Yan Fam Way Review

April 28, 2014 By: Jenna Category: Photography

I purchased a spot at Yan Fam Way on a whim. I saw her short post about the workshop and purchased based on not much more than a love of her work and a fascination with her public persona. As soon as I received confirmation that the payment had gone through a steady hum of anxiety about the workshop began to buzz in the back of my mind. There are a lot of bad photography workshops out there, and I had no idea if I had just signed up to fly to Utah attend one of the duds.

It was this public persona that had me feeling nervous. Yan is followed and adored by many, and she shares a lot via social media. One of the things I had retained from her admissions is that she is a free spirit with a killer eye but not a lot of organizational skills. I was worried about two distinct possibilities: that I had just paid for the opportunity to hear a conceited photographer talk for 8 hours about how awesome they are while telling attendees that they just need to find the rainbow butterflies that exist within each of us in order to harness the unlimited power of our artistic prowess OR that the day would be awkward and disorganized as we all tried our best to get the most out of our investment by gleaning droplets from a hurricane of information messily flung in our direction.

Keep reading, because I’m writing this review to tell you how needless that anxiety was, and how incredibly wrong I was about the negative possibilities I feared. We didn’t have much communication from her until about a week before the workshop, but a few days before the event I opened up my inbox to see an email titled “portfolio review and assignment.” Inside I found seven paragraphs, very detailed and written with a careful balance that allowed the message to cut right to my weaknesses while maintaining my belief in my own potential. I have read that email a dozen times since I opened it, and each time I come away with a new insight about my business and the revised approach I want to take in the future. At the end of the email she gave me a personalized assignment based on my Jenna Cole portfolio (each attendee talked about their assignment at the workshop and they were all very unique and specific) and I was frankly kind of shocked to see what she wrote. Not only was it the perfect fit for me and where I’m at right now, but it got really got at the reason I was attending in the first place. Read more →

A Long-Term Plan for Storing Childhood Art

March 14, 2014 By: Jenna Category: Photography

My next post at New York Institute of Photography walks you through the process I’ve developed for dealing with the mountains of artwork that T1 brings home from preschool. I love it all, but was starting to feel like it was taking over our house!

use camera dslr store childhood art

Taking Pictures in Small Wildflower Patches

March 05, 2014 By: Jenna Category: Photography

I’m currently writing articles for the New York Institute of Photography and my first post went live this week! I used some photos from a portrait session in the bluebonnets of Texas a few years ago to talk about how you can maximize the wildflower patches you are able to scout this spring.


When you click through my links to the post they track the referrals and pay me for the traffic I send their way. Thanks for your support (please help me by sharing the post with your friends!) and I hope to write posts that help you improve your photography skills as well.

taking pictures in small wildflower patches

How to Take Portraits in Patches of Wildflowers

Love at First Click

January 21, 2014 By: Jenna Category: Photography

I self-taught using digital cameras, and until last month hadn’t held a film camera in my hand since high school. And I don’t count those pictures as a true film experience because I would buy them at Walmart, point in the general direction of something, click, and get them developed. I didn’t have any control over the image except what I placed in the frame. I’ve been thinking about learning to shoot film for a long time, but felt a bit overwhelmed by the process. I’ve been taking notes as I learn so I can later write up a tutorial post to help anyone else who might like to make the jump from digital to analog but doesn’t know where to begin.

I bought a Canon Ae-1 and a 50mm lens, and one roll each of color and b&w film. Each time I heard the click of the camera and advanced the film my heart would pound and a rush of excitement would come over me. It’s a strangely euphoric experience and has reinvigorated my love of photography.  The film camera is like a magical box, full of secrets and hope. I attended a party on Saturday evening and met another photographer who pointed out that shooting film allows the creator to be more present in each moment, and that has held true for me. The cost of each image means that I’m not clicking the shutter 15 times for each moment. I’m forced to slow down and think about what I want to capture. I also take one picture, and then jump back into life in front of the camera, whereas with digital I will often chimp to make sure that I got just what I wanted.

I picked up my first developed images today, my heart pounding all the way home as I thought anxiously about what might be waiting on the CD. I was sad to find out that I had loaded the b&w roll incorrectly and none of the images turned out (there is one in particular that I’m mourning, with gorgeous light in the hallway and T1 hugging T2 tightly in his arms) but I’m delighted by several in the color set. I’m looking forward to a time when I can take a film course and learn more about the different film stocks, cameras, and how everything works in the developing room.

