“Maybe you’re shooting manual on your digital camera, but if you shot with a film camera, would you really know how to shoot in manual?”
Who out there has a gorgeous old manual film camera sitting around, and has been too intimidated to dive in? Twyla and Jessica ask and answer all of the essential questions to get you going! Jessica also talks about tracking her monthly mood scale to maximize efficiency and be able to work on projects at optimal times, automation, time management, why outsourcing isn’t always the answer, and all of the business goodies.
Jessica is truly a force of nature, who runs a successful YouTube channel, workshops, has an epic online presence in Instagram reels, and on and on. We all have the same number of minutes and hours in a day – but Jessica shares some great ways that she really maximizes her time and efforts.
If you’re stressing about how to do it all and adapt to the constantly changing features in social media and how to get yourself out there, you need to pause, and just listen for a minute. It’s not about perfection – it’s about knowing your audience and just getting started. This episode is packed with tips on everything from where to get your film developed to production values for various forms of online video and reels. Have your notebook ready for this one!
You have to have the right attitude going in, because then that’s going to trickle into the kind of content you’re going to put out there and the effort you’re going to put in.
Twyla Jones: All right, we’re going
Jessica Whitaker: okay.
Twyla Jones: Hi, Jessica Whitaker.
Jessica Whitaker: Hey, I am so excited to be on your show. I’m so stoked.
Twyla Jones: I am so happy you are here and I love you.
Jessica Whitaker: I’m obsessed with you too.
Twyla Jones: I’m so glad we finally, just came together this year and got to know each other a little better. That’s been so nice. And I just, I don’t know, you brighten my day every time, especially your Instagram reels, every time one of those pop up for me, which is like literally every day, it just puts a smile on my face.
Jessica Whitaker: Thank you.
Twyla Jones: So just in case anybody might not have had the pleasure of knowing and learning from you yet, I would love if you could give me a little rundown of all, all of the great places that you are providing value to photographers right now.
Jessica Whitaker: Yeah, okay. I definitely, don’t have an elevator pitch because it always takes me like 10 minutes to explain everything I do, but I’ll try to condense it as much.
So , my name is Jessica Whitaker and I’m 25. I live in Seattle. I’m 25, but I feel like I’m 16. So basically I’m 16.
Twyla Jones: Also, I feel like you’re like 40. Because you are so full of knowledge, and I feel like you’ve been doing this forever.
Jessica Whitaker: Yeah. I’ve been doing photography since the Neopet days. So for me, that was like middle school, and so it was just a hobby. I was too young to really be on MySpace, but I was like maybe 13. And so everybody had a digital camera, not everybody, but a lot of people had a digital camera at my church that was like those little point and shoots cause Costco started like making them more accessible, maybe like bright colors. And, I was so intrigued cause my friends were getting into photography. So that’s how I started. A few years later, I was able to like, get my own camera. I had just been using my mom’s point and shoot for a few years, but, I’ve been doing it for a long time.
And then, I went to school originally for fashion design and I went to two years of school for basically business of fashion and then always was interested in photography as a hobby. Never really considered it just as a career because I was so on track for fashion design and merchandising and things like that.
And In 2016, I started teaching photography on YouTube. I had a YouTube channel just for like my interest of fashion. As I took this year in between trade school for fashion design and merchandising and then design school, I had just a year of taking general ed at my community college.
And so I started a YouTube as an outlet. I was always really interested in social media marketing, and YouTube was a way for me to figure out the strategies, the algorithm, how to grow, how to really hone in on a niche. And so since, I believe that was like 2013, it was my senior year.
Twyla Jones: Yeah. I love that you took an interest in that so early on. You just, I feel like you have very good instincts for business and marketing in general.
Jessica Whitaker: I think it was just that I was able to begin with it, right as social media was becoming a bit more mainstream because 2013 that was my senior year of high school. Maybe my freshman year, maybe more like my junior year – Instagram, maybe it was around? I don’t remember exactly. – But it was more like very personal. Everyone had private accounts.
As I took an interest in learning more about social media, in 2016 I started teaching on YouTube for photography and I was one of the few females on YouTube teaching. Still am one of the few females on YouTube teaching. I was really intrigued by how I was able to provide my own, perspective and teaching on photography, because before, you know the way that I learned it was from two women at my church, but all the resources they would point me to online were very old school. Usually a lot of older men. It wasn’t really something that had a ton of representation, at least online. I was really lucky to be mentored by two women in photography. I think that was a huge, I don’t think, I know that was a huge blessing and maybe a bit unusual, because it’s such a male dominated industry. But as I started teaching, I realized I actually do have a bit of authority to teach because I’ve been in photography and have been doing it for so long, it just was never something I considered I could do as my job or would really want to do as my job, cause at the time I was so interested in fashion design.
As I continued on with college and, transferred out of design school, cause I decided I wasn’t really interested in it, I got a job as a social media director and I started doing consulting, and I’ve consulted ever since as well, for social media strategy and brands, helping people find their branding voice. I’ve done it for a number of some really awesome clients, who I’ve just been amazed to be able to work with and strategize with. But, photography has always just been something I’ve been teaching online.
And so it evolved though as I started to find Facebook groups that were photography related. There was a number at the time. Maybe this was like 2016, 2015, but as I was joining them and sharing my work, I realized there wasn’t a lot of room to be, how do I say it? Silly? Everything was very uptight I would say, and very serious. And So I would be a bit of a troll. I would post my work, but then I would just write in all caps because, and that’s literally nothing too. But it would like have all these people would write like “why are you writing in all caps?” And I would just do it cause it would be funny. Guys we’re supposed to have fun with photography. This is art. It’s creative.” Whatever. As I realized that these groups there were no really there was no room really for, just like having fun with photography. It was super serious.
