We had the good fortune of connecting with Jenna Karwoski and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jenna, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
As a photographer of over 15 years, I’d say that I’ve taken plenty of risks during my career. And plenty of them have failed.
Over time, I realized that every single one of those failures has allowed me to rethink, rebuild, reimagine how I wanted to move forward with what ever aspect of my career needed attention.
From opening a 3000 sq ft brick and mortar back in 2010, which I was forced to close, to choosing to step out of the sea of photographers and begin doing business, as a profitable business and not just as a side hustle. I learned that with each failure, came endurance, faith and even more passion to keep pressing forward.
Every failure has shaped me into a photographer, business owner and a woman that both my family and myself are proud of.
I think all those in business, should expect to fail. Heck, get excited about the failures, because that means your next big success is that much closer! So don’t be afraid to step out on that ledge, you never know when you might actually take flight.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I think that my business is less about photography and more about the people. I run a people business and I use photography as my vehicle or platform in which to connect with and serve as many people as I can. I guess you can say, that because of this, my top priority is always my clients wants/needs.
I provide a service for my clients that makes them fell seen, heard and unique. I also have studied posing all body shades, shapes, sizes and one of my favorite clients are those who hate having their photos taken. That is because, I know that if they sit in front of my camera, they’ll be guided through the process and I will create a portrait that they love.
I am most proud of the way my clients feel about me, their portraits and my services. The affirmation I receive from my clients, brings me so much joy and gives me so much pride in in what I do. It’s what drives me.
Being a profitable portrait photographer did not happen easily for me. In 2016, I went from struggling to make even a small profit from running portrait photography business to making a $2000+ per client average.
I have spent hundreds of hours under a mentor and a network of like-minded photographers, studying everything from business and self value to posing every body type.
I know how to work to create an experience that will have clients feeling confident, uplifted and most importantly, removing any stigma surrounding the like that they may not be worthy of a portrait or “photogenic enough”. It’s not my clients job to be photogenic, it’s my job as their photographer to coach them through posing and expressions to create the most incredible photo of themselves that they’ve ever seen. And that’s what I work to do, every single time.
The most difficult part for me, in getting to where I am today (and don’t’ think for a second that I’m done learning and growing!), would be SELF VALUE. You’d be amazed at how many amazing photographers that are out there that are not able to make a living off of something they are so gifted at, because they haven’t found their worth in their work.
Once I began digging into why I struggled at raising my prices, I was able to confront and then move forward. I can’t tell you enough, how much, for me, that was my block in becoming a successful business owner. Once that happened, even my photography got better and now I am able to help support my family AND run a business doing what I love so much.
All of the growth I went through from 2016 through 2020, was so great that I literally had NO fear in picking up my family and moving from Washington State (where I spent my entire career, building my network and clientele), here to Arizona, just this past March. Now, I have a busy studio still in Washington, where I can continue serving my clients there and I am also building my network and business with joy, here in AZ with out an inch of doubt that I will create something equally or more amazing that what I have done in Washington.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well, as a new resident of Arizona, and also hitting the pavement running as I build my business here, I haven’t been to many places. However, some of my favorite things to do is explore the hiking trails at Usery National Park & I love paddle boarding on Lake Saguaro. My favorite place to dine is at Elements at Sanctuary Resort in Scottsdale, they also have a super cute bar, called the Elements. Delicious handcrafted cocktails and a gorgeous view!
What I am most excited about is traveling around Az and seeing some of the beautiful places that Az has to offer, including Sedona, Horseshoe Bend & The Grand Canyon.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Oh boy, well I first have to say my husband, John whom I began this crazy journey with in 2005. He introduced me to photography and we began a wedding photography business together. When I left the wedding industry in 2012, he continued to cheer me on in my path of becoming the best portrait photographer I could be.
And the next one is a BIG one. Struggling to find my way on all sides, in the world of business and portrait photography, I found Sue Bryce Education. Sue has the largest photography education platform and it’s changed everything for me (and so many others). Being a part of this platform has elevated my business, my art/craft and me personally… well man, it’s changed me from the inside out. I cant speak highly enough and encourage any photographer to check her out. From the basics of photography, to business to self value, Sue covers everything and she has thousands of videos that you can go back to over and over.
Simply put, I would not be the photographer or person I am today, if it wasn’t for Sue Bryce Education.
photo credit: Erica Sciarretta