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Podcast Episode 36: This is Jill Streefland

Excited to have the fab Jill Streefland on the podcast today. One of the best wedding photographers in the Netherlands and winner of 5 Reportage Awards and 2 Story Awards, Jill was in our top 30 photographers of 2019, and she shares so much with us today, including:

  • actually shooting a wedding during the middle of corona times,
  • shooting fellow wedding photographers’ weddings,
  • her past life as a dancer and its impact on her photography,
  • how she got into photography,
  • the story of her very first wedding,
  • some Netflix recommendations,
  • Dirty Dancing,
  • the importance of workshops,
  • her specific thoughts and tips regarding Story Awards,
  • the story behind one of specific Reportage Awards,
  • some life changes she will make going forwards,
  • word of mouth and social media,
  • living in the moment,
  • a memorable mistake,
  • her recent work in boudoir,
  • something that bugs her about our industry,
  • what drives her in life,
  • what happiness is to her,
  • advice for just starting out,
  • and much more…

By the way, this interview was actually recorded on 13th June 2020, so if you notice any time discrepencies with what we say – things move so fast during these corona times! – you’ll know why.

Also, just a quick word before we go over to Jill: It’s been so exciting this week to see so many photographers from all over the world join our brand new sister site for documentary family photography, This is Reportage: Family. We only launched last week and we already have over 130 members; just been blown away by the response. So exciting to be promoting the power and skill of both documentary family photography, and documentary wedding photography, with the two TiR sister-sites going forward. Exciting times!

Listen on iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, YouTube, and below in this post with a full transcript:

Alan:

Hey Jill, how you doing?

Jill:

Hi Alan, yes, I’m fine. And how are you?

Alan:

Oh, yeah all good actually, all good. Yeah, I had a bit of a lie in this morning at the weekend, which is actually quite different to a normal Saturday, isn’t it? I guess where we don’t get to lie in on most Saturday mornings.

Jill:

Oh no, it’s a strange situation right now.

Jill Streefland

Alan:

Yeah. How is it? How’s it been for you? Because I think I saw that you actually shot a wedding recently, didn’t you?

Jill:

I shot a wedding last week, last Friday.

Alan:

Wow. So that’s right in the middle of these Corona times then, so that was June the 5th was it? Was it June?

Jill:

Yes, it was. It was yeah.

Alan:

Wow. So what was that like shooting a wedding in these times?

Jill:

Well, I was really excited to do a wedding in the corona era because well, we have to keep social distancing, the one and a half meters so that was challenging and it was… It also was a wedding photographer, the groom.

Alan:

Oh wow, a bit of extra pressure as well.

Jill:

We have real good weather here in Holland in last week, weeks and on their wedding day, there was a lot of rain and it was cold, like 12 degrees. So there were a lot of challenges.

Alan:

Yeah, I bet. So it must be… so I’ve not shot a wedding yet during social distancing, obviously, it must be… it must be very strange. What… how many guests did they have?

Jill:

Oh, well. Till the 1st of July, it’s they can have guests up to 30 and from the () of July, guests are allowed up to 100 people.

Alan:

Oh right.

Jill:

Yeah, so they had 30 people and I love to see how creative people are with the all the rules they have right now. So the people who weren’t allowed, mostly the partners and the kids, they replaced them with cardboards. So lifesized cardboards and they placed the photos of the people on them.

Alan:

That’s very cool. Yeah, I saw… I looked at the blog post of it actually, yeah, I’ll link… if anyone’s listening, you know, while running or cycling or… yeah people listen while cycling, they do that, head to thisisreportage.com and I’ll include a link to your blog post of that wedding, it’s brilliant work. Yeah and as you say, seeing those life size dolls. That’s a really clever idea, isn’t it?

Jill:

Yeah, it was clever and it was fun. It was… Yeah, it gave something extra… good vibe so it was really great to see how they, yeah, how they get creative.

Alan:

That’s cool.

Jill:

Yeah.

Alan:

That’s cool. And have you, for the rest of your weddings, have you seen a lot postponed into like later in the year or next year and how’s it been for you in general?

Jill:

A lot of weddings are postponed till later this year and yeah, ‘21 even ‘22. So, I have weddings in August, September and well, we have to see how that will work out and what the rules are, because they are, yeah, constantly changing.

Alan:

Yeah, they seem to be maybe easing a bit quicker for you in Holland than they are for us. You know, it’s… I guess it’s different for every country, isn’t it? It’s…

Jill:

Yeah. How’s the situation over there.

Alan:

Well, still no weddings really at all and you know, no, you can only gather as many as six people at the moment really, I think.

Jill:

Six?

Alan:

Yeah, this and… but that’s supposedly… you’re not supposed to mix with other people that you don’t know only recently, from Monday I think non-essential shops will be opening. Have you got shops open and things?

Jill:

Yeah, the shops are open, yeah.

Alan:

All right, okay. So yeah, you are moving a bit quicker than us. Every country has been so different, isn’t it? It’s just a mental time, not the best time in the wedding industry, I guess as a whole. Yes so the couple… the wedding that you did shoot, you said he was a wedding photographer. Have you shot other wedding photographers weddings before? Do you feel extra pressure doing that?

Jill:

Well, I don’t know if it’s an extra pressure but I was excited to do it because, well, he’s a photographer so he knows I’m searching for lights and moments and it was a rainy day but sometimes the sun came out and I just only have to look at him and he will say ‘ oh okay, we have to go with Jill’ because the sun is out and we have to make the best of it right now. And so…

Alan:

That’s handy, yeah that’s in that way.