There is honestly, not a lot of women and not a lot of female representation. All the admins, all the moderators were like men. A lot of white men too. There was just no representation. So I decided to start my own Facebook group called Build and Bloom in 2016, when I was working as a social media director, I think I did it on my lunch break or something.
And I wanted to create a group that had inclusivity as a core value. Diversity. I wanted there to be a lot of female representation and I wanted it to be a place that was, truly for community building. All these other groups would be like community over competition. But really, that was just a clever saying they were using, there was nothing backing that up necessarily.
I wanted this group to be somewhere that people could ask, like quote unquote “dumb questions” in and not get roasted over the flames.
Twyla Jones: Yes.
Jessica Whitaker: I just didn’t want people to feel like they had to get roasted and like photography is very overly technical sometimes, and sometimes we don’t need those overly technical answers.
Yeah, Build and Bloom just started growing rapidly, because it was an encouraging community and it was so different. And also I think, because a lot of younger photographers, felt like they could, it was a place that they identified more with. I’m Gen Z and so we have, we still have millennials in it of course, but there definitely are a lot of younger, like Gen Z photographers in it which I think is very unique, especially on Facebook. Facebook is something that is so …like you use it, maybe if you’re older or if you’re in college, but you don’t really see 19 year olds necessarily on Facebook, but…
Twyla Jones: Yes, I think it’s phasing out.
Jessica Whitaker: Yeah. But so many people tell me they created Facebook just to join Build and Bloom. So it’s been a really cool resource to be able to bring to people and it’s free, and it’s now one of the largest groups on Facebook. It’s the most engaged and largest photography groups on Facebook. Sorry.
And then, we also decided to start doing workshops. So we did some workshops in 2017 and 18 that were all free. We did six in the States, then two overseas, and then we also launched sisterxsister which is a young women’s networking group for girls interested in media. So it’s just a place where, whether you want to be in creative media full time, part time, it’s a hobby, it’s just common ground to be able to build community. It’s a place where, young girls with ages, 16 to about 23, come and talk about, and learn about practical job skills. So we talk about how to navigate uncomfortable, difficult conversations in the workplace. We had somebody come in and teach the basics of credit cards and what is an interest rate, things like that that we’re just not taught in high school. At one point, we had 14 cities we’d all meet on the same day and discuss the same topic. And so it was just another way to build community, but more intense than just doing a meetup. So, uh, We also do volunteer programs. So at the time I was in New York City, so we would work with 100 Cameras, and another foundation. We just come in and help them with their events just as volunteers, help them set up. Cause people were asking for meetups cause meetups at the time in 2016, 2017, 18 were – maybe not so much 18 – were really popular, but I just felt it was not very intentional. “Okay. So we’re all gonna meet up and work with a model.” That just doesn’t really sound like it’s really building any kind of community. It just, I don’t know, I want it to be even more, like I said, intentional. So yeah.
Then outside of Build and Bloom , I also teach on YouTube. I teach film and digital photography. I’m one of the few females, or women, why do we keep saying females? What am I a specimen? Like I’m literally like am I science project?
I’m one of the few women to teach film on YouTube. And I also have my online photography workshops. And I teach another class called Business Basics where I teach people – how to register as an LLC. How do you find an accountant? I just basically try to teach these otherwise overly technical topics in a very easy and understandable way that’s very practical; because of course you can Google “how to use a manual camera”, but if you have zero photography knowledge, you’re just going to be overwhelmed with all this technical jargon. So I primarily teach to beginners. I teach to beginners first and then everybody else who comes in as trying to most likely learn a new skill in photography. Maybe they’re trying to go from hobbyist to a business. Now they’re trying to develop business skills, but I just want to make sure that everything I teach online is very accessible to anyone at any level. So that’s a bit of a me and what I do.
Twyla Jones: The thing about the courses too that I always think is a lot of the time, all of that information is out there for free, and a lot of times it’s just in the instructions or the manual for the program or whatever it is that you’re buying, but when you have someone whose work, you love curate just what you need and show you how to apply that in combination with all the other things – that’s where the value is.
Jessica Whitaker: Yeah, totally. Because it’s going to take you a really long time and a lot of trial and error to find the correct answer or the answer that works best for you, cause everybody’s schedules are different, and someones system might take five times longer to set up and then you might find something that’s faster it actually works with your schedule, but it takes again, a lot of trial and error. I just think there’s so much value in courses, as long as going into it, what you’re getting. And you also make sure that whoever you’re taking an online course from already teaches some free content so you can get an idea of their teaching style.
Twyla Jones: Yes. Yeah. I can’t tell you how many courses I own. And I’ve just been so disappointed because I’m like, where’s the content I’m like….where? That’s happened way too many times, but okay.
So you do so much. That’s overwhelming. So one thing I would love to hear about from you – because you’re so productive and getting so much done – I would love for you to walk me through just an average day in your life. Like you wake up, what does that look like?
Jessica Whitaker: Okay, An average day in my life is always chaos. Like chaos neutral is my vibe. So I would say though, the biggest thing that I implement is time management obviously, but maybe not so obviously, but time management is a really major factor into making sure you can balance all these different things, but also just having a really solid system for creating to do lists.
I use a thing like where it’s. I make a list every day. And then also for the whole week overview, that’s broken out into three categories. So like high priority, medium, and then low priority.
Twyla Jones: I saw that on your reels today.
Jessica Whitaker: Oh yeah, you should give it a go!
Twyla Jones: I saw your cute little list.
Jessica Whitaker: It really helps so much because it eliminates any overwhelm and anything that goes into your low priority list, you can still have it on paper, so it’s out of your head. You’d know that you have to accomplish it, but you don’t feel so bad about it. And it just eliminates like the psychological, I don’t know, overwhelming pressure.
