Posted January 28, 2011 by admin in Resources

Ottawa photographer talks about her art and inspiration


As a miser and a mother, it is always exciting to discover a thrifty treasure. You know, when you find a deal without compromising on quality? Well, this is exactly what you will find in Jenna Sparks, photographer.

An Ottawa native, Jenna grew up with camera in hand. She specializes in portraits and manages to capture natural moments, without the subjects seeming to notice. Most poignant is her joie de vivre and her genuine love of children and the art of photography. She finds beauty in the everyday and, more importantly, reflects it back to her clients.

I sat down with her for an interview and am happy to share our conversation with Mother Miser readers. She is currently offering promotional rates for portrait sessions so be sure to check her out at: jsparksphotography. You simply can’t beat her prices, nor the quality of her work.

1. How and when did your passion for photography start?
I’ve always been attracted to videography and photography. My mom says that I was attached to the video camera as a kid and that if it wasn’t for my interest, we wouldn’t have any home videos of my sisters and I growing up. I have accumulated close to a hundred photo albums over the years. But, it wasn’t until I became a mom that my interest turned into, what some would call, an obsession.

Shortly after my first son was born I became curious about shooting on manual and I begged my husband for a new camera. I started taking hundreds of pictures everyday and as I learnt how to better use my camera, I discovered the freedom of shooting on manual. After my second son was born 21 months later, I started experimenting more and more with lighting, exposure and framing, and soon I felt ready for another upgrade. I purchased a Canon Rebel T1i. That’s when my love affair began as I started to see beauty everywhere I looked. Whether it is in the eyes of a child, or in the love that exists between family members, or just in regular day-to-day moments, I constantly feel the need to capture these precious frames in time.

2. Are you a self-taught photographer? Who are your influences (i.e. other photographers)?

I am a ‘self taught’ photographer. But, I owe a lot of my growth to my family and friends who have urged me to pursue photography at a professional level for years… and all the research and learning on the internet, of course!

I did take a film photography class way back in the day, but found that my interest lay more in shooting rather than processing. I also worked as a portrait photographer for Sears, but didn’t have the freedom to take the types of pictures that I wanted. I hated working with my camera attached to the wall, being confined to a tiny little room and being required to take the same poses over and over again, as we were instructed to do. I suppose that’s when I realized exactly what type of photographer I did NOT want to be.

It wasn’t until I met a successful and talented Ottawa wedding photographer, Julie C Butler, that I decided to showcase my work. Julie has been so supportive of other local photographers and gave me the tools and the confidence that I needed to help kick-start my career. She remains an inspiration and is always providing guidance and advice as my business grows and blossoms.

3. How would you describe your artistic style?

I never thought of myself as a very artsy person until recently. It wasn’t until people started commenting on my portraits and referring to them as ‘artistic’ that I started to feel like an artist. I believe that there is beauty in us all and that it is worth capturing. When I can show someone their picture and they can see that they really are beautiful just as they are - it’s one of the things that I like the most about being a portrait photographer. I really strive to capture people naturally and honestly and bring out their uniqueness and individuality.

4. Do you prefer to shoot black and white or colour? When would you choose one over the other?

I love black and white portraits! Most of my clients end up ordering at least one black and white image from every shoot. I find that it brings out the simplicity and elegance of the moment. Not every picture is better in black and white obviously, but there does seem to be a ‘moment’ in every photo shoot that deems worthy of a great b&w shot!

5. You seem to bring out the best in your subjects. What are your tricks? How do you bring out the best in people (children especially), while maintaining that candid look in all of your pictures?

I love family and newborn sessions and other momentous occasions, like weddings, engagements and birthdays. But my heart lies with photographing children. It just feels like it was what I was meant do. I love the playfulness and innocence that comes with photographing kids. I still get blown away after a photo shoot with a child, when I sit down to edit my session. It’s so awesome how much each child’s uniqueness seems to shine through the picture. Kids have a sparkle in their eyes that is so undeniable. I have so much fun getting to know new little people. And it’s never hard work for me to get great shots of kids. I think it helps that I often come into clients’ homes. I think it’s important, in order to get great portraits, to be working in a space in which you feel totally comfortable to be yourself, especially for kids.

So, I guess I don’t really think that I use any ‘tricks’. I just try to connect with the individual. I arrive at a shoot calm, prepared and playful. And I always try to make my sessions full of fun.


This post has not been sponsored and simply reflects my own thoughts on the product’s quality.