The last 11 months have been a time of tremendous growth for me.  I launched Jennifer Willard Photography in April 2011 and we are now coming up on our first year anniversary…. time has not only flown by but has pretty much shot across the sky like a meteor!

Here are a couple of things I’ve learned over the last year {be prepared for a mouthful! All my clients know i like to talk lol}:

Finding Work-Life Balance is KEY to having a happy life.  I had a tendancy to want to give everyone the moon and squeeze people in even when i was overwhelmed with photoshoots just because i didn’t want anyone to miss out on having their family pictures updated.  And while this came from a good place in my heart and from my incredible work ethic of working 12 hours a day, it didn’t produce the home life that I wanted.  I didn’t place a high enough value on myself or my family.  That hurts to think about but I really didn’t see my son from October until a week before Christmas.  It was hard on me for the overwhelming guilt I felt for missing out on my son’s new achievements {even working at night on his 2nd birthday in October} and the overwhelming guilt i felt at not being a good mom.  Yes, I was working hard for the family, but if you are working so hard that you don’t SEE your family then what’s the point?  It was hard on my husband who worked 40 hours  a week then became a single dad at night to Grey.  Giving him dinner and baths and playing.  For the first month Grey would come and say mama play and mom said i can’t i’m working you have to play with your dad, and the second month he didn’t even ask me anymore…. it still brings tears to my eyes to think about…. he stopped asking to play and when i could find the time to play with him he didn’t want me to, he wanted to play with his dad and told me to go to work…. that’s heartbreaking and i’ve carried a lot of guilt still with how i chose work over my son for 2 months.  It was also hard for my husband because he didn’t see me either, it was like he was by himself and i couldn’t figure out how to balance it with my workload and the deadline of Christmas.  It was hard on my son as I’ve said and during the slow season of January to March we have been able to spend countless hours together and have regained that special mother-son bond.  He was afterall a mama’s boy before the Fall season began.  So this year has taught me Work-Life Balance is key to happiness, it’s key to success in my business and it’s key to living the life i want to live as a mom first, wife second and photographer third.

I’ve learned that a client who truly loves your work can wait 2-4 weeks to get their pictures back, they don’t need it in 4 days and certainly would be appalled to hear that I would work 12 hour days and not see my son to get it to them in that time period.  That’s ridiculous to even think about… i still struggle with not working 12 hour days even as late as yesterday when i did.  There is a lot to running a photography business that isn’t all editing or even shooting pictures.  There’s marketing and phone calls and emails to respond to, there’s watching tutorials, taking workshops, getting much needed advice from more seasoned photographers in other parts of the country.  There’s taxes to do – as tax season is upon us.  There’s networking and searching for cool props to offer my clients.  Everything takes time.  Editing until midnight isn’t what i want for my life and I’m sure it isn’t what my clients want either.  What does a week difference really mean when you’re going to have your pictures on the wall for life.  In a year from now will you remember that you waited 2 weeks so that your photographer could produce stunning images as well as be an awesome mom.  Probably not, you’re going to just look at that picture and think, wow! look at us, we were so happy and i just can’t believe how much Johnny has grown from then – time to get updated pictures 😉

I’ve learned that I didn’t want to be like Walmart and I’m still not like Walmart.  I don’t just spit out these images like I’m an assembly line.  I work hard at capturing those natural smiles in a relaxed setting.  I work hard at trying to give you the client a good time, getting pictures taken should be a fun experience.  I’m also not like Walmart in a bigger way – I’m producing works of Art.  I put hours into your photographs.  Each one is worked on separately and no two images are edited in the exact same way.  This isn’t an assembly plant and I don’t treat your photographs as such.  Some pictures call out for a vintage flair, some funky, some classic, some black and white.  All of them are unique. I want them all to be hung in your home and looked at for years to come and I want you to value them as you would a cityscape you buy at the Brick.  These are works of art that you want get sick of in 20 years because it’s out of style.  These images are of you.  Of your children.  Of your spouses.  Of your family.  These images are worth so much more than anything else you will ever buy.  These image are with you for LIFE…. think about that for a second, they are with you for life….. that’s a long time wouldn’t you say?  They are invaluable wouldn’t you say?  Like a real Picasso hanging in your Office…. invaluable.  These are the images that your great great grandchildren will look at and this is what they will have left of you.  Sounds morbid but it’s true.  How neat is it to look at those old photographs of times passed?  The old yellow worn images of farmers with their families outside their homesteads or barns.  Images of your stiff looking ancestors not allowed to smile as that was the custom (plus it took a long time to get that picture!).  And while we are happy that we are allowed to smile for pictures now isn’t it neat to think that generations from now your childrens childrens children will be looking at these picture with the same nostalgia?  I think that’s pretty powerful.  Photographs are powerful.  They tell a story of a minute in time.  A glimpse into the people you are in that second.  It’s something to document and it’s something to display proudly in your home.  My husband and I don’t have any of those pictures in our home of our ancestors, they are still in our parents’ home but I can tell you that I’m excited to think about the day they are passed down to me.  The history in that photograph is rich and invaluable to our families.  I want the photographs of your families to be just as powerful one day when the generations after us look at them.  But for today I want your photographs to remind you of what family is about.  I want them to remind you of the love you had for each other.  I want them to remind you of how young your kids once were, how they looked with that gap in their tooth, your baby’s first smiles, their sweet little toes, their infectious grins and goofy faces.  I want you to remember all those times and I honestly think photographs help us do that.  They help us cherish the memories of times past and one day your kids will be so thankful for that reminder.