Twyla Jones: So I do a version of this actually that I’ve just been developing myself and I just use. So I always, I love buying organizational things and trying out new stuff, but literally the notes pad on my computer is where it’s at for me, because then that syncs to all my devices. But what I love about doing that is, I have my very high priority, like this has to get done today, but by having the other list along with it, when I’m just not feeling it, I’m like, I don’t know. I know these things need done. I don’t feel like doing any of them, but I still want to be productive. I can go choose one of those things. So at least I feel like I’m moving forward a little bit and still able to take something off of the list.
Jessica Whitaker: Yeah, totally. And I think also something that I’ve started to do – I heard it on somebody’s podcast, I believe like last year. I don’t remember who – but it was about tracking your menstrual cycle and during the month, basically there are certain periods – get it “periods” – but there are certain times when you’re more prone to sit down and come up with the ideas. And then there’s a time when you’re more are prone to take action. And obviously don’t have the luxury of actually being able to implement that because we still have to have discipline and structure. But I think that’s also a really great tool I’ve been using where I’ll mark on my calendar, cause I do this full time now.
I wasn’t doing it full time until 2017, cause I had two jobs and was going to college, but now I actually do have the luxury of implementing it slightly. So I’ll track on the whole month. I’ll do like a mood scale where it’s like every day 1-10. Yeah. And so I’ll usually find that there’s a pattern after two months.
Cause I think I’ve been tracking about for about maybe three months now. I’ll be able to look at the whole month and say, okay, This first week, I was feeling like 9 and 10, the next week closer maybe to my period, I was like, it’s a little bit more chaotic, so it was like a 3 and I’ll be able to say, okay, for all of these deadlines I’ve had for video content for YouTube. I’m going to choose to film it around the same time from the previous month that I was feeling higher on the mood scale. So I think since I’m really fortunate, I have that luxury to be able to implement because before I went full time, I was just recording videos on the weekends and stuff.
So I think you can take pieces of that and implement it into your schedule depending on what that looks like. But overall, in terms of time management, it’s just really is about, discipline. You can’t really work off of motivation or inspiration. You can, but it’s not really realistic. You have to sit down and just get some stuff nailed out. but I also think taking those little pieces and trying to put them into your business, into your calendar, and then also trying to automate as much as you can, also will help you in the long run. So I have, for instance, of my Facebook group, I have a big Google doc where I have my most frequently asked questions from the Facebook group that I’ll be able to copy and paste cause I want to try to answer like maybe 20 questions a day or so, but I can pull from that Google doc, because that’s what I was able to have the time to fully write out a way more detailed response to this common question versus just linking a camera that they’re asking for. But providing more information on why that camera is a good fit for them or their business.
So I do think making really structured to do lists that work for you, tracking your cycle, if you’re someone who has a period, even just in a small way, trying to maybe tie that into your schedule a bit . And then also trying to automate as much as you can.
I don’t think you have to outsource a lot of stuff. I hear a lot of people say Oh, just outsource that it’s like the key to productivity or whatever. But at time management, I just don’t think that’s realistic. Not everyone has the budget to outsource things. I think there’s a lot of things you can DIY.
Twyla Jones: The, for me, it’s been incredibly difficult to just find people that get it, that I can work with. It’s really hard to find people that you can trust, and that will just care about your business the same way that you will. So those things can be hard to hand over because of that. So do you work with anybody at all?
Jessica Whitaker: Yeah, so I work with a copywriter who also does my Facebook ads and she’s so amazing. And I’ve had four experiences with really bad Facebook ad people like it’s definitely been so difficult to find, some people I can outsource to who I trust, who aren’t going to screw me over. I have a Facebook ad person and then I also have a web developer who is actually just finished my website. Now I’m doing the redirects for the URLs. And she also, is she sometimes does some copy for me as well for my courses and things like that. So those are the two people I outsource. I feel like I have somebody else. Oh, I have my friend, Paola, who is a really awesome graphic designer. She recently did my podcast cover art and she created some gifs for my story. So whenever I want, something custom illustrated or specially done, graphic wise, I’ll have Paola do it. But outside of that, I pretty much DIY everything else. I like edit my own videos. I had somebody who I was hiring to do my edits, last year, but yeah…
Twyla Jones: We’re literally outsourcing all the same things I outsource the exact same things.
Jessica Whitaker: Yep. nice. It is really hard to outsource. I personally couldn’t imagine outsourcing editing, but I do think that it would be very valuable. I think it’s just a lot of trial and error as well.
Twyla Jones: Yeah, it is.
Jessica Whitaker: I think that, yeah, I think that’s all I have to outsource. Sorry. I’m trying to make sure also at the same time, all my answers are super condensed and that I’m finding myself speaking really slow.
Twyla Jones: You’re very thorough, which is so great. I’m like, Yeah, I’m just taking it all in, but I love that we’re doing all the same things. It’s just comforting to hear that because I do feel like that is thrown out a lot. some – Like even with the podcast – you have to hire editing for the podcast and all that. And honestly, I don’t want to outsource editing it because I like that control, and I just want it to end up how I want it to end up. And, yeah, I just I’m like, I’m not gonna make getting money if I keep hiring people to do all this stuff for me, I have to do something I think!
And also I will say, because I’ve dabbled in hiring different people to do different things in my business, and when I did have somebody doing a lot more for me, I felt like I really lost touch with my business.
Jessica Whitaker: Okay. yeah,
Twyla Jones: Now that I’ve taken that back I feel so much more connected to it and it’s again, going in a direction that makes me happy and I am finding fulfillment again in the things that I’m able to put out. A lot of the times I wasn’t even hearing what people had to say about the products I was putting out or the emails that were going out or anything like that, and I wouldn’t hear back and I don’t like that.
Jessica Whitaker: Yeah.
Twyla Jones: But that’s like the great part,
Jessica Whitaker: Yeah. Yeah. Totally.
Twyla Jones: Yeah. Okay. So what we’re really here for is I am dying to speak with you about film photography.
