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Meet Jen Sosa of Jennifer Sosa Photography in Long Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jen Sosa.

Jen, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am born and raised in NYC and moved to LA, 4 years ago. I went to College for Graphic Design and while I took a few Photography classes as a part of my major, I had decided it wasn’t for me. Two years into my first job as a graphic design assistant, I got laid off and applied to go to grad school once again for Graphic design. This was 2008 and it was the first time I had a summer free. Since I had spent so many long hours in front of the computer, I decided to pick up my camera again and explore NYC and sharpen my photography skills. It was around this time that my friends started getting engaged. Out of curiosity, I looked at wedding photography websites and thought, if I were I bride, I wouldn’t hire any of these people because none of them would understand me. You see the style was very formal, posed and princessy. It made me cringe. I thought why can’t the photos be more lifestyle and have a personality? Naturally, my friends wanted to hire me and I became the photographer I would want to hire one day. It was an interesting experience trying to reinvent the wheel at the time to create a style that was very much myself while attracting couples that would resonate with it. So much has changed in the last 10 years. When I started people told me to never admit I was a wedding photographer because we were “the rejects of the photography industry.” I really didn’t care about labels, I cared about creating images that told a story and served my clients. There were so many hurdles but I’m glad I stuck it out and kept shooting.

The move to LA happened when I realized that being in NYC actually hindered my growth. It’s an intense city. It’s also my hometown so I will always love it but the hustle can be exhausting. There just never seems to be enough hours in a day. Plus, LA had better weather and I had just turned 30. I thought if not now then when?!

Although terrified about leaving everything familiar, it was the support of friends that helped me through the transition. I also, saved about a year’s worth of money so I wouldn’t be desperate to compromise on the kind of projects I wanted to take on.

A few months into moving, I was approached to join a wedding collective which has been incredibly helpful in starting over again in a new city. It was a reminder that taking that leap of faith was worth it.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
There were 3 major obstacles:
1. Building credibility.
I had to do this one twice. Once when I started out and the second time, when I moved to a new city which was almost like starting all over again.

2. Pricing for sustainability.
In the beginning, I priced my self low so people would take a chance on me. I get it. I didn’t know what I was doing when I first started out and there was a risk involved. A risk I would miss moments or equipment malfunction. I was going into the unknown but grateful that so many couples were willing to give me a chance. The problem is, I quickly realized that this pricing model wasn’t working for me. Word would spread that I was at this budget price point so when I started asking what was even slightly below what was normal in NYC I would get rejected. It’s tough when you work so hard and invest so much money into your craft and to feel that you aren’t valued. Eight years later, I realized there will ALWAYS be pushback for whatever number you put out there. You will ALWAYS be too expensive for someone but for the right person you are perfect. In fact, they save up for you because you are exactly what they want. I now do my best to price for sustainability so my business can keep progressing forward and deliver quality.

3. Having a vision for wedding photography that was incredibly rare in NYC at the time when I started.
Part of the problem was that I had issues with the wedding industry and how it was mostly wedding factories. I kept thinking why do wedding photos have to look like this or why are weddings the way they are? When I started taking photos that were more fashion-forward and less wedding looking, the couples who hired me loved it but I ruffled a few parental feathers. I heard things like “I can’t believe they paid you to chop their heads off,” “why is she wasting time taking photos of your shoes?”

Awkward. Luckily, my couples were super adventurous and loved being different so they gladly paid to get their “heads chopped off” for the sake of art.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I am a bi-coastal wedding and lifestyle photographer. I specialize in taking photos that tell a story, beautifully. I am most proud of taking that leap of faith to start over in another city. It was a risk that paid off.

As a wedding photographer, I take non-wedding wedding photos. It’s not for everyone but for the right person its perfect. My graphic design background informs my composition and helps create editorial looking photos. I don’t want to just take a pretty photo of someone, I want to understand them and let their personality or essence shine.

What were you like growing up?
I’ve always been super introverted and imaginative. I remember back in the 5th grade or so spending more time creating the book report cover than I did writing the actual book report. One of my mom’s friends picked up on this and mentioned maybe I would be interested in graphic design one day. I was also, super intrigued by photos. I would get lost in them. Thinking about how it was to be in the moment or feel what the person felt in the image. My parents had me in a variety of creative afterschool activities as well to keep me busy.

Pricing:

  • photo sessions start at $300 for a mini session
  • Weddings coverage averages around $5500 for the package

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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