When I think of photographers, there are a few names that come up of incredible women who are breaking boundaries and doing impressive work that is stand alone and completely draw me in. One of those photographers is Twyla Jones. Her work speaks to a wild, emotional side that reminds me of blustery winter days, yet shot in the most beautiful way that could be like hanging out with your loved ones on a perfect summer night. Her style is captivating and we love this moody side of photography we are beginning to see more.
We had the opportunity to chat with Twyla for our Inspiring Femme series and hear about her experiences as a female in her industry, how she aims to incorporate small acts of balance into her life until they become a work-life balance routine, and our exciting upcoming workshop called Alchemy and Sage.
WC: What is your mission statement?
TJ: I had never really thought about a mission statement before this interview but, now that I think about it, I feel like I have two; one as a photographer and one as an educator.
As a photographer, I like to capture the beauty in everyday moments by creating a relaxed and beautiful environment for my subjects to come together and have beautiful interactions with each other (either naturally or via prompts). I do this for anyone who appreciates beauty in the emotive and soulful way that I aim to capture my clients, and for those who want me to capture moments so they can relive them for themselves over and over by every look at a picture hung on the wall or thoughtfully looking through an heirloom album.
As an educator, I share the way I perceive beauty and moments with other photographers to inspire them to identify those same moments for themselves, and, in turn, interlace them into their work. I do this by spending time with them and helping them uncover roadblocks. Being able to hear one photographers creative process and getting to know their why allows me to help them better identify what inspiring moments look like for them. I aim to educate photographers who are trying to find their creative voice and for those who are passionate about creating meaningful and identifiable work– work that looks completely like their own and not like work they see all over Instagram or work that everyone else in their city is doing. Educating is extremely fulfilling and satisfying– it’s incredible to see another photographer step fully into themselves while also teaching them the tools to earn a living doing what they love.
What are your values?
I feel very passionate about equality.
When posting images of my work on social media I am intentional about being inclusive. I tend to post more images of lesbian couples because I photograph them more often and people are beautifully accepting. I recently posted an image of two men and people were not as loving.
It infuriates me. It’s been feeling even more meaningful to me lately and I’ve been really reflecting on what it means to me and why it has caused this passion to surface from within. Along with this passion of equality has come a passion for empowering women– these are two topics that I’m starting to feel I should be more vocal about with my online presence.
Along with this passion of equality has come a passion for empowering women– these are two topics that I’m starting to feel I should be more vocal about with my online presence.
When I think about it, it may just boil down to showing the beauty of love between any two people and empowering creatives, especially female creatives, to pursue the things they are passionate about to help them to find the confidence to know that they truly can do anything with this life that they want to do. As a woman who supports equality and inclusion, I am confident in my decision to post images of LGBTQ2 couples on my feed and if those viewing the images have an issue, then they don’t align with my values and simply aren’t the kind of people I would want as my clients.
Tell us about your experience as a female business owner?
Honestly, I just feel like I’ve been really lucky that I don’t notice a difference due to my gender in my field… If anything, being a woman has actually provided me with more opportunities, which I am grateful for.
As an example, the first teaching I was ever asked to do was a photography workshop for 40 other photographers. It was an absolutely incredible opportunity and it came about because of gender equality. The extremely talented founders had wanted to keep costs for those attending the workshops low, so they decided to be the presenters. Since they are all men, photographers spoke out and they immediately opened up positions for women. I was one of the women who was chosen to present. That workshop is what really started my career and helped me find that I was passionate about teaching. I didn’t fault them at their decision to facilitate the workshops; I understood their decision. But I am grateful for those who did speak for inclusion because it provided me with an opportunity that has led me to where I am today. I’m thankful to the women paving the way and doing the hard work to make sure women’s voices are included so that everyone benefits from bringing diversity into lineups such as workshops and other incredible opportunities.
I’m thankful to the women paving the way and doing the hard work to make sure women’s voices are included so that people feel an obligation to bring diversity into lineups..
Tell us about the trials and victories of having a small business?