Jill:

Yeah and I think now in this Corona times, what I think is really great that you connect with people on a yeah, how do you say that on a deeper level or you are Yeah, expanding? Yeah. I didn’t know how to say it … you live with them to… no that’s not good.

Alan:

Well, I guess I know you mean it’s kind of like a unifying thing that’s happening to us all and we like feeling…

Jill:

Yeah, you’re with each other and you want to make the best of it and I think really great that some wedding couples are going too… you want to make the best of it together. So I think that is a positive thing, because I love to connect with people.

Alan:

Yeah, oh cool. Yeah and at this time photography is so important for, you know, those family and friends who couldn’t be there as well. You’re able to give them you know, amazing images. It’s even more important in a way.

Jill:

Yeah, yeah, sure yeah.

Alan:

I’ve only shot another wedding photographer’s wedding just a few times but I did find it extra scary, really.

Jill:

You know, they will look at every photo like oh, what’s…

Alan:

Yeah, what was he doing? What was he doing?

Jill:

What was he thinking and…

Alan:

That’s funny. Do you get nervous at all like shooting in general before weddings, or do you not feel nervous or…

Jill:

I feel nerves, every wedding, every photo shoot.

Alan:

Yeah, yeah. It’s mad isn’t it?

Jill:

Yeah, you want to make the best of every wedding, of every shoot and yeah, it’s… you have to, yeah, deliver.

Alan:

Yeah. So there is a pressure, isn’t there? I wish, I know some people thrive on the nerves, I don’t know, for me I just wish I didn’t have them. I really do. I really do. Yeah, because how long have you been a photographer for now?

Jill:

Oh, I think I started six years ago, so.

Alan:

Okay, wow mad! That’s not that long, you’re doing so well, it’s awesome. Yes and you used to be a dancer. Is that correct?

Jill:

Yes.

Alan:

What kind of what kind of dancing did you do?

Jill:

Oh, well, I started dancing when I was like four years old, but at the age of 13, I joined a Brazilian show ballet.

Alan:

Wow, really? Wow so that means performing all over.

Jill:

Yeah all over yeah and even abroad.

Alan:

Wow, from 13 as well?

Jill:

Yeah.

Alan:

So was dancing was really your life then I guess for a long time?

Jill:

Yeah, yeah it was and my trainer told me at a very young age to look at the best, the best dancer on the front row because of course I was just starting and on the last row and he always told me look at the best, learn from them and well, strive beyond their level so that was a yeah, guideline I started following at a young age. The dancing period time was really important.

Alan:

That’s cool. I’ve never seen, I really want, I’ve never seen a ballet you know, I’d love to I never have Yeah, I really need to. Do you think coming from a dancing background has had an impact on your photography as well and what you like to capture maybe?

Jill:

I think so. I love to capture, how do you say that, gracefulness and movements and action and yeah I think I take it with me… the dancing.

Alan:

Yeah, that’s cool. Do you… are you especially watching the partying in the evening with all the guests dancing? Are you like… do you join in and do some moves?

Jill:

Well I find myself dancing at the party just to be in the… be with the guests in the party so I can capture them going to the guests, but…

Alan:

It’s not quite ballet is it? It’s not quite ballet in the wedding.

Jill:

No. But it’s also… I love to capture the brides with the veils and yeah the winds and…

Jill Streefland

Alan:

Yeah, there is definitely a graceful, a really graceful element about weddings. Yeah. That’s awesome that it’s helping you capture that. And I guess from being into dance from such an early age, you would have had a very strong kind of work ethic. You must be practicing lots.

Jill:

Yeah.

Alan:

Has that continued into your photography and how did you go from being a dancer into the world of photography?

Jill:

Oh, wow, that’s a hard question.

Alan:

We’ve got time…!

Jill:

Yeah, how did I get there? I think, I danced till the age of 20, around 20. And then I met my now husband and I also loved to have a social life so to me dancing became less important.

Alan:

Right.

Jill:

So I thought that I needed to have a good job so I studied human resource management.

Alan:

Oh, okay.

Jill:

And I started working as an HR advisor, I specialized in recruitment so did a lot of job interviews and I always love that part, to be in a conversation with people and…

Alan:

Oh, that’s cool. Like this? Like this?

Jill:

Yeah, but this is in English so this is really making me nervous.

Alan:

Oh yeah. I have such respect for you for doing an interview in a different language. Honestly, it’s amazing.

Jill:

Yeah, I need to improve my skills, but I am working on it.

Alan:

No, you’re brilliant. It’s amazing. Honestly. Honestly. Yes. Sorry. Sorry. Carry on then.

Jill:

It’s okay. So yeah, as an HR advisor, I love to get to know people but I didn’t like to have a boss who was telling me what to do, how to do and when to do so…. and I always loved the pressure at dancing, the nerves and the excitement and the creativity and I really missed that. So yeah, at a certain time I picked up a camera because I think that was around the… my children were born. So then you know how fast they yeah, they grew up and you want to capture that. So yeah, yeah. And I really love that, to photograph and to have these images that were symbolic to that time.

Alan:

Yeah, definitely. So that was your first kind of experience of photography then, really?

Jill:

Yeah, it’s was so…

Alan:

Did you just learn yourself from kind of books and things?

Jill:

No, no, I studied photography, like a basic workshop how to shoot manual.

Alan:

Okay.