I have had this old film camera with me since I started taking photos and I have never touched it. I’m so intimidated by this little camera. It belonged to my grandpa and it’s moved around with me from home to home office, to office, but I have not done anything with it, so I would love for you to help me figure out where to start.
Jessica Whitaker: Yeah. Oh my gosh. I’m like, I low key I feel like everybody needs a minute to collect themselves once you drop your foot first, like film portrait. We’re not ready. Okay. Okay. So I think I know the camera you’re talking about, cause I saw in your email, it’s like a Pentax and I believe I have something similar that my mom – so she had a Pentax and then something else that was a Minolta, they’re basically very similar cameras, that were basically decorations in our house. But she had used them, in the nineties and eighties. And I don’t know. Oh, I had one of the cameras with me in New York when I moved as a decoration and it worked.
I started learning film from one of my friends, actually a bunch of my friends, just like my roommate shot film. One of my good friends, Crystal shot film, and they were all like, “Jessica, you should totally learn it.” I was like “y’all I’m so I’m scared about how technical it is. Like I don’t have a dark room to develop this.”
I don’t know why I was thinking my roommates like developing this film in our bathroom, like that wasn’t happening. But, so I was always so intimidated and then one of my friends came to visit me, and he, yeah, I was like, “Oh my gosh, you have to teach me how to shoot film.” he’s the one person who I always would be able to ask very technical questions and get an actual practical, explanation. Nothing was overly technical. He’s really good at teaching. So that’s how I learned and after just an afternoon of us shooting in the city, I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is so much easier than what I’ve even looked online!”
I would look at tutorials and just, everything was so very overwhelming. I think I just had a few barriers which were, how do I develop the film and also how do I like what film do I buy? It wasn’t so much the shooting part, cause I knew okay, how to pick out the proper ISO, what to put the aperture on and the shutter speed, things like that. But it was all those like the before and after that always would really put a obstacle there for myself. So once I learned, I just used my mom’s Minolta. And so for you, what I would suggest the way I was able to make sure that this camera actually worked was that I just went to a camera store in the city.
If you’re in New York, I believe it’s called Photo Care. It’s on 20 West, 23rd or something between 6th and 7th. I think it’s by FlatIron. And so I went to the camera store, and they’re awesome there. They don’t mansplain anything. They’re super helpful and they’re amazing.
They were able to check to see if the camera was working and functioning. And once they said that it was, there were a few things wrong with it. Like I had to buy a screwdriver to, basically roll and unwind, like wind up the film and unwind it, cause one of the levers was broken.
So as long as your camera isn’t like – outside. – There’s nothing broken off of it, like it was for me….
And so I would recommend just going in person somewhere and having them check it.. Or if you, maybe you have somebody locally who should shoots film, you can see if they can check the camera.
Twyla Jones: In getting ready to talk with you about this. I’m like, let me get this camera down. So I’ve got it down and just started twisting knobs and stuff. There’s a roll of film in there.
Jessica Whitaker: Oh, interesting. Is it used or is it halfway used or is it new?
Twyla Jones: I think it is mostly used because it was pulled over. Yeah. I wonder if it’s from when my grandfather had it and he passed away quite a while ago, like years and years ago. So it’ll be interesting to see just, I just feel like I should shoot the rest of the roll and get it developed and find out what’s going on.
Jessica Whitaker: Yeah. yeah,
Twyla Jones: Okay. And I just, I feel like most photographers do have one of these cameras sitting around for decoration, but that chances are like maybe okay that they can probably put film in it and just start shooting,
Okay first tell me what is your favorite film camera to shoot on?
Jessica Whitaker: Oh, I also do want to add too Twyla, just put a new battery, put a new battery in the film camera. Yeah.
Twyla Jones: I was like, will this need a battery? Cause I had not figured that part out.
Jessica Whitaker: Pop the battery out of it and bring it to the drugstore where you just buy the little about, like for us, we have a Bartella drugs here and that’s where I just brought the battery and had somebody helped me pick out the one that matched it.
It should look like the little battery slot. Almost looks like a coin and there’s like a slit in it. And you would put a coin in to unscrew it, the batteries in there. So just put a new battery, cause I believe if I remember correctly, these cameras you can technically like shoot on the film, but it will just be blank if you don’t have the battery in it. Some might stop from shooting.
But anyway, so my favorite film camera is the one that my mom had that I started shooting on, which is the Minolta X370. Very similar to the camera that you have. It’s just a Minolta. What I really liked about it, for teaching purposes for recommending to beginner photographers, is that it basically has an automated light meter inside. So it gives you, yeah. So it will tell you like, okay, have your shutter speed to be, there’ll be an arrow between 500 and a thousand. And so that’s really helpful for those who are just starting out in photography in general as film photography has become more popular, especially over quarantine. I think that camera is particularly good for people who don’t have photography experience yet.
And so I just really liked that camera. I have also tried like the Canon AE-1, which is also similar. Chances are if you have one of these little cameras in your house it’s either the Canon AE-1, a Minolta, the Pentax, an Olympus. They all virtually do the same thing, just some have an automated light meter. The Canon AE-1 has an automated – I don’t know what it’s called – it like tells you what the aperture should be inside or suggests it, but my favorite and highest recommendation is Minolta, the X 370, but also just work with what you have.
Don’t go out and buy a Minolta if you have the Pentax or Canon. Just use what you have and master that.
Twyla Jones: Yeah. Awesome. And I just, I suspect, you just want to go to a thrift store right now and just see what’s lying around, because I feel like a lot of people just don’t know what to do with them and just give them away, so I’m dying to go do that as well now that I feel like I’m interested and could maybe do this.
Jessica Whitaker: If you do go to a thrift store, then I would recommend bringing it in, the camera, into a camera shop and seeing if they can make sure it’s working functioning order. Cause some can be broken or there could be some things wrong just on the inside parts of it. Not necessarily exterior. But a good place to, for those listening who are like “oh, the thrift stores here don’t have them or they’re overpriced, or I don’t have a camera laying around”, a great place to buy film cameras is keh.com and they have them for $40 and they’re quality inspected. So that’d be an option.
