Jessica Franz: 5 Strategies To Take Stunning Photos

I’m always trying to spread the love by going the extra mile. Every client is different, and some expect more than others. It’s important to notice the difference. Right now, I’m giving my Special Covid rates so clients can still afford me. Life doesn’t stop. People will always want to make sure they preserve the […]

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I’m always trying to spread the love by going the extra mile. Every client is different, and some expect more than others. It’s important to notice the difference. Right now, I’m giving my Special Covid rates so clients can still afford me. Life doesn’t stop. People will always want to make sure they preserve the big moments, no matter the situation. So I try to make that easier.

As a part of my series about “5 Strategies To Take Stunning Photos” I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessica Franz. Jessica Franz of Jessica Franz Photography has been taking photos for 28 years but has launched her official business around 10 years ago. She has won numerous competitions and made a name for herself as one of L.A.’s most versatile and vibrant photographers. Known for her fun style, interesting Candid photos and magical use of lighting, it attracts clients who enjoy preserving unique memories.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Photography came to me as most things in my life: Chance. Obsessed with our family photo albums and anything from magazines, my parents’ old 35mm camera and lots of time — I took thousands of photos in my teenage years alone. It has always been one of my creative outlets; little did I know it would become my main business one day.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

There were many, but I guess the most interesting one was when I told Alejandro Aranda at an underground concert how amazing he was, and he blew up on American Idol right after that. His skills and talent were so mind-blowing, it made me happy to see that was the path he was going on next.

Another magical moment was when the Concern Foundation held its annual Block Party on the Paramount studios lot. The entire area was lit up with bright balloons and littered with food stands. It was invite-only, so they had big donors walking around before bidding in the auction. The moon above, a mild summer breeze blowing between the buildings. That was quite an experience. It was only more special they raised $2 million dollars for cancer research that evening.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest mistake I made looking back was how long I clung to automatic mode. It’s pretty good, don’t get me wrong, but shooting manually gives you so much more control. Once I understood what the different settings do, I was able to use them to my advantage. I simply couldn’t understand the difference between shooting wide open and stopping down! It was frustrating for a while…

The lesson I learned was that when you are trying to do something, do it right. I had a friend teach me the basics and watched a lot of YouTube videos about what I wanted to try. Then I took it from there, added my own spin to it or expanded on the idea. I still do that with Photoshop techniques and equipment reviews.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

After a few years doing this now, I’d say I’m a very creative photographer who isn’t afraid to experiment and take chances. That’s because I’m easily bored. I have also discovered what sets me apart is easy communication, being adaptable and my crazy fast delivery times. Usually within 1–2 days — a wedding up to a couple of weeks. That’s much quicker than other photographers.

My packages are kept simple, which also keeps my workload in check. You pay for my photography and get all photos including a selection of edits. That’s it. Clients don’t have to buy prints from me but can get them printed cheaper somewhere else. During this difficult time of Corona, I have also cut most of my travel fees, and offer 15–20% OFF plus more edits per package. We’re all in this together so I try to lead with compassion.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Find your strong suits and build on them. If a client sees you excel at something, it’s easier to stand out. I wouldn’t underestimate word of mouth recommendations either. Not sure if I can speak to the not burning out because: good for you if you are that busy. Don’t stop now. I personally thrive on challenges and make sure to take breaks or communicate if I need more time.

Everyone is different, so if work gets too much: get an accountant, editor, marketing person or assistant to delegate what you don’t have time for. Depending on your business model, you might not be able to cover it all by yourself. I usually do everything by myself because I like to stay busy and am a work horse. Literally.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I’m grateful for my friends and family for supporting me since day one. Especially my sister, who patiently endured all my experiments. Haha. I don’t know if I would’ve kept going if it wasn’t for everyone having such a blast. It’s hilarious, looking back now, how terrible the photos were. I had no idea what I was doing. I recently did a shoot with my cousin in Malibu and we were laughing about the fact that it’s even more fun when the photos actually turn out halfway decent.

Special gratitude goes to my friends who really believed in me when I first launched my business and trusted me with their shoot. That meant a lot to me. Everyone has to start somewhere. That way, I was able to gain more experience and slowly build my portfolio.

Are you working on any exciting projects now?

Since Covid, most of my main clients such as USC Leventhal and have stopped the events for now. So, the few jobs I have are weddings, commercial shoots or engagement, family, graduation and maternity portraits. They are all exciting though, since they are much shorter and smaller now. As sad as the new normal is, everything has slowed down and is simplified.

Even though it might be hard to sustain such minimized income, I’m actually enjoying having more time for family and friends right now. There have also been a few projects I never had time for, such as finally trying myself at night photography. I was finally able to do it! Most beaches are almost deserted right now — so they are even more gorgeous. It feels like a different planet.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I’m always trying to spread the love by going the extra mile. Every client is different, and some expect more than others. It’s important to notice the difference. Right now, I’m giving my Special Covid rates so clients can still afford me. Life doesn’t stop. People will always want to make sure they preserve the big moments, no matter the situation. So I try to make that easier.

I noticed a strong decline in people’s budgets since April, so I felt like I had to adjust too. It makes me happy when my clients appreciate that. I also always give a helping hand to anyone who is interested in photography or needs advice on equipment too.

Can you share “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Take Stunning Photos”. Please an example for each.

  1. Know your location and make sure to find the best settings or angles before you shoot. I usually come early to check out what I’m working with. Sometimes it’s an ultra-sunny day in L.A. so people might squint, or the sun looks terrible, so you’ll have to hunt the shade. It might limit your locations to a minimum and you have to make sure you find enough options.
  2. Get to know your subjects so you can make them feel comfortable in front of the camera. I had a groom once who was so painfully shy, it was hard to get him to open up. As soon as an opportunity came up, I started a conversation and asked him about himself. After that, he was a changed man; even cracked a few jokes. Remember you are dealing with human beings, so engaging with them is everything.
  3. As much as a photographer friend of mine tries to avoid it — familiarize yourself with a couple of standard poses. More often than not, you’ll find yourself in a position where your couple or family asks you to direct them. Don’t be that guy who stares at them with a blank expression. Trust me. There are a few basic Pinterest ideas that make a world of difference in pictures.
  4. I could’ve stayed a natural lighting photographer forever, but it didn’t take long until I hit a wall. Getting a basic flash kit together has tripled my work. In fact, event photography — which seemed out of reach in the beginning — has now become my main source of income. Be on the lookout how you can expand. Additional lighting gives you many more opportunities.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

That’s a challenging question because photography isn’t a team sport. What I do enjoy though is my support group of photographers. We help each other with questions, offer up jobs if we can’t do them, keep up to date on new developments, share knowledge and have even supported each other emotionally during this current time.

I guess I’d like to see more of that. It’s always a give and take. Or at least it can be. There is no reason to isolate yourself from others or even manipulate their business out of fear of not booking enough yourself. Everything will always come back to you if you give generously. In life and as a business owner.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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