Jill:

And just not with the goal to be a professional photographer but really just for myself, but then I love it so much and friends were seeing my pictures and they asked me can you make some pictures of my kids or I have a restaurant and I want to have photos for my website so that was the start of my photography.

Alan:

Oh, cool. Oh, it’s quite beautiful, really how it comes from the birth of your children, really, which gave you that birth of photography, which is yeah, very poetic, Alan. But that’s cool so yeah so then how did you get your very first wedding. Was it a friend or something, or?

Jill:

Yeah, it was like a mutual friend and he asked me to photograph his wedding and I told him ‘Oh, are you sure? I’ve never done this before and you have to take a look at all those amazing wedding photographers and if you’re still sure after seeing them and you want me just call me’ and well, we hang up and I thought he would never call me again. But he did so…

Alan:

What was that like for you doing that first that first wedding?

Jill:

Oh, it was terrible because I was so nervous and I wore high heels because I thought you have to dress up on a wedding and I was sweating and running all the time because I did not attend a lot of weddings before. So I didn’t know what was going to happen everywhere but it turned out okay and they were happy. And my first thought was, I’m never going to do this again but later I thought, well, everything is coming together… children, moments, everything I loved was in the wedding and well then I started to photograph more weddings.

Alan:

Oh, that’s cool. That’s cool. It’s so true. Everything is there at a wedding isn’t it? It has just so much all that interaction, the moments, the emotions, it is awesome and I feel a bit jealous that you’ve been able to shoot a wedding recently. You know? I do miss that.

Jill:

I was so happy that I had a wedding this week. Yeah.

Alan:

And what about the groom himself because you say he was a wedding photographer or does he… yeah, weddings himself. Has he been able to shoot weddings at the moment or?

Jill:

No, he has another job. So he’s not really into weddings lately.

Alan:

Okay, that’s probably for the best at the moment.

Jill:

Yeah.

Alan:

Cool, Jill, let’s change tack for a second then now. Do you watch much Netflix and TV? Are you watching anything good at the moment? Or what’s your favorite TV series?

Jill:

Oh, yeah, I watch Netflix, I think I loved Ozark.

Alan:

Oh, yes. Yeah, that it good, isn’t it? We’re partway through the third season at the moment. Have you watched them all?

Jill:

Ah, yes.

Alan:

It’s good though, it’s very dark though.

Jill Streefland

Jill:

It’s really dark but I love the way they launder money for the Mexican drug cartel. I love the contrast of the criminal activities and the family life and how it’s not working at all.

Alan:

Yeah, that’s true. That’s true. Yeah, that is cool. Is that what you’re watching at the moment as well?

Jill:

No, no, it’s at the moment, I’m watching the Last Dance. Oh, yeah, the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan.

Jill:

Yeah. Michael Jordan, yeah.

Alan:

Yeah, it’s so good, isn’t it? Yeah, we watched that. Yeah. I loved it. I’m not a big basketball fan but I just find it so interesting.

Jill:

Yes. It’s I think that his mentality is really interesting.

Alan:

Very strong character.

Jill:

Yeah. Yes and a unique view… Yeah. It gives a unique view in his drive and ambition and he wants to be the best and he wants his team to be the best and, yeah, in a strange way I have, yeah, I really respect that.

Alan:

Oh, yeah totally. I totally get that. Yeah, I really enjoy both those, yes, so good. If you haven’t watched that if you’re listening do check them both out. Someone should make, I think, you know, a reality TV series based around like wedding photographers would actually be very interesting, I think.

Jill:

Yeah, I think, yeah. My husband told me about a few months ago when I came home with another story, like, wow you have to make a soap or something.

Alan:

You should Yeah, because we see so many different things, don’t we?

Jill:

Yeah. And that’s the great thing about weddings because you are invited in their world for one day and I love that.

Alan:

Yeah, it’s special, isn’t it? It’s very cool. We are lucky. We are lucky. I always touch wood when I say that as well. I am very superstitious that way. Okay, so I imagine music must be quite important to you as a dancer as well so if you were cast away on a desert island on your own, what one album would you take with you?

Jill:

I would love that.

Alan:

Would you?

Jill:

Yeah for two or three days.

Alan:

Yeah, that’s true. And then after that, it might be a bit difficult but…

Jill:

Oh, I think I’ll bring an old Motown album.

Alan:

Okay, cool.

Jill:

Yeah, like Marvin Gaye, Supremes and that kind of music.

Alan:

Okay, cool.

Jill:

Yes, yeah.

Alan:

Yeah, I will let you have that on your desert island, that is yours.

Jill:

I can take one other album with me?

Alan:

Okay, yeah, what would that be?

Jill:

Yeah, I think it will be the soundtrack of dirty dancing.

Alan:

Oh, really? Cool. You know, I’ve only seen that a long time ago. I can’t really remember it much.

Jill:

Oh no, I saw that movie like 100,000 times, it was actually the first dvd I ever bought.

Alan:

Oh, really? Oh, cool, cool. I love those kind of is it 90s that film is it early 90s something?

Jill:

I think it’s older.

Alan:

Is it even older. It might be I guess late 80s or something. Yeah.

Jill:

So yeah.

Alan:

I love that kind of time of films with like Ghost. Have you seen Ghost?

Jill:

Yeah, I did, yeah.

Alan:

And pretty woman and those kind of things, I love kind of romantic comedy dramas. I love that.

Jill:

Yeah and my daughter is now 11 years so I watched dirty dancing with her, yeah.

Alan:

Did she like it?

Jill:

I loved it. She liked it, yeah.

