FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHER JEN HUANG

jen huang by peter mercado

I will be adding more of Jen’s work because I am a bit obsessed but I loved this photo of Jen, her husband and her beloved Frenchies by Peter Mercado. If Jen wasn’t so lovely you would probably dislike her for being the whole package of goodness-talented, whip smart, successful, gorgeous, witty, naturally thin, but she is indeed lovely, the Audrey Hepburn of artists and I hope you enjoy either this introduction to her or finding out a bit more on this wonderful individual. I can’t believe she’s so articulate just weeks from giving birth, I was a hot mess! I hope Jen inspires you as much as she has me, without further ado…

I had the pleasure of meeting you and taking your workshop and was shocked that someone so young was so laser focused, business savvy and successful, it was very inspiring for me! I’d love to know a little back story…where you are from, where you grew up?

I grew up in New York City, graduated from the Brearley School and then went to Pomona College of the Claremont Colleges in Southern California for undergrad. My parents are Chinese-American and immigrated to the US to work on cancer research for several east coast universities so I grew up around a lot of petri dishes! They were very hands-on when it came to my education so there was always a lot of pressure to do the best that I could. But I feel like I have a dual-coast personality. New York City taught me how to compete and succeed, and California taught me how to relax, and how to appreciate natural beauty and light.

Can you tell us when you knew you wanted to be a photographer?  Did you do anything specific prior to starting your business intern, classes, school?

I remember my father always had medium format cameras and 35mm cameras around the house. We would load film in the closet so as not to expose it to light. I’m sure I took a ton of photos for him but I remember very clearly one of my first favorite photos I took of a Beluga whale in the fourth grade on a disposable camera. It was taped to my parents refrigerator for years until it finally faded and was discarded. Then in middle school is when my love for film really started, I shot on a Canon AE-1 and set up my own little still life area in my home to shoot details of antiques my parents had around – honestly I still do that today! Throughout high school and college photography was a love but never something I considered a career until after I graduated, when I started working full time at an ad agency. I shot a few weddings on the side and I shortly realized photography could be a career – something beyond a hobby, something sustainable and fulfilling. I tell all my workshop attendees it is a big blind leap. Maybe it is different now, but I certainly wasn’t told while I was growing up, that starting your own company as an artist was a good, stable career, but it’s the best decision I ever made. With all the successful entrepreneurs out there and the wonderful photography workshops and books they produce, it really gives new photographers the confidence to go out there and not only create amazing work, but be able to sell it.

When and why did you choose analog over digital?

I’ve been shooting film for most of my life and for most of my wedding career as well. Digital is really convenient (I mean, lets be honest, we take more iphone photos than anything else). But I actually think there is a place for both – I think film is truly beautiful, but it doesn’t do as well in low light (especially color film) and the high ISO of digital cameras yields really gorgeous images in the evening – in the pitch dark! I think it’s the responsibility of the photographer to select the medium that makes the best image, whether it is film or digital. For me, it’s always been film during the day and during natural light, and digital, or black and white film, in the late evenings.

Photography is an expensive endeavor in any aspect-hobby or pro, especially with the type of analog cameras you shoot with, what advice would you give to someone wanting to invest in equipment that is just starting out?

The fact that film is so expensive and so limiting makes it very difficult for most people to shoot it – for a hobbyist who doesn’t make a profit from shooting film, it’s just a black hole of expenses. I try to recommend film to all my friends who ask me about cameras, but basically I’m asking them to buy a camera and lens ($3000) and then shoot a roll ($12/ea) and then process it ($25/ea) and also ship it to/from the lab ($15). So every shot you take is $3.00. That’s buying a latte for every single photo you take, IF every shot you take is a keeper, and when you’re starting out, they’re probably all going to be out of focus. There are some cameras like the Canon AE-1 that you can get for $50 at a yard sale, but you won’t get professional results. Still I think it’s worthwhile to have some film skill, teach children about the history of photography and the chemical processes of creating an image, and to capture some of the most special life moments on film. There’s also a lot of fun cameras out there like the Fuji Instax that take instant film shots which are still expensive, but develop right away and have that film look!

How did you develop your style and when did you ‘know’ this was ‘it’?

Style doesn’t develop over night and I don’t think it ever develops fully – as an artist you want to continuously grow and change – and your style will as well. I definitely have a strong opinion on the types of shots I take and compose. For me, it’s about the subject, but it’s also about the light and composition. Just because a tree is really beautiful and appealing to me, doesn’t mean I will take a photo of it at any time of day – normally I’ll wait until the lighting is just right, and I’m able to create the composition that I like. It’s hard to explain something that is so internal, but the best way to describe it is that you’ll know when it’s right. It’s also important to know when it’s wrong and be your own worst critic. Most of all, keep in mind that your style should be your own – try to challenge yourself to shoot differently from other artists and not let status quo affect what you really love.

Who do you look up to? Any photography or business mentors?

