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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Every Picture Tells A Story: Portrait Photographer Jessica Korff

May 31, 2023 11:00AM ● By Suzie Agrillo
Jessica Korff

Jessica Korff

When Jessica Korff started attending art school, she was planning to become a graphic artist. Fortunately, the school encouraged students to take other classes offered in the curriculum, and she discovered her passion for photography.
Now an award-winning photographer, there is something about Korff that inspires her subjects to reveal themselves. All clients receive a planning appointment prior to their photography session so that she can personally interact with them. Then, she assimilates what she gleans into a portrait that captures their essence.
When Korff does branding photos for business clients, her goal is to have the viewer begin to “know, like and trust” the subject, she says. “Well done photos that connect with potential clients will compel them to read more,” she opines.
If Korff was doing a portrait of herself, it would evoke her creativity, determination and her resilience. She lives her life fully, authentically and on her own terms, while she concomitantly encourages others to do the same. Her greatest joy is seeing her clients’ confidence shine through in and after their images.

Interview with Portrait Photographer Jessica Korff

What was your first introduction to photography?
The interesting thing is that I was originally in art school at the Southwest University of Visual Arts to study graphic design. I started additional classes in photography that they offered. While I was taking classes there and dabbling in photography, I was also working at a preschool.
I began taking photos of the children and gave them to the moms. Their feedback indicated to me that the photos had an enormous impact on the parents. It was around this point I decided I hated graphic design because it was too tedious. I switched gears and dove into photography, where I felt I could make a bigger difference.

What drew you to the world of professional photography?
It was a hobby in the beginning because I had just had a baby, my fourth of four, and she was very dependent on me. In both of our best interests, my husband suggested I should quit the preschool job to do professional photography. It sounded risky—you don’t know what’s going to happen when you open a business, do you? But I decided to try it. I opened my own business in 2016, and I’ve never looked back.

What is unique about your photography?
I focus a lot on women. It’s kind of funny, because I didn’t in the beginning. I was a high school senior photographer. It just slowly started happening that I would take on a headshot session here and there. When I saw how women showed up differently in their business after they did a session, it just fed my soul to see what an impact it had on their lives. My hope is that I succeed in making women feel so amazing about themselves that after a session they think they can conquer the world.

Does who the person is or what they do change how you photograph them?
I try to get to know who they are so I can capture their essence and highlight their strength and confidence. Women often forget how truly magnificent they are, and my goal is to help them remember that. If they are comfortable with me, they are going to let themselves shine through. They will think, “This is a place where I can authentically show up.”

Who have you done marketing/branding photos for in your work?
I’ve worked with acupuncturists, life coaches, chiropractors, aestheticians and many other holistic practitioners and health offices. Branding is getting to tell the story of who they are so they can stand out. The right photography can get people to begin to know, like and trust you without saying a word. It can help get potential clients to read your message and help them think, “You feel like you might be my perfect person, let me read more.”
We all have an idea of what a health professional does. My goal is to convey what makes them different, by telling a story of what they do so they come to the forefront of their profession.
One thing we do differently is to use a lot of body language psychology, as well as color psychology, to support their message. We each have an automatic relationship to what colors mean. Red naturally brings out feelings of confidence and power. If you want people to relate to you as being joyful and optimistic, I suggest yellow.

What advantages are there to being a female photographer?
For boudoir photography it is helpful to be female, although it doesn’t have to be a driving force. I add to their safety and create a comfortable environment so they can authentically come through.
About 90 percent of the women who call book me because on my website, I note that my philosophy is that it is no one else’s job to be photogenic or look good in front of the camera. It’s my job to pose you and direct you through your entire photoshoot to make you look and feel incredible. My makeup artist Renee is well versed in camera ready makeup, which is different from everyday makeup. She can use makeup to help you look camera ready even with a “no makeup” look.