Alan:

Did she? Oh, that’s cool. Have you? Have you ever…sometimes at weddings the bride and groom will try and do that kind of dirty dancing lift thing. Have you seen that any of your weddings?

Jill:

Well, not the Dirty Dancing lift but I did see a lot of dancing.

Alan:

Okay. I’ve seen that lift occasionally attempted anyway, but not successfully attempted. It’s dangerous.

Jill, has there been a specific turning point in your career, something maybe a certain wedding or a certain award or something that’s had a major impact on your career at all?

Jill:

Oh, wow. That’s a good question.

Alan:

Yeah, it’s a funny one to think about. But it’s an interesting one, I think, and there may not have been a certain thing. It may just be a natural progression for you but you know, sometimes there is something that happens that really puts our career on a certain trajectory.

Jill:

Well, first of all, I discovered that I liked to photograph weddings, and I think it was in 2017, I specialized in weddings and I started following workshops because I thought, well, if I want to be a professional wedding photographer, you have, yeah, you have to strive to be the best and I wanted to learn from the best. So I started following workshops and that was a big turning point for me.

Alan:

Right cool. Yeah and for me as well, actually, you know. What was the first workshop you ever went on to? A wedding one, do you know?

Jill:

I attend a workshop in 2016 with Damon Pijlman.

Alan:

Oh, cool. Yes. I met him in London recently, he’s so cool, he’s such a nice guy.

Jill:

Yeah, he’s really cool and makes everything so fun to do. I don’t know… his energy, he’s so yeah…

Alan:

Yeah, he has such energy as you say, he does doesn’t he?

Jill:

Yes, he does.

Alan:

He’s a real pleasure to be around, oh that’s cool. So the workshop… and I agree workshops to me was a big thing in my kind of career, I’ve learned so much I really have.

Jill:

Yeah, yeah. So after that workshop, I… of course I photographed weddings on another way or another, I had another few and then I started Full Monty workshop. It’s also Damon, but also Isabelle Hattink and Philippe Swiggers.

Alan:

Oh, awesome. Yeah. Wow, a lot of great talent there.

Jill:

And it was really about moments. So those workshops were really important to me to approach weddings differently.

Alan:

Cool, has that had a proper impact on how you were shooting?

Jill:

Yeah, to be more in the moment.

Alan:

That’s cool and that’s what obviously we love on Reportage and you do so well and you’ve won, you know, loads of awards you’ve won. I think it’s five Reportage Awards from us and two Story Awards and you’ve won loads of awards from loads of other associations as well, which is awesome. So it’s obviously, you know, you’re doing so well…Do you have any tips on submitting to awards? You know, for example, do you just, you know, for choosing images, do you just kind of trust your instincts on the images that you love? Or do you get other photographers to maybe look at your images? You know, how do you do it?

Jill:

Ah, well, first of all, I am so happy with the awards that are given to me and I… but that’s a really good question. I think it’s important as a photographer to understand how you see the world. I don’t know if you understand what I mean, the way you see the world makes you unique and distinctive. Yeah, do your images reflect your style? I think that are important questions to ask because that makes you stand out, I think.

Alan:

Yeah. And it’s so competitive, There’s so many great wedding photographers out there. It’s so important.

Jill:

Yeah there are. So it’s really, really good to stay true to yourself, yeah.

Alan:

Definitely and do you… for the Story Awards, in particular, how do you approach them? You know, how do you choose your 15 or 20 images for a story? Do you have a specific way or do you just choose the images that you just love really, how do you…?

Jill:

Yeah, I think I make a selection and I make a selection from the selection and then I make the selection from that selection.

Alan:

Oh, wow. Cool. That sounds a good idea, yeah.

Jill:

Yeah and sometimes, you can put a whole chapter out so you don’t have to show all points or all chapters of the weddings. There are stories within stories so…

Alan:

That’s so true.

Jill:

Yeah, it’s not an easy task to do. It takes time but I learned so much from that.

Alan:

That’s cool. You’re so right there in that you don’t have to include an image from every single part. There are stories as you say, little stories, lots of things. You know, some people have just focused on the ceremony and told a whole story within the ceremony and some others just focus on say, like the flower girls story throughout the day.

Jill:

Yeah or just a bride or a kid or there are so many stories in a wedding, yeah, yeah.

Jill Streefland

Alan:

I love that. I love that about what we do. I just think it’s very cool. One of your specific Reportage Awards actually which I love (above), it looks to be like during the ceremony, I think and it’s a massive group hug.

Jill:

Oh yeah, yeah.

Alan:

It’s cool. It looks… if people haven’t seen it, just explaining it on the podcast, it looks like I think it looks like it’s three adults and maybe two children as well, hugging. And I just love all these arms all over the place. It’s such a great capture. Can you tell us a bit about that shot? What was happening in getting it?

Jill:

Oh yeah, it was in great big wedding and actually the… all the hands and the arms you see it were all the sons of the groom. So…

Alan:

All of them, all of them, all the sons?

Jill:

All of them they… yeah, they were his sons. And this was the ceremony and I walked down the aisle and I was on the other side because he would came I was standing right you know the way he…

Alan:

Yeah, cause it’s like his back, isn’t it because you were ready to shoot the ceremony I guess so you were at the front.

Jill:

I was standing actually on the wrong side because I didn’t expect that moment to happen because they, I don’t know, they I think they saw each other and they needed that hug. So it was beautiful so I run past them and I climbed up the chair and I shook someone with the shoulders. I said ‘Okay, I’m sorry, I need to have this shot’ and I took it and I think it is their most important photo of that wedding and I felt so lucky to capture that for them.