I would say the most helpful people around me are supportive photographer and industry friends, who inspire me, challenge me and keep me sane. I think a collaborative group of artists is one of the most valuable things to have in an industry where you work for yourself and by yourself. It’s a great way to support and mentor each other and grow as a team.

Any advice for photographers who are setting out to photograph their first paying client?

Be confident – even if your legs feel like jelly.

You are a natural and effortless teacher, are you going to continue to do workshops? If so any plans for 2015?

Yes! I love doing my private one-on-one workshops, and also collaborative artist workshops. I have a workshop called “The Artist Holiday” coming up in April which will teach photography, calligraphy and floral design. I’ll also be participating and teaching at other collaborative workshops with magazines such as Magnolia Rouge (Forage & Fern March 2015) and Cottage Hill. I’ll also be speaking at the women’s workshop called Bliss and Bokeh in Charleston. I love being part of these larger workshops because it builds a spirit of community and it also teaches that photography isn’t just about f-stops and lenses – it’s also about becoming a well rounded artist and surrounding yourself with all types of creative talent. My full upcoming workshop list can be found under “workshops” on Jen Huang Blog.

You are about to welcome a baby (a huge congrats!) How do you plan to navigate your new role as a mother and a successful (traveling) photographer?

I think the best advice I’ve received is not to assume any type of plan – and to go with the flow. One of the best things about owning my own business, is that from the beginning I knew that my choice would give me the flexibility of having a family and spending quality time with them. I can create my own schedules, and prioritize what I need to. Also, I timed my birth around low-season (the winter) and will have a couple months with the baby without any responsibilities. Although baby hasn’t arrived yet, I’ve already had a bit of a glimpse of what I might be like just based on the decisions I made while being pregnant. For example, traveling to 3 continents and 6 countries this year and shooting my full season – but doing it safely. I’m planning to shoot another full season next year – no way to tell how how it will go, but I’m optimistic. One tip I have for traveling mothers – bring your own pillows! I brought two pillows with me everywhere I went and it was heavenly.

Thank you Jen for being so articulate, forthright and so darn inspiring! We are all sending you blissful and best wishes for a happy + healthy baby and new year!

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and one of the writer’s of this delightful blog. She lives in sunny Seattle with her handsome husband, wonderful baby girl and two pups. Her lofty goal here is to make this a creative resource repository and to inspire you to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with your life.

A WEEK OF JEN HUANG

jen huang santorini-destination-wedding-photography

I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving (or Thursday for our non-US friends)!  I enjoyed a simple + sweet one with my petite family, albeit I do have a pinched nerve in my back (it’s like a bad 70’s sitcom). As I am wont to do I am trying to look on the bright side of this situation, even though at first glance there doesn’t seem to be one.  I am going to reach and say that the bright side to this is being forced to take it slow (real slow) in the hustle +bustle and usual self-induced stress of the holidays I am reveling in all the little things-being able to sit, stand, hold my baby. Maybe it’s just what I needed, but I sure do hope this passes soon and never returns-ever!

Michelle and I have been working behind the scenes here per usual, brainstorming, coming up with big plans for the coming weeks and 2015 and of course wanting to bring you something that we would like to read ourselves and hope that means you would love it too! One of the ideas I threw out there was a week of artist Jen Huang (I am a fan), many of you may know her as a talented photographer but that’s just the tip of her iceberg, Jen is a true creative and business person, an individual that is truly admirable and someone that I find an inspiration and hope you will too. We are looking forward to sharing Jen’s interview (that she kindly answered even though she’s going to give birth any day now!), showcasing her work, discussing her inspirations and a giveaway!  We will be back later today, we can’t wait to share and hope you will join us!

photo by jen huang

P.S. Our friend Susan of Fleurishing is doing a week of giveaways (oh, la la!) the first is a Francophile gift guide giveaway and there’s a little itty bitty Besotted Brand token in there, you can visit here!

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and one of the writer’s of this delightful blog. She lives in sunny Seattle with her handsome husband, wonderful baby girl and two pups. Her lofty goal here is to make this a creative resource repository and to inspire you to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with your life.

PRO PHOTO PRINTER SOURCES REVEALED!

pro photo resources via besotted blog

Michelle and I have chosen some professional commercial photo printers for you to send your work out to. These are printers that we have personally used in the past or have recommended for our former Souvenir Foto class students. Speaking of, we have had many, many former students go on to professional photography careers and selling their prints for profit so we hope that’s a good enough testimonial for you! We chose these printers based on quality, ease of use and of course price. Some of these printers offer the same thing but may be closer geographically to you which is a preference for me (even better if they are in the same city-go local!) Many of these printers offer book services as well, which is perfect if you are getting into shooting for weddings, newborns, etc. Most (if not all) work in something called a ROES system, something you will need to download to your computer, it’s a little bit of a hassle (at least for me) but it works out in the end.  This is not an exhaustive list of course, but it should be a fairly good start! [Read more…]

Home Printer Q & A

printing from home part ii besotted blog

We received a lot of emails wanting more questions answered on the home printing front, we thought it’d be easier to answer them here than individually. If you have more questions let us know and we’ll try to add the answers to this post. Below are some of the most asked questions on home printing:

What home printer can I print heavier cardstock with?

