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Rising Stars: Meet Jennifer Popperl

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Popperl. 

Hi Jennifer, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
Yes of course!

Photography has always been a big part of my life. The first photographer I ever fell in love with is my father. Growing up he captured all the moments, big and small, teaching me the importance of making memories tangible. He really set the tone for what later would become my passion and career. Over the years, my photography has evolved. My journey started with abandoned locations, cemeteries, and urban landscapes. For a time, my emotions, mainly sadness, fueled my work. I didn’t know how to capture spaces outside of those feelings which made it hard to find my place in this field. For a while, I had resigned myself to the idea that my photography was simply a hobby and a form of expression only for myself. A few years later, I went to art school where I began experimenting with other subjects – portraiture, abstract, still-life, etc. School really opened up my eyes to the possibilities of photography as a career and I still consider it the big game changer moment for me. I am now coming up on 4 years at a photography studio as the studio manager. It has taught me a lot about business which is where I feel like a lot of creatives struggle- I am grateful to learn all the aspects of photography, not just the creative side. When I am not managing, I am shooting. Working alongside other creatives in my field has not only taught me a lot but inspired me to continue to foster my craft.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Has it been a smooth road. In a word: no. It has been messy, infuriating, discouraging – all the things that would make you want to halt to a screeching stop. But isn’t that life? It has been a beautifully messy ride filled with a tremendous amount of gratitude. It isn’t always easy, but we keep moving forward – learning from our mistakes and celebrating wins big and small.

I will say that my biggest struggle has been the pressure to perform well on social media. Undoubtedly, Instagram has been a beneficial tool for me to gain exposure and share my work. Yet, it comes with constant pressure to mass produce content, interact and now create reels all in an effort to stay afloat. It’s a tough battle between art vs. content. When you’re running a small business it’s important to use everything at your disposal, including social media. I do feel like it comes at a cost -You cannot afford to have artist-block or take self-care time. Not keeping up means losing followers and your place within the ever-changing algorithm. You start to feel more like a factory line worker than a creative.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
For my professional work, portrait photography.

Up until the last few years, I was best known for my urbex photography. It took me to some wonderful places and opened up the art show scene for me, which I miss the most. I love connecting and collectively sharing art. I still dabble in it, but I keep that mostly for my personal enjoyment. I firmly believe that some things in life should be kept for yourself, free of pressure to perform.

I’m really proud of where I am in life. I’ve had regrets about where I could have been had I figured my path out sooner. Starting my career later in life has been challenging. I used to placed a lot of pressure on myself, and like most, compared myself to others and their successes. I read somewhere that ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ and I live by that now. No questioning, simply trusting.

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
The most important lesson I’ve learned is to trust the process. Growth and opportunity don’t always happen as quickly as we’d like. As a matter of fact, I believe it is slowly cultivated over many years. It takes discipline and patience, but oftentimes that can be discouraging. It can feel like we are blindly following a path that might not have a finish line, but we have to trust that it does.

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