Alan:

Oh, that’s so cool. But it wasn’t luck as well, you saw it happening. And as you say you went and even got up on a chair. That’s so cool. You knew you wanted to do that. Yeah, getting that elevated viewpoint and so it means you’ve got the context as well of their family and friends watching on and it’s… I think it’s even better in a way that you don’t see their faces, you know, you’re focusing on those arms of the hugs there and it’s, yeah, it’s a beautiful image.

Jill:

Aw, thank you.

Alan:

It’s so cool. If again, if anyone’s listening, you know, head to the site and I’ll include that image in the post of this podcast with Jill as well. It’s, yeah, very cool. Cool. It’s great to hear your story about that. Was that in Holland, that wedding?

Jill:

Yeah. Yeah. It was in Holland in Rotterdam.

Alan:

Cool. Yeah, I’ve never been to Holland. I need to go.

Jill:

Oh, yes. You need to go. Yeah.

Alan:

Have you been over to England?

Jill:

In London when I was really young.

Alan:

Yeah. Cool. Was that for a dance thing or?

Jill:

No, no, it was just a city trip and I loved it.

Alan:

Cool. Yeah, it is a cool place. I live in Cornwall which is the very Southwestern tip so about five hours away from London, and it’s lovely. It’s nice.

Jill:

Yeah.

Alan:

It’s cool. You should come, if you ever come to Cornwall, you know? Yeah, do come.

Jill:

Yeah, definitely.

Alan:

You talked about going on other workshops and you offer mentoring for other photographers yourself, don’t you? I think, which is cool. Can you tell us about that? Do you enjoy doing that? I guess you must enjoy doing that.

Jill:

Yeah, I love to sit with people and to know where they stand and where they want to go and to find out what’s their point of view and how they can get to their own unique style. It’s all about them.

Alan:

Yeah, that’s cool. How do you find the photographers that come to you? I guess are they people that they already know your work? Or do you… how do you market to other photographers as… just wondering how you find people to mentor you know, what happens?

Jill:

I think I don’t… I mentioned it one time, but I have some photographers who were asking me about mentoring and then I said ‘okay, I have to put something on my website and I mentioned it one time’, but I’m always open if I get the question for mentoring, yeah.

Alan:

Oh, that’s cool. And it must be… it’s rewarding. I do it a little bit and it… but it is rewarding, you know, seeing people take some things from it and…

Jill:

Yes.

Alan:

definitely. It is cool. I find it very nerve wracking. I know, I always seem to talk about nerves on these podcasts. And people probably think I’m a nervous wreck but I don’t know why I get nervous. But do you get nervous mentoring as well? Because you feel, you know, I feel like a kind of sense of responsibility that you know, you want these people to get very valuable things from it, you know, so…

Jill:

You feel the pressure you want. You want them to get to get better. Yeah. Yeah.

Alan:

Cool. That’s good. Okay, let’s change the tack again slightly. And if… this is a very strange question, just to warn you. If you could be someone else for a day, living or dead. Who would you be?

Jill:

Oh, whoa, that’s a question.

Alan:

A very strange question.

Jill:

Wow. If I could be one person…

Alan:

Hmm. I don’t know who I would be. I don’t know why I asked because I have no idea who I would be.

Jill:

Well, I think my kids have a really good life so maybe…

Alan:

That would actually be so interesting, wouldn’t it to experience the day as your child, it would be…

Jill:

Yeah, to experience how I am as a mother.

Alan:

That’s so true. Yeah, that is so true. That’s cool. How have your kids been finding lockdown and quarantine? Have they been okay?

Jill:

Yeah, of course they miss their friends, but I think they… were okay and they sometimes I thought they look at it as a party or something, playing and they’re….

Alan:

That’s so true.

Jill:

Yeah, the parents are at home not hard working and so there was a lot of time and eating outside because the weather was great and… yeah

Alan:

It’s gonna be a time I think that they’ll look back on very fondly, you know, and we, I think, as parents can feel quite stressed about whether, you know, they’re getting enough education or socializing, but I do think the kids are gonna look back at it and feel yeah, it’s a really happy special time.

Jill Streefland

Jill:

Yeah but I look at it at the same way and my husband and I, we discussed well, do we want to go back to our old life or can we make some changes because we experienced it as a really great time, yeah.

Alan:

Yeah, totally. I totally get that. Do you think you will be making changes going forward?

Jill:

Yeah, I think I will.

Alan:

What kind of changes?

Jill:

Yeah. I saw that one coming. Make more family time, block family time and I am not going to change the way I look at my work. I want to improve and I want to work really hard for that but you don’t need a zillion weddings. You need to have the weddings because you love them but you don’t have to do a 1000, you know what I mean?

Alan:

Yeah, that’s so important. Life is it’s more important than our jobs and careers.

Jill:

And everything was closed here, the restaurants, the shops for just a few weeks and we experienced it. You don’t need a lot of stuff, you just need each other. And of course, it’s great to have a home and a bed and… but you don’t need a lot. You need each other and that’s the most important.

Alan:

No, I totally agree. I totally agree, that’s a great, great lesson. That is… Cool. So let’s go back to photography. What… in terms of marketing, you know, and getting your bookings and your inquiries, has there been something that’s been the most effective for you in terms of getting bookings?

Jill:

You mean, the documentary work, or?

Alan:

No, just getting your weddings as a whole, you know, do you get them through search engine optimization or yeah, different ways?