Some of you may remember this and others will be hearing it for the first time but when I was in grade 6 we had to make a family album.  Pictures of me when I was very young (and we all know that there weren’t that many pictures taken 30 years ago) on the farm, with the chics, in my kindergarten graduation cap and gown, with my brothers when they were first born, with my parents when they were still married, me as i was growing up.  I put all of these pictures in an album, my parents let me not thinking about anything and after my project was graded I brought the album to our tent trailer in a camp ground.  It took only one rain fall on a weekend we weren’t there for all those pictures to be ruined.  The weekend after i brought it there and forgot it….we thought we would just get it the next time we were there as it was summer.  Well that old trailer which we only had just got apparently had some holes and flooded in the downpour.  All of those pictures were ruined.  Lost forever.  All the images of my childhood were gone.  Now there have been a few we have got over the years from other aunts and grandmas that have taken my picture, but our core pictures were gone in an instant.  And while this might sound like a call out to get Cd’s of pictures it’s not.  If my parents had used the negatives to enlarge pictures for the wall then we would have had some still….but wouldn’t you know it, the negatives were in that album still and hadn’t been put away…. fate sometimes takes a weird turn.  After that time I took pictures of everything with my hot pink camera and filled albums full of friends that are long gone today.  But it made me value a photograph.  It made me value photography and how important it is to have more than just a few pictures.  It’s important to take many pictures and update your pictures every year.  It’s a different age and digital technology certainly helps us do that.  But the funny thing about technology is it doesn’t need a rain storm to wreck your pictures all it needs is a virus or malfunction and you’ve lost all the pictures you’ve ever taken.  That would be devestating and I pray that never happens to you.  But that brings me to my point.  It’s great that technology has brought us into a digital age but have we really changed all that much from when my mom would have negatives and not do anything with them.  Your digital pictures are just sitting in your computer, an accident waiting to happen.  The images on your wall, the ones that later generations will look at are the ones that you will have left when all is said in done.  In this digital world many of you don’t even print your images anymore.  You have 1000’s of images on your hard drives but none in album format to look at on a day the power goes out.  That strikes me as depressing.

When I started my business last April I thought the digital world was where it was at.  But after this year of tremendous growth and learning more about who I am, and what photographs really mean to me I’ve come to the conclusion that as nice as it is to have an image on your computer, it’s even nicer to look at an image on your wall.  I don’t go back in my computer and sit and look at pictures from last year but i do see the pictures on my wall multiple times a day when I pass them.  If you’ve come to my home studio then you’ve seen my picture “shrine” to my son Grey in our living room.  His first year of life we got pictures taken from another local photographer {who’s fantastic} who I will tell you the name of if you come by, as I don’t try to pretend I can take pictures of my own family {hello tripod christmas pictures that were hilarious but awful on a timer! lol} and those are the pictures that i stop and look at and think WOW! Grey has grown so much in just the 2 years of his life.  And he was the cutest boy ever!!! {I know mama goggles on!!!}…those are the pictures I stop and look at.  I don’t even look in my computer at all.  Or I might look at my photo albums I had made of all of his first year of life pictures – some of those pictures are hilarious! He used his eyebrows a lot to talk just like his mama… but i digress.

