Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Meet This Week's Judge: Jen Bilodeau

This week, we have Jen of Jen Bilodeau Photography helping us to embrace the shadows. Enjoy her beautiful photos, and read about her here! 

1. Tell us about yourself...

I am a natural light portrait and lifestyle photographer that specializes in children and families......and my "everyday".  My days are primarily filled with all that encompasses raising three crazy beautiful little ones, and with whatever energy I have left at the end of the day, I pour myself into my business.  I worked as a CPA for many years prior to starting my photography business, and I have recently started offering business mentoring to help photographers navigate through the tax, bookkeeping and regulatory complexities that come with running your own business.  I'm an outdoor girl at heart. Mountains, oceans, trails, parks....they all call to me regardless of the weather. I suppose that's why I why I prefer shooting in natural light. I feel comfortable outside - studying the light, the shadows, the beauty in things big and small.  My mission is to capture honest images that tell a story or elicit an emotion.......and I am especially moved by deep emotive black and whites :)

2. What ignited your passion for photography, and what fuels it now?

I think my photography journey began long before I realized.   Since I was a little girl I've always carried a camera with me........and I've got boxes and bookshelves of albums documenting all phases of my life.  But it wasn't until my husband got me my first DSLR in lieu of an engagement ring (perfect!) that I really wanted to take my photography to the next level.  My Nikon has been my near-constant companion ever sense.  The heart and soul of my photography lies in my children.......I want to document everything they do.....the way the light kisses their hair as they play before bed, the way they get yogurt all over themselves at breakfast, the way they sit so close on a big couch when they watch a tv show.  It is the joy I get from the images of my own children that fuels my love for client work - I yearn to give my clients those same frozen moments in time that they too can savor and cherish.   

3. What's in your camera bag right now, what do use the most? the least?

I have two separate camera bags.  One that I use for shoots, and one that goes with me everywhere.  For photo shoots I carry my Nikon D800, Sigma 35mm 1.4, Nikkor 85mm 1.8, Nikkor 50mm 1.8, Expo Disk, and Hoodman HoodLoup (I love shooting into the sun and this little gem allows me to perfectly see the my images on my screen).   

In my everyday bag, I carry chap-stick, a change of clothes for my just-potty-trained daughter, random toys and treasures my kids have thrown in (this time of year that's lots and lots of dandelions), my Nikon D800 and Sigma 35mm lens.  I got the Sigma 35mm in January and have barely taken it off my camera sense!   If I could only pick one lens to use the rest of my life, it would, without a doubt, be this one.

4. What's your dream project or shoot?

A dream shoot for me is any shoot just before sunset......a nice long view to the west (on top of a mountain or on a lake is a bonus!), few clouds in the sky for vibrancy, long grasses, and a happy family simply enjoying each other :)


5. What is the biggest challenge you face as a photographer?

Time.  I can never seem to find all the time that I need in a day.  My kids are little and still home with me most of time time, which pushes photography work primarily to nights and weekends.  I like to dream big.  There's so much I want to do with client photography, business mentoring and personal photography projects......but I have to constantly remind myself to slow down, to not take on so much.....and, sometimes, to simply let things go.

6. If you had $500 to spend on photography...
How should you spend it?

Towards upgrading my laptop......zzzzzzzz

How do you wish you could spend it?

Right now I am drooling over underwater case for my camera.  I spend so much of the summer in the pool or the ocean......I would love to photograph my kids in the pool in the summer or sunrise surf sessions in the cold Maine waters. 

How would you really spend it?

Probably on the underwater case ......Even though I want to throw my slow computer against the wall, I just can't resist the thought of getting my camera in the water!!

7. Is there any one thing you wish someone had told you at the very beginning of your photography journey?

Slow down.  I jumped head first into my business.....almost certainly before I had even settled into my own personal shooting style, and I took any work that came my way.  It took me a while to accept that my best work came when I was truly shooting from the heart......To find true personal fulfillment in my photography, (and to fulfill my clients' expectations), I had to first really get to know myself as a photographer.  I had to learn what moved me visually and emotionally.....and how to replicate this for my clients on a consistent basis.   Although, if someone had told me all this at the beginning of my journey I probably wouldn't have listened.......I was too busy blindly and passionately chasing my dreams :)

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