REDEFINE | The everyday, feature by Jen Wertman Photos

There is only one sun. We can’t all claim to only have one way to use the light, but we can REDEFINE how we choose to express it. “


Tell us about what drives your work, How did you get started?

Just like most women in the photography business, I’m a self-taught momtog. When I got pregnant with my first is when I purchased my first DSLR- that’s when I knew I was hooked. Taking cute photos of my newly born babe quickly turned into a business and I started taking on clients while building my portfolio. Shortly after starting my business I was able to quit my full-time job, stay at home with my little baby, and make money by doing something that brought me pure joy. My kids are my “why” but my story goes much deeper than that. My “why” is based off of life and capturing the moments that can go lost.

What were the challenges for you in the beginning, in your journey or figuring out what to share or what to keep private?

My main challenge in the beginning of my photography journey was finding any sort of continuing education in order to expand my knowledge of this craft. I wanted to learn more, I felt the need to push myself, but the internet was so different 8 years ago and any sort of “at home” education seemed to be near impossible. I was able to find some blogs and YouTube channels that were encouraging and helpful but it was nothing like it is now where you can find every ounce of education at your fingertips. This struggle forced me to keep my camera in my hand and photograph everything possible. I dove into manual mode, tweaking my settings to my liking, pushing myself in every lighting situation, and took on clients of all sorts, just to learn all I needed to know to be successful and to find my specialty. The coolest part? Here I am eight years later and I still see photography through the eyes of a child. Continuing my education, always asking questions, and pushing myself to learn all I can. I see a beauty in this profession of always having something to learn- the ever-evolving craft of photography.

Why are you passionate about this personal work?

This is a question that I am asked frequently, which is great because I have an intense, very vulnerable answer for you. As I have mentioned, I have had a camera in my hands for eight years. The first four years of my journey was beautiful- I had the intention and desire to capture every moment of my kids growing because they sprout up so quickly. That desire was enough to keep me clicking away, but I didn’t know that the desire was going to grow into a passion for life due to a dramatic incident. Three years ago my life came to a sudden stop when my brother, who was my best friend and only sibling, passed away in an airplane accident. Only 13 months older than me, he was all I knew in this life in having a sibling. He was my childhood, the only one who can relate to me in knowing exactly what my childhood consisted of because he was there by my side through every step of growing. After the accident I took a year off- I set my camera down and didn’t look at it due to a lack of artistic drive. I didn’t want to move because the pain was so deep and real. After a year of deep healing started my husband encouraged me to purchase new photo gear and get started again- this is something that I will forever thank him for. These are the days that I learned that this intense loss for me created new eyes. I now see this world in different light. All things are beautiful and every moment deserves to be captured because you never know when your last day is.

“These are the days that I learned

that this intense loss for me

created new eyes”

What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to capture more of their own families? (aim for at least 5, but any are welcome)

I always encourage parents to purchase a “nice camera”. It’s an investment that will forever pay itself off. The prices of DSLR cameras have dropped a bit over the years, making it more affordable for parents to purchase as a machine to use as a hobby. These cameras have larger sensors which means a larger ISO, and enables you to capture moments utilizing more pixels- which means better overall image and much better print quality for preservation for generations to come. I rarely recommend that families purchase those huge kits that are offered on Amazon or at Costco- the lens that is offered in those packages aren’t the best option in terms of quality and all of the extras aren’t really needed. I suggest buying the camera body alone and upgrade on a lens right away. You will thank me later! I promise.

Continuing your education in learning how to use your camera never hurts anyone. Learning and practicing means a better understanding of how to take a better photo, which means you’re taking better photos. It’s a win-win, right? Pushing your machine to the extents that it’s made for just expands your ability to be more creative and provides a better artistic approach to capturing your little one’s childhood. Eight years in the game and I’m always reaching out to learn something new in the photography world. Give me all the education!

Don’t stuff your camera away in its bag and shove it in a closet. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shown up to a session and the parents say something along the lines of “I have one of those nice cameras!! I bought it a few years ago, played with it once, and stored it away in my closet because I don’t know how to use the dang thing!!”. {Insert Jen’s heartbreaking here} Buy a cute basket and give it a home that’s out in the open. They make smaller styled SLR cameras that are really nice for travel! Bring it along on your family vacations. Make sure you give it a fully charged battery and an empty SD card so it’s easy to grab whenever those cute moments unfold. Grab it, become a quiet little mouse, rush over to the cuteness, and start clicking away.

Don’t stress over capturing posed, smiling moments. The “look at me and smile” photos are great every once in awhile, but they’re stressful. Leave these photos to the professional photographer that you hire once a year for your holiday cards. Let’s be honest- what parent likes to stress out over forcing their kids to look at a camera and smile? Kids can’t stand that crap! You can bribe a kid until you’re blue in the face and when your sweet little babe FINALLY smiles he has food stuck on his lips, it’s fake, forced, and all of a sudden it doesn’t look like your kid anymore. Embrace the in-between moments. Photograph the moment when your sweet baby is sleeping, capture bath time while your toddler plays with some bath toys in those glorious bubbles, grab the times when your kiddo snags a bag of flour and dumps it all over your kitchen floor. Photograph these times while your sweet one is in the midst of these beautiful, chaotic moments and embrace it!! Less stress, more organic photographs, and happier kids.

Make it a priority to grab your DSLR over a phone based camera. Sure,
grabbing your iPhone is much easier for the reason of giving instant photos that seamlessly stores to the cloud. It’s lighter than a DSLR and small enough to keep in your back pocket, and the settings are automatic. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? It kind of is! But a DSLR will give you images with higher resolution and color quality for better print, they are much faster when it comes to focusing (we applaud this for those mamas with toddlers), lens versatility is endless and so fun to play with, and you can create true art with options to place your settings where you would like them.

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ABOUT THE ARTIST: Born and raised in Southern California in a small town called Redlands. That’s where our roots are planted.  I am happily married with three gorgeous little girls.  We love day trips, we love food, we laugh… a lot, I have a few handful of really stupid jokes, I’m sarcastic and witty, & when I love… I LOVE deep.  My husband is my biggest supporter and my girls are my light.  I have a serious love with my Canon Mark 5Diii and Sigma Art lenses.  I have been a photographer for almost 8 years specializing in birth, newborns, all things lifestyle family, and all things that involve my girls.  I’m one of the luckiest people in the world to get to do what I love every day. Photography is my passion.assion.


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