The point is, i stop and look at the pictures on the wall.  Those are the ones I’ll always remember.  It’s great to get a CD but what’s the point if you don’t do anything with the pictures after you get them.  And so after discussing this with countless other Photographers and my husband I have decided to make big changes to my business.  I will be changing over to prints only with the option to buy the CD as well…but really my point is, a picture on the wall is what you want from me.  I want you to walk past that picture and look at it like it’s a piece of Art {It is by the amount of time I spend on each one} and really study it.  Look at your faces, the natural smiles, the love in your eyes.  That’s what photography is all about.  It’s about capturing moments.  That picture is going to last forever and be loved by each person who stops to look at it.  No one is going to see your lovely smiling faces sitting on a hardrive.  What’s the fun in that?  Don’t you want guests to stop and say you look gorgeous?  Who doesn’t like to hear that?  Umm… I do!!!  Because my son is just so darn cute with his squishy cheeks…. sorry mommy goggles again! lol… the point is, your family is the center of your world, they deserve to have their photograph taken, and they deserve to have a place on your wall.

This decision may cost me a lot of clients who may feel that they can’t afford my services.  Well, you know I’m a fair person and I started this business with you in mind.  If you were looking to book a session but are not sure now please feel free to email me and look at my new pricing structure and session guide, you may be surprised to learn that I can still be your preferred family photographer.  I really hope I will continue to be your number one choice, but if I’m not then that’s okay and a decision you have to make for yourselves and what works for your family {although I’m sad to think about you not coming to me :(}.  An important lesson that I have learned this year is my clients are my clients.  If you love me then you’ll go with me, if you love someone else then you’ll go with someone else.  The clients I have were meant for me.  And I so enjoy spending time with them.  I hope to spend time with them all again but sadly this decision will make me lose some of them.  I’m really sorry for that as I’ve enjoyed meeting so many families and seeing their smiles…. but at the end of the day I have to do what’s right for me and my family {I want you to have your pictures and I want my family to eat lol}.  I want to produce ART for your wall.  I want you to LOVE the ART I produce.  And I don’t want my images stuck on your hard drives… I want them where you can walk, stop and admire them.  Like on a big canvas over your couch or fireplace 😉

Now let’s talk about Facebook.  Hello?  I LOVE FACEBOOK!!  I’m there chatting with my fans on my wall all the time and with my family on my personal facebook page.  I post pictures like the rest of you.  Originally from Windsor, I have family back home and in Sudbury and in Alberta as well as in the states…how are they supposed to see your beautiful images if you don’t get a cd anymore?  Well, that’s easy.  With every session I am going to give you resized, watermarked images for you to put up on Facebook or other social media websites.  This way your images have the best web sharpening techniques that I use and your family can see whatever images you want.  Why am I watermaking them?  Well, to be honest, Photography is a lot of word of mouth and I think my happy customers are the best word of mouth advertising I can get!  You’ve been supporting me and spreading my name out there and I appreciate and love you for it!  This is just another way of doing that for me.  You’re coming to me because you’ve loved my images online, you’ll stay with me because you love your experience with me and I hope that you will continue supporting me after we see each other…and hopefully we’ll see you every year for updated pictures.  Remember pictures will last forever, what product have you bought that you can say that about?  Not very many.. jewelry perhaps?  some antique furniture?  again, not very many things.  Photographs can last a lifetime if cared for properly and not given to a grade 6 student for a school project ;P  lesson learned!  So watermarking your resized web images helps spread the word that you love the ART I have created for you and the experience with me and want others to experience the same service and have incredible ART for their walls.  Simple as that and I love you for supporting me as it’s hard to get the word out there in town your not from {you all know my husband is born and raised in Perth but really he’s not much of networking guru! lol}.

So I gave you mouthful there and I appreciate you reading this far even if your eyes hurt 🙂  All previously booked sessions will continue the same way we have discussed but new ones will be booked using the new pricing structure and fabulous family session guide I have created – told you I had great things in the works!

I have a lot of fun ideas I’m throwing around in my head and if you have an idea for a custom themed shoot please feel free to email me and we can work on it together.  I’m always up to new and exciting adventures with my clients.

If you would like to book a session with me and find out what all the buzz is about email me at and will discuss how we can put ART up on your wall for generations to see and enjoy starting with YOU!

Thanks for joining me in my first year of business – I’m really excited for the second year to start with fresh ideas, unique style, and natural smiles.

Love Always,


Jennifer Willard Photography

fresh. unique. natural.