Friday, December 11, 2009

meet {and greet} Jodie Otte!

We'd like to welcome Jodie Otte to the Savvy blog!
She will be one of the guest speakers at the Savvy Sisterhood Workshop on the Waterfront.
Jodie is a master at natural looking studio lighting...I can't wait to watch her in action and learn more about studio lighting.
Here's what Jodie has to say...
Describe your style?
Well, that’s hard for me to do, but I strive for classic, rich tones, and a look of the subject being “at peace”. I like to remain more natural with my work and don't do a lot of processing.
Has your style changed through the years?
I think my basic style has always been the same. I did learn a long time ago, that I can’t imitate someone else. I have to stay true to me. If you ever wonder what your own style is, and how to develop it, only do what you are attracted to, only buy props or backgrounds that you are attracted to (not what you have seen from others), and you will always circle back to
whatever is your style.
How long how you been a photographer?
I began to take money for photography over 10 years ago, but I have been a full-time professional photographer for 6 years.
When you’re not photographing, where can we find you?
At my favorite sushi restaurant, kayaking, watching
my son play football, or riding my horses at the barn
with my daughter and stepdaughter.
What do you display...
gallery wrapped canvases? framed portraits?
Both; however, since moving into the new studio, I’m only placing large canvases everywhere throughout, as well as coffee table books and albums in my coffee-shop style kitchen. I have no plans to display framed portraits. I want my new studio to be more of a gallery style. I can’t wait to share pictures of my new studio hopefully in January. I am VERY excited for the new studio as you can tell. My old one for three years was okay, but I’m totally in love with this one. It is on 8 acres and has a beautiful stream running through, and they are renovating an old mill, turning it into a winery next door.
What's the biggest size image you have displayed in your home?
28x36. It’s a framed print of my children on an antique easel.

Where do you photograph? {clients homes? studio?}
My studio, indoors and outdoors. Occasionally I will do an equine session at my client’s stable.
What’s been your best marketing idea?
Delivering the highest quality prints that I can to my clients. Word of mouth travels far!
Any marketing ideas that totally failed {and made you feel like weren’t meant to do this?}
Direct mailing, advertising in magazines were a
complete waste of time.
Do you proof online or in person?
Online. 90% of my clients travel at least an hour to me (many come from out of state and a few fly in each year). My studio is nearly an hour outside of Baltimore City. I’ve created my studio as a “destination”. It’s not convenient to get to, but it draws people in. I have done in-person ordering and it worked fine, but it’s difficult for clients to find the time to come back when they travel a distance. I also have a busy life with my family, and have no desire to spend more time at the studio than I have to. The idea of working weekends or in the evening does not appeal to me. I’ve found ways that online ordering works very well.
What's Your...

Savvy Indulgence?
Dover Saddlery.

favorite thing in your closet?
I don’t mean to sound so trendy because typically I try to steer clear from trendy LOL, but currently my chocolate brown ultra tall UGG boots…I’d sleep in them if I could – so so very comfortable in this cold cold weather!
Second in line would be my new riding boots ;)

favorite thing in your camera bag?
24-70/2.8 – as sharp as a prime.
What camera do you use?
Nikon D3

Weakness in this business?
Do you Twitter? Facebook?
Both, friend me ;)
Are there any books that have inspired you {or helped you} in your business?
Of course Scott Kelby’s Photoshop books were what transitioned me from film to digital; I always recommend them.
Tell us about you...Married? How long? How many children?
Married to Dean for 15 years.
We have a 10-year-old girl, Erynn,
a 13-year-old boy, Barrett (who has completely outgrown me), and a 20-year-old stepdaughter, Allyson.
What are you doing on a typical Friday night...
date night or family night?
Date night lately! Now that my kids are older, it gives more time for Dean and I to spend time together. Our weekends are with the kids for family time.

How do you manage to balance having a career
and being a full time mom?
Thankfully my kids are in school full time. There is no way I would be able to do this if my kids were little. I made the choice to go full time when my youngest was in Kindergarten. I couldn’t have gone full time before then. I am very strict on not doing photo shoots on weekends (but I'll admit, I do make occasional exceptions during the holiday rush time - only one session and first thing on a Saturday morning, so I am back early). Weekends are family time. I will not compromise.
Favorite family ritual?
Going to the beach house in Cape Hatteras and Ocracoke Island every year. That’s our one time to leave everything behind and just bond and have fun together. You'll see me post all about our adventures every year right after I come back ;)
If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?
An actuary. I know, how boring is THAT??? What was I thinking when I originally was following that path?!
Tell us your proudest moment of your career…
Oh, I don’t have just one. Most of it revolves around my family. It’s great to impress your peers but when you hear your husband say how proud he is of your accomplishments, or when your child comes home and tells you that her friend saw your images in People Magazine and she’s beaming over it,
THAT is what really makes you happy.
I was asked to tell more about my book, Studio Lighting Naturally. I wrote this book gearing it specifically toward natural light photographers who want to learn studio lighting without being overwhelmed. It gets very dark here in Maryland in the winter, and conditions are not always ideal for shooting. I personally believe every professional photographer should at least know how to use studio lighting in case they ever need it, and be able to pull it off as well as their natural lighting. You never know when an assignment may come along where you need it, or you can’t reschedule a client and must bring out your lights. Many photographers these days think natural lighting is so much better than studio lighting. I don’t necessarily agree with that. I do love natural lighting, don't get me wrong, but I think depending on how either are used, both can be great, and both can be really bad. In my book, I concentrate on studio lighting, but how to use it in a more natural way, so it mimics natural light. I have studio portraits that many can’t tell whether they are natural or studio lighting. I also teach how to approach studio lighting in a more simplistic way. Many think that it is so technical and they won’t be able to grasp the idea. That’s not true either. I discuss in the book exactly how I use it, and how easy it is – personally, I think it is easier than natural light as it is totally harnessed and controlled, unlike the sun ;). I also discuss how I post process my images. In other words, Studio Lighting Naturally is a workshop-in-a-book ;)
Thank you so much Jodie for the interview! Tomorrow we will show what's on Jodie's walls...and some of her favorite products.
And yes...we'll get to see a peek at the new {fabulous} studio.

**today is the last day to purchase Jodie's book Studio Lighting Naturally for the $50 off sale!



  1. Beautiful! And, I live in NC now, but I grew up in York, PA and then lived in different parts of Balt. Co for over 15 yrs :)

  2. A very interesting read thanks for sharing Jodie!

  3. Hi Tracey, I'm not far from York PA - in fact, I board my horses in Airville, PA near Route 74. My house is about a cornfield away from PA... so we're always going between states for everything in daily life ;)

  4. Bought the book few months back and although it is a great collection of her best work it seems that is all it really is. Many of the images are on her site, blog or internet if you look hard enough, so there isn't really anything new in the book.

    Book is a small 8x10 coffee table book with simple explanation on equipment, lighting and how camera/light(s) were setup. Nothing really insightful for anyone that already know how to shoot and edit photos. You can pick up any book on photography to get about 70% of the explanation and another 10-15% of just look at her images online. It seems she is very insightful herself, but the book doesn't show anyone looking to learn or sharpen their skill.

    I do not believe this book is worth more than 30-60 dollars. Book is way too over-priced. If you want a book of images, then get it. Yet you can see the same images online for free.