Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A glimpse into the life of. . .

                ALLI JAGODA 
It's easy to fool yourself into thinking you're a photographer with all of the fancy gadgets, editing software and crazy amount of other technology out there today. But it takes a true artist to really capture a moment or emotion in a way that transforms it into - well, art.

Today's glimpse takes us into the life of one of these few: Alli Jagoda, owner of Sweet Light Studio and Alli Jagoda Photography. I met Alli almost two years ago through church, and though I was (and still kind of am) my awkward keep-my-head-down-and-hope-no one-notices-or-talks-to-me self, she has always been welcoming and gracious, and it is truly wonderful to be in her presence. And her photos? Exquisite. Take a peek here and here; then read below for some tips and tricks.

Current profession: Photographer/ Owner of Sweet Light Studio and Alli Jagoda Photography.

Summary about your studios and background: I’ve been doing commercial photography since I moved to Minneapolis to open a studio 14 years ago. Once I started my family I wanted to extend my work to something more flexible, and so I started another studio called Sweet Light Studio, which is a photography portrait business for just about anyone that wants to look good. I’ve found that I like shooting a mix of commercial and portrait work – it keeps things interesting!

Dream job: Shooting the children’s clothing catalog for Wee People or ads for The Gap.

First job ever: Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory at age 14. I got to make fudge in the store window display. Mmmm!


First “grown up” job: Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine six-page fashion spread when I was 21 years old.

What drove you to pursue photography? I got accepted into college as a drawing and painting major, but I decided that I wasn’t that good and switched to photography knowing that photography would keep pace with my ideas faster than a paint brush.

What is your favorite part about your job?  I just love making pretty pictures that tell a story or that capture an honest moment.

From Alli's Sweet Light Studio

What is the most challenging aspect? Battling what I call the “perma-grin” with children. Many kids have been coached by parents to stretch an awkward smile on their face when a camera is placed in front of them. Consequently, I NEVER tell a child to “smile." Instead we do things that will get them to laugh - and that is when I start taking pictures.

Favorite object/person/location/event to photograph? This is an impossible question for me to answer. I deliberately shoot many different subjects of all ages and in all surroundings because I find beauty in it all. And one of the reasons I think I’ve been satisfied in my career for so long is because of the variety it allows. It can be portraits of babies one day and a fashion shoot for a new jewelry line the next day. 

From Alli's Sweet Light Studio
What advice do you have for someone interested in pursuing a similar career? You don’t have to go to college for photography, but it does put you on the fast track! By the time I was 22, I was shooting ads for Target and doing eight-page fashion spreads for magazines. I think it would have taken me much longer to do that without the jump-start that a commercial photography program gave me.

And advice I give often to my photography interns is to learn just as much about running your own business as you do about photography. You might be the most talented photographer out there, but if you can’t handle all the estimates and invoices, then you won’t work for long. (At least in the beginning- you can eventually hire that work out! )

What advice do you wish you could give your 20-year-old self? I turned down a five-day clothing catalog shoot when I first started because I had never done a production that large before and was scared that I’d screw it up - only later to realize that I could have hired a producer to take care of all the details I was scared of doing myself. I’m still kicking myself for that blunder.
From Alli's Sweet Light Studio
How do you define success? Money is certainly easy to quantify, but the joy I feel at doing my job well holds more lasting value for me and brings me a feeling of accomplishment and success.

Who has been your biggest influence, personally or professionally? My step mom. She’s inspired me both personally and professionally. She owned and operated a large publishing company as a single mom for many years before marrying my dad. I love that she was able to be so accomplished with her business and how wonderfully she raised my two step sisters. I want to be able to accomplish the same balance with my professional and personal family life.

What hobbies do you enjoy in your spare time? I get a huge amount of satisfaction from organizing things, cleaning things, redecorating… anything that makes my surroundings more beautiful is really fun for me to do.
And I like to bake and decorate cakes. I put myself through college working as a cake decorator. This is a skill that still comes in handy.

Number one on your bucket list: Travel to Japan.

Favorite ice cream flavor: Salted Caramel.

Thank you, Alli!

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