Name: Jenna Kutcher / Age: 26 / Current Company: Jenna Kutcher / Title: Wisconsin and Destination Wedding Photographer / Blogger / Watercolor Artist / Teacher / Macaroni and Cheese Lover / Years in Business: 4 / Education: University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point / Majors: Business Administration and Communication with an Economics minor
When did your love for photography start? To be honest, I never considered photography before. Sure I loved to take photos while out with friends and document every once of life I could, but I never thought of it as a viable career. While planning my wedding and working a corporate job, I became fascinated with photography and wedding blogs! I bought my first DSLR on Craigslist and shot my first wedding a few weeks after (I wouldn’t advise this!) for my brother-in-law in Jamaica! After that, I was hooked.
What was your first job after college? I was an Executive Team Leader for Target Corporation and I did Human Resources for a team of over 150! It was human resources mixed with retail and a crazy job to take on as a 22 year old.
When did you decide to break out and start your own business? After doing the retail thing for awhile, I knew I couldn’t do it forever. The nights and weekends, the crazy long hours and endless paperwork, the whole ladder-climbing career just wasn’t for me. I told myself as soon as I could match my salary with income from photography I could quit. Professional photographers told me to give myself 3-4 years before making the leap but I knew I couldn’t wait that long. My first year I hustled and booked 25 weddings which allowed me to put in my two weeks right before wedding season started and I haven’t looked back ever since. I am so glad I was gutsy and believed in myself at 23.
What area of photography do you focus on and how did you come to that realization? When I started I would shoot anything that people would pay me to, as I got going I knew that I needed to focus my effort and brand around what I truly loved the most. Now, it’s weddings, strictly weddings and couples are my focus. I absolutely love watching two people interact. I get to hang out with my couples, make them laugh, and show off their true character. Putting a couple at ease and making the photography experience feel like more than a photo shoot totally fires me up. Wedding photography isn’t just a service, it’s an experience from start to finish. Being able to focus on one type of photography allows me to give my clients the best experience possible without stretching myself too thin!
You also create gorgeous products that are sold through Society6! How do you balance your workflow with photography and your art? I started watercolor painting as a diversion from my computer screen. Most people think photographers are on set or shooting all the time but the reality is, we spend the majority of our days on our computers. Painting is relaxing, inspiring, and so fun for me. I try to carve out a few hours a week to sit down and paint. I started sharing my art on Instagram (@jennakutcher) where my amazing community started to encourage me to sell it. I was nervous but told myself that even if I sold a handful of pieces, it would be worth it! Last year I sold well over 1,000 watercolor pieces and my mind was blown! Watercolor painting is my way of unwinding, I’m just glad others can enjoy it, too!
Where do you derive inspiration from for your paintings? A lot of times I just sit down and go. I have piles upon piles of discarded paintings (part of the problem of being a perfectionist!) I often find quotes and write them down from books I’m reading or things I hear, things that resonate with me often resonate with my followers so I know that if I am able to create something I love, others will hopefully love it, too!
What has been your career highlight? Last year I was named the Top Wedding Photographer in Wisconsin by Wisconsin Bride Magazine. Coming from a very saturated market with highly talented photographers, I was floored. It was my proudest moment because I was able to share it with my husband, parents, and in-laws. It felt like I had finally “made it.” I had felt a lot of fear and guilt around leaving a corporate job to pursue a field I had never been educated in, but getting that award told me that I had successfully surrounded myself with people who believe in the beauty of my dreams! Still tears me up…
What has been the best investment you have made into yourself/your business? A good couch to work on (kidding, kind of!) I think the best investments I’ve made over the years are put towards moving my business forward whether it’s in branding or education. I don’t pay to market anywhere, so making sure I have a consistent message that is being shared is huge. I am also not a gear junkie in the least, I don’t think it’s about having the latest and greatest gear, the beauty is in knowing how to leverage, take care, and use your gear right!
What are your future goals for your brand and what can we expect to see from you in the future? Right now I am working on a project that is so near and dear to my heart, the first Jenna Kutcher Course. It’s a six week, online, intensive course to jumpstart creative entrepreneurs dreams and change their lives. It’s something I’ve dreamed about doing for awhile and now I am finally doing it! I am living proof that you can chase happiness and find it, while being profitable and living a balanced life! I am so on fire for this course and I can’t wait to launch it in March! Right now I am consumed by the course but I am pumped for a summer filled with amazing weddings all over the country, opportunities to contribute to amazing blogs, teaming up with brands I love, speaking at workshops and of course painting on the side. Basically stated, I’ll be busy and I hope you are along for the ride!
What is your favorite part of working from home? Most challenging part? I love, love the ability to take naps. I’ve always loved to sleep and most days I don’t nap but knowing I could if I needed to is THE best! Also, working in yoga pants takes the cake. I never, ever wear real pants and I wouldn’t trade that for the world. The challenging part is the isolation of it, I work out 5x a week just so I get out of the house and talk to people, it’s hard being so driven but so alone everyday! It’s also super hard to shut off work when it’s right there waiting for you!
What advice would you give to aspiring photographers? Follow your dreams, share your story, and hustle hard. The more you know, the better off you will be. We all started somewhere! Take the time to learn the art and technicalities of photography so you can confidently walk into any scenario or setting and take beautiful images for the people who are trusting you. You’ve got this, just give it time, chase it hard, share your life and remember that it is a gift to be able to create art for others.
Currently on the hunt for: The perfect winter coat
Currently cooking: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
Currently listening to: The Head and the Heart
Currently inspired by: the dream of teaching others how to chase their dreams and be successful!