For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Spring is here (whether it feels like it or not) and there’s a sense of newness around. Not only is it time for new flowers, new grass, and fresh new leaves on the tree, but it’s also time for a new CMpro of the Month, Celeste Jones! Celeste is a long time member of Clickin Moms and a brilliantly talented photographer. Her work is full of honesty and emotion and we are thrilled to have her here today to answer a few of our burning questions!
april cmpro of the month | celeste jones
interview by Courtney Keim
There seems to be a resurgence in a love of film. How has that affected your photography journey as your amazing portfolio embraces both digital and film portraits?
First, thank you for the compliment. Film actually helped me learn to slow down and take everything in. It’s so easy to have in your mind that you will take a few images or shoot a session and come home with over 300 images on your card. With film you can’t do that. You have to make every click of the shutter count. So, I had to think about what I wanted to shoot, and I make sure that there was no clutter in the frame unless the intention was to include it in the image.
Did you start out in film?
I’ve shot film before but didn’t have a good understanding of it because I would just shoot in auto mode and would be happy with a few images coming out good.
Do you photograph your sessions in film or just personal work?
It depends on the session. I mostly shoot digital, but I have shot sessions on film. The only thing is that I like my work to look cohesive and I see the difference in colors and clarity when shooting both.
How long was your transition from being a hobbyist to accepting clients?
It’s been a while, and I feel like I’m still transitioning. Things get better every year.
What did you learn through that transition that shaped your style?
I learned that I was never going to be like anyone else. I want to put out images that I can be proud of, and that is a true presentation of me as a person and as a photographer. I wouldn’t be able to accomplish that if I kept doing what everyone else was doing. I had to focus on being the best me that I could be.
Feedback from peers can be a great learning tool. What has been the most constructive critique you have gotten?
For me, it wasn’t a critique, it was more in the form of advice. Someone told me that they could see that I was holding back in my work. They told me to take more chances, and so that’s what I started doing.
And how did that advice shape your future images?
It helped shape my work because for a long time I would hold back on how I documented things. I held back because I was afraid to fail. However, I was failing myself because I wasn’t being honest and daring in my work. The more chances I took and the more I showed the kind of work that made me happy the more my style started to emerge.
Inspiration can be found in so many forms. Where do you draw inspiration from?
I am inspired by life. I’m inspired by the things that I see around me, the interactions that I see between people, and most importantly my family.
How does that translate into your work?
Well, I shoot a lot around the city, so I incorporate those things into my work. I want to show people that beauty can be found everywhere. I love to document interactions between people, because I want to tell their story. And, of course I love photographing my daughter, so that she can remember her childhood and I love to document childlike moments. I think all of these things work well together to help define my style, and my vision.
I adore checking out your Instagram feed and how creative your iPhone photos are. Many photographers worry about putting ‘too much out there’ on the internet of their personal life. How do you balance showcasing work there and maintaining a level of privacy in your life?
Thank you! You know that’s something that I do struggle with especially because my daughter is throughout my portfolio and my Instagram feed. I share what I’m okay with sharing, and if I feel like it will cross a line then I don’t.
Can you show us your favorite digital, film and iPhone image(s) and why they are so meaningful?
Favorites come and go for me, but there’s always some that have a story behind it that’s like a game changer for me either personally or professionally.
This image of my daughter with my hat on is an image that changed things for me. It’s actually close to one of the last frames that I took of her that day. She was playing with a flower in her hand, and I snapped it and I didn’t post it immediately either. I sat on this image for a while and then I posted it to my page and I was shocked at how well it was received. People really loved that image. I think I got 75 fans that day. Yes, I counted. That image went viral.
This is a medium format image. I was in the city and these children were playing with one another in the water, and I’m telling you I wanted to go over there too, and there was this little girl who was so tickled by her little bucket and that made me happy. Plus, she was in the perfect spot compositionally wise, and I had to capture that moment.
This image is of my daughter shot with my iPhone. I love the light and the fact that I can maintain my vision with any instrument. The light, the conversion and my favorite person in the world.
How has the Clickin Moms community shaped your journey as a photographer?
Wow, you know I love the women over on Clickin Moms. For a long time I felt like I was alone in my journey and then I found CM and people accepted me for me. The support that I have received from this forum has been huge in my journey. Not only have I learned a lot about photography, but I’ve met some great friends who believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself.
With so many new photographers emerging every day, what sets you apart from your competition?
I don’t know how to answer that one…lol. I feel like we are all doing the same things in a way, but we put our own little something special in it to set us apart from the rest. For example, it’s like when my mom makes potato salad. All of my aunts make potato salad, but it’s something different about hers that people can see and taste. We all have something that sets us apart from the rest, it’s just a matter of finding it and showing it. Once you do that, people will identify with it.
If you could work alongside any photographer for one day and pick their brain, who would it be and why?
Gordon Parks, because I learned from him how important the “story” is in photography. I see so many static images that are well processed, but the images that tell a story mean so much more to me. I love the images that make me wish I were there, or that I knew that person, or make me feel as though I can identify with that moment. Anyone can take a picture, however, there’s something special that happens when people identify or relate to your subjects, and he was able to do that because he told his subjects story.
You have a Breakout Session coming up. Can you provide our readers with a hint of what we can expect?
Well, the readers can expect for me to be honest about my own personal story. I share my struggles and insecurities and how overcoming those things helped me find my style. I also discuss how and why I convert my images to black and white and how that helps tell a story. I even share how I’m able to engage with my subjects to create images that have more impact than just a smile for the camera. So, yeah, I do a lot of talking.
Thank you Celeste for the fantastic interview! Make sure you head over to Celeste’s website, facebook, and Instagram to view the rest of her gorgeous work. If you have a question for Celeste you can ask in the comments below or visit her ‘ask a pro’ thread within the photography forum.