How the heck does my work in student affairs make me a better photographer? The skills I develop and use in student affairs transfer to my work as a photographer. Who would have thunk it? I sure didn’t expect nor predict the added benefit when I first started work at the University of Alberta back in 2015.
Here are the top four student affairs skills I use as a wedding photographer.
University services are all about feedback and assessment practices. It’s crucial for us to know that the work we do aligns with student needs and with organization strategic goals. My practice at the UASU has challenged me again and again to revisit what I do and why I do it. I’ve narrowed in on what my goals are as a photographer and the services I provide clients. My focus now, more than ever, is on connection and celebration.
A new tool I’ve added to my workflow is a 3.5 Questions survey asking for feedback on my service and the client experience 🙂 This helps me learn and grow.
Sometimes conflict happens on a wedding day. Emotional investment from friends and family is high. Once in a while a neutral third party member is handy to reset scene. I’m an expert in reading the room and making quick judgement calls to relieve tension. I often tell my clients, if you need someone to run interference or make timeline decisions, you can look for my call to help limit grumpiness. If the number of questions and decisions being thrown your way gets to be too much, ask me what I think and I’ll help you make that call. I normally have a chat about this with clients during our consultation so that we’re all on the same page come wedding day. It’s my goal to make sure that you have the best day possible.
Event & Project Management
Years working in student services means a thorough understanding of event logistics and planning. We plan events with attendee expectations anywhere from 50 – 5,000 people. Yep, that’s a lot of humans to coordinate. I have a grasp on just how much time it’ll take to move a wedding party of 18 from place to place, to finish a receiving line of 250 people, and to transition from dinner to dance. I work closely with couples to help them set a wedding day timeline that fits all their goals. This is the important part, NOT my goals. Your goals. I shoot for you, not for the next magazine spread or submission.
I manage a team of 25 student staff. We often hire staff with little to no previous work experience. This means that each year we intentionally hit the reset button and sometimes start completely fresh with no returning team members. Years of coaching new staff members means “I’ve got you” when it comes time for portraits. I focus on coaching you and your significant other into comfortable easy moments and actions that I capture. I will often give you a set of instructions or a silly game to play. It also means that I can direct your family and friends with confidence and at the same time, make them feel like they’re talking to a real human being.
Hi, my name is Janelle, I’m an photographer hailing from Edmonton Alberta.I’m all about connection and celebration. Seriously, it’s my focus from our first client meeting till the chicken dance starts. I make an effort to get to know your closest friends and family on your wedding day. Why? First, they’re probably cool people, and second, when they know me as “Janelle” the gal who plays Dungeons and Dragons and has a pet Duck, they’re going to let me into their world. My favourite moment of every wedding is right after the ceremony. This is when your friends and family smother or possibly crush you with either love or cheerful embrace. Bring on all the candid moments.
I value connection and celebration of moments over a big production.