If you’ve read Jen Huang’s blog, you know she’s a person on the move, not only professionally, but geographically. Covering weddings around the country, she can be found regularly on both coasts. At the moment, foremost on her mind is her workshop, Love Notes, coming later this year. I caught up with Jen at her studio in the Upper East Side one Friday afternoon.
Perfectly adorned, her studio is draped in light with strong rustic accents. As I surveyed her images on the wall, it was clear that these were pictures about charm, simplicity, and light. Where many New York photographers choose to go dark, she goes light, giving her images an ethereal sense of whiteness. Her restraint and focus are the work of someone with confidence. No over-the-top images, no technique for technique’s sake. Just pure and elegant pictures with a left coast inflection, delicately scattered throughout the room.
Jen is attractive – leonine in appearance, graceful and poised. The first thing that catches your attention about her is how unassuming she is, so it takes a second to reconcile that fact with what is equally apparent – her clarity and strength of belief. She is as likable and laid back as she is articulate and thoughtful. As I took a seat in front of her unvarnished table, she noticed the sunlight on me, pulling in the curtains. She poured some water from a glass carafe – the type you’d expect to find in an old Italian villa or a cafe in provincial France – into her mason jar cups. This is a girl who knows how to create an experience.
“I believe that brand is the most important thing,” she says. “It should be in everything you do from how your pictures look to what you wear and where you shop.” It’s no surprise that Jen found the Holy Grail of client relations. In an industry expanding relentlessly, she has avoided commodification. Her clients come to her specifically for her vision.
Her success is the result of a consistent, focused effort and never losing sight of what she’s after. She is critically aware of her own work and curates with a keen eye. “I am my own worst critic. I have to be…no one is going to do it for you.” Making sure to present only her best images and work that matches her style, she maintains a consistency of brand that leaves little doubt as to what she’s about.
She is specific about how and where she likes to work, and what she expects out of her clients. Every client does a shoot outside, she prefers outdoor locations with a light and airy feel, and she posts only the images that fit her style on her blog. You’ll never find the hodge-podge of “me too” images that you see elsewhere. She’s even gone so far as to fire a client. “It was a circumstance where I felt I wouldn’t be able to deliver my best,” she explains. Preserving relationships is essential. In fact, she sees her clients as friends, so knowing that she can provide the quality of work and connection that’s necessary are part and parcel of her business process.
Jen’s package structures are refreshingly honest. No hard sells, no fussiness. She targets her lowest package and has made sure that it gives her as much as she needs to make from each wedding, so there’s no need to worry about upsells and high pressure tactics. This simple, honest approach matches her personality and her brand, and it lets her create meaningful connections with her clients from the get go. Does it work? Absolutely. Each year, she is booked past capacity, and she gets to lead the exact lifestyle she wants.
I put her on the spot by asking her for her top three tips. She answered with poise and insight.
Jen’s Top 3 Tips
1. Create a good product with amazing work
2. Have exquisite branding
3. Never stop being a perfectionist
4 Common Problems
1. Photographers need to upgrade the quality of their work. Standing out is difficult.
2. Misspending on advertising
3. A general lack of kindness towards the industry and clients
4. Poor comprehension of social media
Images by Jen Huang:
You can learn more about Jen at her website and on her blog.