My name is Jennifer and I’m a photographer based in London. I also work as an actress, occasionally, however, photography has become my main profession.
I love that they are both creative freelance professions with loads of variety and challenges and both involve working with lots of cool lovely people.
I’ve always had an interest in photography, but it took me until my 30’s to take the plunge and invest in my first camera, the mid-range Canon 650D and a Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens.
It felt like a lot of money to spend when I had no idea how to use a DSLR! I quickly figured out how to use aperture priority and that’s where it all began, first photographing the cat, then anyone else that I could convince to pose for me.
I soon discovered I most enjoyed photographing people and faces. As my expertise, experience, and portfolio have grown, I’ve built up a business with a focus on headshot, event, and theatre photography.
The kit shown here covers my portrait work. I shoot with the Canon 5D Mark III (which handles very well in low light – this makes it great for events) and the Canon 85mm f/1.2.
A beautiful lens that has the edge on the f/1.4 for sharpness and bokeh shooting at around f2.
Actor headshots: I shoot from a venue with good window light and a quiet shaded outdoor space. I’ve figured out the best times of day to shoot there, which shift throughout the year.
Both indoors and outdoors I rely on Photo-R White/Silver Reflectors and use natural light.
I always say it’s all about the Reflector! I mount the Reflector on a stand with a Neewer 30″-70″/77-180cm Studio Photo Swivel Head Reflector Arm.
You can get clients to hold the Reflector themselves, but I’ve found you get a lot more control and nuance using a stand and arm. I also use an off-camera Yongnuo 580EX speedlite with a softbox or Gary Fong Lightsphere to bring up the background light.
Corporate headshots: I’ll use a combination of two or three Yongnuo speedlites with softboxes and stands. I use the Calumet Hex 21 speedbox as my main light. It’s a good size and pops up easily. Plus the Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite fits onto a flashgun – useful as a second fill light.
I’ll generally light a plain wall or use the office background with shallow depth of field. A handheld reflector can add the finishing touch if needs be.
If I’m shooting for a few hours, I’ll use my Manfrotto XPRO monopod (with Manfrotto 494 Ball Head) to help take the strain off my shoulders.
It does the trick, though I look a bit like Gandalf using it! I always have a selection of step stools on hand, so I can make sure to get flattering angles of my clients, tall or small. At 5ft 3in (160cm) most of my clients are taller than me.
I discovered Yongnuo speedlites a couple of years ago and have stocked up on them as they are so affordable. They are much cheaper than their canon equivalents.
I use the Calumet Pro Series 2.4 GHz 4-Channel Wireless Trigger Kit. After a shoot, I sort through my shots using the FastStone Image viewer and edit my shots using Adobe Lightroom.
Kit and technique aside, your way with your clients is all-important for getting the best out of people during a session.
Pretty much everybody finds having their photo taken to be an awkward situation – even actors – actually, especially actors, as they have a lot riding on getting ‘a great headshot’ to give them the edge in a competitive industry.
So, everyone across the board needs direction and help relaxing. Tip: Never say ‘just relax’. That just makes people feel self-conscious! It’s more a case of having a friendly chat as you shoot and giving them some authentic encouragement.
My career as a self-taught photographer couldn’t have been possible without all the amazing youtube videos out there covering every detail you can think of for getting to know your camera, troubleshooting, editing, and kit.
I still get into difficulty folding up my large pop up backdrop (guide). The first time this happened I was packing up the brand new backdrop after a shoot in an open-plan office.
I and a helpful receptionist wrestled with the backdrop for a whole 10 minutes while the office looked on until I timed out and found a relevant how-to video. It’s all a learning curve ;)