When Recollections needed a photographer a few years ago, Jennifer Adkins heeded the call. We sat down for a chat recently to find out more about her, her photography, and her Recollections connection.
Us: How did you become Recollections’ photographer?
Jen: It was three years ago in November, Marianne had a (photo shoot) set up above the Domaci Gallery in downtown Rogers City, Michigan. They needed some professional assistance. They called to see if I was available. I went down and helped with lighting and the other photographer. The room was cold and the equipment wasn’t working well together, so I invited them to come down the street to my studio where it was warmer and from there it took off.
Us: Wow! A one-time job turned into quite the opportunity. Where can we see your work on the Recollections website?
Jen: Any of the photos that are on a gray or white background were taken by me.
Us: What is a typical Recollections photo shoot like?
Jen: It’s a lot of fun! We have fun with it. We take a few shots to get into the rhythm of everything to be sure we’re getting the look we want. I take about 10 shots from the front, from the side, and from the back. If we’re photographing hats, we spend time on headshots. I want to get enough photos so we have a variety to choose from.
Us: When the models come in for a photo shoot, are they pretty much ready to go as far as hair and makeup?
Jen: Usually, the models come in ready to get into the outfits, but sometimes the stylist isn’t available. Fortunately, many of the girls know how to do their own hair and can help each other. But, a couple of times I’ve had to step in and help with that, too! It takes teamwork. The girls do their own makeup for the session. No divas here!
Us: You took us on a little tour of the studio before we sat down to chat. There’s a nice little changing room that the ladies can use but that wasn’t always the case, was it?
Jen: No! For quite a while we had to make a changing area by setting up accordion room dividers like you would see during the Victorian era. The girls were good sports and made the best of it. The changing area we have now is roomy and has an area where they can apply makeup.
Us: Sometimes, you venture out of the studio and take the models on location. What is the most interesting photo shoot location you’ve been to so far?
Jen: Forty Mile Point Lighthouse was a lot of fun. It was packed! There were a lot of tourists there that day and the girls were approached by quite a few people who told them how beautiful they looked and how exquisite the gowns were. It was rare to see such beautiful elegance on the beach at Forty Mile Point Lighthouse. It was quite interesting!
I find them all interesting and fun. I am very passionate about what I do. I get very excited when I am out there and ideas are popping and flowing, so I think they are all fun! The girls are a lot of fun to work with, too.
Us: Is there something else you’d like to tell us about your work and your work for Recollections?
Jen: It’s ironic how things throughout your life are connected. I watched a lot of Broadway musicals when I was younger, especially those set in historical eras, like Hello, Dolly and My Fair Lady. I lived downstate for a while and worked at a dry cleaner for six years. You wouldn’t think that working at a dry cleaner would have anything to do with Recollections but I learned about all the fabrics. When Marianne came in, I knew what taffeta was. I could identify silk and rayon. I knew about hoops and crinolines. I knew this because I dealt with this at the dry cleaner downstate.
I love, love, love being able to work for them, and I definitely love Steampunk. It’s a passion. It gets me giddy!
Us: So Jen, tell us a little bit about how you became a photographer.
Jen: I think it has always been in my blood. My dad is a very good photographer. When I was younger he would let me play with his 35 millimeter Kodak camera.
When I got to high school, Mr. James Hopp was a big inspiration. Later on, I was working at a gas station when Jeff Hopp and his assistant came in. We talked and clicked and was asked if I wanted to be a photo lab tech and that was absolutely exquisite; a godsend. Jeff has mentored me over many years, not only in as a photo lab technician but also as a photographer. He taught me how the world is beautiful and how everyone has a different view and different outlook when looking at a photo. It’s very rewarding when someone takes a look at your picture and it touches their heart. That’s what makes it all worthwhile; it’s what I aim for.
Us: As a freelance photographer, you take many different kinds of photos. What is your favorite?
Jen: I love the photographs I get to create for Recollections, but my favorite is landscape photography. Everywhere I go I say I have photography ADD. “Oh my gosh, that’s so beautiful! And, look over there!” My poor children. I have two daughters and when mom sees something, we pull over. They think, “ here we go again!”
The world is so beautiful. To be able to capture that moment in time and the essence of what I see, and get that feeling when I look at it; that is what I love. My landscape photography is available through Fine Arts America, through my website and also on Facebook.
Us: You’ve been recognized for your landscape photography. Tell us a little bit about that experience.
Jen: Three years ago on a Friday the thirteenth there was a full moon. It was rising over Calcite (the limestone quarry in Rogers City, on the shore of Lake Huron). I captured that and called it ‘Bad Moon Rising Over Calcite.’ I entered it into the Weather Channel’s ‘It’s Amazing Out There’ contest. I was very blessed and flattered that out of 32,000 entries, I ended up being in the top 25 (her entry was placed 11th). It was an honor.
Thank you, Jennifer Adkins, for sharing your time with us! We look forward to more photographic adventures with you. You can see Jennifer’s work for Recollections at the website. Connect with Jen on Facebook.
– Donna Klein