We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Jolene Settle a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Jolene, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. Learning the craft is often a unique journey from every creative – we’d love to hear about your journey and if knowing what you know now, you would have done anything differently to speed up the learning process.
How did you learn to do what you do?
I’ve always had a fascination with photography. I recall using my mom’s Kodak Ektralite camera when I was little, and I was intrigued with the photographic process. I can still remember how happy I was every time we picked up the processed film and looked through the photos to see what I had captured. I graduated with a BFA in graphic design, and I went on to earn an MFA in studio art. In graduate school, I enjoyed using my camera for creative purposes. I moved to Austin, Texas, shortly after graduation and have been able to earn a living by using my photography skills for commercial purposes. I began photographing architecture as a contract photographer. I developed an interest in other aspects of photography and decided to broaden my photographic abilities. The majority of my technical knowledge has come from resources available online, in the library, and through trial and error.
Knowing what you know now, what could you have done to speed up your learning process?
I could have switched my BFA in graphic design to photography, but I had already made up my mind. However, I believe that in order to know what I really wanted to achieve, I just needed time and experience. I would suggest taking classes on creativelive.com if you want to hasten your learning process. I am not sponsored by them; I simply had the opportunity to pick up some extremely useful skills quickly and for a fair price. On YouTube, there are other photographers who also impart their expertise.
What skills do you think are most essential?
Critical thinking skills, which most individuals learn through experience or in college, are crucial, in my opinion. Learning how to multitask while working is another crucial ability. However, I think that developing patience for jobs you might not particularly want to undertake is the most crucial skill. Being self-employed requires you to “wear many hats.” For instance, you need to network, sell yourself, be your own accountant, and have excellent people skills.
What obstacles stood in the way of learning more?
Because I strive for excellence, I’ve always believed that there are essential skills that I’m lacking because my vision of the outcome did not match my expectations. I had to figure out how to control my unrealistic ideas. In the end, all I needed was more hands-on experience to boost my confidence.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
For folks who may not have read about you before, can you please tell our readers about yourself:
My hometown is Amarillo, Texas, where I grew up and lived in the country. The land is extremely flat and always windy. My sister and I used to ride our four wheelers up and down the ditches when we were kids. Thinking about it makes me laugh. Because of my upbringing, I have always enjoyed being outside. I think my artistic side originates from my tendency toward introspection. I’ve always had a tendency to daydream, imagining possibilities for the future, whether they are based on reality or on imagination.
How you got into your industry / business / discipline / craft etc, what type of products/services/creative works you provide:
After being laid off from my job as a graphic designer, I became interested in commercial photography. I grew tired of sitting in front of a computer all day and decided it was time to change careers. I was looking for work online and came across a company that was looking for contract photographers to shoot real estate listings. This got me started in commercial photography, and from there I expanded into other areas. I provide product, architectural, and food photography to businesses in and around Austin.
What problems you solve for your clients and/or what you think sets you apart from others.
I can assist my clients in developing their vision for how they want their brand to be represented. It can be difficult to define what we are looking for at times. Sometimes we need someone to listen to us and bounce ideas off of. I think that my perseverance and desire set me apart from other photographers since I strive in taking photographs that match the vision of my clients.
What are you most proud of and what are the main things you want potential clients/followers/fans to know about you/your brand/your work/ etc.
I am most proud of my progress in my photography skills. I feel I’ve made a lot of progress toward becoming the kind of photographer I want to be. I occasionally look at my earlier images next to my more recent ones, and seeing the differences gives me a lot of confidence.
Is there something you think non-creatives will struggle to understand about your journey as a creative?
I believe that most non-creatives do not consider how creative people shape the world. Without creative people doing what they do, our world would be very boring. A non-creative person may see fault in a creative person’s financial insecurity. And, admittedly, pursuing a career in a creative field is financially risky (depending on the field). I’ve learned over the years that most creative people I speak with can’t stop being creative. They will experience anxiety and stress as a result of not creating. Most that I know try to balance their artistic endeavors with having a reliable full-time job. I certainly think that the artistic community needs more assistance.
What’s been the best source of new clients for you?
Reaching out to individuals and businesses and simply introducing myself has been the best source of new clients for me. In my experience, if I’ve met the client in person, I’m more likely to get the job. It is also critical to have a strong online presence to promote yourself. I’ve obtained clients from various online platforms by adding a profile and images to showcase my portfolio.