This post is an example of how I see a story in everything.

Every job I do gives me the opportunity to meet new people… I get to give them something (great photos) and I almost always get to learn and grow from my interactions with them.

When I moved back to Corning a year and a half ago, it wasn’t under the best of circumstances. To say that starting over as a single mom and relaunching my business after four years in Germany was daunting would be an understatement. Sure, I was back in my hometown and surrounded by family and friends who were supporting me, but I was scared out of my mind.

I remember poking around the internet and looking at the Corning area… thinking about who was taking what kind of photography, brainstorming my dream business, thinking about the best niche for me… and I remember thinking about joining the Chamber of Commerce.

But I didn’t because I didn’t think I was good enough.

Fast forward a year, and I’m gaining a healthier mindset about myself and my business and what I have to offer this world and this community in particular. And I also had two friends push me to attend a launch event for the new group Corning Area Young Professionals (CAYP.)

Again, I know that I am a professional photographer and I’m proud to say I’m damn good at what I do, but we have this assumption about the word professional, you know? I didn’t know what the mix of other “professionals” would look like, so I almost didn’t go. Appearances and preconceived ideas can be deceiving.

There are a lot of stereotypes that come with words and labels. And I really think they can be both helpful and unhelpful at times. Thankfully my friends were like “Um, you’re a professional photographer!” and my response was:

“Um but I’m ‘just’ a creative soul with lots of tattoos who primarily takes pictures of childbirth that weird most people out!”

Well I went anyways.

And I met Denise. The president of the Corning Area Chamber of Commerce who wanted fresh, interesting, engaging headshots of her staff. And who also just sucked me right in with her charisma and joy about businesses in the Corning area.

It’s funny, when I do headshot photography I always feel like there are two jobs for me. First, my job is to get killer shots of my clients, which I always do.

But my second job is to educate. To teach people how to take a good photo (forehead to camera, strong jawline, squinch the eyes but not too much!) and most importantly, how to communicate with JUST their face that they are both confident and approachable.

(Check out Peter Hurley’s book {affiliate link} and website for pretty much everything I’ve learned about headshot photography.)

I always work hard to get people laughing and confused and distracted enough to forget that my camera is 6 inches from their nose.

I teach them how to move toward the camera rather than retreat. I make it fun and silly so that out of the 50 shots I take, we get a slam dunk or two.

All you need is one great headshot to show the world who you are! 

I really really REALLY love staring deep into the beautiful complexities of the human face.

That’s why I was drawn to this tight-crop, in-your-face style of headshot photography. Framing so close gives us all a chance to really get in there and see the beauty and personality of the subject.


So I’m always coming into a headshot shoot armed to take great photos and teach people some confidence and skills. I sometimes forget to keep my eyes open to learn from my clients because I’m there to do my job efficiently and get out of their hair fast.

But I got a pleasant surprise from the CACC staff…

I got researched and praised and gold-starred. I got offered a chance to partner with and become a member of the Corning Area Chamber of Commerce! We talked shop and we brainstormed ideas for how I can get the exposure my business needs.

The message was that I can do this and I have skills that this community needs to know more about.

I walked away from this “job” with a skip in my step and an excitement about the future of Life with Jess Photography teaming up with the CACC and CAYP.

Plus some really great photos of some really amazing people, if I do say so myself.

Like these headshot photos? Everyone needs a great headshot!

Hire me today to take photos of YOUR staff to show the world how you and your business shine!