Photography by Lindsay Lau of Lindsay Stephany Photography
Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
I'm Jacquelyn. I am a small town girl just trying to make it in the big bad city of Rochester, New York. I grew up in Caledonia, NY surrounded by corn and wheat fields; which I got lost in once when I was 5. Luckily my German Shepard stayed by my side as I ate beans to keep from starving (not really). I was lost for what felt like a decade but turned out to be 3 hours. I was rescued by my brother on our three wheeler. Anyways.. I've been a wedding videographer for 7 years now and am beginning to take on more commercial work as I continue to grow my wedding cinematography business. I am obsessive and emotional by nature. These “emotions” began with an early adolescent diagnosis of ADD but now contribute greatly to my success as a videographer and entrepreneur. Tapas 177 is my favorite restaurant and I love beer; specifically IPAs and fruit beers. Ellicottville Blueberry and Abita Strawberry are my top 2. I'm also a cat person. I go up and down with whether that is a good thing.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
How did you get started in your line of work? What were some of the difficulties you faced in starting?
I was on a fast track to nowhere when I realized I was quickly approaching my 30's. Growing up, I had no doubt that I would find myself in a successful career. Coming to terms with my lack of a career path lead me to start doing “anything” to find “something.” I began taking violin lessons and then piano lessons. I also started acting classes. I loved my new hobbies and enjoyed the learning aspect of each. My acting coach advised me to buy a camera for filming video auditions. Oddly enough, I had never owned a camera besides a couple disposables for softball trips to Cocoa Beach back when putting "Sun In" in your hair was the thing. I figured “why not, I can also use it to shoot around the house.” And so I did. I started shooting at family parties and found myself focusing more on on capturing perfect images of the people around me rather than interacting with them. I was looking for the portrait that gets displayed at a funeral; that big picture in front of the casket. Morbid, but true. I wanted the portrait that showed them as who they were in one shot. And that was that. I found my passion. I quit my job as a bartender with no savings and a monthly mortgage bill. I took out 3 credit cards and put all the gear I needed to start my own photography business on them. I taught myself Photoshop and built a website. I shot everyone I could, as much as I could and hustled like my life depended on it, because it did. A year into shooting I had booked 14 weddings; only one being video rather than photo. After that first video, I never looked back. I’ve been full force creating wedding videos over the last 6 years. I was still looking for those epic portraits of people highlighting their essence but now it was in video. I call it portrait videography. I'm not sure if it really is a term or not but its definitely what I call it. My company has grown with each year since..
In moments of self-doubt, hardships or failure, how do you build yourself back up?
I've tried many things for this. What works for me is sleep. When I’ve hit a creative dead end or notice negative feelings like jealousy or doubt surfacing... I need to sleep. For whatever reason, I wake up with new determination and a creative clean slate. As I write this though, I’m realizing why I wake up refreshed and that’s because I often have frustration dreams. Soooo it looks like I'm actually working things out as I sleep.
Lettering by Joanna Stacy of Joanna Stacy
What is your best advice to someone just starting out? What advice do you wish someone had said to you?
My best advice would be to learn awareness of what you're NOT good at as much as what you ARE good at. Being honest with yourself, moving away from the avenues you don't excel in and fully focusing on what you thrive at, will save you time in the long run.
Wishing and pushing for something that just doesn’t work will only waste time and keep you away from your true calling. We're all good at something. The quicker you find it and focus on it, the faster you can become successful.
Also, allow yourself to be creatively consumed. If you aren't obsessed with your passion it’s probably just a hobby. Live it, breath it. Call it your new significant other and hope your actual significant is supportive of that.
I also wish someone had told me that even if things look or seem perfect for other entrepreneurs, they probably aren't. Everyone faces struggles at one point or another. Try not to feel down about your personal rate of success. The world operates in balance and we each posses something that someone else does not - and vice versa. Keep your head down, work with what you have and when it’s YOUR time...it'll happen.
How do you find balance? What inspires you?
I hadn’t found balance until this year actually. I decided to pull back a bit and pay attention to my health because I was running myself into the ground. I don't think you really realize how successful you are until you pull back and find the balance. It always kind of felt like nothing was good enough or like I hadn't “made it” yet. But the truth was: I only had to work when I wanted to and the only person telling me what to do was (and still is) me. That's a pretty big deal. Don't get too busy to enjoy what you've already achieved.
What is your favorite part of what you do?
My favorite part of shooting video is capturing a PERFECTLY lit situation. There’s something about when you hit that sweet spot with lighting and a unique subject or composition. Achieving that shot and taking it in with all the senses evokes indescribable feelings. Its like a first kiss with the person you really love, you’re paralyzed but you can’t stop moving. It gives you goosebumps outside and butterflies inside. It’s like birth and death. I can only describe it as feeling everything all at once. It almost makes me want to cry or gasp or smash my face into my computer screen. I think I love it more than anything... except for Stephanie Christensen.
What do you find most challenging?
Finding music for my videos is hands down the most complicated yet gratifying parts of what I do. The only help I have finding perfect songs for each project is my emotional barometer. I basically watch the footage while listening to music from wherever the hell I can find it. And not until I cry, do I find THE song. It’s like wandering around blind and lost until you hear a familiar voice. Also I often find myself getting too deep into my projects. I take everything I shoot very personally and have trouble choosing what footage stays or goes when editing.
Name some local creatives that you really admire.
I admire Hannah Betts and her awesome blond hair. I admire Tanvi Asher's cut to the chase personality. I admire Stacy Ercan's willingness to help and warm disposition. I admire Sarah Knight's ability to be friends with and make any human in this city feel awesome. I admire Jenny Berliner's humble and giving nature. I admire Lindsay Lau's sense of humor. I admire Stephanie Christensen's ability to always see the upside of things and the good in all people. Honestly this list could go on and on because with each creative that I've met, I've found something special enough to apply within my own life, not just be a better entrepreneur, but also a better person.