We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Schooler and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jessica, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Being in a service based industry, clear and positive communication has been a large key to my success. Before ever meeting clients in-person, I connect with them via email—and it’s important to get off on the right foot! Setting clear boundaries, expectations, and providing an excellent client experience are all top priorities for me and my business. I want to clearly define myself as an experienced professional that can be trusted; and to do that, my clients need to know that they can count on me to respond in a timely and professional manner, take an interest in them personally, and go above and beyond for each and every one of them. Essentially, they need to know that they’re not just another number and I’m there for them. On the artistic side of things, having a consistent and recognizable style is of the utmost importance. It all goes back to expectations; and with a consistent style, clients know what they can expect from me. This does not mean that I don’t experiment with different artistic styles—I absolutely do! It’s extremely important to allow yourself to follow your ever-evolving interests with any artistic endeavor like photography… but I do that on my personal time or as an added bonus! My style may slowly shift over time, but I won’t suddenly change without notice because that would not be fair to my clients. I truly believe what makes my business more successful than the next is setting and managing expectations, maintaining an artistic consistency, and keeping communication clear and friendly. The good news is that these are areas that every single business owner and entrepreneur can focus on regardless of industry or job type!
Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
As mentioned previously, I feel that artistic consistency sets me apart from other photographers. People know what to expect when working with me; and consequently, they put a lot of trust into my artistic vision. This not only allows me to use my expertise to get the best possible images, but it ironically gives me the freedom to try new things and experiment with different artistic styles. Like any successful business owner, it has taken a lot of hard work, sleepless nights, and endless hours of trial and error to get where I am today! While an MBA helped set a foundation for starting my own business, the internet truly opened up a world of boundless opportunities to explore and things to learn. Not only are there countless courses and modes of education online, but there are tons of networks connecting like-minded individuals and introducing aspiring artists to a constant support system. I attribute my past education, as well as the ongoing access of online photography education to my success. Throughout my journey, I’ve learned to take more risks and explore the unknown. It’s definitely been a challenge stepping out of my comfort zone and starting my own business, but it’s been well worth it! Occasionally I look back at photos from a year or so ago and cringe… but the more I look at them, the more I simply see my artistic growth and am grateful to have an opportunity that allows me to document memories and milestones for those around me. And if there is one thing I could emphasize to everyone reading this, it’s that documenting your everyday life is important. Having photos to look back on is important. Your life is important. Memories will fade and stories will be embellished or even lost over time, but photographs will remain an everlasting moment in time; unbiased and unchanged.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc. In your view what are some of the most fun, interesting, exciting people, places or things to check out?
First of all, I need to clarify that I live just east of Houston in Beaumont, Texas—but if my best friend was visiting for a full week, I’d love to show her around both areas! To start, I would encourage her to visit during the springtime when the weather is cool and flowers are blooming. We’d spend a night or two downtown in a hip AirBnb near the city center. Brunch at Sweet Paris Crêperie & Café would be an excellent start to the day, followed by a stroll around the gorgeous flower-filled McGovern Centennial Gardens. In the evening we’d grab dinner at Hugo’s and see an art-house film at the historic River Oaks Theatre, built all the way back in 1939! On day two, we’d hit up Houston Warehouse Studios for a quick friends photo shoot—because why not mix business and pleasure?! Afterwards, we’d head up north to stop by Mercer Botanic Gardens and grab an early dinner at one of two places: Olive Oil for a Greek cuisine or Fukuda if we are in the mood for sushi! We’d drive back east to the city I currently call home, Beaumont, where we would spend the rest of the week relaxing. In Beaumont, we’d hit up the following spots — EAT: Amelia’s Farm and Market, Crown Pizza, Tokyo Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar, La Cantina, and of course, Tacos La Bamba! DRINK: Neches Brewing Company; VISIT: Jefferson Theatre, Big Thicket National Preserve, Cattail Marsh; HANG OUT: The Avenue Coffee Cafe. And not to be forgotten, we’d have a night or two of live music on the town! My husband is a musician and often plays with local acts like Pug Johnson & the Hounds and Cody Schaeffer—both born and raised in Beaumont and some of the most talented people here!
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?
Absolutely! First and foremost, it wouldn’t be fair to share my story without a huge thanks to my incredibly supportive husband, Nelson. Without him, I can guarantee I wouldn’t have had the confidence to put myself out there and follow my dreams. He’s been such an encourager and always has the most positive words when all I want to do is give up… sometimes he’s a little too positive and a bit unrealistic—but hey, it’s nice to always have someone cheering you on, right?! Additionally, I’m extremely lucky to have tons of supporters, friends, and mentors who have helped me along the way! My parents who never encouraged me to do the “practical” thing and wholeheartedly supported my less traditional Radio-Television-Film degree; my good friend and fellow photographer Ana Leslie who always provides an ear to listen, is an excellent advisor and my go-to business partner when in need; Houston-based photographer Alyncia Dennis, who has graciously opened her arms and welcomed me into her loving community of photographers and event industry network; and of course my closest friends who continue to support my business whenever and wherever possible!
Jessica Lucile Photography Nelson Schooler