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Conversations with the Inspiring Jill Cornelius

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jill Cornelius.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I like to think I got started in photography as a kid. That was when film was the main way of shooting. I remember going on a family vacation to Hawaii as an 11 y/o and my parents gave me the camera to capture our memories. My love for taking pictures just grew from that point on. We had our first kid in 2001 and I was having her pictures taken every holiday and milestone. By the time we had our 2nd in 2005, my husband encouraged me to make my visions come true. Instead of paying others to shoot what I wanted, make those memories myself. I started taking pictures of friends and family and before long it had become not only a passion of mine but a business. Most of my clients are referrals. They typically meet me when they’re expecting or just had a new baby and we continue photographing them through all the milestones. Some of my first newborn ‘clients’ are now in middle school. It’s such a blessing to be able to say that I captured those memories for those families.

Great, 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?
It hasn’t always been a smooth road. I’ve worked full-time in addition to photography the majority of my career. Add to that, being a mom of four with kids, my oldest and youngest are 10 years apart, so one day, I might be teaching my oldest how to drive and the next, I’m taking my preschooler to his first soccer game. So, it has been a busy one. Besides the busy-ness of being a mom, there are photographers everywhere you turn, so you have to build that clientele and trust that they will keep coming back to you every time they have a new baby, plus that they will refer you to their friends and family. Keep shooting, studying and getting your name out there. Social media is a great avenue for sharing those things, but at the same time, it makes it harder on the smaller business owners like myself. So, that is where having others share your posts comes in handy.

What should we know about JC-Originals Photography? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am a portrait photographer. So, basically, I photograph anything and everything except for weddings and boudoir. I would say that I specialize in baby planners. The majority of my clients come to me when they’re either pregnant or about to have their baby. Then they continue to come to me every four or six months until they’re one. After that, I typically see them every year for their holiday portraits or when they have that next baby. I have clients that are on #4 and I’ve been their photographer for each baby. Such an honor to me that they chose me again and again. I would say what sets me apart is that I don’t try to get caught up in all the trends. I shoot a more natural style without using a lot of actions or presets, therefore, my look is a more clean, real color portrait. I pride myself in my customer service. I feel like my clients become my family. We keep in touch, we chat about very special moments for their family. Each session feels like I’m meeting up with an old friend again.

Do you have any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general? What has worked well for you?
Yes, definitely! Join groups in your area. I have always loved photography forums, then Facebook came along. I joined a group of that was geared towards moms that were photographers and from that, it trickled down to finding an even smaller more intimate group of photographers in my area. We meet up at least once a month for lunch, dinner, holiday parties, etc. I’m a complete believer in community over competition. There are enough clients out there to go around for all of us. And meeting up with these women, learning from them, teaching them, etc. has been a highlight in my career. They are some of my closest friends and encouragers. We refer our sessions out when we can’t do one and the favor is usually returned when the shoe is on the other foot.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
All images taken by myself, JC-Originals Photography. My headshot taken by Elizabeth Welch

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