This is not an easy one to answer, most home printers are not made to handle heavier than 120# cardstock. I have had the most success with printers that load paper/cardstock upright in the back, you can feed the cardstock through. When I had my very first Etsy stationery company, I would painstakingly do this one card at a time, it was torture!  Another printer that has a completely different finish (uses wax for the inks) and supposedly can take heavier stock is the Xerox Phaser. The finish is very unique and not for everyone, I liked it even though I prefer a matte finish, it’s definitely worth getting a sample print from the company. I worked with a small invite company that loved hers and used heavier stocks through her Phaser. For extra heavy stock I would suggest paper mounting, but that would be a topic for another post!

What printer can I use to print on fabric?

Again, I would suggest a printer that is loaded upright in the back. There’s so many ways to do this but Karen from the Graphics Fairy has an excellent tutorial!

Even with my screen calibrated my prints come out different, how can I fix this?

If you calibrated and set up the color profiles and still no luck–test print, test print, test print (in smaller versions of your original)! Michelle had addressed this briefly here. When I was trying to match colors for my stationery company I would print various boxes of the color in different tones to see how my printer would print and choose the one closest to my vision (which may have looked completely different on screen). Yes, printing at home has it’s pros (control) but some of the cons can make you pull your hair out (no control).

I want to print on shipping tags or other things that aren’t a standard paper size, how can I do that?

When I want to print on something that is not a typical size I will use artist tape (it doesn’t rip your paper when you remove it) to tape down my item that I intend to print onto a standard letter size paper and then run it through. The BEST tutorial on this is by Catherine of Design Editor and you can find it here, it’s a printing game changer!

Want to print on more atypical items? Here’s a small list:

Print on paper napkins

Print on ribbon

//RESOURCES//

Back loading printers-inexpensive, moderate, expensive (pro)

Xerox Phaser solid ink printer

Artist tape

 

THE BEST SOFT COVER PHOTO BOOKS | ARTIFACT UPRISING

photo book review via besottedblog ii

How many photos do you have on your computer or phone? What’s that? Too many to count? For me it was so many that I couldn’t even take another photo with my Iphone without deleting, the problem for me is I don’t want to delete any photos of my girl, not even the blurry ones so there’s that. I am going to be completely honest here, I tried several photo book companies and found something wrong with them all (I guess I’m the Goldilocks of photo book printing). The first time I tried Artifact Uprising I was not happy (insert a collective gasp from the blogosphere). I ordered the 8.5″ x 8.5″ book, the photos I used were from a professional photographer, I chose a layout with nice amounts of white space and I thought I was golden–I wasn’t.  The pros on that first run were that the process was pretty easy, the order came super fast and the packaging and presentation were so tight. When I pulled out my album and flipped through it, my heart sank, the paper seemed thin (I could see through to the other pages), the printing had a sheen to it and it felt like my colors had shifted, I was disappointed, Artifact Uprising had rave reviews from many individuals that I admire and consider to have good taste, I was flummoxed, could the impeccable branding be what people were excited about that they didn’t care about the end product? Maybe it was my choice of layout? Whatever it was, it wasn’t working. I asked around everyone loved them. Maybe it was just me…

A few months later I received an email from Artifact Uprising about their new app that would allow me to design my photo book on my phone (that’s crazy talk!), since my time is limited and my camera roll perpetually full I decided to give it another try but this time I chose the popular 5.5″ x 5.5″ size. Artifact Uprising did not disappoint this time, I LOVE my little 5.5″ x 5.5″ book. The print quality was excellent my colors stayed true, the paper stock seemed thicker, it was a winner! Printing a photo book from your phone could not have been easier and the end product is surprisingly elegant for the effort + price. I am planning to order a slew more ala Jennie Prince! I wanted to show a close-up of the cover so you could see the slight textured detail, it’s a nice touch. The logo on the back is very subtle (another huge plus in my book all the other photo books I ordered had ginormous logos). My book has many double-sided pages and the printing is clear on every page without show through. The best part beside the ease of creating the book is the price, under $20! Another perfect idea for holiday!I don’t know what to chalk up the bad first copy I got to, but the 5.5″ x 5.5″ has more than made up for it, for this Goldilocks, I finally got it ‘just right’.

photobook review iii besotted blog

Let us know if you have any questions, we will go into home printers tomorrow perfect for both photo printing and perhaps some of your newly acquired lettering skills?

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and one of the writer’s of this delightful blog. She lives in sunny Seattle with her handsome husband, wonderful baby girl and two pups. Her lofty goal here is to make this a creative resource repository and to inspire you to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with your life.

Blog by Hello Monday Creative