We recently interviewed one of Santa Cruz’s very own local photographers, Jess Atkinson. She created Birch Studio Photography after following her passion for photography and love of the outdoors. From her favorite projects, the inspiration behind her work, and everything in between- here’s her photography journey.
Interviewed by: Amber Bushman
Amber: Who or what has inspired you to pursue photography?
Jess: I’ve loved art and photography since I was a little girl. Growing up in Santa Cruz, I had a colorful childhood and a creative family. With my parents’ encouragement, I ended up following my passion through college.
Amber:When and why did you decide to become a photographer?
Jess: I worked for several years as a children’s Art Teacher in Silicon Valley, and then I took up a job at a Silicon Valley search engine. I never lost my love of photography but there was not enough time to create the art I wanted to make. Something had to give so I took the leap.
Amber: How has living in Santa Cruz influenced you?
Jess: Santa Cruz is so beautiful. The redwoods, the waves, the meadows. Everywhere you go, there is a gorgeous backdrop. I am constantly incorporating our natural surroundings into my photographic work.
Amber: What has been your favorite part about being a photographer?
Jess: I get to witness all of these joyful times in people’s lives. I revel in capturing love stories and little moments that people–I hope–will look back on years from now. It’s incredibly rewarding to create lasting relationships with clients. Having the opportunity to photograph a couple’s wedding, then their pregnancy and then their family is definitely a “feel good” experience.
Amber: What kind of photography do you do for your business? In relation, what projects do you enjoy working on the most?
Jess: I do wedding and lifestyle photography, including family, maternity and newborn. My aesthetic is full of light and nature and has an organic feel. I work in outdoor environments or inside my clients’ homes. I’m currently really enjoying maternity and newborn photography projects. The subjects are so sweet, and the work allows me to slow down and be in the moment.
Amber: How did you come up with the name Birch Studio Photography?
Jess: When I’m not out in the field I do all of my editing out of my home and garage studio surrounded by birch trees.
Amber: Have you ever considered yourself an entrepreneur?
Jess: Working for myself has definitely been a learning process. Mixing art and business can be challenging at times. I think of myself as an artist first. Maybe an art-treprenuer?
Amber: What advice would you give to aspiring photographers looking to create their own business?
Jess: I’d recommend aspiring photographers consider assisting a photographer to get a better understanding of the business. Practice until you discover your style and you know your gear in and out. If you are willing to work hard, it can be a very satisfying career.
Amber: What are your hopes and dreams for Birch Studio Photography?
Jess: As silly as it sounds, I feel my dreams are already coming true. My hope is to make beautiful and meaningful products that my clients will enjoy for years to come.
To view even more stunning pictures by Jess, you can visit https://www.birchstudiophotography.com.