Interview with Photographer Jackie Harbidge

I’m always curious about how other photographers use cameras to express their artistic vision.  Photography offers so many avenues, from macro to journalism, landscape to boudoir.  Speaking of boudoir, I was intrigued to learn that fellow Cochranite Jacqueline Harbidge was adept at this style of imagery.  Jackie was kind enough to be interviewed for this blog.  Her thoughtful answers to my questions are below.  Be sure to head to Jackie’s website to appreciate more of her work and diverse portraiture!

What is your area or areas of expertise in photography?

I started out specializing in family portraits and then progressed into wedding photography for several years.  I then decided to try something a bit different, and made a decision to expand into boudoir photography.  So currently I specialize in Boudoir and Portrait Photography.

How did you develop this expertise?

I began my professional career by first obtaining a Photography Certificate at SAIT.   I also became a member of the Cochrane Camera Club and have been for quite a few years now.  I joined the Professional Photographers Association, which provides incredible workshops and conferences, the Calgary Institute for Photography, and other organizations to expand my knowledge and experience.  I have also benefited from specialized workshops and courses that I have taken over the years.  I additionally assist other photographers in sports photography and volunteered for various events (gala’s, Mother’s Day Run, etc.) all to expand my knowledge and experience.  Finally if that doesn’t keep me busy, photography books are great to have around, they have really good information, however, and more importantly to anyone wanting to improve their skills, I go out and  take pictures  and experiment.

Describe a typical ‘day in the life’ of you as a photographer; what is it like to work in your area of photography?

Boudoir photography is a lot of fun for both me and the client.  Often observing the transformation of a client is hugely rewarding.  I find that most of us women do not recognize or celebrate our own beauty as we all should regardless of our size and body shape.  So seeing a client start to really feel sexy and beautiful and enjoy celebrating who they really are and just feeling good about themselves is an awesome experience.  Afterwards I am always amazed when they view the pictures, and I see their faces light up, and they say – is that me?  Makes it all worthwhile.

Why is photography important to you?

Photography is my creative outlet – it captures a moment in time that we can never get back, but which we can revisit.  Things are ever changing and to have a moment of history is pretty neat. I especially enjoy boudoir photography; helping women feel beautiful and good about themselves is very important to me.

Can you describe some early influences or current influences on your work?

There have been so many photographers and moments that have touched my life.  My teachers at SAIT, Patrick Kornack, Bill March, but especially George Webber – incredible person and photographer.  Other photographers are Cliff Kelly, Scott Winter, Mark Laurie, and then I took a course that two photographers put on last year…. Sam and Darwin I think were their names … LOL…. which was very enlightening!  I love Ansel Adams’ work and Robert Freeman.

I found that once I discovered I had a passion for photography then every picture I have ever taken has had some influence on me; some positive and some to drive me to do better; I tend to be my hardest critic, but I think we all are.  I think the first few boudoir sessions I did had a huge impact on me, in part because of this huge positive impact it had with women concerned, the emotions were nearly tangible and I still get such a thrill from the clients’ reactions.

What are some of the challenges and some of the benefits of being a female in the traditionally male-dominate industry of photography?

I think there are many photographers in the Calgary area so that can sometimes make it a tough market.  But I do believe that it has more to do with how your market yourself, and present your work, then it has to do with gender.  In boudoir photographer, however, I believe a female photographer would be able to get the client to relax quicker than a male photographer, which all helps to produce amazing pictures.

 What do you see as some of the most interesting trends with photography these days?  What are some of the most difficult?

It has been interesting to see the way marketing has moved, more to blogging, twittering, and facebook from the more traditional forms.  I think the way photographers earn their money has changed, especially with landscape, travel, animals, to more instructional/courses and publishing books vs. stock or selling prints.  The continuous advance in technology has had a dramatic impact on photography over the last decade.  Yes we will see some very exciting advances in the years to come but you will still need a love of the subject and an ‘eye’.  I would also suggest we will see ever more advances in processing software, like many advances this may have two sides.  One where we are able to produce stunning pictures where before these were just not possible and the other side where people can ‘produce’ a picture from the ground up on a computer, especially given the advances in CGI.  As stunning as they might be I believe it takes away from the art of photography, it seems to lack heart.  So this may become a challenge in the coming years, do we purchase a stunning programmed picture or one where someone has been out in the real world?  Regardless, though, they will all make that moment unique.

In the business generally though I feel a lot of the bigger companies we have now have, have cut out the little guy with their low costs, regardless of their “quality” especially with schools and sport leagues.

I am also seeing a trend where clients are now wanting something a little different , pictures that are less traditional, but styles have always changed even in the world of photography.

 Often successful photographers are asked for advice from beginners who are interested in making money or a career in photography.  What do you tell them?

You need to focus on the actual photography, only when you have matured your skills can you hope to be successful. Then ensure you have a business plan – take some business classes.  Because it doesn’t matter how good your pictures or website are if no one can find you and you won’t have many clients. The other point which maybe more important than skill and business sense, is having a passion for what you do, you can’t fake that with photography it’s an art and needs heart, people will see that in your pictures.  And finally never lose faith in what you love, but ensure you look after your education and have another career to maintain you until you make that break through.

What are your plans with your business for the future?

I am committed to pursuing the boudoir and portrait side of my business as this gives me the most satisfaction.  I am also committed to continuing to expand my knowledge with my membership of associations, clubs, workshops and courses , striving to better myself after each and every experience.

Any final words of wisdom for our audience?

I will just close with some quotes from Ansel Adams:

“No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.”

“Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution.”

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”

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~ by Samantha on June 4, 2011.

2 Responses to “Interview with Photographer Jackie Harbidge”

  1. Great interview- i think boudoir photoggraphy is a great way make a woman feel sexy and the pictures always look timeless.

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