Jennifer Childs is a California-born, Boston-based photographer who enjoys spending quality time with her rays at the aquarium, ripping down the freeway in her MINI Cooper, decoding the Bostonian accent, and who has an exceptional talent for making puns. Visit her website at www.jennifer-childs.com.
DOMINIQUE JAMES: How did you get started in photography?
JENNIFER CHILDS: My interest started when I was a kid, but it wasn't an all-encompassing every second of every day kind of obsession. I remember always being the one taking photos of my friends and family and putting another camera on my birthday wish list every... single... year. That's either due to the durability of the cameras (who shall remain nameless ... they served their purpose so far as I'm concerned) or how they were toted around during my wild and reckless youth. That pattern continued until I got my first 'real' camera, the Nikon F60/N60 which I used during college and subsequently my first digital, the Nikon D70 and a Nikon D100 a few years later. In short, having a camera with me has always just seemed normal. If the question is more directed towards when did I decide on it as a career, well that's easy... Italy, 2005. I was meandering down a charming back street in a small town on the Amalfi Coast photographing any and everything, when I suddenly had the thought...."This is it, this is what I want."
DJ: What kind of pictures do you like to take?
JC: It's difficult to say which I enjoy most, but the ones which capture an element of the human spirit; someone laughing, someone crying, a teeth-gritting, sweat-dripping athlete giving every ounce of themselves to cross the finish line of a marathon, the image that stirs an emotion that regardless of where or how we live, we can all identify with; the one that grips you and won't let go.... those are my favorites. I tend to find a lot of that through street photography; it's ‘life' unfiltered in a way. In addition to the human aspect of it, much of what we might consider mundane or ‘everyday,’ a street sign, a chair, a door, can suddenly become fascinating when given a second look and I like the simplicity of that. One of my favorite quotes:
If it makes you laugh,
if it makes you cry,
if it rips out your heart,
that's a good picture.
- Eddie Adams
DJ: Who or what would you consider as influential to your photography?
JC: The number of photographers who have influenced my life and work, is too long a list and I'd hate to miss someone. I will however note that the recent passing of Mary Ellen Mark continues to be truly heartbreaking. She was a spitfire and someone who's work I greatly admire. Outside of photographers themselves, exposure (pun not intended) has and always will be a key element in how my style comes to be. By that I mean, looking at different types of photographs and styles of photography; from the difficult or painful, to things of beauty, to images made with the intent to educate about a particular subject; a sea creature, the inner-workings of a farm in the Midwest, etc. They all have the potential to create awareness of something and/or inspire in some way.
DJ: What’s your favorite camera and lens?
JC: My Nikon D300, God rest it's soul, and my Nikkor 35mm 1.2D. Currently, I use a Nikon D7100 with a MB-D15 battery grip and it's a great machine, but that D300 and I had some major history (*sniff*). As far as lenses go, the 35mm 1.2D is my least expensive yet most favorite. It is lightweight, doesn't draw attention and most importantly, gets me into and out of situations. That lens has made me a better photographer for simply forcing me to have the courage to get up close to get my shot instead of standing however far away and zooming in. It serves as a pretty good life lesson as well.
DJ: Any other particular piece of photo gear that you like using?
JC: Anything by ThinkTank. I am a user and hoarder of any piece of their gear I can get my hands on. It's low-profile, ridiculously durable (for my wild and reckless adulthood, naturally), and was created by photographers for photographers. I don't think it gets better than that.
DJ: Do you edit and enhance your pictures before showing them?
JC: Yes and no. If I'm in public and someone gets a glimpse of what I'm working on and they inquire, I most certainly won't slam my Mac close and give them the evil eye until they leave. I appreciate their interest and will show a photo or two even if it's unedited. However in general, yes, I do edit/enhance my images before releasing them to the masses.
DJ: How do you share your pictures and to whom?
JC: The great big World Wide Web and its plethora of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Oh, and my business cards; people seem really MOOved by them. :)
DJ: How do you store or archive your pictures?
JC: In addition to cloud-based storage, I also have Western Digital MyBooks for Mac in my office and multiples of those off-site which are used as backups and then backups for that backup. Oh and as an added measure, I also cross my fingers.
DJ: What advice can you share with others?
JC: I was recently out on the streets of Boston, no photographic agenda in mind but shooting nonetheless. It was midday, the sun high in the sky and this guy stopped and commented on how it was a horrible time of day to shoot. My snarky, unfiltered mouth said, "Well I guess it depends on what you want to shoot now doesn't it?" He replied that he'd read from different sources that this particular light wasn't ‘nice,’ To which I cheekily replied, 'Nice for what? All of the hours can't be golden ya know. Work with the light you've got.' I may have then proceeded to tell him to throw out these books and manuals (figuratively of course… I love my manuals, I read them cover to cover), but my advice to him was simple... just go shoot. Get out from behind your computer, put down the books, pick up your camera and throw caution to the wind. Go out at different times of day, in different weather conditions (yes, even when it's raining or (snowing)<---Boston shout out) and learn how your camera works. Learn what it is you do and do not like to shoot and don't worry about making images you think other people want to see; by the time you follow a trend, it's gone.
Note: All photographs on this page by Jennifer Childs. Copyright © 2015. All rights reserved.