Call for Portfolio Subjects

Jenna Cole Photography families

After my workshop with Yan I have a fishbowl’s worth of ideas swimming around in my head regarding what I can do to take the Jenna Cole ship and point it in the direction that matches my vision and desires. I’ve hired Three Fifteen Design to give my site design a revamp, and as I examine my past images looking for work to put in my portoflio I realized that I have so many pictures I love of my kids, but not many that really showcase what I can create for clients at this point in time. Little wonder, since I’ve done very little professional work since we moved to California.


To help close that gap I’m putting out a call for subjects interested in working with a photographer with the tagline “Documenting Who You Are. Not Just What You Look Like.

If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area (or the Katowice area of Poland, since I’ll be there in a month) and would like to participate there are a few guidelines:

  1. I’ll have a heavy hand in selecting the location, time of day, and what you wear.
  2. No guarantee of an image with everyone smiling into the camera. We might not even attempt this at all during your session.
  3. Must write up an (honest) review of your experience. This will be shared with me and may be used on my new website. I will also have you post your review on Yelp.

Individuals, couples, and families are welcome. I’m interested in thinking outside the box, so really show me what you’ve got with your pitch.

Visit this form and tell me about the magic we’re going to make together.


Feeling stuck when it comes to dreaming up a session? Last year I was going to do a free session for a family that was going to meet me at Half Moon Bay. We were going to get chowder bowls to go and sit outside and eat them together. Then we were going to head out to the beach. The family was going to fly kites and build sand castles while I fluttered about my with camera. We were never able to sync up our schedules and make it work but I think about that session a lot and how much I would have liked to document that memory for that family. I have some friends with fantastic style who live up in San Francisco and are going to have a baby. I would love to go into their home and document their relationship as expectant parents, and one or two small ways that they are making changes to their living space to accommodate the little one they are about to welcome into their life. I have friends who like to cook together and are learning to play guitar. I want to rent out a kitchen I know of in San Jose with a huge range next to even bigger windows. I’d love to document them preparing something simple together and crooning a few songs afterward.

Jenna Cole Photography

Now, what about you? Tell me how you would like to be photographed. If you’re in the area maybe we can meet up and make it happen. If you’re not, I would still love to hear how you would like to be documented. It might give others some ideas if they are feeling stuck!

The form for those in the San Francisco Bay Area.

*I’ll be in contact with those who are a good fit for this project, but will not plan to follow-up with each submission in order to deliver rejections.

26 thoughts on “Call for Portfolio Subjects

  1. What you describe is my perfect family session. There is one photographer I know (my wedding photographer) in my area that captures memories like this and she is so expensive I’ve never been able to hire her since my wedding. (Of course I splurged for that.)

    I so wish I was in your area for this.. and so we could be friends. πŸ™‚ If you ever come to Kansas City, I want to be the first to know.

    Jenna Reply:

    My dad served his mission in Kansas City! Other than that I don’t really have any ties there though. At the workshop the consensus was that I should become a traveling photographer (if we plan to keep moving) but I don’t have the support system I need to watch my kids while I’m gone. Otherwise I would love to fly around and photograph people.

  2. Hi Jenna,

    I wish you great luck with this path you are choosing.

    I have just one question regarding your call for submissions.

    I am just wondering what your purpose is in choosing what your subjects wear. I have had several family photo shoots taken in my time and I have never heard of this. I realize this is a portfolio project however, and not an official paid “photo shoot”, so I am wondering how the clothing choices of your subjects really plays a part in your portfolio and how you believe this will reflect on your work.

    Jenna Reply:

    Hi Stacey!

    There are a few different things I’d like to avoid. Large/distracting logos on clothing, neon, black on top, black in most settings, clothing that is too loose or baggy, everyone in flip-flops, everyone matchy-matchy, and overall clothing that does not match the environment where the photos are taken.

    I prefer neutrals or jewel tones on subjects, again depending on the location. I think that what someone wears can have a huge impact on the overall look of a photograph and whether it is aesthetically pleasing or has a nice “feel” to it. That’s why lots of photographers use professional models who they dress from head to toe, so they can have complete control over the look. I want to work with non-models though and find ways to make everyone look lovely!

