This has been really great bringing back the featured photographer posts again.
It's so important to explore new talent. See the beauty others create and most importantly acknowledge their awesomeness.
Today we have one of my favorites - Michelle Jakubenko - Eyes of Love Photography
Given all the hard work and hours involved in the photography business would you choose this line of work again?
I’ve had such a varied career. I began in office admin roles, then moved onto event planning and coordination. I went to university as a mature aged student and became a Primary School teacher (equivalent to Elementary School).
None of my previous occupations gave me as much joy as taking photos does! It’s a brilliant creative outlet. I feel so grateful and blessed.
Lessons learned from your years of experience, what mistakes have you made that you would never repeat?
There have been some challenging lessons along the way that’s for sure!
Early in my career I photographed a full day retreat for a client, I thought the intention was to photograph the guests interacting and participating in activities and completely overlooked photographing the details e.g. flowers, food, sponsor gift bags etc.
Lesson learned – communicate clearly and always ask for a shot list!
If you could change one thing about the industry what would that be?
As mentioned above I worked in many different industries prior to launching my photography biz and can’t think of any other industry where I’ve been asked to discount my services or to work for free or for ‘exposure’ on social media.
It’s incredibly disheartening and disrespectful.
When I was just starting out I collaborated with companies and models and did many shoots for free to build my confidence. I volunteered with experienced photographers and gained ongoing paid work second-shooting weddings.
Once it’s clear a photographer is established and experienced, the freebies need to stop! I feel so comfortable and confident standing by my pricing now. I know the value I bring.
Has your contract had to change over the years as you have learned of sticky situations with a client?
Thankfully no, I ensured I covered all bases with my initial contract and it’s served me well.
It’s absolutely essential for all photographers to have clear terms and conditions. It protects you and your client.
What types of shoots have you vowed you would never do again?
Family shoots are just not what sets my soul alight. To me, family shoots are on borrowed time. You’re totally at the mercy of how the little ones are feeling on the day and I find that nerve wracking and stressful.
I’ll very happily stick to my personal branding shoots and refer any family enquiries onto friends I know who love them and will absolutely nail them!
Do you have an absolute favorite photo you have taken that you feel you knocked the socks off of? If so, please provide and describe why it moves you.
I recently did a sunrise shoot with a wonderful yoga instructor I regularly work with. I rarely ever shoot at that time; it was definitely outside my comfort zone!
As we arrived the full moon was still visible in the sky. I love how peaceful and serene the image feels and Michelle’s physicality and strength is amazing! Can you believe she’d given birth to twins only nine months prior?
What do you do to make sure people identify you with your images, and I don't mean watermarking, I mean putting your own personality to your photographs? Is it editing, shooting style, sass or other?
I specialize in personal branding photography for female business owners and entrepreneurs. I absolutely love delving into branding and business values and choose locations where each woman’s true essence and personality can shine.
I have such genuine care and respect for the women I work with, I always take the time to connect prior (via skype, phone or in person) so they arrive feeling confident in what to expect.
The more supported a person feels, the more they’ll be able to relax and feel at ease in front of the camera. When someone is relaxed the real magic happens!
Technically – I prefer to shoot backlit during golden hour, my aperture is always between f2.8 – f3.2 and I always strive to find beautiful, even lighting situations. This, combined with adding the same touches with the Colorvale Magical Light action pack, means I’m able to achieve a consistent look in my editing.
What is a real day like in the world of you? Be honest, are you in jammies til 2pm like me?
I’m often out of my jammies before 2pm. However, I regularly forget to eat breakfast! I’ll often find myself wandering straight into my home office and I’ll look up at the clock and realize I’ve been working for hours and haven’t eaten anything. This is a habit I’m definitely making a conscious effort to break!
I prioritize emails and admin tasks first up, then it’s editing images or Skype consults with clients, followed by heading out a few afternoons a week to shoot.
I only ever do one shoot per day, as I love to be able to give one person my full attention and energy.
What is the number one piece of advice that you would give to someone just starting out?
I recommend buying a 50mm 1.8 lens to learn on, they’re inexpensive and you can take great quality photos.
Unlike a kit lens, you’ll be able to practice shooting at wide open apertures, which is so flattering for taking portraits. I also think prime lenses (ones that don’t zoom) challenge your creativity and composition.
What changes have you had to make over the years to stay at the top end of the industry?
The biggest change I’ve made is specializing. Saying yes to what I’m most passionate about and letting go of and referring on other types of shoots I don’t love.
I worried (and people around me did too) that I was narrowing my focus too much and there wouldn’t be enough consistent work, but I’ve found the opposite to be true. I literally have women flying in from interstate and overseas to work with me, it’s been a dream come true.
Would you change your style if given the opportunity or do you feel boxed in to what you have always done?
I’m constantly striving to learn new techniques and improve my consistency and editing workflow. I’d describe my style as bright, clean, with pops of colour. I don’t see this changing anytime soon.