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Meet Jessica Whitley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica Whitley.

Jessica Whitley is a local Macon Photographer originally from Conyers, GA. Macon is her favorite town, where she currently lives and works as a full-time photographer. When she has a moment to put her camera down, Jessica spends her time promoting the Ocmulgee Artist Guild, a fine arts group in downtown Macon, where she holds the board position of Sergeant at Arms. She is an alumni of Middle Georgia State University holding a Bachelor of Arts in New Media and Communications and now serves on the Alumni Association Board for her Alma mater. Jessica has participated in photographing beloved local events and projects in the Georgia arts community–including photographing Theatre Macon’s many productions including a special release of Calendar Girls Show [Calenders]’, workshops for the Lost Keys literacy festival, and fundraiser events for Furever After Pet Rescue. She has been featured in numerous publications including The Mercerian, Elevate Magazine, and adores working for some of her new friends at Newtown Macon and Macon Magazine as a published photographer.

Her photography work specializes in performance and event photography, weddings and portraiture, as well as boudoir and experimental art photography and continues to participate in photographic excursions and competitions. Her most recent success was being a part of Dashboard, INC and Newtown Macon’s Lightbox Alleyway exhibition, BRIGHT CITY(March 15, 2019–March 15, 2020) in which select photographers in the Middle GA region were handpicked to show their work, backlit by the city when the sun goes down. She hopes to leave the world a little bit better than she found it especially if that can be done through the use of her photographic sensibilities. Some day soon, Jessica hopes to travel to Europe and extend the reach of her lens around the globe, maybe even for National Geographic!

Has it been a smooth road?
It’s a long road, and there’s no one way to be taught. If you had asked me six years ago if I’d be a full-time photographer, working for myself, I wouldn’t have believed you–or in myself. My entire life, my mother struggled with mental illness and physical sickness, once schizophrenia then later diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, passing in late 2016. I had to learn to grow up fast at a young age, and defining myself was probably one of the hardest things to learn in this life. I originally went to college self-assured, I would be a theatre teacher, and although I was good at teaching, my passion was not fully ignited. The fire wasn’t fulfilled. I also enjoyed acting, but always had my camera on the side, not clear in my expression.

Before I knew what I was doing with my camera, people wanted to pay me for being present with it. While I still love acting and teaching moments, the idea that you have to be good at one thing is a fool’s tale–we’re human beings, meant to be beautifully strong at many things. Photography is where my love for teaching, observance and performance art come together, coalesced together in composition via my photographs. My bad days even become good days based on all the wonderful people I get to meet on a daily basis, and quickly strangers have become friends. I’ll never regret becoming Ken Krakow (local commercial photographer, in Macon GA)’s photo assistant. It was the happiest and luckiest part of my life, and a huge chance–moving to Macon GA for this job. I will forever be thankful for his kindness and patience. He believed in me, and now I know how to believe in me. I learned not only how to be a well-rounded, sharpshooting photographer…but learned how to be kind, and adjust to any situation, and how to run a business. But most importantly…any bad day can be a good day. 🙂

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Jessica Whitley Photography is what you see and what you get. Some people are “just” wedding photographers. Some are just “event photographers”. Some are “just portraiture and headshot” photographers. Some are just editorial, some are just real estate photographers. I am happily not a “niched” photographer. If I was just one, life wouldn’t be as interesting. Who am I to hold back from other things I could learn and achieve? I have burned the midnight oil in my training, studied countless hours and agreed to assist and photography many things. I’ve dove in. Don’t mistake me as a jack of all trades photographer, just a studied one who doesn’t let one category of photography define her. Life’s too short. I’d say my core strength is the individual portrait of someone, rather for a bio, story or headshot. But again, I love all photography–except forensic photography–that’s a bit scary for my tastes.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Atlanta is a beautiful city that I keep getting called back to for various acting headshots, weddings and performances. I love that the pull of my business has not been limited to Macon, GA–but upwards of GA, SC, NY and other adventurous places. If you’re starting out anywhere, my advice is to be well rounded. Don’t take college courses thinking that will equal a photographer. Take workshops, carry an established photographer’s gear for a day and observe. Peruse the YouTube free videos. And always, always carry your camera and look at the light.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jessica Whitley Photography

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