Twyla Jones: I’m gonna do that.
Jessica Whitaker: Yeah do that cause you’ll be able to you’ll pay $40 and skip, having to drive an hour into wherever.
Twyla Jones: Yeah, yeah. Okay. I’m going to do that. So basically I probably just want to get one that has a light meter inside of it, but otherwise, if it doesn’t, do I need one to start shooting with another type of film camera?
Jessica Whitaker: What do you mean.
Twyla Jones: Like to get a proper exposure.
Jessica Whitaker: Oh, I just go off of my head. So I just like use,
Twyla Jones: Oh, you just want to know yeah, you can convert how you would shoot digitally, like what those settings might be and you just apply that. And you want to err, on the side of it overexposed, right?
Jessica Whitaker: Yes. Yeah. When it comes to film, that’s what I personally do. Whereas on digital, I always underexposed, right?
Twyla Jones: Yeah. okay. So I’m feeling pretty good about that. Okay. And so my other biggest fear is just working with film and maybe destroying it. Like I said, I opened this camera and I’m like, Oh, there’s film in here. Is it all ruined now that I opened it? Or how does that work?
Jessica Whitaker: Okay. people are listening who maybe shoot film are going to cringe. Should I say this? But dude. Okay. The first, ever film roll that I shot, I opened it back like four separate times in broad daylight because the camera, it already was broken from the screwdriver and so I kept thinking I was winding the film back up cause you have to wind the film to retract it. So I’ll go get the roll and then that’s what you give to the developer, whatever. But I thought it was rolled and it wasn’t, so when I opened the back in broad daylight, the film was all – you don’t want light to touch the film because it blows it all out and the films ruined, but I did this four separate times I dropped it off to be developed and it came out fine. Like I was dying because my friends were like, Oh, Jessica, don’t even go and waste $20. I’m like Y’all I think it’ll be okay. So um no, but don’t listen to me on that aspect, but don’t open it in broad daylight, but I know what you mean.
So anyway, with that being said – honestly, I think it’s really hard to ruin film when i personally, like I said, I opened mine in broad daylight. I’ve had some, just like lots of things happen, like drop in the water, literally things like that. The only thing I could see really going wrong, and I’ve done this too, is when you accidentally shoot over the film.
Twyla Jones: But that ends up being cool because that is a multiple or a double exposure.
Jessica Whitaker: Yeah. Except for when you don’t want it. So once I was on vacation and I had the film, it was in Berlin and then I took the same thing, cause I forgot to mark on a Sharpie – usually I’ll mark on a Sharpie, on the outside, an X or something, just so I know don’t use this – and because it didn’t roll all the way in there’s little tail, sticking out. Some of my cameras, there’s no tail. So I know it’s been used other times on other cameras there’s a tail. It typically when you buy film there’s little tail so you can pull it and put it into the little, I don’t know the technical words – that you just like…the thingie
Twyla Jones: I know what you mean…the thingie.
Jessica Whitaker: Exactly. And I accidentally shot over that with another place and I was so bummed. Cause actually I was in Berlin and I’m like, “okay, I’m only going to shoot on film this trip.” Yeah. What a joke. I really thought that always happens. I’m like I would be an artist it gets destroyed. So that’s the only thing I could see happening. So just to combat that have a mini Sharpie with you, it could even be hooked onto the side of your camera and just do a big X on the film, that idea, Just to label it. But besides that, there’s not really a way you can mess it up when you’re not developing it yourself. There’s really nothing to be scared of.
Of course you could mess it up by overexposing a lot, or like maybe forget, for me sometimes I’ll forget the ISO that’s in there is like 100 and I’m shooting on a gloomy day. And I brought my film camera with me to get some cute shots. The true ISO it needed to be was like 800.
And there’s definitely times like that, but honestly, you can’t stress put so much pressure, cause films were supposed to be fun. It’s not supposed to be… like for us, at least what we’re doing with it. And most of the people who are listening probably are just wanting to add it as a medium to use. Maybe you want to grow into doing like true, fine art photography, but I just feel like we overcomplicate photography and we have to remember it’s an art, like it’s supposed to be fun and creative as not to be so serious. And yeah, I would just say mark your film roll so you know you’re not going to shoot over it. And that’s about, that’s really the only thing that you could do to like sabotage yourself.
Twyla Jones: Okay. And then one more question about that because I love light leaks and stuff.
Jessica Whitaker: Yeah.
Twyla Jones: So what do I have to do to get those? You can do you just let some light in and open the back door?
Jessica Whitaker: so for me, I’ve definitely done this only on accident. I don’t know how to do it on purpose. My original camera, cause I actually ended up dropping it, and it fell into the water. And so when I, my original camera, the one that my mom had, that I had to use a screwdriver, I guess the back of the camera, never was fully closed. So I would get a bunch of light leaks in my camera.
Twyla Jones: Okay. So you want your camera to be busted a little bit.
Jessica Whitaker: Yeah, definitely. If you’re not carrying around a screwdriver with you, you’re doing it wrong.
So the one way, so I would tape the back of mine down. Cause I wouldn’t want light leaks sometimes, but if you can pop it open even just slightly, I think that’s how you can do it.
I’ve never done it purposely. But then once I got a new camera, it was the same Minolta by just Oregon from KEH. Cause I was like, okay, I’m this like literal screwdriver. I’m like, it’s too much. So I just ended up. That’s how I discovered them. I ordered it and then I didn’t have any more light leaks. So I would say, I guess you just open up the backs a tiny bit, but nothing too much, just like barely do you have, how with digital cameras, some of them have the flip screen thingy and you just if you barely pop it out, it yeah.
