We had the good fortune of connecting with Jenna Avery and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jenna, how do you think about risk?
Entrepreneurial life has always been natural. The lifestyle requires a sense of adventure and risk taking. I’ve spent thousands on advertising that never worked. That’s never bothered me, because running a business is always about figuring out what works. However, I would say the biggest risk I’ve taken is making the foundation of my brand inclusivity, even when it wasn’t trendy. Nowadays, inclusivity is a buzz word but back in the early days, I was known as one of the only photographers who photographed bi-racial couples. How crazy is that?! Then I was one of the only brands who brazenly intertwined my political beliefs with my brand back in 2016. At one time, I even advertised, “If you support Trump, we’re too different. Please don’t hire me.” Does it affect how successful my brand is? I think so. The fact is that there are more mainstream white cis-het people getting married than there are nerdy/political/inclusivity appreciative people. However, my clients are the absolute best. My company is still successful in it’s own right, without sacrificing my ethics and beliefs, and that’s all that matters.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Being a full time photographer, especially one dedicated to inclusivity, hasn’t been easy. Recently, someone did a poll/study that said photography is one of the top 35 worst jobs to have. It’s as saturated as real estate! Maybe more, since there isn’t an entry admission like a license or testing. Everyone knows a photographer. You can probably think of three right now. On top of that, I simply refuse to be anyone but myself. This offends/attracts people. Some people might tell you I’m an asshole. They would probably be right. However, the people that actually know me know I’m tenderhearted and always aiming to be on the right side of things/history. Authenticity is the cornerstone to my company. I’ve never been and will never be anyone but myself. This is VERY difficult, in an industry concerned with pretense and pretty things. I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve spent anxious about whether or not I’m “too much.” A lot of people would enthusiastically say YES. I’ve gotten to the point, though, where I’m just happy being me. My clients adore me and frankly, that’s all that matters.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My favorite restaurants! I have oodles of food allergies, which makes eating out a real PITA. However, I would take my friends to these three places: Picnik, Ka-Prow, and Wilderwood. Picnik is a relatively upscale restaurant with a dedicated gluten-free kitchen. So is Wilderwood, but this is more for that chicken fried steak I can’t get anywhere else! Then there is Ka-Prow, which is so gluten-free friendly, they have different colored dishes for the gluten-free crowd! They have an extensive menu too! Then of course, I’d bring my to Walnut Creek Park, which is off-leash dog friendly. During the spring, it’s full of wildflowers and the creek is full of cool rushing water. My dogs LOVE it. Finally, I’d take them for brunch at Cyclone Amayas in the Domain. They have a brunch where the mimosas are $11, with one cent refills. Yes, you read that right. With breakfast nachos. What could go wrong??
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
This may be a trope, but shout out to my haters. Seriously. When I get angry or frustrated, my business is the one thing that I can pour my heart and soul into. The ROI (return on investment) makes pissing people off fruitful (I wouldn’t recommend it as a business investment though). I guess if I needed to make a shoutout, it would be to Katt Williams, who said, “Live your m’fing life. Get your hustle on. Understand people are gonna hate you regardless. Get that out of your head, that fantasy world where people ain’t hating on you. You gotta be grateful. You need haters. WTF you complaining about. WTF do you think a haters job is? To f’ing hate. So let them do their damn job. WTF you complaining about. Ladies if you got 14 women hating on you, you need to figure out how the hell to get to 16 before the summer gets here.” Something tells me my mom might be pissed when I don’t give her a shout out, so hey Mom.