MEET JESSICA FEELY:: {Women In Business} Series


Hi Jessica! Thank you for sharing some business insight with all of those reading today! How long have you owned your own business? How did you know photography was your destiny?
Hi, thanks for having me! I have owned my business since January 2009, so I just passed my two year photoversary! I grew up in a photography business with my mom having a wedding and portrait studio and my dad in landscape photography. When I got my first DSLR in 2008 and started playing around with it, I knew it was the start of my journey!

I want to just say that your work is beautiful. Very clean and consistent. What is your best tip for keeping your work consistent?
I think the key to consistency has to do not only getting your exposures correct straight out of camera, but it also means establishing a consistent editing workflow. When I was first figuring out my style, I tried hundreds of different actions to get a feel for what was me or my style. In the early days, all my pictures weren’t exactly consistent because I would use different kinds of black and white conversions, vintage actions etc, etc. Once I figured out my style and that I really liked the clean/timeless look, I stuck with it. In my opinion, clients NEED to see consistency. They want to imagine what their pictures will look like if you were to take them. So keeping with a consistent edit and workflow that you present in your portfolio is key. (Sorry that was a long tip!)

What is your favorite subject(s)/ or session type to photograph?
This is a hard questions because I specialize in seniors & weddings. I like each for different reasons. Seniors are great for posing and I love the up close portrait work with them. Weddings/Engagements, I love because I get to be candid. If I had to choose, I would say engagements are my favorite.

You always have such nice bokeh in your images! What is your favorite all time lens, the one that stays on your camera most of the time?
My go to lens is my (Nikon) 50mm 1.4 G. It creates really yummy bokeh and is the perfect distance for portraits.

In owning your own business, what have you found to be your greatest struggle?
When I first started out it, my struggle used to be family time vs business time. I was putting too much towards my business and not enough with my family. I eventually learned that my family comes first, and I can wait until the next day to read emails or get back to clients. If you make hours and boundaries with your business, your clients usually respect that. I am happy to say that I have found for the most part a pretty good balance. Family is more important to me than anything.

What was the BEST business decision/or change of direction, that you have ever made?
To specialize in specific areas, not spread myself thin and try to be good at everything. That means saying no to newborns, families, etc. I refer them out to photographers that I trust in my area. I also do consider taking those other sessions on a case by case basis if I am in my off season. But by choosing to work and specialize in seniors and weddings, things are much less crazy around here.

What are three things you wish someone would have told you when you were just starting out in the photography world? Branding.branding.branding. Get your branding down because that something that definitely sets you apart from others. This also includes a professional blog/site. I cant stress enough how important it is to have this. In my opinion, a blogspot blog looks like someone with a hobby. A more professional or wordpress blog with your own domain looks like someone who is serious with a business license. Shoot in Manual. Do it no matter what. I started in Aperture Priority with my little Nikon D40. I thought I was set for life. When I upgraded to my D300 a few months later I decided to shoot in Manual. Oh what a world of difference it made! Shoot in RAW. This is more likely to be personal preference, however I feel that if you are seriously looking to take professional pictures, you need to be shooting in RAW. It will change your photos for the better. I think that editing is actually much easier when using raw files!The other best decision was to invest early in professional equipment. I definitely know that when starting a business, money is tight. I KNOW that. I have been there. But I wouldn’t be where I was today if I didn’t choose to invest in high quality lenses and bodies. I am not saying that these will make anyone a great photographer, but they are the vehicle that can get you there with the right knowledge.

Are you married? Do you have any children? If so how do you best balance your family time with your work time?
Yes, we will be married 6 years this April! We have one little girl who is 2.5 years old, and we hope to have another kiddo sometime next year…The best way for me to balance family time is to work during the day (while my daughter is being watched), and spending time with my family in the late afternoons and evenings. It is so important for me to have dinner together as well. I know this may sound a little strange, but I don’t like to stay up late and edit or work while my husband/kids are sleeping. I know that if the roles were reversed and my husband stayed up or out late every night and I went to bed alone, I would feel like he is putting his work before family. I dont want to do that to my family, so morning/day = work & afternoon/nights = family time.

Have you attended any workshops or online forums that have helped you get to where you are? What was your favorite of each?
I have only attended one workshop (last year) for wanting more inspiration and creative ideas. It was geared more towards those who are freshly starting their photography business because I didn’t learn anything new. However it did re fuel my creative fire!

When it comes to money and business, how do you keep track of the finances? Do you use Quickbooks for instance, or do you have someone else do your bookkeeping?

I use excel with spreadsheets created for each individual client. I also organize all my expenses in my email with folders. I may not be the most organized person, but because I choose to not take a high volume of clients, it works great. Oh and my awesome CPA helps me with all my taxes.

Do you have a studio? If not is it something that you’d like to have one day?
No studio right now, but oh how I crave one! It is definitely something I will invest in because I know that there are tremendous benefits. In the meantime, I am collecting inspiration from Pinterest πŸ™‚

(I LOVE Pintrest!!) And finally, what are five things that you couldn’t see yourself without in this business?
*Camera Gear doesn’t count because that is an obvious one*
A great support system of photographers all over.
My iMac 27inch. AMAZING and dont know why I stuck with a PC for so long!!
My husband and his support.
Facebook and all the great marketing it has given me.

Thank you Jessica, it was a pleasure having you on my blog this week!
Thanks again for having me, so fun!

all photos in this post are (c) Jessica Feely Photography

How many of you enjoyed this {Women In Business} segment? I’d love to hear if you are enjoying the series! Remember any questions you want to see discussed in future postsΒ  please feel free to leave those as well!

Much Love ~Heidi

  • Andrea - Great Article…this is my first time to your blog, but would love to see more of the Women In Business series.

  • Carissa S. - Heidi, thank you for doing this! I love to read about other people and how they make it work being a woman in business! πŸ™‚

  • VeLvet OwL Photography - Hi Andrea! Thanks for stopping by! You can check out some of the previous Women in Business Interviews by using the “Categories” tab at the top of the menu! πŸ™‚ I hope you visit again!

  • Andrea - WOW great interview. I loved her tips. Her photos are amazing. Thanks for sharing.

  • Andrea - Thanks for the info…I’ve already browsed around and plan to return on Valentines when you release your action set πŸ™‚

  • Nataly Harris - I also LOVE these Women in Business posts! And it’s great that you interviewed Jessica. I met her at a photography workshop and know that she’s a talented and a wonderful individual!

  • Susanne - Great interview! Jessica, I ADORE your work!!

  • Melissa M. - Beautiful work!

  • Robin - Great questions and even better answers. Its exactly what I needed to hear. I am just starting out and trying to find my style and my balance (work vs family) I really appreciated what she said about not editing when hubby in bed. I had not thought of it that way. I loved this interview. Very helpful. I took a number of tidbits away. Thanks

  • Twiggy - Unbelievable how well-written and inomfrtaive this was.

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