Jill:

I think I get most weddings through word of mouth.

Alan:

Okay, cool. That must mean you’re doing a good job. That must mean you’re doing a good job.

Jill:

To me, that’s the biggest compliment I can get because almost from every wedding, I get a new wedding and I really love that because you already knew the group of people and yeah, this is such a big compliment because they have seen your full series of photos and yeah, they still want to book you.

Alan:

Yeah, that is a really big compliment, it is. It is really cool. Yeah. Now that is really, really important. How did, you know after you shot your friend’s wedding at first, how did you get your first then other batches of weddings? Did you put money in advertising or anything or what did you do?

Jill:

Also word of mouth.

Alan:

Also? Oh, wow. It’s been a very kind of natural, organic way then to grow business. That’s great, I mean, that shows that you’re doing a super job, that’s really good.

Jill:

I don’t know if you remember the photo of the group hug was also This is Reportage Awards and all the people are hugging each other in a kind of a circle.

Alan:

Oh right. Yes, yes.

Jill:

Yeah. Yeah. So that group, I had two weddings of them so…

Alan:

Oh really? Oh, that’s so nice, isn’t it? That’s very cool. So have you have you never needed to, you know, do search engine optimization or Google AdWords or do you not…?

Jill:

It’s on my list, I think for three years now, to do that. No, I think the social media, the Facebook and lately, I’m

getting bookings via Instagram.

Alan:

Oh okay, cool.

Jill:

So I think my website had a big influence when I started blogging.

Alan:

Right. Okay, cool. That’s great. Instagram specifically, do you have any… how do you use Instagram? Are you regularly posting like every day? Or do you have a system? Or do you just post? Love the way you laugh when I ask that.

Jill:

No system at all, no, I just post what I love and sometimes I look at my feed and I think oh, well that’s not the best choice to put them together and then I erase and put another on it and so I have no system.

Alan:

Oh okay. Cool. I love it. It seems very fluid and organic how you work and I think that’s really cool. That’s lovely.

And what do you find the most difficult part of our job to be, you know, the most challenging aspects. And that could be something to do with shooting or it could be to do with business. What’s the most difficult for you?

Jill:

Oh, I think it’s the noise, the noise mostly in my head. So yeah, always doubting my own work if it is, yeah, if it’s good enough.

Alan:

I get that. It’s a roller coaster, isn’t it?

Jill:

Yeah, yeah.

Alan:

Do you look at other wedding photographer’s work, at all?

Jill:

Yeah, of course! Yeah, I get so inspired by their work.

Alan:

Does that ever make you doubt your own work though? When you look at…?

Jill:

Yeah, of course, yes!

Alan:

It’s a funny thing, isn’t it?

Jill:

Yeah.

Alan:

How do we, you know, do you have any advice for well, it’s I guess it’s a difficult thing for you and it’s difficult for me as well. How do we stop ourselves from comparing? You know, what do you think about that?

Deborah:

Yeah, I think we all could go to that places, so sometimes you are really self-doubting and watching others and

I think I really, really, really love what I am doing right now, yes to photograph weddings and just putting out there what you what you love and do not doubt it.

Alan:

I totally agree. I think that’s, yeah, that’s very, very cool. Totally agree. Do you… Do you think about the future at all? You know whether you’ll still be shooting weddings in 10,15 years’ time, do you do you think about that?

Jill:

Do I think about that? No.

Alan:

That’s good.

Jill:

Sorry, no. I did a lot of jobs and education and I really love what I’m doing right now and maybe when you are 70 it’s getting harder to photograph weddings from 16 or 17 hours but…

Alan:

The physical side of what we do is, it is very physical, isn’t it?

Jill:

Really physical. Yeah, yeah. So and just enjoying and loving what I’m doing right now. And that’s enough for now.

Alan:

I totally agree, I think that’s awesome. I think a lot of the time we can just be thinking about the future all the time and then it means we’re not living you know, in the present. So I think that’s, I think that’s very cool, very cool. Jill, have you made any really big kind of memorable mistakes? Maybe at a wedding or some kind of business thing that didn’t go well or have you ever made any mistakes?

Jill:

Well, I’m sure I’ve made a lot of mistakes but I don’t know the… you want to have a story right?

Alan:

Stories are good, stories are good.

Jill:

Well, I did a big group shot in Delft, it was a city in Holland and I don’t know if I say it correct in English but they were Mormons.

Alan:

Oh okay, yeah, Mormons.

Jill:

Yeah. So I shot that group shot but I didn’t know before because now I know how important it is to talk with the couples and to know everything about them so you can take that with you in the weddings when you are photographing, but I did a group shot and I was done and I told them ‘okay, now it’s time for beer and beer balls’ but …

Alan:

Oh, they are not… oh okay, so I don’t know really either but it is quite funny.

Jill:

No one was laughing and okay, that’s okay. But some nice man came to me and told me well, and he told me back around after how they are live.

Alan:

Oh, that’s funny. That’s not too bad. That’s a good story. I like that though, that’s cool.

Jill Streefland

Jill:

But again, yeah, of course you make mistakes and you learn from them and I make mistakes and technical mistakes and then I curse myself for doing it wrong and I think that were the most important lessons because when you make mistakes and you see them yourself, then you can you can grow from it.

Alan:

Yeah, totally. It is… I totally agree. And it’s so important to make those mistakes as long as we’re learning and not repeating them all the time. That would be crazy. Do you have a particular piece of software or app that you use often, not Lightroom but anything else? Like maybe a social media app or something you use while shooting or anything or no?

