Q& A with Twyla Jones
Twyla Jones - Dreamcatcher from Hernan Uriel Sanchez on Vimeo.
1. Tell us a little about yourself/your business (how long have you been in business, where are you located, any special awards or features?)
Hi! I am a Kansas native recently transplanted to the beautiful east coast of Florida with my fiancé and two little boys. I picked up my first DSLR about 2 1/2 years ago and literally began devouring all the information I could get my hands on regarding the art and business of photography. There was this stirring inside of me yearning to create something good, something that mattered and I couldn’t wait any longer to get it out.
2. How long have you been mentoring?
I began mentoring a couple months ago! I started receiving so many questions about my editing and posing that I was nearly forced into doing it, haha. There is nothing I love more than to talk about photography and beauty with someone that appreciates it. The opportunity to open their eyes to a new point of view is incredibly rewarding.
3. What all is including in your mentoring and what kind of experience do your students receive?
I offer really any type of session. I’m an open book regarding the way I create and love the opportunity to share my process. I always start with a consultation to get to know them and where their photography journey started, where they would like it to go and how I can best give them a helping hand in getting to that point.
If they are interested in editing I have them choose a selection of their work and then I log onto their computer. We discuss their vision and then I walk them through an entire edit explaining each slider and my reasoning behind my adjustments. The image isn’t complete until we’re both happy and then we create presets based off of all the edits we complete. The most important part of this class to me is helping people understand all the powerful tools available to them within their editing software. To get them past presets and really gain control over their work to get the things they see in their mind out into the world.
For my posing and directing mentoring we discuss the session type they need the most help with (weddings, maternity, couples, families, etc). I have them log onto my computer and we completely dissect a session that I’ve shot. I cover everything from setting client expectations to exactly how I’m guiding my clients into an action. I talk about the posing checklist I build in my mind and techniques for encouraging authentic connection throughout the shoot.
I also host live shoots, which for me, is probably my favorite! Walking through a location showing someone how to see gorgeous light and set up dramatic scenes is seriously my idea of a good time. We take real people out and I pose and direct them while showing where I would stand and place my camera to create emotive imagery. I share with them everything on my mind and all the types of movements and scenarios I’m looking for and trying to create throughout the walk. In my opinion, there is no better way to learn than being fully immersed and guided in the moment. The results I’ve seen from these shoots has blown my mind.
4. At what point did you go from seeing yourself as someone who enjoys taking photos as a hobby to seeing yourself as a photographer?
Literally just a few months ago. This thing happened during a shoot where I just really realized, this is my vision. This can be anything I want it to be and is my story to tell. Before that I often felt nervous before beginning a shoot, but now I just feel this overwhelming confidence that I know how to see beautiful things. That’s what it’s all about to me. Sharing the most beautiful interactions I can capture between people in love with each other and the world.
5. What is your learning objective for your students?
I want them to love what they’re doing! I want them to focus on creating work that makes them as happy as it makes their clients. I want them to see their voice in their images and really connect with this art form they are pouring so much of themselves into. I want them to create unique inspiring work that moves them.
6. Do you offer in person or online mentoring or both?
7. Tell us about your gear and your one must-have lens.
I literally only use two pieces of equipment. I shoot with a Nikon D750 a sigma art 35. The simpler I can make my hardware choices the more involved and present I can be with my clients.
8. Who in the industry do you look up to and why?
I look up to artists that are creating unique and creative work. A few names that come to mind are Jacob Loafman, Meagan Abell and Pol Sena. Their work is infused with creativity and emotion. I never know what to expect from any of the next but it always blows my mind.
9. What do you do when you feel unmotivated or uninspired?
I listen to music, go to the beach and/or play with my kids. I put my camera down and really focus on watching and appreciating the beauty in every moment.
10. What do you think is the most challenging part about being a photographer in today's industry, and what do you do to overcome those challenges?
I think, in general, there seems to be a fear of creating work that YOU like. Some photographers are so afraid that they won’t find people to connect with their vision or assume everyone is looking for these nicely posed, smiling images. Seriously just start sharing only the work that moves and speaks to you and you will attract your tribe. You will be so much happier creating that it will just pour out of you and I think people are really attracted to artists that are passionate about the work they create.
11. What is your personal measure of success as a photographer?
When someone is moved by an image I’ve captured. When I’ve noticed something that is able to completely embody the essence of what connection is to someone. I’m also just so excited that anyone connects enough with what I’m doing that they’re interested in learning more about how I think about things and want to work together to bring their visions to life.
12. What do you look for in your locations when seeking the "perfect" spot for your sessions?
Location is probably the least important element to me. I’m mostly focused on a place with few distractions and natural elements my clients can interact with. Good light is vital. If i have that I’m perfectly content in a ditch or parking lot. I took my children out for photos behind the oil change center the other day and it was still magic!
13. What do you believe is the best marketing tool for photographers to attract their ideal client?
Sharing only the work that moves and excites them anywhere and everywhere. We are so incredibly lucky to have all of these amazing social platforms to showcase our work with nothing more than a few keystrokes. You never know who is watching your journey and looking for someone with just your point of view to capture something beautiful for them.
14. If you could go back and give yourself advice from when you first started, what would you say?
Haha, I would have told myself to start sooner! I was always interested in photography but it just seemed like this thing that was beyond anything I was ever capable of mastering or even being decent at. I would encourage anyone interested in anything to take their first steps today. Buy a book, read a tutorial, just get started.
Just for fun:
What's your guilty pleasure? Sushi and Lychee sake.
What do you like to listen to while you edit? my dreamy playlist on spotify
What always makes you laugh? My fiancé and children
What always makes you cry? My kids. It’s going too fast.
Least favorite food? There are bad foods?!?
Before and After
Then and Now
Behind the Scenes
J Join us September 7th at 8pm Central for a Live Chat with Twyla!