Documenting who you are. Not just what you look like.

I focus on lifestyle sessions that capture families, couples, and high school seniors. My first love will always be engagements, bridals, and weddings. I've previously spent time photographing in Dallas and Chicago, and currently call the San Francisco Bay Area my home.

I named my workshop “Aspirations” because I want attendees to know that this isn’t a day for a specific group. Moms with cameras, those who received a dSLR for Christmas and have yet to take it out of the box, those who have been shooting for a few years but haven’t been able to make the leap they’re looking for… you’re all welcome. My full-day February workshop in Chicago had three lovely participants, Jessica, Kathy, and Cathie and I was really happy with how things went. I spent a few hours in the morning talking them through camera settings and composure and different types of light. We ate lunch, and then spent some time working with our models* before bundling up to brave the bitter cold as the sun went down. Getting outside and working with a variety of light sources was crucial! We ended the day in one of the the best ways I know, with hot chocolate and brownies.

*Friends from church. It was important to me that we worked with real people, because that’s who we’re going to be taking pictures of on a day-to-day basis!

I started the day off with banana bread.

Made sandwiches, soup, and a variety of salads for lunch.

And ended the day with crock-pot hot chocolate and caramel brownies for dessert.

I never want to be the workshop host hogging the best angles and preventing attendees from getting good shots, but I did step in a few times to get my friend laughing and playing with her sweet daughter.

Look at those eyes!

Thanks to Kathy for providing me with some outtakes.

I didn’t think it would be good to have that little baby in the cold, so we said goodbye to our models and headed outside with me acting as the “model”. My intention was to reinforce to them that good photographs are all about light not about location. It was a time for them to practice what they learned earlier in the day, identifying and working with different types of light (direct, shade, back-lit, sunflares), as well as choosing the correct settings for each location while operating in manual mode.

I put each of them on the spot when they showed up, handing over my camera and asking them each to take a picture using my equipment, in manual mode, and then giving them the opportunity to repeat the process at the end of the day. They were each able to take three images for the before shot, and three for the after, and I chose the best of each. All of the images you see below are straight -out-of-the-camera, with no editing at all. The differences are due to a better understanding of how ISO/aperture/shutter speed work together to make great portraits. Hooray!

On the left you can see the before of Kathy, and on the right her after shot.

This is Cathie’s.

And this is Jessica’s.

Enough of my self-promotion! Two of the attendees provided feedback that gives you better insight into who they are, and what kind of experience they had.


What camera body and lenses do you own? – Nikkon D7000, kit lense and a Nikkon 35mm/f 1.6
How long have you owned a dSLR? – since October 2010
What was the most helpful thing that you learned at the session? - metering on camera!
You have a friend that is on the fence regarding an Aspirations session with Jenna Cole. What would you tell this friend to convince them it’s a worthwhile investment? It helped me feel more confident about really understanding my camera and taking the theories I sort of got and really seeing how they work in reality.


What camera body and lenses do you own? I don’t currently own a dSLR, I have a Panasonic Lumix. But I’m hoping to get a Nikon per Jenna’s recommendations. [Editor's Note: I shoot Canon, but I think Nikon sounds like a good fit for Jessica!]
What was the most helpful thing that you learned at the session? The most helpful thing I learned was about the reflection of light off of things that you wouldn’t consider reflective – white wall, carpet, shirt. I knew about the importance of light, but didn’t know how to look for things to amplify it in a room.
You have a friend that is on the fence regarding an Aspirations session with Jenna Cole. What would you tell this friend to convince them it’s a worthwhile investment? I would tell her how customized it is – you get to ask questions, learn about other things not on the agenda, guide what you want to take photos of.

I’m considering doing another one of these in Utah this Summer, and I’m definitely planning to do one in San Francisco once we’ve moved. If you’re in either of those areas and would like to attend, send me an email using my contact form above!

categories: Aspirations

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comments (1)
  • Ami says:

    i spy peach napkins, embroidered with love! i can’t even tell you how much that made my day. :)

    (April 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm)
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