Jill:

No, not really…. For my Instagram stories, I use Unfold.

Alan:

Oh okay, I’ve not heard that. What does that do?

Jill:

Yeah, it’s… you make better and nicer stories that feels better.

Alan:

Yeah. Cool. What’s that called again?

Jill:

Unfold.

Alan:

Oh okay. Okay, cool. Do you do a lot of Instagram stories?

Jill:

Yeah, when I feel like it.

Alan:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I like that I just love your whole approach, it’s cool, honestly, it’s very kind of relaxed and organic. And I just think that’s really nice and you seem, you look very, very happy as well. So it’s very…

Jill:

I am in a good place right now and I love what I am doing and I recently, I started to add boudoir photography in my portfolio and so many stories are about boudoir because I… it’s new, it’s fresh, and I love it and so I make the nice stories.

Alan:

Oh, that’s cool. So how did you get into that boudoir side? Did you just think I… you just wanted a start to different kind of parts of your photography, or was there something specific?

Jill:

Yeah, I get inspired by things, naked photographers like. Well, how do you pronounce his name, Marc Lagrange?

Alan:

Oh right, I don’t know either, sorry.

Jill:

Yeah, it’s a Belgian photographer and he makes great work and I love nudes.

Alan:

Right, yep.

Jill:

Yeah, I think that’s beautiful. And I love to capture women on their best and yes, vulnerable and yeah, I just love it.

Alan:

That’s cool. I think it’s very cool. Do you think part of that comes from your dancing background and the ballet as well?

Jill:

Yeah, I think so.

Alan:

Yeah. That’s cool. Cool. Very cool. Is there anything that annoys you about our industry at all? I’m just going from you being very happy and just asking the question, Does anything annoy you about, you know, the wedding photography industry at all?

Jill:

Oh, but first of all, I really love the community and how everyone is helping each other and I love what you are doing with This is Reportage. I think it’s different and love to hear the podcasts and the live sessions and love to go to conferences like the conference with Fearless and meeting all those great photographers but there’s always another side and overall I don’t like the big egos or gossip, I hate it. Sometimes, you hear stuff and you think ‘why, bye!’

Alan:

Yeah, why bye? That’s good? Yeah, I totally, totally agree with you there. Yeah, totally agree. Do you have a bucket list in life in weddings? You know, are there specific goals that you have, specific ambitions maybe in terms of weddings or in your just life in general?

Jill:

Oh, a bucket list?

Alan:

I don’t think, yeah…. You seem so happy, it’s like you don’t need a bucket list.

Jill:

I’d love to travel, to travel more with my family, but also for weddings. So maybe that’s on my bucket list, yeah.

Alan:

Oh, that’s cool.

Jill:

See more of the world and to see weddings in different cultures, yeah.

Alan:

That’s true, yeah. Have you done many destination weddings?

Jill:

A few, mostly in Spain but this year I was supposed to go to …

Alan:

To where, sorry?

Jill:

Yeah it’s a snow place in France.

Alan:

Oh okay. Oh lovely. Wow so that was supposed to happen this year?

Jill:

In April, yeah, yeah and Tuscany in May and Austria in December but they are all postponed.

Alan:

Oh, what a shame.

Jill:

Maybe I’m going in October to Tuscany but, there’s a good chance that it will go on.

Alan:

Oh, that’s cool, fingers crossed. I think it’s kind of cool. I’ve never shot a wedding in Italy at all but that would be gorgeous.

Jill:

Yeah.

Alan:

It’s mad, isn’t it? It is mad that as a job that we can do, we can be traveling all over and seeing all those different things.

Jill:

Yeah, we are lucky.

Alan:

We are lucky. Yeah, personally for me, I do find destination weddings a bit more stressful than, you know weddings at home. But I… it’s… so it’s something I’ve never really targeted specifically so I do them if I get inquiries for them, but I totally understand as well how some people just… some people make it their whole career don’t they, for destinations.

Jill:

Yes, yeah, yeah. Maybe it’s also depending on where you are living.

Alan:

That’s true. Yeah, that’s true. And like at what stage of life maybe you are is because I’ve got kids now as well.

Jill:

Yeah, yeah.

Alan:

If I was 15 years younger, I would be trying to get as many destinations as possible. What are you afraid of, Jill?

Jill:

Oh, you ask a lot of difficult questions.

Alan:

Oh sorry. I love… I just find it so interesting. You know, I like… the photography is interesting to me, but it’s even more… I find it more interesting about the people to be honest. So yeah, what are you afraid of?

Jill:

Wow.

Alan:

It could be small things like spiders or it could be big existential ideas. Yeah, I don’t know, what are you afraid of?

Jill:

Yeah. Well, I’m not afraid of spiders or…

Alan:

That’s good.

Jill:

No, no. I always take them from ceilings or walls when people are afraid.

Alan:

Really? With your fingers?

Jill:

Of course, no problem.

Alan:

Oh, man. It’s very brave.

Jill:

Oh, I don’t know. Maybe I’m afraid of losing this life we’ve built and losing health or I think that’s the most yeah, I think that’s what I’m afraid of.

Alan:

Yeah, those are big things to be afraid of. I totally understand that. I do totally understand that. That thing as well, yeah, losing what you’ve built as well can be a constant kind of thing to think about. I don’t know. But if we think like that all the time, then we just…

Jill:

Yeah, so let’s not think about it.

Alan:

Yeah, let’s not think about it. Oh, Jill, this … oh it’s been so fun talking to you. I think we’ve got time for maybe there’s one more question for us.

