Jasmine Star WPPI 2011 | Telling Your Untold Stories
The following article is a guest post by Drexelle Park, a photographer with her husband, David Park, from Orange County, CA. More of their work can be found at www.dparkphotography.com
After coming down a long escalator, passing 3 security checkpoints, you would’ve entered the largest conference room in all of WPPI, the MGM Grand Garden Arena, capable of holding 17,000 people.
The introduction you would’ve heard was by the President of WPPI, who started the class by saying, “How do you introduce someone who we all feel is our good friend?
Soon enough, you could hear the stilettos walk up the large stage and see the wedding photographer diva approach.
… Jasmine Star.
You would’ve heard a LOUD audience cheer for this shooting star turned A-list celebrity in the wedding photography world.
In 2005, Jasmine Star was unhappily coasting in law school when life, as she knew it, had to stop. Her mother’s brain cancer relapsed. Jasmine found herself leaving school to come back home. 3 months later, she was engaged to her sweetheart of 8 years and started planning her wedding. 6 months later, a miracle happened as her mother beat the cancer and was able to walk her down the aisle. With that amazing journey documented by her wedding photographer, she found her passion – in wedding photography. In 2006, she shot 3 weddings on her own. Skyrocketing by 2009, American Photo named her as one of the 10 best wedding photographers in the world.
Jasmine Star is an international wedding photographer based in Orange County, CA.
She has become an icon in wedding photography, and not just for her imagery, but for her voice which is so gifted at inspiring so many to love her and feel like they know her as a friend.
“Life is kind of funny when you think about it. There are really only 2 ways to live it. You can have your story told for you or you can write your own.
- JASMINE STAR
Jasmine challenged us at WPPI to tell our untold stories in 3 parts of our lives: business, photography and personal.
1 | BUSINESS
In business, it’s vital to ask why. Why do we do what we do? Why do we think this is how we should do business?
“Life is a series of motions and if you’re just ebbing and flowing, you’ll never know when you arrive to your destination.
- JASMINE STAR
In 2007, Jasmine felt completely overwhelmed. Taking a boatload of classes to learn Bridge, Photoshop, album design, QuickBooks, filing taxes, running a business, she was extraordinarily overwhelmed.
To make matters worse, her way of post-processing was to individually open each of the 900 images at a wedding and edit them one by one in, yes, Photoshop. It took 3 straight weeks of morning/noon/night editing to complete one wedding.
By April 2007, she had booked her 20th wedding, of which the highest paying one was $1500, which let her finally leave her part-time job. New to photography, the wedding world, and being a wife, she felt like she was playing all these games and not winning at any of them. She was doing it all wrong. She had to change her story.
She outsourced print fulfillments, accounting, album design, and color correction. You can’t do everything well so focus on your strengths and outsource the rest. Don’t ever let go of where you are good. By outsourcing, she was able to focus on new business: marketing, client care, refining the website, blogging, submitting work for publications, getting involved with industry peers. She became a photographer to be a photographer, not a professional editor, album designer, or house cleaner. She wanted a life.
“I wanted my business to serve my life, not my life to serve my business.
- JASMINE STAR
So, here were her two challenges to your business:
- What kind of life do you want?
- If you could let go of 2 things in your business that weigh you down, would you?
“Work the cost of outsourcing into your packages so you can focus on what you want to do. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy Lightroom.
- JASMINE STAR
Happier clients created happier endorsements; happier endorsements a happier Jasmine.
2 | PHOTOGRAPHY
In 2007, Jasmine did not like the photographer she became. To her, her imagery was generic, lifeless, and, worse, forgettable. She wanted to align her business and artistic direction.
How? She did the following:
- Brutally critiqued her entire portfolio (i.e. composition, focal range, processing)
- Compiled a list of photos that inspired her and studied them
- Disassembled pictures, studying light, lenses, post-processing to see if she could replicate that
- Read photography blogs and media OUTSIDE the wedding industry
Here is what she learned as the key to taking better photographs:
- Be you – Use your past experiences and insecurities and infuse it into your photography. Let it make you different and stand out. It’s your strength.
- Pre-visualization - Have ideas for poses before the shoot. Practice them. Practice directing them. Coach the clients into that pose. Make sure your clients are having fun!
- Website – Use those photos to get the clients you want. Make your viewers feel emotion from the site. Showcase who you are not simply that you’re a wedding photographer who fits their budget.
“Personality. It’s like jazz-hands on the web.
- JASMINE STAR
3 | PERSONAL LIFE
In becoming a better photographer, she had to learn to find herself. She started putting so much on her plate, because she cared so much about client care, that she sacrificed those closest to her: her husband, family, friends, dog.
After setting her business and photography straight, she learned the importance of setting your life straight. For Jasmine, it meant forcing herself to:
- Stop work at 6:30PM every night
- Take walks 3x/day because of her lovable diva dog, Polo
- Watch midday movies with her hubby
- Turn off social media
- Say NO to anything that will preclude her from living the life she wanted
In return, Jasmine got to:
- Sleep better
- Most importantly, be in the moment
She left us with a challenge at the end: Change two things that will make you grow your business. Make the meaningful decision to change.
Change isn’t safe. It’s awkward. We won’t like it. It will require sacrifice.
“Sacrifice and change go hand in hand.
- JASMINE STAR
What meaningful decisions will you make today to move in the direction that you want? What’s stopping you?
She ended with a quote from her favorite author, Donald Miller:
“Once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.
Jasmine ended the evening with her classic smile, “Our lives are short. Dare to dream!
That night, we were challenged to make two changes:
- Outsource our weaknesses. Letting go can be hard, especially when you’re only thinking of how much it’ll cost you if you do it. But we know the cost of doing everything ourselves, not using others’ expertise, and not freeing ourselves to live our lives is much higher.
- Be in the moment. We felt much more freed to let ourselves set our schedule so that life came first. Work fixed hours. Check email twice/day. More important, set our marriage, family, and things that mattered first.
I almost wanted to throw out a lot of “Amens during her session. Ever since embarking in wedding photography, Jasmine has been one of our heroes, not only for her fabulous voice but also for her integrity. Throughout the evening and, really, her career, she’s been honest about her mistakes and in her uncertainty as she tries to truly help every person who comes to her. She is one of the only photographers we’ve had the pleasure of reaching out to who always responded with advice and never with a sales pitch.
Her story and encouragement inspired us to where we are now and we, and so many others, love her for that.
Article and Images by Drexelle Park of D. Park Photography
We’re David + Drexelle – high school sweethearts, complete opposites but God amazingly brought us together, 2 kids who were scared of marriage but now passionate about a lifetime committed to love, the good, the bad, the crazy, the lovely.
Our desire is to inspire a generation of people like ourselves who were jaded about love through incredible imagery that celebrates marriage: love – lifelong, lasting, and lovely.
We’re D. Park Photography. Modern classic wedding photographers for the truly original, authentic and timeless love stories.