We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Wood and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jessica, is there a life experience you can think of that you feel has had a profound impact on your life or career?
As a wedding and portrait photographer, I wear many hats and often a lot of them at the same time. I don’t think anything could have prepared me for that like teaching has. I always dreamed that I would be a teacher and work with children with differing abilities. When I started my business with my best friend, Megan, we were both special educators. Supporting individuals with special needs and their families, through their transitioning experiences from middle to high school, and later to adulthood. I worked with these students to not only teach them life, employment, and independent living skills, but I coordinated monthly community trips, developed volunteer experiences, assisted students in self-advocacy training, and connected them and their families to resources to support them after they left the public school system. These skills and experiences have made a significant impact on our business. Although income is important and necessary, that’s not why we do what we do. Just like we weren’t special educators for the paycheck. We put our hearts and souls in everything we do because we absolutely love providing value and joy while serving others. In education, we served our students and their parents the best we possibly could, and now we serve our couples in the same way. We are able to communicate with passion, patience, and understanding; display transparency in every aspect of the process; love and care for our couples so that they have fun and feel appreciated, and provide them with an experience beyond their expectations.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Our business, MaeWood Photography, started in 2015 with two special educators and best friends on the east coast. Since then, we have expanded across the country, transitioned into a family owned business, and added videography services for our couples. We specialize in weddings and boudoir, but offer a variety of portrait services as the families of our brides and grooms grow. We have been told a million times that we need to focus on a niche in portrait photography, choose between moms-to-be, couples, or seniors. People are looking for experts in their field, they want “THE” maternity photographer, or “THE” senior portrait photographer. However, we realized that we are the experts. We are experts in light, authenticity, connection, and the everyday woman. We don’t stick with one particular type of portrait photography because we apply our expertise to all of the above. As long as we can provide you with the photography of your dreams, we will photograph you, your love story, growing family, or children as they graduate. We are proud to serve our clients at any stage of their lives. Another thing people tell us is to never mix business and friendship. We are proud to share that after five years, we are still best friends and successfully running our business from opposite sides of the country. It isn’t always easy, but with open communication, compassion, and understanding, we have overcome any obstacle presented. We are honestly the ying and yang in our business. As we travel all over the country to shoot weddings together, we are able to give our absolute best to our clients. The differences in our creative brains and personality types keeps us on our toes and allows us to approach topics, weddings, and sessions from multiple perspectives. We are better together.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
FOOD: Postino has a great vibe, amazing food, and the perfect spot for me to take a friend for lunch! We can sit outside by the fireplace or under the misters and chat while we are served with great customer service and drinks! Hulu’s Modern Tiki is my favorite place for dinner. The outside patio mixed with Jamaican corn bread and seared ahi tuna is definitely the way to go. Different Point of View in Phoenix is certainly the spot we would go when we want to dress up and have an elegant evening out. The view of the city and the sunset are breath taking and the food melts in my mouth! Sweet Republic is my absolute favorite dessert place and is nothing like any other ice cream shop on the east coast. Their natural mint chocolate chip and their s’mores ice cream are my absolute favorites. DOWNTOWN: The Roosevelt Row Arts District is a great place to walk around and stop into all the different spots along the way! We love the vibe and environment of The Churchill! HIKING/ACTIVITIES: Black Mountain has the best 360 degree view and is an amazing workout! The Phoenix Mountain Preserves are the best place to watch the sunset. Desert Botanical Gardens White Tank Mountain: Watching the city of Phoenix Light Up from Afar Lake Pleasant: We absolutely love going out on the boat on Lake Pleasant and seeing the wild donkeys.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My business partner, Megan Yohn, is the Pennsylvania side of MaeWood Photography. We are a best friend wedding and portrait photography duo, and the reason I got into the industry. When we were both teaching, Megan came to me and asked if I would like to join her in a session that she was doing for fun with her cousin. Business, weddings, and long hours weren’t ever a part of the plan. We both had DSLR cameras, loved taking photos, and enjoyed each other’s company even more. It didn’t take long for us to realize just how much light photography brought into our lives and we started extending our fun sessions to all of our family and friends at a small fee. Within just a few months, one of Megan’s previous students came to her and asked that we photograph his wedding. We sat down and had our first ever consultation and spent the entire time trying to talk Jake and Brittany out of hiring us for their wedding! We had no idea what we were doing and like I said, had no intention on creating a legit business. Jake didn’t take no for an answer. He had this faith in us that we didn’t quite yet have in ourselves. So we decided that we were going to take his confidence in us as a sign and started MaeWood Photography. Every moment since then has been a learning curve full of education, trial and error, ninja moves, pure joy, a few tears, and a whole lotta love. So this shoutout goes to a few different people. Megan, thank you for going into this journey with me and trusting us as we turned MaeWood Photography into a bi-coastal photography business! Jake and Brittany, thank you for having faith in us before we ever saw our own potential in this industry. And to my husband, Michael, for always pushing me, sitting up with me during late nights in front of my computer, listening to all of my Amy and Jordan and Katelyn James education courses, encouraging me to try new things, and learning everything you possibly can to become our lead videographer!
Nominate someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.