Please, introduce yourself and let us get to know you.
I’m Jolene Bresney, a lifestyle photographer living it up (haha) in the Midwest. I’m a wife and mother to 3 kiddos- 1 boy and 2 girls. We love to travel around the world, but equally enjoy spending time at home with family and friends. The outdoors is where I find my peace, I make a point to get outside every day- winter especially! It’s where I do my soul searching and dreaming- my anchor in the daily throws of motherhood. I enjoy writing almost as much as photography- but I can only balance one creative outlet at a time. Someday, I hope to publish a book that combines the two- a girl can dream, right?!
Tell us about your journey as a photographer.
I first fell in love with photography back in high school (do I have to say when that was?!), but didn’t seriously pick up a camera again until the birth of my 2nd child. I have very few photographs from my own childhood, so as life evolved with my children, I saw how incredibly beautiful it was and recognized a void that I desired to fill. I ached to document everything- moments were slipping away, the days and years, unabiding. I enjoy capturing our messy moments as much as the conventional– I am a sucker for honest and raw in every outlet. I pine to capture emotion and have always preferred the unscripted over the perfectly posed. I have major OCD when it comes to learning new things, soooo once I started studying photography, I couldn’t stop. I poured over every book, blog post, and YouTube video I could possibly get my hands on to figure out how to manipulate light and master my camera. I’m still learning to this day. My early professional work was very posed, and I became pretty good at it, but it felt trite and uninspiring to me. After attending several workshops, I began to take my personal work more seriously. Only recently, I have starting sharing it publicly. I was afraid that people would assume I wasn’t successful if my blog was consumed with my kids instead of clients. Big mistake– I have never felt more fulfilled. You attract what you publish. Publish what you love. Best lesson learned. Vow to shoot what speaks to you and you will always have authenticity in that. This is art, not mathematics, so I have fun trying out new things to avoid the creative rut.
What is your daily schedule like? Describe your work/life balance.
During the school year my daily schedule doesn’t deviate much- I start my day reading something inspiring so I can sustain the demands of the day. Daily life with 3 kids and a husband who travels a lot can be hard. I spend my mornings and afternoons working- whether it’s answering emails, editing, housework, etc. I try to get everything done before the kids come home from school. After 3 pm, I’m all theirs. I try to be as present as I possibly can be. I don’t want them to ever feel like they are competing with a device for my attention. I am a mother first, then a photographer. When school is not in session, we have very little routine and it’s liberating and kinda crazy, but I love it! I book my client sessions on the weekends, and I don’t take more than 1-2 per week. I shoot for myself every day.
How do you keep your photos fresh when you’re photographing in the same spaces at home all the time? What is your thought process when you pick up your camera?
To keep my photos fresh, I play with light and shadows. This creates a mood, which makes for interesting art. If it’s cloudy and dreary outside- which it often is in the winter, I don’t fight it. I embrace it, often intentionally underexposing to amp up the mood. Likewise, if it’s sunny I will go for a lighter, airy feel. I incorporate objects to assist in creating interesting composition. I will use doorways and walls, and other fixtures to frame my subject. I like to incorporate prisms and mirrors for creative effects. Challenging yourself to see things in new ways forces you to be creative and innovative in a familiar space.
Most of your work appears to be done with limited light. What are some of your favourite tips for working with low, dramatic light?
Shooting in low light is my favorite! It’s so moody and gritty. I rarely use a flash, if I do, it’s off camera for a creative effect. To shoot in low light, I crank up my ISO, lower my shutter speed, and shoot with a wide aperture. I like some grain in my moody images, so a little noise can be masked in post-processing. My advise is to know your camera’s limitations. My ISO can go past 1000 and still look clean. I work with light that is readily available. Be creative, there are no rules!
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