The first image is from my getaway with That Husband in Carmel over Christmas, thanks to the babysitting gifted to us by my family. The one of me leaning on the wall in Chinatown was set up by me, with my friend clicking the shutter. T2 up on her toes sucking on a bottle makes me laugh, because she loves to dig in that drawer and pull out all of the sippy cups kid’s plates.

that wife shooting film


Even the mistakes make me smile. With digital I throw everything out that is shaky or has less-than-perfect focus. But I find myself smiling at the image of T1 shading his eyes in front of the sea lions on Pier 39. And T2 snuggling with her daddy. Read more →

Shooting Again for Jenna Cole

July 01, 2013 By: Jenna Category: Photography

I mentioned somewhere that I was interested in shooting weddings again, and almost immediately I received an email from a bride who said that she hadn’t contacted me previously because she didn’t think I was going to do weddings anymore. Sounds like it’s time for me to clear that up with everyone and see if I can book some clients in the Bay Area!

Having children has pushed my photography skills in new directions because toddlers don’t pose, and they don’t always do things in the best light. I admire many photographers who focus on  sessions where clients are carefully posed in crafted settings, but that is not the direction I want to go with my work. I want to capture my clients in the places that mean the most to them, showcasing their everyday lives. We all put so much effort and resources into our homes, and I want to present photographs that document the spaces my clients have worked so hard to create. These lifestyle sessions can also take place on the streets where you walk your dog every night, at a favorite beach you visit on the weekends, or a state park that you love to camp out at. My dream session for my own family would start in our home and end at the beach because those are the things I want to remember most about our time in California.

I found a family in Washington State interested in letting me document an evening in their home with their five children. The resulting images are a blend of pure documentary and slight direction by me (I’ll ask them to stand in a certain spot and face a certain way, but don’t tell them how to pose or what expression to make) and I’m really happy with the full set I’m going to be giving them that so beautifully captures a small snippet of their life.




I would also love to take on a few weddings each year! I have always loved weddings (I was one of those girls with a planning binder full of magazine clippings that I started in high school) and the event itself is a perfect blend of posing and photojournalism. I work really hard to make sure all of my clients have realistic expectations for what I can provide and are happy with the experience working with me when it’s all said and done. It’s an honor to be asked to document such an important day. My last wedding was in Chicago in April of 2012 and I’m itching to do another.



Not only do I want to keep doing engagement sessions, but I’d love to see more Duet sessions as well. You don’t have to be getting married or have children to get your picture taken :). I want these sessions to be lifestyle based, focusing on capturing the personality and preferences of the couple, along with the way they feel about each other. The couple below lived in New York City for two years while he earned an MBA at Columbia. They lived a few block from Central Park (I stayed with them and was able to go for an early morning run through the park which I loved!) and like to get dressed up and go out on the town, so we worked together to design a session that would represent their time there.


One last session type that I am particularly interested in high school seniors in the San Francisco Bay Area. If I could go back and capture my own senior pictures in the Jenna Cole style I would do a few pictures on my childhood bed (is there anything more iconic than a childhood bed?), some with my best friend of 18 years, and a few of me driving a tractor in the cherry orchards (it represents my background and the way I earned money in high school). These sessions will involve more posing than almost any other because you’re looking for some images that really showcase your face, shape, and smile at this time in your life. But I want to put together sessions that makes teenagers feel like rock stars and gives them something they will look back on throughout their life and say “This is exactly what I was like at this age.


I’ve slowly started revamping my gallery site so you can really see what I can do. Getting married? I want to hear from you! Want me to document your home or interests, whether you’re single, in a relationship, or parents? Send an email to jenna {at} jennacole. I’m particularly interested in doing three promotional high school senior sessions for San Francisco Bay Area teenagers (particularly those in the Fremont/San Jose/Palo Alto area) that can help spread the word about me to their friends. If you can refer a senior to me who books one of my packages I’ll do a family session for you (the referrer) for free.

If you’re reading this and you don’t live in the Bay Area but know someone who does who might be interested in working with me, please send them this post or a link to http://www.jennacole.com. Word of mouth is the best possible way to build up a photography business and I really appreciate your help. If you’d like to follow my photography work, you can easily do so here.

      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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