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Check Out Jess Jenkins’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jess Jenkins. 

Hi Jess, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
I used to get disposable cameras to photograph my pets, bugs, and nature in general as a kid. My grandmother bought me a point and shoot in eighth grade for a class trip and my dad was impressed with the resulting photographs so he gifted me my first DSLR camera the following year. Can’t thank them enough for seeing a creative spark within me they felt worth supporting! For a while I did a lot of self-portraits because I was too shy to ask people to model for me but directly after high school, I found a Craigslist ad looking for a wedding second shooter and took the leap (shoutout Kate D!) this proved to be a rather serendipitous turning point, as Kate’s guidance paired with my drive and work ethic took me from a beginner with a basic knowledge of camera fundamentals to a confident all-around photographer. I’m so grateful for her!!! I’ve done personal side projects sprinkled through the last almost ten years but it wasn’t until 2019 that I started to take on my own clients and seriously consider myself a competent professional. Now I photograph weddings, couples, families, and my favorite- one-on-one creative portraits under my business name, Copper Twig Collective 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Honestly, I’ve been so blessed with how things have gone for me, especially looking back now. Whenever I’ve second-guessed whether I should take the next step with this endeavor, doors seem to open at just the right times with connections leading in the right ways, which I attribute largely to God and the gift of creativity he’s given me. Whereas things have gone very smooth outwardly throughout my journey with photography, inwardly I’ve always struggled with feeling good enough. I remember when I got my first camera having people say “you’re so young to have such a nice camera, do you even know how to work it?” I know it wasn’t meant maliciously but people don’t understand the impact words may have sometimes and that stuck with me. Even though I have almost 8 years of professional experience under my belt, there are still days where I doubt myself, and that’s ok. I only really fully owned being a photographer within the last 3 years, I used to say “I do photography” but now it’s “I AM a photographer.” (Imposter syndrome is real, am I right? All creative people feel this at some point) I was once told that being unsure of yourself actually adds authenticity, as a healthy dose of fear just makes you work harder to reach your goals. If you’re scared of something, but still drawn to it, that’s God’s way of telling you to lean into it. There will always be a gap between where you are and where you want to be, especially with the ever-changing industry of photography, but that gives you something to strive for and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I read an amazing book called “The Practice: Shipping Creative Work” by Seth Godin which I highly recommend everyone check out. He writes, “The magic of the creative process is that there is no magic. Start where you are. Don’t stop…Creativity is a choice, not a bolt of lightning from somewhere else…and creativity is contagious.” 

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
My favorite photos to take for fun are macro shots of bugs and insects (it’s like meditation because you have to breathe very slowly to hold the camera still at that level of magnification) as well as creative conceptual shoots with my friends and local models when my schedule allows! For work, I do all types of photography from products to people but most frequently work with couples and families for weddings, engagements, and milestones. Something I’m proud of is my ability to help create opportunities for genuine authentic moments to happen in front of my camera by doing a lot of prompting instead of posing, as well as being a total goofball myself so my subjects feel more comfortable to express themselves freely! My pastor (shoutout P.Woodfin of Our Shepherd Birmingham!) sent me this bible verse and it really reminded me why I do what I do, “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3. I truly love preserving people’s happiest moments through photography and giving them something to look back upon to remember and appreciate all we are blessed with.

How do you define success?
Success is a slippery, subjective thing. It looks different to everyone but as soon as you think you’ve reached a goal there’s always a new one to take its place, in my mind at least. I think success isn’t able to be measured but it’s more about putting your head down, digging your feet in, and really giving something your all, rather than focusing on the result. It’s important to celebrate every inch of your accomplishments. 

Contact Info:

Image Credits

Brooke Voeller Photography
Kate Diamond Photography
Copper Twig Collective

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