What should a client do to prepare for a photo shoot with you?
We have a planning appointment that addresses several items. During the planning session we figure out how they want to be photographed, what they want to convey and what wardrobe they will wear. In general, I recommend a hair blowout the day of or the day before, clean nails, drinking a lot of water the week before, so your skin is well-hydrated, and eating a healthy breakfast.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
It’s definitely when my clients see photos and are shocked because they don’t always see themselves that way. When my boudoir clients feel beautiful, sexy and realize how extraordinary they are, they start living their portrayal. It reminds them who they are, and they start showing up in the world just a little differently.

Which photographers are inspirational to you?
There’s a few. I really love Lola Melani. She does stunning work, particularly with maternity and motherhood portraits. And my other inspiration is Megan DiPiero, who does headshots and personal branding as well. Her photography business comes from empathy and connection, and we often forget those things. Her approach in business is a love-first message, which includes self-love and love for our clients.

Do you have any hobbies?
When I have time for them. I enjoy painting and love reading—with an actual book or Audible. Otherwise, I’m basically a taxi for my kids.

What is your favorite quote?
I’m not sure who said it, but, “Your soul knows what it’s doing. It’s just your human that gets in the way.” To me it means that if you sit still and listen, you know exactly what to do, exactly where you want to go.

What is one thing without which you cannot live?
It sounds cliché, but definitely family. I’m a mom of four girls, and it’s so cool to see my kids come into their own. They do really impressive things when I get out of the way. And, of course, my husband—I couldn’t do anything without my husband.

What does a day in the life of Jessica Korff look like?
When we wake up, my lovely husband makes coffee, so I start the day drinking coffee, getting my kids ready and off to school, and if it’s a workday, I roll into a photo shoot. I’ll enjoy all of that and have a great time with clients, and then go home to relax. On non-shoot days, I have client meetings, networking meetings and retouching.

What networking organizations are you involved in?
I’m currently Vice President of my BNI Chapter, and a Director of BNI SoZona (Southern Arizona), which entails supporting some of the other BNI chapters and members. I’m a member of eWomenNetwork and I also attend the LGBTQ Chamber. I think it’s important to be allies and to support people in the community who need it. I try to connect in the community whenever I can.

What is your mission?
My mission is to change how women believe they are allowed to show up in this world, and to create the space for them to step up and take their power back.

What projects are you working on that support your mission?
I own and run Success [RE]fashiond Magazine. Refashion means “to fashion or create something differently” and that’s just what the women in this magazine are doing. It’s an annual issue celebrating and supporting some of our top local women in business. Each woman shares her story and what drives her forward. Local women writers also contribute articles, and the photography is all done by me.
My hope is that through this magazine, community awareness goes up of impact-making women right here in Tucson, who have embraced that they can be both powerful and feminine; soft and strong; humble and yet worth being celebrated.
We also do a project every year, and this year is The Art of [Her]. This is a curation of real women, with real stories of trauma or challenges that they have overcome and real beauty. They come in and I photograph them in dresses I make by draping fabrics, which creates an artist’s rendition of their stories. And we show her as the true piece of art she is. Then we feature them in a photo exhibition at a local business or gallery. Projects like this feed the artist in me.
Next year, our project will be a six-week body love challenge, which will be about an awareness of how we look at and perceive ourselves in a negative light. Women tend to look in the mirror and to not like what we see. My vision is to motivate others to switch the narrative and to remind you that you are “absolutely magic exactly the way you are.”

Jessica Korff Studios is located at 326 S. Wilmot, Ste. A-140, in Tucson. Connect at 520-975-9051, [email protected] or See ad, page 4.

Suzie Agrillo is a freelance writer in Tucson, and frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings Magazine. She focuses on writing about the arts, inspirational people and the human
connection. Connect at [email protected].

Jessica Korff Studios - 326 S Wilmot rd ste A140 Tucson AZ

Jessica Korff Studios - 326 S Wilmot rd ste A140, Tucson, AZ

Jessica Korff, of Jessica Korff Studios, is an award-winning photographer and active member of our business community, lifting up other women in everything she does. She is in the sec... Read More » 


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