Twyla Jones: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Okay, cool. okay. So I feel good about that. and then. Alright, my shoots over. Yeah. Now what do I do with all the film? Where do you like to have it developed?
Jessica Whitaker: Yeah. Okay. So this was a thing that was tripping me up about even starting film, because I’m like, bruh, I’m not a scientist.
I cannot create the chemicals I was like, what if I don’t know, it’s too much. So I didn’t know you could say, you can just drop it off somewhere. I had no clue. for those who are listening, I bet half your audience is wow, this girl was like so dumb. So I learned, you can have someone develop it for you, which is once I realized that I was like, Oh, the game has changed. And I literally had a lab one block from my apartment in New York.
I was like, dang, I really played myself. what you do is you just take the roll of film. You have to wind it up. So if you’re on the Pentax or, these manual cameras, you will have to there’s a little lever you pop up and you’re just going to wind it. I believe it’s clockwise and you’ll feel it getting tighter and then it should click.
And then that means that the roll is done. Pop it out of your camera. Maybe you accidentally open up the back, for exposure. That’s just the vibe, why they got there. So you, You would just bring the role of camera either to a lab or you would send it in. I have never sent in my film just because I’ve never needed to. I’ve always had a lab, wherever I’ve been, but I do know that there are, a lot of people don’t have a lab nearby, do not drop it off at a drug store, like CVS or Walmart or Costco.
I made the mistake of doing that a few times with my point and shoot cameras before I started shooting film. And they would always come back really horrifying, like way. Just like trash, like you couldn’t even see the image kind of thing. so even though it’s tempting to just go to CVS, don’t do it. You will want to go to a local lab or send it in somewhere.
I don’t have a recommendation for where to send in the film. Trying to find somewhere that I can recommend to people, but I just bring it to the lab. And I say hi, I want to get this film scanned and sent to me over email.
Twyla Jones: So scanning is basically where they’re just going to Do all the chemical stuff for you.
Jessica Whitaker: Science like chemistry. Yeah. They are going to just send you it as a digital file. So you’re not actually getting prints done. You can get prints if you want to. It’s just more expensive. I’ve always just wanted a digital,
Twyla Jones: Do they send your negatives back to you?
Jessica Whitaker: Yeah, so you could go and pick them up.
Twyla Jones: so I didn’t know that they could actually email you files. I thought people had to just get them printed and then you scan them yourself. But essentially scanning is what it sounds like they scan it.
Jessica Whitaker: Once I had that part of the equation down, it opened up so much possibility. And I know it sounds so silly and simple, but for somebody who really was so intimidated by film, having that whole developing process be done for me was amazing.
But different labs do different. I guess just their styles. I know styles is the right word of developing, but there’s some really awesome labs and then there’s some really not so awesome labs. So just make sure you look them up on like Google reviews. one of my favorite labs, if you’re in LA is 35 M. Lab. They have one in Sherman Oaks. They have one in West Hollywood. They’re my favorite lab by far, if you’re a New York, Broadway Image Photo on West 72nd or West 93rd, West 93rd is where I would get mine developed. Those are my favorite labs. if you’re outside the States, I don’t want to list. Cause I feel like then that sounds so to travel life.
I also do, if you’re in Seattle, these are the only ones in the States I have to recommend. Seattle is Omega photo in Bellevue. So I don’t have any for Florida, but I’m sure actually I could probably connect you with my friend who she shoots film in Florida, and she would have probably recommendation. I can send you her, but you could also send it in to just Google. Which I don’t have a recommendation to send in, unfortunately yet. But, yeah. So they’ll send you an email and just ask, clarify if the lab does any kind of color correction, and just ask for no color correction, some don’t, like I said, different labs, do different things.
If you, if any of the images come back and they’re, it’s a little bit wonky. Let’s say there’s a black line at the bottom, or like the photos pushed up where half an inch is gone. you can ask them to resend it and say Hey, image number four was really cropped off just slightly, something like that.
They’ll be able to actually rescan from the negative. There are ways where if you’re not really happy with an image, it’s not like the end. It’s not like that’s the end all be all.
Twyla Jones: Yeah, I also, so I’m going to have to dedicate this episode to my mom. So what’s funny about that question is I’m from Kansas and my mom – I’m from Parsons, Kansas, and my mom, we moved there in fifth grade. She worked at Dwayne’s photo. Okay. For years and years and Dwayne’s photo- I don’t know if you know, but, there’s a movie made about it, about Kodachrome. They were the last lab to develop Kodachrome film. And I remember, leading up to that last day of them developing the film. They were getting mountains and mountains of these film canisters to develop and yeah.
I have some of the empty ones, what I have a whole bunch of the empty ones, but it was a cool thing to be a part of. And if you, if you look it up on YouTube, you’ll see her in the, photo of Dwayne’s Photo. But,
Jessica Whitaker: what was that movie called? Did you watch it? No.
Twyla Jones: No. Yeah, I need to watch it too. It’s so funny. It’s about my hometown and I never ended up watching it, Yeah. So it’s cool that she was a part of that. and I just it’s too bad that I couldn’t have gotten into photography sooner. While she worked there because they did everything. They made canvases and developed of this film and literally did everything that had to do with anything. It was a, it’s a huge place. it’s still there, I think, but Yeah. So that’s really neat. So I got to find my little spot. It would be fun to just use them.
Jessica Whitaker: I bet you could us them. I think a lot of labs you can send in. I’ve just never personally done it, but you could probably like, you could probably send your a film there.
Twyla Jones: Yeah. I’ve, so I got to find my film home. Yeah. And then why I love that you’re just always finding something nearby because that – my biggest fear would be to have all these very special thoughts on film and then it get lost in the mail.
Jessica Whitaker: Yeah. That is what kind of makes me very nervous too.
Twyla Jones: And I feel like the post office is getting weird now.
