Jennifer Picard lives on B.C.'s Sunshine Coast, a tourist hotspot known for its rugged beauty. The stretch of coastline lies just off the Georgia Strait and is full of little islands, inlets, and forests.
The breathtaking setting is a perfect complement to Picard's creative portraitures, which caught our eye in highlighting her as our HuffPost B.C. Photographer of the Month.
Picard let us in on how the Sunshine Coast inspires her, and revealed her all-time favourite photography memory — which will warm your heart, and it doesn't even involve anybody getting married.
Q: Can you give me a quick overview of who you are and what you do?
A: I'm a fine art wedding photographer, living in Gibsons on the beautiful Sunshine Coast. One of the things I love doing most is creative editorial shoots for local designers. It’s so much fun because I get to work with like-minded people who excel in a creative environment. It’s my ultimate dream to one day place my creative focus on working exclusively with clients who share my passions for travel, animal welfare, and environmental advocacy.
Q: How did you get into photography?
A: I had no clue how to use a camera when I first purchased a DSLR, but I quickly discovered I had a natural ability and creative eye, so I immediately threw myself wholeheartedly in self-teaching. One of the first gigs I got was a photojournalist for the Canadian Animal Assistance Team (CAAT), helping them document disaster relief projects and vaccination clinics all over the world. That experience opened my eyes to a whole new world of opportunities with my photography, which pushed me to devote myself into making photography a full-time career.
Q: How does the gorgeous backdrop of the Sunshine Coast inspire you?
A: I moved here from Vancouver two and a half years ago and it’s completely transformed not only my photography, but who I am as a person too. I came here looking for a more peaceful and serene life away from the hustle of the city, one that was more simple and that had a deeper, and more intimate, connection to nature.
I’m constantly inspired living here, living amidst the untouched beauty of the ocean, forest and mountains in my front and back yards. There’s nothing like waking up to the sound of waves every morning, it's a constant reminder of how grateful I am to be able to be a full-time artist in such a breathtaking paradise.
Q: What sets you apart from other wedding photographers?
A: I don’t follow trends in the wedding industry, so my work definitely has an original flair to it. My style draws from my love of everything vintage, travel, and nature, which I use together with natural light to help tell an inviting story through dreamy, intimate and candid images.
Q: In this day and age, where "anyone can be a photographer" with sharing apps like Instagram and whatnot, how do you find success?
A: Since it’s so much easier for people to take great looking photos, there’s even more pressure today on professionals, so having a beautiful and simple website that showcases your work, and who you are, is vital — in addition to wowing people as much as possible on all of the social media sites. Being authentic and allowing yourself to step away from the mainstream, seems to be as crucial today as having unique images. Standing out from all of the others is a lot of work, but it’s much easier when you consistently share stunning, original content that speaks to people’s emotions.
Q: Running your own business — especially as a creative — can be hard. Can you take me through some challenges and how you overcome them?
A: Running a creative, full-time business is a constant challenge. As it is with any art, you’re constantly having to look deep inside yourself so that you can continue to push your boundaries further and further. Sometimes it’s hard to be motivated, especially when it’s so easy to compare your work to others online. It’s tough when we have the ability to look through millions of images everyday, right at our fingertips, but the immediate love and feedback you get when you share your images up on social media certainly helps with inspiration.
Q: What's your favourite photography memory?
A: Before I went on a trip to Africa with the Canadian Animal Assistance team (CAAT), I had an idea that I’d like to somehow help the children in the local communities I was travelling to, which is what inspired me to create the Sunshine Children Camera Project. Before I left, I collected digital cameras that were donated by my local community, which I then handed out to the children of an orphanage I visited in Botswana.
I wanted to give them the opportunity to express themselves through photography, which was a creative and artistic outlet they’d possibly never before experienced. I’ve never been a part of a project that was so rewarding as this. Once I returned home, I put on a photo exhibition in Vancouver that showcased the kids' work, with all of the proceeds going back to the orphanage in Africa.
See more of Jennifer Picard's work below. Interview continues after slideshow.
Q: What's one thing people underestimate or get wrong about wedding photographers?
A: I think there’s a big misconception that wedding photographers are paid too much. What people don’t realize though, is that it’s not just the day of the wedding that we’re getting paid for, it’s also for all of the countless hours of editing that comes afterwards. Photographers are also compensated for our years of experience, skills and learning, which together culminate to make your work valuable and in demand. Not only that, but it’s also for the energy we bring to a photo shoot, for our equipment, for upkeep of our websites, and all of that other business stuff that happens behind-the-scenes, to bring everything together.
Q: What's your advice for someone who would like to get into your industry?
A: Most important of all is to create your own style of photography, without just mimicking what everyone else is doing. Beyond that, it’s all about patience, passion and perseverance, and believing in what you’re doing.
Q. What else do you do when you don't have sessions booked?
A: I love to explore in nature, go on road trips, and travel to fascinating places. My partner and I recently went on an amazing road trip adventure around the entire island of Iceland. It was unbelievable, unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. Iceland is a photographers dream! We also just returned from a road trip in the Utah desert, where we explored all of their beautiful national parks. We made a quick stop in Arizona, where we found the highlight to our trip in the dream-like wonder of Antelope Canyon.