All images and words by Rob Jenkins. Used with permission.
My name is Rob Jenkins and I’m an enthusiast photographer. This is a term I don’t really like but it’s the one that describes many of us. I’m not a pro as I have a full time job, but part of that job does include photography. My role is as the marketing manager for a video game retail franchise in Australia. About 3 years ago we built a studio for us (mainly myself) to use with cosplay and product photography.
I actually started getting serious as a photographer around 15 years ago. My wife bought a nice Canon point and shoot and whilst on holidays I experimented with long exposures of the hotel pool area. The pictures came out pretty good and it wasn’t long before she bought me an Olympus DSLR. With that first camera and a couple of kit lenses I learnt all I could and ended up starting a photo group from our church. Today that group has outgrown the church and most of our members are not church goers but enthusiasts like me. We have around 200 plus members and meet each month.
From the old Olympus I then went to Canon and used a few of their bodies – the 60D was my last Canon before the call of a Fuji XE-1 got to me. It’s a long story so I’ll be brief, but my daughter who was only 18 went off holidaying around Europe with a friend and me, being the typical worrying dad was quietly freaking out and struggling to sleep, hoping my little girl was safe. She was of course but it was during this time that I’d started seeing all these great stories from people like Zack Arias and Bert Stephani and while they were talking a lot about the X100 and XPro1 I liked the look of the Fuji XE-1. I wanted a system that could change lenses but was smaller and, to be honest, it had a cool retro feel to it. Over those couple of months I saved and finally got my first Fuji.
I loved it! Yes the focus was a bit slow, but the jpg files were amazing and I just loved the experience of using it. My love of photography grew too. I was never what you’d call creative, but I found photography let me grow my creativity. Before then, I’d thought you had to be born with a creative mind or go to university and study design. Photography however allowed you to learn at your own pace and also allowed you to really zero in on what you love most. For some it’s landscapes or motor racing, for me it was always people. The biggest thing, for me, was seeing someone really like the photos I made of them. That’s what’s driven me most. Sure I love gear, I love reading about photography, watching videos, documentaries and reading books and it’s never slowed down after 15 years, I’m a photographer for life and I love making people happy thought photography.
Today I have an XT1, the XE2 and a new XT20. My daughter (well and truly back from travels) now uses the XE1. My lenses are the 18-55 kit, plus the 55-200 kit plus a few primes: 56mm 1.2, the 35mm 1.4. Also the 18mm F2 and the wide angel 10-24. For portraits I love the 56mm most but for walking around the city or just casual shooting I live with that 35mm on the camera. Lately I’ve experimented a lot with the 10-24 at weddings and love it.
Today I really love people like Jay Maisel, Lindsay Adler, Steve McCurry and a few others. I like their ability to communicate through a photo. This year I’ve been making a list of those 3 or 4 photographers that really appeal to me so I can learn from them, not just browse great photos but study why their photography stops me and gets me to look deeper. So while I feel I’m a bit of a creator with how I shoot, I’d like to be more of a documenter, particularly with weddings, similar to Kevin Mullins.
When I first started photographing people, especially a model, I’d not take time to think about the shot as much as getting some of the technical things right. Over time however I think we all mature and step back and take a moment to consider the shot. For me it often starts well before the day of the shoot. Sometimes I think too much about why I’m doing it… what story am I capturing? What am I trying to say? After all, sometimes we’re simply taking a photo of our friends or a portrait of a person you’re shooting on a particular day. Other times like if I’m doing a boudoir shoot or a model shoot I’m thinking about what they want from the shoot. If it’s a boudoir shoot then I want the person to feel good about themselves and, if they are giving the photos to their partner as a gift (which often happens) then I want the partner to see their girl as someone who has beauty and sensuality that perhaps gets forgotten about with the general business of life.
A boudoir shoot is a time to plan and pamper and take time setting things up. I want to ensure the photos make them feel great about themselves. For a model it’s likely about giving them photos for their modelling portfolio or perhaps it’s a casual shoot that you both get something out of for your portfolio. I need to plan with the model and make sure we are on the same page when it comes to what she wants. If she wants casual, that’s what we work toward, but if she wants to maybe do swimwear or something a bit more glamorous we both need to have an end result in mind. In these cases I normally always use Pinterest and create a secret ideas board and then we share ideas. It’s a great way to ensure there is now awkwardness during the shoot.
I have a number of projects in mind but one thing I’ve thought long and hard about is the difference between someone doing a project with a story like perhaps homeless people or something equally important compared to someone who simply wants to shoot portraits. No story, no project – just a giving of time and creativity to bring some happiness into people’s lives. I’m not sure, but to me at least, it seems most camera ambassadors are those traveling to remote places, covering a lost tribe or a conservation project.
I wonder if they ever make a portrait or a boudoir photographer who perhaps doesn’t charge for their time and who does it for the joy of bringing happiness, do they make that person a brand ambassador? I don’t know but I do know that people who photograph so as to bring happiness into a person’s life, is bringing changes that are just as important as those photographing an endangered species. If you’ve ever had someone crying with happiness because “I’ve never had anyone show me how beautiful I really am” look at you with gratitude, you know you’ve just changed a life.
Thanks for reading.