Image: Lecinda Ward
Jess Worrall is as genuine as they come. A hilarious lady (she insists she’s much funnier than her Kiwi husband), Jess is also an absolute legend behind the lens. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jess, as she not only managed to snap some pics of me that I quite fancied, she nailed shots of my then 17-month-old son, smiling and in FOCUS! Holy moly, that’s skill.
A former social worker, Jess now has a flourishing photography business and relishes in taking candid pictures of families, lovers and babies. A mother of two little ones, Jess is passionate about capturing families in the raw. She snaps the unique, connected, genuine moments between people, rather than opting for staged portraits.
Whether you’re a parent, have your own business or just appreciate a good photo, I know you’ll love reading about Jess. Enjoy!
In the work you do, how important are the right words?
The right words are often more important than the image itself. When I was starting out as a photographer, I really thought I could hide behind photos and not worry too much about words. I was so wrong!
I learnt very quickly that just sharing images wasn’t enough to help me to stand out in a sea of talented photographers. I needed words to accompany my images. My dream clients needed to connect with me as a human and as the face behind the camera.
It’s still my biggest struggle as the right words don’t always come easily. Sometimes it takes me half an hour to write a one-sentence caption for an Instagram post. Finding and expressing yourself with words is crucial, no matter your business.
What gets you up in the morning?
My kids…at 6 am on the dot every.single.morning.
What led you to your current career choice?
I’ve always loved photography. At school, I always had a camera in my hand and took photos of my friends. When I was 19, I travelled overseas and my passion for travel photography really took off. I purchased a DSLR for a trip to Africa but didn’t really know how to use it. I kept it on auto the entire time but was still thrilled with the photos.
I always thought of photography as a hobby and never saw myself as technically strong enough to pursue it as a career. It was my ‘dream job’, one that I didn’t think would ever eventuate.
I was working full-time as a social worker until I had my daughter in 2014 and my son in 2016. When my son was almost 1, I was looking to return to social work but had difficulty sourcing part-time opportunities. When I really thought about it, the prospect of going back to a job that demanded so much of me emotionally, while I was still incredibly sleep deprived, didn’t thrill me!
Thanks to a very supportive and encouraging husband, I decided to try and make my dream job a reality. I began doing portfolio building shoots with friends, purchased a logo from Etsy, built a website and the next minute, I found myself in business!
What are the most effective ways you market your business?
I’ve largely been connecting organically with people via Facebook and Instagram. Local area Facebook groups have been really effective for referrals, with happy clients passing my name on to others. I had an incredible collaboration experience with Motherhood Melbourne last year and found that to be a great way of connecting with some amazing brands, small businesses and entrepreneurs (including you!). I’d love to invest some more time into my marketing this year.
How has the landscape of your industry changed since you began?
I’ve only been in the industry for a year, but I’ve been thrilled to discover how supportive the community is, both locally and worldwide. I wasn’t expecting so much emphasis on community over competition. In fact, I’d been worried that other local photographers would feel like I was stepping on their toes. That could not have been further from the truth, which I’m so grateful for.
What is the best piece of advice you could give to other freelancers/small business owners?
Don’t worry about what other people are doing and don’t compare yourself to others in your industry. It’s so easy to tell yourself you’re not good enough or your work isn’t worthy. The truth is though, everyone is at SUCH different stages, there’s no way you can truly compare yourself to anyone. I really believe if you’re passionate and committed to what you’re doing, you’ll grow your business and find your clients.
I’d also advise setting boundaries for yourself. For the first 10 months, I put every ounce of time and energy I had into my business and took on far more than I could actually manage. Eventually, I realised that saying ‘yes’ to every single enquiry was not good for business, my family or for me.
How do you best feed your creativity outside of your work?
Photography is definitely my biggest creative outlet, so I feel really fortunate to be able to do that for work. I absolutely push myself further creatively when photographing my own kids. Trying new techniques and ideas with them feels much safer than it does with paying clients.
To learn more about Jess Worrall Photography, visit her website.
If you’re a photographer who needs a hand with the wordy part, let a copywriter help!
Image: Amy Rushbrook