Jill:

Oh really?

Alan:

Yeah, it’s…

Jill:

I was so nervous, but now I’m liking it.

Jill Streefland

Alan:

Oh, that’s good. Well, we could do some more, we could do some more. And let’s ask actually, what, yeah, what drives you in life, you know, what motivates you, what keeps you kind of inspired and, and improving your business and going forwards? You know, what, what is your main kind of driver in life?

Sorry, another kind of big question there.

Jill:

Yeah, really big question, yeah. Can you give an example? What is your drive?

Alan:

Yeah, that’s… you can’t ask me that. Well, I just… I don’t know about me but what does drive me I like, what it is… money is not a driver for me. You know, personally for me, I like doing things and when I do them, I just want to do them as well as I can, you know, not to be the best at all because I’ll never be the best at anything. I just like to do things as well as I can, if you know what I mean and that keeps me excited and things. Yeah, I don’t know but some people are driven by money and some people are driven by you know, wanting the biggest houses or yeah, what for you?

Jill:

I think I’m driven by a combination of happiness and being the best version you can be. Yeah, because the best is subjective and… but I think you owe it to your clients to be the best you can be. Yeah,

Alan:

That’s a great answer. And you mentioned happiness there. What? What is… sorry this is gonna get… I just do all the big questions here. I know I just find it so interesting but you just… because you just mentioned it as well though, but yeah, what is happiness to you? You know, what does it mean to you to be happy?

Jill:

Having the freedom to do what you really like.

Alan:

That’s a good answer.

Jill:

Yeah.

Alan:

Have you always been? You know that? Has it always been that for you… have that other… have you pursued other things in your life that you thought was going to make you happy or have you always had that kind of overall view of what makes you happy?

Jill:

Well, I think I experienced the life I wanted when I was a dancer and when I was in the office, I experienced that I didn’t want to live that life. So yeah, yeah.

Alan:

That’s cool. Yeah. It’s cool that you’ve had those both sides. And yeah, I couldn’t like… when you were talking about kind of your office and working for someone else and things I was nodding and like, yeah, that was, I can’t, I found it hard work. It’s so great working for yourself, isn’t it?

Jill:

Yeah, it is. It is really hard. And you have to take care of yourself because the last couple of years, I didn’t exercise and I worked all day during school and then I was there for the kids and when they went to bed, I worked all night. And then yeah, it was crazy. So you have to find a balance but that is… it’s difficult.

Alan:

Yes, that’s so true… the balance and yeah, often, I’ve mentioned it a couple of times, but it’s so true that we as wedding photographers can we can make our job appear like it’s all kind of clouds and glitter to people looking in from the outside but… and there are lots of great things about it but a lot of the times people don’t know how hard it can be and how little time we have with our friends and little time we can see our families and it can be tough. That balance is so important.

Jill:

It is, yeah, it’s really hard work but still I love it.

Alan:

Yeah, we do love it that way. But in a way the lockdown has had its benefits of reaffirming that kind of that time with our family and things. Cool. Okay, I am just gonna ask one last question.

Jill:

Yeah.

Alan:

People who listen to this podcast is quite a wide range, you know, some people have been shooting for a long time, some people are just starting out. Do you have any tips for people who are just starting out you know, wanting to get into wedding photography. Do you have any tips for them?

Jill:

Well, I found myself just recently start out so I think the best tip I can give is not to worry too much and not to hold back, just be proud of what you make and put it out there and next year you think these pictures are not good enough and you can take them off but just put it out there and if you put it out there, something good will come and then you can make work, yeah,

Alan:

Yeah, I think that’s great. That’s great. That’s a proper great little and very positive piece of advice as well, which I totally agree with.

Jill:

I have sometimes conversation with photographers who are just starting and they are really afraid to show their work and their work is fine but they see all those big photographers who are working long time in this business and that’s sad because they have to put it out there, it’s refreshing and it’s new and…

Alan:

That’s so true and the people that they’re comparing themselves to as well, they were having to put out their work initially years ago, you know. So that’s how we improve. Exactly. Yeah, I think that’s great advice. Oh, Jill, it’s so good. Oh, thank you so much for your time, I really enjoyed talking to you.

Jill:

I enjoyed talking to you.

Alan:

Oh, you’re great and your English is just amazing, you had nothing to worry about. It is so good. I can’t believe it, it’s so good. Anyone who’s listening, you know, whilst running or anything, do head to the site. thisisreportage.com and I’ll include lots of examples of Jill’s work and links to her website as well. And yeah… thank you so much. That was awesome. Hopefully I’ll get to meet you one day, you know in the flesh some time.

Jill:

Yeah, I hope so. You have that the end of the year meet up, right?

Alan:

Yes. Yes. That’d be great. Come over, that would be so cool.

Jill:

I think you don’t know if it will go on this year

Alan:

Yes I don’t know. I don’t know at the moment, no but I’ll let you know definitely if it does go ahead.

Jill:

If it is going to, I will be there.

Alan:

Oh, that would be so cool. That would be awesome. Okay. Oh, Jill, thank you so much for your time, and you stay safe.

Jill:

Yeah. Thank you for this opportunity.

Alan:

Oh, no worries. It’s an honor to talk to you, thank you.

Jill:

Okay.

Alan:

Bye.

Jill:

Bye bye.

***********************************************************

We hope you enjoyed listening to our Jill Streefland interview!

You can see lots more of Jill’s work on her website, or here on her TiR profile.

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