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Spotlight Photographer: Jen Dunham Photography


1. How did you get started in photography and when did you start your business?


It's been a lifelong journey of mine, really. My mom was always the mom with a camera so I guess life with a camera was second nature to me. I first got started in high school taking the classes there and then continued that in college, but it wasn't until after the birth of my first child that I really got the passion for it. It was a long, slow journey for me (this was pre-internet resources and digital camera days) but I got better and better - started taking on friends and family for photo shoots, and once my youngest kids were in school, I officially opened my business. That was in October of 2010.


2. Where are you located? Do you have a studio space or do you shoot on-location?


I'm located in Petaluma, CA, which is just north of San Francisco. I currently have a studio space but will be making the transition to shooting on location again this year.


3. What do you shoot with and what are your favorite lenses?


I shoot with the Canon 5DMKIII. I shoot almost exclusively with the 50mm 1.2L but do my macro work with the 100mm 2.8 macro lens. If I need a wider shot, I use my 16-35mm 2.8L. I'm also a big fan of the Lensbaby products but I very rarely use those in my business work.


4. What drew you to newborn photography? Do you photograph anything else?


I just found that I loved it! I think I'm the type of person that works really well independently and with newborns I get to just concentrate on them. They don't require direction - I just soothe and pose them to get what I need. I do also photograph maternity and baby milestone sessions up through a year old. I'll do family or child mini sessions every once in awhile as well.


5. How would you describe your style? Where do you find inspiration?


Clean. It's really important to me that your eye is first drawn to the baby - that he or she is absolutely the star of the image. This means keeping props subtle so that the serve only to enhance the image and not take away from what should be the primary focus. Sometimes inspiration comes from work that I see other photographers do, sometimes it comes from a prop that I find, but mostly it comes from the babies themselves - with each session I go into it with a plan of action but I'm constantly tweaking to accommodate what the baby seems to go easily into, looks best with, etc.


6. Have you taken any photography workshops/training?


Yes! I did a one-on-one mentoring with the fabulous Keri Meyers a number of years ago which helped immensely. I'd highly recommend an in-person workshop whenever possible. I've also taken a number of online courses in studio lighting, newborns, Lensbaby shooting, fine art, and more. I think it's important to learn from others even in disciplines that aren't necessarily your primary focus (as long as it's an interest of yours).

7. Where do you like to shop for props? Do you have favorite vendors?


There's a fantastic antique faire twice a year in my town that I always check out hoping to find something really special and unique, but almost everything I buy these days come from online vendors. I've shopped from so many but a few that stand out are Chickyloo Knits, Petunia & Ivy, Devoted Knits, Prop Me Up Shop, Roses & Ruffles.


8. What are three things you wish someone would have told you when starting out?


1. Being in business is no joke. You get to do what you love but you also have to be on top of the not-so-fun stuff like insurances, taxes, paperwork, constant client communication - it can take over your life.

2. Being good - even great - doesn't mean you get clients. You have to know how to market yourself to get people in the door. There are always other photographers - some good, some not very good at all - who know how to work this aspect of the industry and can take potential people from you before they even know your business exists, if you're not good at marketing.

3. Don't let newborns intimidate you. You don't have to pick them up the moment they make a noise. Always be calm, use slow, deliberate movements - master the art of calming them. I'm not sure how much of that can be learned and how much is just natural to the photographer.



9. What are your favorite things about How long have you been a member?


I love that it focuses on newborns! Since this is the bulk of everything I shoot, I feel like I get so much out of it. I love the directory I get to be a part of and all the topics covered to help me along with my business, plus the opportunity to help others. I first became a member for the first year of the forums then took a break and now back again and it's better than ever!



10. Please share with us your Top 5 Favorite Images. Why are they your favorites?


My favorite image is usually one of my most recent so I'm going to pull from sessions from this year.

I love the overall symmetry of the image. Also, as a mom of twins myself, I know how important it is to show their connection to each other, so I love that about this image. The props are simple and clean and the babies look peaceful and warm. 

This image was a bit of a happy accident. I was working with him on the beanbag, I believe doing some macro work. I was keeping him warm with that blanket when he just stretched out like that. What I love is that it is so natural. This is a baby posing himself, just the way newborns do.

 I love how perfectly girlie it is! I love the way she's wrapped and the softness of the colors and the way her hands are placed.

The moon prop is one of my very favorites. I don't really do themed setups with the exception of the moon and the occasional sports team prop upon request but this one I do love. Her mom brought in the hat and diaper cover set and when I saw them, I knew they'd perfectly complement the moon prop setup so I went for that. I like this because I feel like it's all so cohesive - the colors and props all complement each other and the baby looks like she's perfectly peaceful. 

This is a really recent image of mine. I love working with twins - perhaps because I have my own. I love the warmth of this image, how their placed in the bowl, and that I captured baby boy smiling while snuggled against his sister. I love the contour of the shadows across their faces - gives the image dimension.


11. What is your photography site and url?


Blog  |  Facebook  |  NBP Profile  | Google+ | Twitter | Instagram 



12. Lastly, tell us about YOU! Who are you other than a photographer?


I'm a mom of four kids - 14, 11, and 8 year old twins. That pretty much fills up most all of my other time! I have a huge passion surrounding childbirth - I had initially planned to start midwifery school once my kids were in school full time but life and circumstances led me into opening my photography business instead. It may be something I return to way down the line. I love teaching and take every opportunity to do so. I'm a bit of a suburban hippie I guess. I love nature, I'm a vegetarian, gave birth to my kids at home and generally tend to lean toward the more holistic way of life, but I also drive a mini van and practically live off of Starbucks. LOL


Would you like to be our next Spotlight Photographer? Fill out our Spotlight Photographer form HERE! We look forward to featuring you!