Perfectly Real – Jenna Christina

Our Perfectly Real artist this month is Jenna Christina of Jenna Christina Photography. Her fantastic black and white images are full of love, grit, play and honesty.  You should check her out her website, Jenna Christina Photo, or on Facebook.

father mimics newborn - documentary family photography

What’s your favorite lens for shooting this type of work?  And do you
have any accessories you just love (filter, bag, camera strap, etc.)?

The Sigma 35mm 1.4  is almost exclusively on my D750 when working in-home sessions; sometimes I get very up close and personal since it’s not a zoom!

I actually use one of my old leather waist belts as a strap; it’s wide which means it levels out pressure more than the traditional camera straps.

girl reads book in bed - documentary family photography

What is your favorite type of light to shoot in?

When I first started out I worked with open shade or “safe” golden hour light, because that seemed to be the way to go. Something just didn’t click (pun intended) for me during these sessions, though. Once I realized the photos I liked the most were the ones that captured a moment of some sort, I knew I had to rethink the way I do family and newborn photography. That lead me to doing storytelling in-home sessions and now I truly love working with window light, because it can be very directional and dramatic. Using the contrast between light and shadow is a great way to emphasize the important things in a picture, whether it’s a person or the mood. The unpredictableness (I’m sure that’s a word!) of how subjects move in the light keeps me on my toes.

girl running through gate - documentary family photography

What is the most valuable tip you have learned in pursuit of shooting
in a more documentary style?

Talk naturally to everyone during the shoot. When you’re showing genuine interest, you get clues about what is important to them as well as what is typical behavior for a family member. It will make your clients crazy happy if you capture those seemingly mundane things in amazing pictures. Another thing I’ve realized is that you don’t need to see someone’s face to create a great portrait of them.

girl practicing headstand near couch - documentary family photography

What are you drawn to document? Is there a particular composition,
technique, or mood you love?

In-home sessions are really magical to me, because the pictures are a little peek into someone’s world. I’m always looking for connections between family members, whether it’s a shared look or a touch; something comical or emotional. I have a master’s degree in psychology and I worked with kids for many years before starting my photography business, which I think helps me anticipate those moments.

boy surprising mom - documentary family photography