Jessica Whitaker: Okay. Yeah, something I take comfort in. It’s just like the return address. Like you can always have it just sent, it will always come back to you, but I would say if you can find something local also, it’s just awesome to support the local, Yeah.
Yeah. And if you can find one that you really like how they develop it. And also, once you find a lab that super friendly and you can develop a good relationship with them. At Omega photo, I like love their, some of, I’m trying to think. I don’t know the name of the guy. I think he owns it.
I’m thinking he owns it, but he’s so nice. And something also with film, it’s still, photography is such a male dominated industry and film is something that’s also pretentious , and it can something that’s, I don’t know. It just intimidated me too, just to learn it and to go into these camera shops and already it’s all these men and I was just. I felt like it would be like, I don’t know, over mansplained about something or just not really. I’m trying to describe how I don’t know. I’ve definitely had, I. I have definitely had experiences where you go somewhere and you go to camera shop and it’s just not the best experience, but once you find a lab where, the staff are so friendly and like you then can ask them questions and, they’re usually like really enthusiastic and love photography cause they’re working in this lab. and they’re willing to help you. And it’s a good experience. It’s not, it doesn’t have to be intimidating and stuff. yeah, that’s what I really like about Omega photo. all the places that I recommend I’ve had good experiences, but that’s my local lab now that I’m in Seattle and I really like them.
So hopefully, you could find one just, yeah, again, go off of Google reviews. I’ll send you my friends instagram, you can always DM her cause she’s in Florida too.
Twyla Jones: Oh, that’s awesome. Cool. I’m so excited to get started and I think it will be good for me because I am an over shooter. And I think that it’s just going to make me so much more intentional with the frames that I choose to create and I’m thinking, and I’ll use it for personal photos of my family and stuff.
sometimes we just need a little push, something new to play with to get out there and shoot. And also I think that the anticipation of just sending the film off, and having to wait and see what you created instead of that instant gratification. Or you can just look at the back of the camera.
Jessica Whitaker: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s awesome too, film, because you are intentional with each shot. And then if you’re learning photography or wanting to polish up your communication skills with your subjects, your clients, film is a great way to practice, you do have to look at every detail or you want to look at every detail about your pose, your lighting, your setup, your frames, before you shoot, cause you only have so many photos that you can take from each roll. And so it’s a really great way to also hone in on your communication skills, directing, posing, and just developing a more detailed eye. So I do think there’s so many things that everybody can benefit from film differently in, depending on what you’re wanting to learn, what you’re already skill level is just in photography in general. Are you wanting to learn, stop relying so much on maybe you’re shooting manual on your digital camera, but yeah, if you shot with a film camera, would you really know how to shoot in manual? So it’s a great way to build the technical skills, but also if you’re starting in photography, it’s also great just to try something new, a new medium, But if you’re also more experienced photographer overall, like you, it is something great, you can still learn from it because it is all about being slower with each of your shots. It’s just a great medium to experiment with.
Twyla Jones: I’m so excited. And now I already, I don’t even know how to do it yet, but I want to start offering family shoots that are just on film. And then, I can’t deliver 200 images. I’m only like it’s one roll. And so we’re,
Jessica Whitaker: yeah.
Twyla Jones: Because that’s how I shoot. I show up, I don’t know what I’m going to create. I just get there and yeah, I just shoot everything, and, I think it would be a lot of fun to just be so much more intentional about it and really think about the shoot beforehand and kind of come in and create stuff. But then again, also just show up and just know I only have the 30 frames and, a funny thing happened before I was a photographer. I also shot with my moms point and shoot.
but this was a digital one. Yeah. And I was going on a camping trip and totally forgot an SD card. And the camera itself had an internal memory that could hold eight photos. So I had to space out the eight photos during this epic camping trip and only choose eight frames to remember and that was cool.
Jessica Whitaker: I know exactly what I think my mom’s could hold like or no, I had one that could hold 30 photos, I think. And I would have that happen so many times. I had it happen on like 10 different occasions, like bruh, just put the memory card in, and it was like a teeny gigabyte memory card as well at the time, but now
Twyla Jones: I know I have a bunch of fours.
Jessica Whitaker: Yeah.
Twyla Jones: I don’t know why I don’t throw them away. I’m going to keep them forever. Just in case it could hold, like literally 30 photos for my camera. Now I’m like, what am I gonna use this? But now I’m thinking those are going to be like eight tracks or something through. Cool.
okay, so lastly, totally unrelated, but I, like I mentioned before, I’ve been loving you on IG reels lately, and I totally feel like you and reels were meant for each other.
I’ve only done… yeah. Yeah. You’re so good on it. I’ve only done a few, but I have seen amazing numbers and return on those posts just by new inquiries and new followers and all of that. So I would love to know because you’ve done more than me and yours are really good.
But do you have any, a few tips to share with other photographers that might be hesitant to jump on the reel train?
Jessica Whitaker: Yeah, I think reels are okay. When reels first rolled out maybe a few weeks ago from recording this podcast, a lot of people were like, Oh, one more thing to do.
And I think when you view it, when you view all these free features that Instagram gives us opportunities to grow either our page or business and you choose to come at it as one more thing to add to the old, to do list then you’re going in with the wrong attitude.
I think the first thing is you have to look at it from a very optimistic approach of okay, this is a great free tool. Instagram is literally giving me for marketing or helping, whatever it might be. and so first off you have to have the right attitude going in because then that’s going to trickle into the kind of content you’re going to put out there and the effort you’re going to put in.
I would say, when you realize that this is an awesome opportunity to grow your account, your audience, client base, then that’s what you can allow yourself to start having more ideas. Cause when you are bummed out about it, you might just scroll through like your camera roll and see what you have already done, maybe I don’t know, like last fall, maybe you have a few behind the scenes on your camera and you can upload that, but then it’s done and over it’s there, but you’re not creating more. So you have to first – right headspace and look at it as an opportunity.