A trial is definitely finding a work-life balance. This is especially difficult with two small children who are home during the summertime. There is also the guilt you can feel when you are pursuing something you are passionate about which sometimes means spending time away from home travelling to do those things.
There are so many victories– the pleasure of seeing something you’ve created and that you feel passionate about. The satisfaction of being able to provide for my family and knowing the efforts that I put into my business are reaped almost immediately and result in more passion for my work. I also appreciate that I have the opportunity to choose what my day look like every day so I can mould my life into what I want for myself.
How do you cultivate work-life balance as an entrepreneur?
I have a personalized planner with a month view and an hourly view, which if I could stick to, would be great! It’s so important to know how long it takes for you to do a task so you know how to schedule it into your day. If you want to work an 8 hour day, you can schedule yourself 8 hours of work instead of 16 hours of work. You can plan, and when you plan like that, you actually have loads of free time if you really stick to a schedule. When I stick to a schedule, I find it’s not that hard to fit everything in and be a productive person while also spending quality time with my family. That’s the best thing you can do.
Also, when I’m not working, I’m not working. I try to be fully present in all aspects of my life. When working, work. When it’s time to step away from the computer and be really fully present, don’t feel obligated to check Instagram every hour– clock in, and clock out.
I try to be a little bit better every day.
I try to be a little bit better every day and stick to a part of these two aspects. It’s a practice– you have to be disciplined. Becoming a small business owner and working from home makes it more of a struggle to stop working. When you love what you do, it’s hard to stop working because you also actually want to work in your free time because you enjoy what you do! If I’m watching a movie and I’m not very into it, I’d rather be in my office editing photos because I actually like editing! I started off with photography because it’s my hobby and I liked to do it so when I wasn’t working I would come home and spend time learning about it because I liked it. Now that I do it for work, I still love it and want to do it during work hours and in my free time. It’s hard to draw that line when you like what you do so much.
What has been the best part of being a business owner so far?
Getting to do what I love every day, making my own schedule, and not having to shower every day. But really, just the satisfaction that the harder I work directly affects making my dreams come true– that’s the best.
What are your goals for the future?
To be able to reach more people with extensive courses that I am putting together that I feel are all the things I ever wanted to know and struggled to find good resources for. It’s putting the best of me out in a way that allows others to have all the information, but it’s also freeing up my time to be able to spend more of it with my family and working a lot less. I feel like that’s what it’s about.
What inspires you?
My family, the wind, the ocean, beautiful light, weather, and clouds.
What pushed you to make the decision to pursue the life of an entrepreneur?
Well, 2 years ago we moved to Florida from Kansas where I was a histologist at a pathology lab while working as a photographer in my free time. Just the idea of having to follow someone else’s rules and the thought of having to put together a resume made me feel sick– it was soul-crushing! I knew I had to figure out a way to make photography work and sometimes, you have to take the leap and have faith it’ll work out! I believed it would work, and I worked hard to be sure I could provide for my family and it paid off because I make so much more than if I had stayed at a job as a histologist, and I find the work so much more fulfilling.
I knew I had to figure out a way to make photography work and sometimes, you have to take the leap and have faith it’ll work out! I believed it would work, and I worked hard to be sure I could provide for my family and it paid off.
What are you most looking forward to with Twyla Jones Photography — new workshops, new locations to shoot in, etc?
I do feel like it would be really great to get my very own workshop together. I’ve been a part of so many and I’ve learned so much about what I would love to offer and do to enhance the attendee experience so I’d love to offer something totally mine and share that experience with others.
I’m also just really excited to get those comprehensive classes launched so I’m able to reach more people with really amazing content… I’m also dying to photograph a volcano!
I’m looking forward to Alchemy and Sage in November 2019! I got to have a lot more say in this workshop with the locations that we are using and the things that we would be speaking about. This is one of the first times where I’ve had more input in the itinerary so I’m excited to share that experience with other like-minded photographers.
Twyla Jones is such a kind soul whose commitment to helping photographers find their voice, gain confidence in themselves and their own work, and to step out to become the photographer they were meant to me is a breath of fresh air and I are so excited to see all the incredible work Twyla will continue to do in her industry.