Happy FriYAY, friends! The idea for this blog series has been floating around in my head long before Brooke Shehan Weddings and Events ever existed. When I was toying with the idea of starting my own wedding planning business, my mind was racing with tons of ideas that I thought could be wonderful for many different aspects of my future business. A girl can (and should always) dream, right? And a “’Friendor’ Feature” blog series was one of the very first lightbulbs that went off! I thought this series would be a great resource for current and future #bswebrides to learn more about some incredible vendors I know personally &/or have had the opportunity to work with (vendors who are friends = friendors – get it? 🙂 ). So, in an effort for you to truly understand the heart behind their business, I thought it would be fun to ask featured vendors a series of questions to learn more about their vision and purpose for their business in the wedding industry.
With that being said, my very first “Friendor Feature” blog post is a very special one for me. I’ve known this particular #bswefriendor for 25 years, 9 months and 3 days (AKA – my entire life), so it’s truly an honor for me to have the opportunity to share one of my favorite people in the world with you. Aside from having the title of an incredibly talented photographer, she is a mother, grandmother, sister and friend (just to name a few). But, I’m lucky enough to not only call her my aunt, but my second momma as well. She has been by my side for every single big (and little) moment of my 25 years on this earth (most likely with a camera in her hand, too); from my dance recitals when I was three years old, to my high school and college graduations, to the day Benjamin proposed, to when I finally married my best friend and every single memory in between. She is one of the most supportive, loyal and loving people you will ever meet, and I feel so blessed to be able to call her family. If you follow along with me on social media, you probably (no, definitely) recognize her name and work because I share any and all of her gorgeous images whenever I get the chance. And, to be honest, I wouldn’t have a website if it wasn’t for her, because she’s the genius and photographer behind 95% of the pictures featured on there! I could go on and go about how much I love this woman, but I should be less selfish and share her with you because I know you will love her, too. I am thrilled to introduce you to Kathy Jennings; the gifted photographer and sweet heart behind Kathy Jennings Photography!
1. Tell me about yourself! (Well, I know you – but what would you like my readers to know about you? 🙂 )
K: I am a fine art, lifestyle and wedding photographer serving Lexington, Virginia and surrounding areas. The most important thing in my life is my family and they are some pretty amazing people! I am a wife to Bobby (42 years and counting), mother to Lauren and John, grandmother to Kylie, Anna, and Devin, sister to Becky, and aunt to Brooke, Hayley and Seth! It is pretty safe to say that my world revolves around that close knit group of people who offer their constant support and encouragement. So often my granddaughters will ask to go through photos and scrapbooks of when they were babies and when their dad was a baby. I am so thankful I have always had a camera in my hand to capture those moments. The joy it brings me to see how much they enjoy it… Well, I could never put a price on that! I cherish those memories!
I am retired from Buena Vista City Schools after 30 (plus) years of service, but work part time in technology. After December of this year, I am happy to say I can devote all my work hours to photography! I am pretty excited about that!
I am a lover of Diet Dr. Pepper fountain drinks, all things technical, listening to the rain, quiet mornings with a cup of coffee, and vintage cameras. My guilty pleasures are reality TV and browsing antique stores for hours! That’s me in a nutshell!
2. What made you want to start your own photography business?
K: I wanted to start my own business because, let’s face it…. being a photographer is a seriously awesome job!! Being a photographer just means you really love photography and you can capture a moment that will last forever. I wanted to capture those moments not only for my family, but my friends, and now my clients! Photography is not only my creative outlet but has proved to be a big challenge. Now, there is actually a lot more to photography than just pointing the camera at something and pressing the button. That’s where you start. But learning to become a good photographer is a serious challenge. You’ll always be learning something new, have new directions to explore, and new challenges to face. And that’s a good thing!
I officially started my fine art photography business in 2009 when I joined Fine Art America. I opened an account, uploaded some photos, and BAM!! I was selling photos. I thought, “What is happening??? People like my work!!!!” Then I started entering my photos in the photography contests at the local fairs and art shows and winning ribbons and awards and even selling the photos. Then, a local art gallery invited me to hang my photos and that was quite an honor.
