste a copy of the post here as well as the link below to see the original post on Boston Voyager! Enjoy!
Jenee, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far. I am located in Attleboro, MA and am a portrait and wedding photographer. I grew up the middle child in southern California and like many children, dealt with parents that divorced. I knew I thought differently than my peers from a young age because of this and all the emotions I felt. I learned to see more of people. I learned to read emotion and expressions. I became acutely aware of body language in relation to that persons emotions. This heightened awareness of others brought out the people-pleaser in me. I felt a satisfaction when I was able to make someone laugh and smile. I found happiness when I brought joy to others through conversation and jokes, which always in turn made me laugh. That humor became a part of me to a point later on in life I can honestly say through laughter and choosing to bring joy to others I found my peace.
Middle school was when I got my first film camera. My mom would provide me endless rolls of film in bulk and the processing. I’d capture images of my friends laughing and having fun. Hundreds of photos processed a month, with never a complaint from my single hard-working Mom. I always had a camera and found something I was good at: capturing joy and emotion.
I feel that compassion and love of laughter has followed me into my photography career. I find my people-loving self come out during a session or wedding to make the subject feel comfortable and in a safe place. Behind a camera was where I felt my own peace and safety and it transfers over into my work.
Growing up, education was always an important life expectation. It wasn’t a question of if I would go to college, I just would. In 5th grade, my mom dressed me up in a gray 80’s skirt-suit with a ruffly blouse for career day and had me tell everyone I would grow up to be a lawyer. Haha! I didn’t even know what a lawyer was but I did know they went to college and education was important to my mom. Problem is, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up! I knew I loved photography, but could you really make a career of it?
I went to BYU-Idaho and met my (future) husband my first day. I decided on Speech-Pathology because photography just wasn’t an education path available at the time. I got married, started a family and worked for a year after graduation. Over the years, I had concentrated on my family and I found my drive again; the photographs I’d create of my children. So much joy, then they’d grow and change and I was so thankful to have the images I created. I wanted to share that with other moms.
Then, with 3 kids and my husband finishing with school, I made the career choice that I wanted to be a professional photographer and to return to school. I’d read every book my library had, highlighted every page in Digital Photography for Dummies and had maxed out how I knew how to research this dream of mine.
I attended a two year program through The Center for Digital Imaging Arts at Boston University. I worked hard, sacrificed a lot of time away from my little family and felt good about the education I was earning to then start my own business. I’ve never felt so much satisfaction in my life as when I looked into the eyes of my sweet babies and felt how proud they were of me. They are my biggest fans. My husband never questioned this crazy idea I had. He just said, “ok, sounds good” when I decided to do this. He still to this day listens daily as I bounce ideas off of him or tell him about what I am working on. I’m extremely fortunate to have such an incredible support system of family and community that lifts, encourages and wants the best for me!
Can you give our readers some background on your art? I’m not the conventional photographer that only specializes in one area of expertise. I’ve specialized instead in being a “For Life” Photographer. A service where a client only has to find a Photographer once. I take classes in Newborn Photography as well as training every year in wedding photography.
I offer a relationship, an experience and consistent art for all life events. I truly believe this relationship and trust that I’ve built from the wedding day to years later capturing their maternity and newborn sessions makes the difference in how comfortable my subjects feel. They learn once what the process is like, how comfortable I make them in front of the camera and know the customer service I provide. This method of specializing in life events has brought the most amazing people into my life. I find the initial consult very important because we are building a relationship and starting on a path that will build a friendship and trust.
As I go about a wedding day, I look for the small details and moments that I know will touch my brides emotionally. It’s more than just documenting the day but creating images that speak to their hearts. I think long-term. Those babies they’ll bring me in a few years will get these images I’m creating. What is it they will want to know about their parents wedding day? I’m starting this brides personal family history and helping her preserve these moments for her ancestors. What a tremendous responsibility!
I feel that responsibly when the chapel doors open and the Bride walks in for the first time. I’m capturing for those future children how their Mama looked and how their Daddy wept when seeing her. How awesome is it that the same person who captured those moments will capture their baby’s first photos as well?!
In a newborn session, my favorite images are always those small focused details as well: tiny toes that will grow to take this baby running all over the world some day, little fingers that will be the instrument to make their dreams happen and those small sweet lips that will one day profess, “I love you” to their own true love. From nuptials to newborns, I love my clients!
What would you recommend to an artist new to the city, or to art, in terms of meeting and connecting with other artists and creatives? Be active in your pursuit of your own water-cooler gang! Don’t wait for them to come to you. I remember publishing my first website and I thought, “hold on to your ponies, all the inquires and admirers are gonna come flooding in!!” I didn’t realize how much hard work it was going to be to sit alone behind a computer wondering where the inquires are or to take criticism on an image you’ve created.
You have to find a community of like minded artists that are struggling with the same doubts, frustrations and are willing to share their successes. Go to workshops, join your local Facebook groups, take the initiative to introduce yourself, you be the one to organize a lunch and brainstorming date. We are all sitting at our desks hoping to be included and invited. Don’t wait, act!
Then and this is the important part; be honest. Going and sitting in these groups saying, “everything is fine” will get you no where. Once you’ve found “your people,” those are the ones only you take constructive criticism on your images from.
“You can’t please everyone, you’re not pizza.” I don’t know who said it, but it’s genius. There will still be those that plain just don’t like your work and won’t pay what you’re asking. That is fine, those aren’t your people. Brush them off and go order your favorite slice of pie with your personally chosen water-cooler gang!
What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support? Certified through the American Association of Newborn Photography Safety, Member of PPA.