Denver, Colorado, United States Photographer
http://www.josephmilton.com firstname.lastname@example.org 503-317-2215
For today’s ISPWP member spotlight, we feature non-traditional Denver wedding photographer Jackie Zoeller who owns Selah Photography.
Jackie Zoeller Bio:
Jackie Zoeller is a Denver artist who specializes in creative visual journalism. She is a graduate of The Art Institute of Colorado and Concordia University, Nebraska. Jackie is a life-long artist who traces her informal, candid and personal style of art back to her earliest days and the gracious gifts she has been given.
We at Selah Photography are creative wedding photographers who marry a unique style of photojournalism and creative documentation.
How did you get into wedding photography?
I have been drawn to creating things. Even since childhood my sentiment has driven me to document things of significance. I invested in studio art and psychology during my undergraduate studies. The two degrees alone were very impractical, but they became the perfect mixture for me as a photographer. My creativity was somewhat out of control, which gave me a unique struggle through schooling. After my first portraiture assignment in the only photography class offered, I became incredibly fascinated with the medium. Photography was a perfect fit for me to structure and shape my creativity. I attended a small Christian school filled with young engaged couples who struggled to pay for expensive wedding photography. I was in the perfect place for beginning a business. I did one wedding, and from there my business developed on its own.
Do you have any formal photography training?
Yes; I believe that my undergraduate training in psychology, painting and graphic design were the perfect set of formational training prior to attending photography school. I have a post graduate degree in photography from the Art Institute of Colorado. The training I received there was technical, and it taught me how to control the medium.
What adjectives do you use to describe your photography?
Quirky, nontraditional, emotive, energized, humorous, whimsical, meaningful, contemporary, unique.
How would you describe your approach to wedding photography?
I listen. I am sensitive to each person’s personality. Through this I try to understand how I can mold my ability to either encourage expressiveness or hide against the wall to make the people unaware of my existence.
I’m not one for excessive planning. Aside from formals, I have no shot list and don’t keep a posing guide in my back pocket. There is something much more genuine in approaching the day spontaneously. I prefer to approach the wedding day being unaware of the exact surroundings and dynamics. I feel that too much planning causes me to miss out on the truest story. Though my work isn’t always pure photojournalism, I am at all times trying to document reality. Spontaneously showing up and observing is a huge part of that for me.
The most significant tool for me as a listener is being connected. My best photography happens when I am allow myself to be present and feel what is going on. Listening as a photographer requires much more than observing the picture. As a photojournalistic photographer, your heart has to be open too.
Do you have a special tradition or moment at weddings that you love to photograph?
I could photograph a fun set of groomsmen all day. I am resistant towards doing the same thing from wedding to wedding, but you can usually find my wedding parties running around. I tend to be drawn to interactive documentation and movement. When you get a group of best friends together, those interactions come fairly natural. On the aesthetic side of things, the repetition and lines that come within the groomsmen’s tuxedos are always compositionally interesting to me.
What are some of your favorite local venues?
Hotel Boulderado, Arrowhead Golf Course, Brown Palace, Stonebrook Manor, The Rocky Mountains
What’s your favorite part of the wedding day to photograph?
Again, I love to document unique wedding party imagery, especially right after the ceremony. There is a certain energy and connection that happens after the couple is married. Everyone is excited, and that is when the best expressions occur. I also love to show the interaction between the wedding party, and I always strive to facilitate a fun environment to enhance their day.
What kinds of weddings do you love to photograph?
For me, it’s not so much about the different kinds of weddings. I enjoy a unique wedding location as much as any other photographer, but I am really passionate about documenting the bride and groom’s personalities. When I have a couple that is expressive, trusting and open to anything, I get so excited. Of course I love Denver’s unique and artistic wedding venues; however, when you get down to it, it’s really about the couple’s personality.
What are your top tips for brides to help them get great photos on their wedding day?
Trust your photographer, and be present. The more you let yourself go, the better. The worst thing that could happen is that you have a couple images you don’t like. The best thing that could happen is that you images really show your love story.
What do you find is the biggest challenge in wedding photography?
I think that it is easy for wedding photographers to focus on being the best and making the most money. Many photographers seem to dismiss the purpose of their gift. I often see people so fixated on becoming successful that they disregard the heart of documentation. I personally am always trying to remind myself why I do this. It isn’t about merely painting a pretty picture of a couple to hang on a hotel wall. It’s a responsibility and an opportunity to show people a beautiful part of themselves that they aren’t able to see. The opportunity to document this is a gift. It’s a struggle, but imperative to not forget the significance of the task.
What do you do for fun when you’re not shooting weddings?
You can find me reading, writing, painting, snowboarding, volunteering or spending hours talking with friends, trying to understand more about this life we’ve been given.
How would you describe your style of photography?
The images we produce at Selah Photography combine a unique style of photojournalism with creative portraiture. We draw on emotion and pursue unique fine art wedding photography. This all is mixed with a genuine, contemporary, nontraditional and journalistic edge.
Do you offer albums? If so, describe the albums you offer and why you think it’s important to provide albums.
Absolutely. Wedding albums are a purposeful heirloom. I tell couples that their albums are about more than themselves. Especially when they highlight the photojournalistic images. It’s an investment that will transcend time. This is what your great-great grandkids will have to tell who you were. The storybooks are a sentimental treasure. Also, as an engagement photographer, I like to offer albums prior to the wedding to showcase the love and excitement of the couple for this special wedding day.
What (or who) inspires you?
People who allow their beliefs to compel them to move and be different. The virtue of courage and artists that provide substance through their desire to go somewhere new or unknown.
What’s the best photography-related advice you’ve been given?
I had a professor tell me that if I wanted to be a better photographer, I should do more art. I didn’t pay much attention to it at the time, but in hindsight, the best photography classes I took weren’t photography classes. Painting, 2-D design, liturgical art and poetry is the studying that has shaped my understanding of the way I see the world.
With that being said, the foundational mechanics of design and composition are what has really established me as a professional wedding photographer. The technical details within photography are incredibly important, but also incredibly learnable. I am a huge advocate for technical knowledge, and I am constantly pursuing it; however, I know that the aesthetics are what will set you apart.
What would you say was the biggest reason for your success?
Every odd and unexplainable path has worked together for good. God has provided it all. The way I see has been shaped by everything I have learned and experienced. Which is why every photographer is so wonderfully unique and worthy. We all see things so differently; it’s inevitable.
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