In 2012, I was picked up by Penny Lane Publishing Company, based in Ohio, and have sold artwork through them to retail stores such as Hobby Lobby and Online Magnet Works. Penny Lane Publishing Company is one of America’s premier fine art and licensing companies. They offer an extensive selection of high quality art prints and licensing images from more than 60 artists working in a wide range of styles. Also, around that time I launched my first website and officially started the lifestyle and wedding portion of my business.
3. How long have you been taking pictures professionally?
K: I have been professionally taking picture since 2009. But, I started taking photos when my daughter, Lauren, was born in 1979… and honestly, I have not put the camera down since!
4. What is your favorite type of photography?
K: I would have to say my favorite type of photography is fine art photography. This type of photography gives me a more creative outlet and focuses on creating a work of art from a simple photograph by using textures and different digital techniques to create a certain mood. Photoshop and I have become great friends over the years! My love of vintage art often surfaces in my work, but I enjoy all aspects of fine art photography and cover a wide variety of subjects.
My second favorite type of photography would be senior portraits, engagements and weddings. I love to get to know and form relationships with my clients. After each session, I feel like I have made a new friend and share a connection that no one else has with them. I feel like the session has been a success when the photos make you feel emotion and capture the essence of the person I am photographing! Life is filled with “big moments”- births, graduations, weddings, first steps and these are all moments that should be documented for family history. Imagine you’re sitting around a big box of photos (or let’s face it – a computer monitor) with friends and family. There would be a lot of talking, laughs, stories, jokes, and maybe even a tear or two. It’s an amazing way to connect and I would like to think, “Hey, I created those memories for that person!”
5. What is your proudest accomplishment for your business?
K: My proudest business-related accomplishment is when I sold a photograph to ABC studios to be used on the set of Desperate Housewives! I remember I was sitting at the pool while my granddaughters were swimming and Brookie was lifeguarding and I got the email! Brookie looked at me and I guess from the look on my face, she said, “Is everything ok? I said, “Brookie… you are NOT going to believe this!!!” Yeah, that was a pretty proud moment!!
I also had one of my weddings featured on two websites – “The Knot” and “Bride”! And most recently when I was vacationing in Myrtle Beach, I had another pretty proud moment. I went on my morning walk on the beach and after about 3.5 miles I stopped at Pier 14 to get a bottle of water to cool off. I started browsing around and looked up and thought to myself “ WAIT! That looks like my photo hanging on the wall!” Upon closer examination, it was, indeed, one of my photos and it was for sale at the pier! Upon chatting with the manager of the pier, he explained how he happened to buy it and display it! That was pretty awesome!
6. Whom do you admire in the wedding industry?
K: If I had to pick one person I admire in the wedding industry, it would be Jasmine Star, a wedding photographer and branding and marketing strategist for creative entrepreneurs based in California. She is so passionate about inspiring fellow photographers to follow their dreams! She is so generous of her time and her knowledge, beyond talented, and not to mention, she is so darn cute and positive! I have taken so many of Jasmine’s classes and watched so many of her webinars, and each and every time I am blown away at the information she shares. She knows how to connect with you on a personal level. I am inspired by her for always being so encouraging, for being positive, and for acknowledging other photographers! Yes, photography is a competitive business, no doubt – but wouldn’t it be nice if we, as photographers, would help each other along the way? We can all improve! Jasmine Star, I think you rock!!
7. Anything else you’d like to share? 🙂
K: My favorite quote! I think it perfectly sums up how much I love what I do!
“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.” ― Aaron Siskind
Y’all… Is it bad to say that the tears are flowing as I close this blog post? I LOVE this woman more than I can possibly say, I am so honored to be able to have her as my very first #bswefriendor feature! Please feel free to say “Hi!” to Kathy here – I know she’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow along with her on her social media below!
Until next time y’all! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!