I got a chance to speak with Jamie Kraus, owner and founder of Jamie Kraus Photography (JKP). Jamie has a tangible passion for capturing moments and bringing out the best in her subjects. JKP specializes in branding headshots, performance, and event photography. She excels at understanding her client’s goals and capturing your best side. We discuss how branding headshot photography can help Denver businesses and what goes into performing arts photography. With these specialties, Jamie is in a unique position to capture scenes with flair and context.
GayDenver: How would you describe your business?
Jamie: I run a photography business in Denver with a focus on branding headshots and performing arts photography.
GayDenver: What do you mean by branding headshots?
Jamie: I take professional headshots for small business owners, creatives, and artists; people who want to make their face a leading part of their brand. I help them put their best foot forward; the imagery is a great way to connect.
Gaydenver: We are seeing people move away from faceless entities, moving towards businesses that aren’t afraid to show their faces.
Jamie: You feel like you get to know social media entities because you see their face all the time. It builds a connection with the brand but the more customers know about the business owner the more comfortable and familiar they are with the brand.
GayDenver: How do branding headshots differ from regular headshots?
Jamie: I would say that I do a little of both. When people think about headshot photography, they think that one image for Linked In will do. “A white background is fine as long as I look nice.” I want to educate people more about the benefits of making it an experience. Going to a location that is important to them, having a great time, wearing what makes them feel confident, and having fun. All that changes the quality of the photographs enormously. People looking at the photos will feel those elements. That kind of picture provides lots of context about who someone is. It’s the more revealing and attention-grabbing image that has more applications.
GayDenver: I saw on your site that you will listen to their marketing goals and help tailor the images to help them achieve their goals. Do you have an example of a common marketing goal and how you help to address that?
Jamie: I’ll use an example from one of my clients. I took her headshots twice, a few years apart. We did the first photo shoot around a pond in very professional attire. She wanted strong, professional imagery to help her business reach more people. A few years later she realized that wasn’t the direction her business was going, she wanted to rebrand and take a more personal approach.
We did another session at her home. She had amazing land and she was wearing these beautiful, flowing dresses. It was a completely different location and different outfits, and you could see the difference in her attitude and demeanor. She was so much more free and happy. She got very positive feedback and it fit perfectly with the new direction her company was going in.
GayDenver: Tell us about yourself and your wonderful wife!
Jamie: I’m from Chicago, and I met my wife in college in upstate New York. We started dating sophomore year. After graduating, she moved to Boulder for work and I, of course, followed. It was a leap of faith that I didn’t have a job. I was, amazingly, able to start and grow my business here! Two years ago, we got married but will be having the ceremony later this year!
GayDenver: How did you get started as a photographer?
Jamie: I started taking photos in high school for fun. I was so sure that I wasn’t going to be an artist when I grow up. I wanted stability and health insurance, basically a 9-5. I found this program, Scientific Photography at my school. I got excited! I could have stability and insurance while being a photographer. It was perfect for me.
Halfway through I decided I was going to be a performing arts photographer, screw all the bells and whistles, this is what I wanted to do. I started doing as much performing arts photography as I could as I finished my degree. I had a lot of technical training that continues to help me to this day.
GayDenver: You are the Assistant Festival Photographer at Jacob’s Pillow. Tell us about that.
Jamie: I interned at Jacob’s Pillow, a summer dance festival that happens in Massachusetts. When I left, I was really sad that I wouldn’t be able to photograph dance every day anymore. I was so excited when a position opened up after COVID and I jumped at the chance to be surrounded by dance again.
GayDenver: What do your responsibilities look like?
Jamie: There’s a lot of admin and editing work, but I still get to capture almost every performance.
GayDenver: So you’re no stranger to editing?
Jamie: Oh no. I edit all my photographs and all the photos we take at Jacob’s Pillow.
GayDenver: How is theatrical photography different from, say, event photography?
Jamie: It is similar in a lot of ways. They are both about finding the moments and capturing them without controlling them. Performance photography’s lighting needs are much different than event photography. I learned how to handle the strength of stage lighting in my surgical photography class. The lighting is very similar on stage and in the operating room.
Capturing performing arts is all about making art from their art. The scene unfolding on the stage is the cumulative work of so many artists, make-up, set design, lighting, costumes, and music to name a few. A photographer has to distill all of that into a single frame.
Event photography is similar, it’s more about capturing the feeling of the event and capturing the emotions and connections that are happening.
GayDenver: What kind of projects do you love to work on?
Jamie: Anything on a stage is my happy place. Seeing so many artists putting their best forward, makes me so excited to capture their work.
GayDenver: What surprised you the most when you started your business?
Jamie: When I started, I had a lot of people trying to take advantage of me. I was young and inexperienced and they knew it. I’m all for delivering the best bang for the buck, but the way that some of them went about it was not okay.
I’m grateful that it happened so early because now I have set up boundaries that protect me better.
GayDenver: If you could put anything on a billboard what would it be?
Jamie: I would want my performance to work on a billboard or a train. I wouldn’t even care if it had my name on it. I just would love to see my work displayed like that.
GayDenver: Are there limits to events you can do?
Jamie: I charge by the hour. There is a limit to how much one person can capture, though, if an event is very large and my client wants pictures of everything and everyone. I have a talented pool of photographers that I can ask to help me. There are only so many places I can be at once. I do a lot of performing arts photography but I’ve also done networking events and corporate events.
I don’t do wedding photography. I am happy to refer couples to some amazing wedding photographers I know, but I just don’t have the passion for it that wedding photographers do. I felt like a lack of inspiration is visible. Why do something you aren’t going to put 100% into it?
GayDenver: How do you collaborate with your client for their shoot?
Jamie: For events, we’ll start with the timeline of the event. I’ll go over what the photography goals are for the event. Do they want candid overall shots or more orchestrated posing, in front of a backdrop for instance? Usually, it’s a mix of both. Me asking people to smile, while capturing the event as a whole.
For headshots, there is a short questionnaire that my clients fill out going over their goals, insecurities, and intentions for the shoot. If you’re nervous about a particular feature, let me know so I can spend more time shooting what you like about yourself.
GayDenver: You advertise as a queer, female-owned business. Was that always the plan?
Jamie: I do advertise as a queer, female-owned business. Many of my clients are women. I think that a lot of women are more relaxed around other women. That comfortability is critical to a good shoot and extends to the queer community. I put my authentic self out there and I am met with my clients’ authentic selves. I also don’t want clients to have to worry about me saying or doing something homophobic or anti-trans.
GayDenver: Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
Jamie: No matter the client or event or goal, my number one goal is to make people feel comfortable and confident. From our first contact to the session itself, I want everyone to feel comfortable and respected. Not only because it makes for better photographs but because you are a person and deserve that treatment.