I am totally loving introducing our very talented LSI members with all of our readers via our Inspiring Interviews. One of our most adored and helpful members is the super fabulous Jenne of J. Dunham Photography. I have watched Jenne’s work take on more of a focus on newborn photography over the years and she has truly mastered her own style. She has taken on a very clean, natural processing and all of her babies look so comfortably posed. I love her work and I admire her passion to make the photography community a better, more enjoyable place for us all to learn and grow. Thank you Jenne, for being a part of LSI and for allowing us to share your work with our readers!
Please meet Jenne…
A few words from Jenne: Hey there! My name is Jenne and I’m the owner/photographer of J. Dunham Photography. I’m lucky enough to live just north of San Francisco in beautiful Sonoma County, California, with my husband and four children: Caitlin (11), Ali (8), and my twins Roan & Finn (6). I think I pretty much embody the stereotype of the Northern California hippie yet look the role of a minivan driving soccer mom!
1. If there was one thing you would want us to know about you, what would it be?
I LOVE pregnancy, birth and newborns! Before deciding to go into photography as a career rather than just a hobby, I had planned on becoming a home birth midwife. All four of my children were born at home and I loved every minute of it!
This must be the most difficult question to ask any photographer! I know I have a new favorite with every session, so I’m going to pull a favorite from my personal work to share. This is an image of my kids that I took almost 3 years ago. It’s far from perfect but as their mom I just LOVE it!
I took photography as an elective back in high school and instantly loved it. I knew immediately that portraits were my calling. Although I hadn’t considered it as a profession back then, once I had my first child I began leaning in that direction for the first time though the process to professional was a slow one for me.
Many years, really. When my now 11 year old was almost a year old I rented a couple different professional grade cameras and some lighting equipment and did my first experimental photo shoot (this was back in the days of film). I did a shoot here and there for friends but I kept having kids and they demanded my full time attention. When my twins got to be around 3 years old is when I began portfolio building in earnest. I’ve now been officially in business for almost 2 years.
Newborns! I actually made a decision at the beginning of 2012 that I would only take on new clients who were booking a newborn session. This is the genre that I love the most and decided to pour myself entirely into it. I think it’s best to specialize and be great at it rather than not and just be pretty good at lots of things.
6-8 though I plan to increase that once this next school year begins and all my children are in school full time at last!
That’s hard! I guess my most memorable session was fairly recently. He was my first newborn who’s older sibling I had also photographed as a newborn. That was very special to me! Plus, as it turned out, he was the most amazing baby for me that day and slept soundly through everything I wanted to do! I was very happy with the results of his session, as were his parents!
I’m a combination of both. Like I said before, I took photography class in high school for 2 years. I also continued with courses in college, though it wasn’t a part of my degree. However, with my photography journey put on hold for so many years after that, I feel largely self-taught. Online forums are where I really got my start – it’s funny looking back on the images I was proud of back then to see how far I’ve come and how little I knew at the time. I have taken a couple of online workshops that were beneficial, including Sarah Ulrich’s newborn studio lighting course which changed the way I lit my sessions! I also did a one-on-one workshop with the amazing Keri Meyers and I felt that pushed my work to the next level and was incredibly helpful.
I often feel inspired by textures, colors and nature. I’m a bit of a textile junky so if I find a fabric or a prop I love, my mind starts imaging setups I could use it in. Sometimes when I’m outdoors and I see something beautiful in nature, I envision how I could pose a newborn on it or how I could create a prop from it. For example, I recently collected a bunch of driftwood at the beach and am working on a way to fashion them into something fabulous for a baby to pose on. I’m also inspired by my clients. I have a questionnaire for each of them to fill out and their answers help me come up with my vision for their session.
I’m a Canon girl all the way – I shoot with the 5DMKIII. My 50mm 1.4 is my absolute favorite lens!
RAW because I love the flexibility of it. I also like how the RAW format is like working with a blank canvas where I can manipulate it exactly how I see fit, where with jpg there is in-camera processing done to each image.
I use Lightroom to cull my images and make minor adjustments and Photoshop to edit them.
Don’t spend a lot of money on props and templates getting started. Get the book Understanding Exposure and nail focus and exposure in camera. Practice on everyone who will let you and experiment with angles, focal lengths, aperture and how to use color and black and white. Take some time to find YOUR style, though I believe this is something that is ever evolving – at least for me it is. When you are ready to start taking paying clients then be legit about it and get your business license, sellers permit, and pay your taxes!
My favorite is being my own boss and getting to make the calls about all aspects of how I run this business, like when I decided to only accept new newborn clients. Least favorite – the business side. I definitely am the person who has a strength in the creative side of her brain and a lack of strength (or desire) in the business side. Taxes – yuck!
I remember that when I first hopped on the online forums I found Amber Scruggs of Little Moon Photography and I have to say that it was her work that inspired me to become a newborn photographer. There are so many others that continue to inspire me for various reasons – Kelly Ryden, Baby as Art, Meg Bitton, Jaiden Photography, Milk & Honey, Deanna McCasland, Keri Meyers, to name a few.
Yes and as my children get older I hope to include birth photography into my business offerings.
Clean, natural, sometimes with a pop of color and always with the baby as the focus of the image rather than the prop.
A few fun questions:
1. what is your favorite food? Either roasted cauliflower or chocolate – it’s a toss up!
2. what is your favorite beverage? A Starbucks soy peppermint mocha, no-whip (I’m a vegan)
3. your favorite item of clothing? t-shirts & jeans
4. your go to pair of shoes? My Sanuk yoga mat flip flops
5. what is one word you catch yourself saying too often? I’m going to give you a phrase – “Has anyone seen my iPhone?!?!”