  3. AH! I wish you were down here in San Diego, CA. Such a wonderful photo project.

  4. Our favorite things to do as a family are garden, play with our new chickens, BBQ, and eat outside under our twinkle lights. I imagine a session in our backyard or at a farm where we could pick fruits and vegetables, visit the animals, and eat outside.

  5. We love to hike with our kids and look at nature together (ages 9, 7, 4, 9 months). I think that would be a cool photo shoot.

    Jenna Reply:

    I just bought a hiking backpack to carry our youngest in! I would really love to go mushroom hunting with both of them but I don’t think I can manage two kids in the forest by myself!

    CΓ©cile Reply:

    Just a thought, but since you are offering a free session (even if it’s to your benefit too), maybe you can negotiate that the family has a friend or someone who can help watch your kids too if needed. It’s a win win trade.

  6. What part of the Bay Area are you in? We live in sacramento but have family in Mountain View. Sounds like a fun project .

    Jenna Reply:

    I live in Fremont. Sacramento is a little far, but I’m game for most other areas!

    Aimee Reply:

    Yeah, I know Sacramento is far, but I was thinking that a photo shoot with my son and his grandparents and great-grandparents interacting at home in Mountain View might work. I don’t think Fremont is too far from that (still east bay). They don’t travel though so this might go against you and your desire pick the location. I don’t even know if they’d be up for it. But we do go up to the bay area quite a bit.

  7. If you decide to do this in the Seattle/Spokane/WashingtonState area I’d love to participate. My parents and I have never had photos done professionally!

    Jenna Reply:

    I also need to get some pictures with my parents. Specifically OF my parents. My 80+ year old grandma tells me that she really regrets not having photos done in her 50s. She says she thought she looked bad then, but now she is 80 and she would love to remember that stage better!

  8. I would love the opportunity for you to photograph our family, Jenna! We live in Miami but visit my in-laws in Los Gatos 2-3 times a year. Our next trip is scheduled for early July (our son will be 11m then). My dream session would take us exploring among the redwoods (maybe Big Basin?)… or perhaps AT&T Park to share my husband’s passion for Giants baseball with our little guy.

  9. At some point, I want a portrait session that captures who Opie and I are now, at this point in our lives. I want photos of us in our home being homebodies. I want photos of us at the neighborhood park with our dogs. I even want photos of me in my garden. I already have photos of both of us working via second shooters in my case, and my college capstone project that documented remote employees. I want to document who we are outside of work. Just responding to your question in general terms since I know a Dallas trip isn’t on the books.

    The only other thing I wanted to say is that you might want to double check the terms for businesses on yelp. They’re pretty explicit that you can’t require reviews in exchange for a service or discount.

    Jenna Reply:

    Thanks for the tip Mary! Very important that I look into that.

    Jenna Reply:

    I think that this page means that I’m not violating the TOS, though it might mean that the solicited reviews won’t be shown.

  10. I would LOVE to do this, but won’t be in San Fran this summer. Any chance you are coming to Portland or the surrounding areas at all? πŸ™‚

  11. We do annual family portraits add next year I want to do a session where we recreate old family photos. Photography has always been a big deal to my husband’s and my families. So I would love to take the photos we have of our parents and great-grandparents and create modern versions of them and then display them all together so we can see the similarities and differences πŸ™‚

    Jenna Reply:

    This is SUCH a fun idea! I’m not sure that it’s the kind of natural/interaction style of photography that I want to focus on, but I hope you find someone who is interested in doing something like this with you because I think it’s the kind of project that everyone will speak fondly of for years to come. If you ever do it will you send me a link so I can see some photos?

    Sebrina Reply:

    Definitely will do πŸ™‚

  12. I wish I lived in your area, and even though my kids are all grown, I’d love to see how you would capture 2 people in their late 40’s early 50’s who are clearly still in love and adore each other. I can’t wait to watch your work as this project unfolds.

    Jenna Reply:

    I would love that too! I really want to do some portraits of my parents, maybe when they build their dream home (someday!). I feel like I will always regret that if I don’t make it happen.

    Kelly Reply:

    Don’t wait, do it now. Life is too, too short. They don’t need a dream home, all they need is you, your great eye and some terrific light.

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