“I would pay any amount of money to have had dinner with Audrey Hepburn and Carmen Miranda, though they would look at my iPhone weirdly when I tried to capture the moment for my Instagram.”
If you’ve heard this phrase before, you are probably familiar with the inspiring photography done by Jennifer Sosa, the hero of this article. An “idealist dreamer” as she likes to call herself, Jennifer manages to fill her images with light and emotions. Each photo is so vivid, you can almost hear the people in it smiling and laughing.
We got wondering where she gets all this energy, inspiration and ideas, so we asked her. Here you go, a beautiful insight on Jennifer Sosa’s world and magic!
So Jennifer, tell us your story and how you got started in photography.
I started off as a graphic design major in college. There’s something about beautiful visual communication that makes my heart skip a beat. While in college I took a few B&W photography classes and decided it wasn’t for me. It makes me giggle just thinking about it. I ran out of things to photograph and being the observer that I am, the thought of interacting and directing people just wasn’t appealing to me at the time.
“After two years of working crazy hours with a long commute to work, the biggest blessing in disguise happened, I got laid off.”
My first design job out of college made me realize that I didn’t want to be stuck behind a computer all day. While working in a creative environment was absolutely thrilling, I was working under someone else’s vision for a product that at the end of the day I didn’t really care about. After two years of working crazy hours with a long commute to work, the biggest blessing in disguise happened, I got laid off. It was my first summer in YEARS that I had to myself. I decided to go back to school. This time for a masters in Graphic Design. There was so much to learn and I wanted to know it all!
I got myself a Canon Rebel and brought that camera everywhere with me as I explored the city with a group of friends who were photo enthusiasts. My main goal was to learn how to use my camera and explore new places. I became incredibly curious and fascinated with photography. I started paying attention to what excited me when I was shooting. My friends encouraged me to start a flickr page which became my obsession. It was a community. There were discussion groups, lots of feedback and an outlet to post my newest creations. My Facebook friends would see me constantly post new photos and I started getting messages from people wanting to hire me. That was the summer of 2008. After a year of choosing not to see what was clearly going on in front of me, a good friend of mine put it plainly. “Jen, I know you really love design but I see how your face lights up when you take photos. I think you need to pursue it full time.” So I quit school and started my blog Early 2010.
What inspires you? Where do you look for inspiration?
Passion inspires me. I keep asking myself, where does that feeling come from? How do I reignite it when I’m not feeling it anymore? Passion is that thing that drives you from being decent to excellent. When I find myself in awe of something I take a minute to reflect on the fact that someone went above and beyond for that thing I’m experiencing. There were probably many sleepless nights and risking that needed to take place in order for this person or thing to outshine everything else.
Inspiration can be found everywhere. I think it’s an inner awareness that needs to be cultivated in order to fully reap the benefits of being inspired. It’s not enough to just acknowledge the beauty of something. Asking why does this move me? What are my feelings responding to? If you approach inspiration this way, you’ll never have to copy anyone. You’ll start to become fully aware of what makes you come alive and you’ll create something no one ever has.
I find inspiration anywhere from a billboard, website, old photos specifically from the 20s-60s, Old vogue covers, magazine layouts, typography, HGTV, Interiors, patterns, packaging, display design, watching tv…it’s everywhere.
Could you describe your creative hunger and how do you feed it?
My creative hunger is never ending. For me it starts in the heart. It’s a quick response to some kind of positive stimuli. I allow myself to enjoy or appreciate what I’m experiencing. If it’s something that makes my heart skip a beat I know I stumbled upon something that’s special to me which merits some extra probing. It’s amazing the beautiful things I’ve learned about myself from this process but it is a little bit of a mental workout that requires concentration. I feed my creative hunger by allowing myself to be curious without judgement. As a perfectionist, it’s easy for me to be super self critical but that only hinders my growth. I’m learning to observe my thoughts. On a good day I actually journal and take notes. One thing that had benefitted me immensely are podcasts and audiobooks. I put them on while I’m driving or at the gym. I’m seeing a correlation between learning about myself, tapping into my spirituality, coming from a place of gratitude which brings about new creativity. It’s learning how to be fully present. My favorite book on creative hunger would have to be the War of Art. Buy it, read it over and over. You’ll thank me later.
How much time do you spend on Work vs. Personal Projects? Are you ok with this percentage? Why do you think personal projects are important?
I have a hard time putting a percentage on it because I’m constantly working on something in the background. For me personal projects have several stages. The mood board phase which usually results in many secret pinterest boards which I pitch to people and invite to co-pin and dream with me. As the dreamer that I am, I’ve learned that in order to have a successful project I need to partner up with a creative that not only understands me and my vision but is a detail oriented producer. This combination is magical. Each person does what we love and fully trusts the other. It’s almost like being a part of a band. You agree on the genre, time signature, key and tempo and improvisation can flow from there.
Sometimes a personal project is to just do something off the computer. It gets me off of autopilot and forces my mind to switch gears so to speak. I recently picked up knitting and playing the uke. Both super easy to learn and have a sort of meditative quality to them.
Other times a personal project can be location scouting. I’ll bring a friend along and try exploring light in a different way or use a different lens. Basically I’m experimenting on my own dime. Anything what works gets shown on my blog or instagram which then produces more work when people like what they see.
For me personal projects is work. My paid work can’t survive without it. What will end up happening is that I’ll shut down and start following whatever everyone else is doing. It’ll make me lazy and my creativity will start to die.
It really is true when they say, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. “
Could you give our readers a few tips on how to start investing into personal projects?
- Make friends with people you admire and support what you do. If you naturally enjoy each other’s company and have similar taste this can make for a great collaboration.
- Fuel your creative tank. This can be by going to a museum, library, visiting a new location.
- Journal ideas and take detailed notes on things that inspire you.
- Pay attention to things that spark your interest. Pinterest is a great way to keep a log of ideas you’d like to try.
- Find ways to get off of autopilot. You might stumble upon something that’s golden.
- Create future goals. Projects will naturally evolve to help get you there.
- Find areas you’d like to improve upon and give yourself projects to work on it.
We hope you feel as inspired and ready for new experiments as we do after getting to know Jennifer, the process behind her brilliant photography and her lifestyle as a creative. If you have more tips and advice on how to steer your creativity and keep motivated, share them with us. We’d love to chat!