Name: Jenna Kutcher / Age: 28 / Current Position: Owner of Jenna Kutcher (Photographer, Watercolor Artist, Educator) / Title: Girl Boss / Years in Business: 5 years / Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Communication
What was your first job after college? I was an Executive Team Lead for Target managing HR!
What inspired you to start photography? Did it start out as a hobby or did you have hopes for turning it into a business? It all started with a $300 Craigslist camera purchased to help us document our own personal wedding planning; I never planned nor dreamed of being a photographer but it all sort of just happened. It was definitely a hobby turned passion turned business endeavor!
How did you gain such a large following on Instagram? What are your top two tips for building a following? It’s been a process. In fact, I’ve been at it for years! For me, I saw big growth when I stopped hiding behind my photos. I realized that people were drawn to me, the real me, and wanted to be a part of it all – from the mac and cheese to the marriage stuff and everything in between! I wasn’t just a business or brand. I was a human being and when I started celebrating that, imperfections and all, I felt like I was a magnet attracting like minded people!
My top two tips for growing a following:
1. Be yourself, not what people expect from you. You are more than your title, more than the work you produce. In order for people to fall in love with your work, they must first fall in love with YOU!
2. Don’t be one dimensional, show people different aspects of your life so that they can connect with you on different levels. It might seem like nothing in your life is worthy of being shared, but those things are what connects people to you. Take it from the small town girl who created a brand around: yoga pants, puppies, and mac and cheese!
You have such a passion for sharing your successes and downfalls with your following. What inspires you to be more open? Is it ever hard to share the real, hard moments when so much of Instagram is so “perfect”? Two years ago we lost a really dear friend to us. I started to realize that our social media accounts are like our diaries. After he was gone, I found myself looking at his social media to feel closer to him. It isn’t just marketing. It’s our legacy, our story that we are telling. We share our highlight reels but to me, I want to look back and see my real life, the one I am living day in and day out intertwined with the pretty photos and the captions.
I want my future children to read my posts and hear my heart, to see that life isn’t always perfect but there is always beauty in it. I feel this deep down sense that I owe it to my followers to be honest, to keep it real and to connect with them even through the bad. To me, they aren’t just followers, they are friends and true friendship celebrates the peaks and the pits! More connection happens in the real, not the perfect.
What is your part of a wedding to photograph and why? There are so many precious moments that happen on a wedding day. I absolutely love “first look” moments where the bride and groom get to see each other for the first time in private. Being a witness to that is precious. My other favorite things to photograph are the father/daughter dance and the mother/son dance.
There is so much pride, emotion, excitement, and sadness in each sway on the dance floor and my heart usually breaks into a million pieces while my camera catches my tears.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to enter the photography world or take a leap of faith into the creative industry? Before you leap, set yourself up for success. It isn’t going to be easy, but it is always worth it. Make sure that you’re ready to jump before you do and once you make that decision to go for it, be all in! There will be days/weeks/months where you’ll wonder if you’re cut out for it or if you should quit, but when you are pursuing your passions and chasing joy, there is nothing that can stop you.
Craving: Macaroni and Cheese shapes, duh!
Dreaming of: A giant iced, soy coconut latte and a nap (one or the other!)
Reading: Me After You! It’s great!