Because once you look at it as an opportunity then you start thinking, okay, maybe I should share my favorites.
My favorite lens, maybe I should do my lens collection. Maybe I should do some before and afters of my presets and you start allowing yourself to create new content. and so with that being said, I would say my biggest tip that I’ve been experimenting around is to make sure if you’re a photographer, chances are, you are if you’re listening to this.
You have your camera, like in the shot, like the first frame. So if you’re talking to your camera, have your camera in the shot, holding it in your hands and also say you’re a photographer or Hey photographers, or I’m a photographer. mentioned the industry that you’re in. I don’t know. I could be wrong.
It’s just a theory. But I do think that, there is some kind of Oh, what’s the word? When it’s like a, artificial intelligence, AI, where they pick up – there’s a camera in the shot. I could be wrong, but I think Instagram, it’s pretty advanced in that way. And so once you, when you say it, and then you also put text on the screen, that says photography or photographer, like a caption and then your camera, then people also know immediately, if you’re on their explore page, exactly who you are, and who you’re talking to.
Then compare, some kind of, something that’s either establishes authority. So whether that’s like your, your lens collection and by authority, I don’t mean hee, I have three lenses. Like I, I kinda thing, look at my lens collection. Yeah. It’s more so that your clients who have no idea what a 50 millimeter lens is, they still see it and they go. Oh, my gosh, she has two camera lenses. I’m in good hands. I go a lot. Like clients, they love what they see you like on, at a wedding with two cameras in your hand, they like die. They’re like, Oh my gosh, you’re so pro. Yes. So your clients see that and you’re having authority on their page, even though they don’t necessarily know what you’re talking about.
But then you’re also still helping other photographers who are getting insight at behind the scenes, into, your gear. Maybe you’re going to offer posing tips and of course still work. Go through your camera roll right now and just see what you already have and put that onto reels just to get something on there.
But I think that once you have, when you have the attitude and the outlook of this is something exciting, it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. I can just sit and create something with the front facing camera on my phone. I don’t have these huge expectations for production quality.
Then that gives you more of that perspective of creating something new. and so I do think it still can be a lot to keep up with, but what, when you could do that things like, almost batch create. So maybe you’re going to make three reels in one day and edit them. I liked the InShot app. It’s free.
It takes maybe five minutes to edit the video. Pop it down into Instagram, just don’t overthink the editing process. Don’t even overthink the creation process. It’s such a low barrier to entry people. It’s not like a YouTube video where people have these expectations for it to be, like the best quality- it’s the front facing camera, on your phone that you forgot to wipe the lens on. it’s fine. I think there’s so many different areas of your business that you can share that clients will like and also other photographers could learn from.
Twyla Jones: I have to say it’s my favorite thing about tik tok and reels also that, there are some that are just like very produced and look very professional and I’m like, Oh. But you, you can decide how much effort you want to put into it and you can still be wildly successful. Honestly, I am more attracted to the less produced minutes or whatever that I see anyway. But I also think that it really forces you to focus and get your point across in 15. And I just love consuming the content. I think I’ve talked about it on the podcast before but I’m obsessed with TikTok just because I am learning so much so quickly. TikTok you only have up to a minute, but I find, most people know that 15 seconds is the really good number to hit, any way.
And yeah, so I am loving, consuming content and, really need to make myself make more. But that’s another thing I want to say about people that are like, Oh, one more thing to have to learn. Every time I think something like this is added, it also means something else is getting not as much attention and that you shouldn’t be focusing on as much or you’re going to get left behind.
Jessica Whitaker: Yes, exactly. You have to continue to adapt and learn new technology and learn new ways of leveraging social media. if your goal is to grow your social media and, have more people be able to find you. So I think it is very important to keep up with trends like this.
Twyla Jones: That’s a really good way of putting it to adapt.
Jessica Whitaker: No, you do have to adapt it’s so true. And it just keeps you sharp. It keeps you like, it keeps your brain like. Work, It’s a good exercise. And so
Twyla Jones: I think about this stuff, just because that one hashtag list that you’ve been copy pasting over and over the last year. Might’ve gotten you hired a few times,
Jessica Whitaker: That’s literally me, I know I need to update. It’s so true though. I have. I’ve been copying the same hashtag list from my notes, literally from like 2019. And reels actually forced me not forced, but made me reconsider.
Twyla Jones: Yeah. I just think who do you actually want to reach? Because there’s so many photographers that are hashtagging places that only other photographers go. Yes. these feature accounts and stuff that only other photographers are looking at, do you want more clients? Do you want people to give you money to take photos of them? You’ve gotta rethink your strategy?
Jessica Whitaker: Yeah. Yeah, and reels just gives you the opportunity because if you’re creating content for clients, then you get to rethink, Oh, okay. I’m not going to do, seven, seven, seven lucky fish and build and bloom as my hashtag, I’m going to do, Florida photographer, things like that.
Twyla Jones: Yeah. I look forward to seeing you pop up on reels more and I promise I’ll make more. I think I only have three up or something, but seriously, I have been so bad at posting to Instagram lately. Like I think I’m averaging a photo a week or something, but I’m still seeing really great numbers on reels.
Jessica Whitaker: Yeah. I’m excited to see when you, start shooting film.
Twyla Jones: So what I want to do is go ahead and get started. I do think I’m just going to order another camera because I don’t have full faith that this one works.
Jessica Whitaker: Yeah.
Twyla Jones: I’m going to use your recommendation order from them. Get one. And then hopefully I could just fire some stuff off and have something to show when this podcast goes live, which I feel like gives me two, maybe three weeks.
Jessica Whitaker: I’ll even email you the exact camera I recommend from them.
Twyla Jones: Yes. And I’ll just buy it. Perfect. Great. Well, it’s a pleasure having you on and I have to have you on again
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