We had the good fortune of connecting with Jen Edney and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jen, what matters most to you?
A desire to continuously evolve or as I say, “Always a Student.” I think that it’s important to acknowledge that no matter where you are in your career or life there is always room for growth, it just shifts as our priorities, goals and life experiences shift. As a creative I think it’s important to continue evolving, taking risks and being willing to fail to get better. I believe it’s important to have a deep respect for the relationships we build and to place a high value on our tribes, mentors and communities. Let the positive energy from those around you fuel your passion and let the negative energy from those who doubt you light a fire under it. Be uniquely you, tune into yourself, define yourself by what you love and listen to what sparks your passion. Trust that everything you’ve experienced contributes to the unique story of you. Nobody else will see the way you do, nobody has walked your exact path. Let these differences inform who you are and what you create. When we work from a place of passion we have the greatest chance for our work to resonate for others.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I think beyond the risk taking and not being afraid to fail, I would say the most important factor behind my success and the success of my brand is in the value and deep respect I have for relationships and the tribe that I have built along the way. I believe that every personal connection has meaning and I can’t imagine where I would be today without my families, my communities, my mentors, my coaches and all the people who have allowed me into their lives to tell their stories. When I started out 12 years ago working on my first adventure story covering 16-yr-old Zac Sunderland’s journey to be the youngest person to solo-circumnavigate the world, I didn’t plan on emerging from that running my own business. There have been many challenges to overcome on multiple levels and it definitely hasn’t been easy! My niche in documenting offshore sailing began while I was covering that story, I needed to get back to the US and was traveling on a budget. I was offered the chance to be crew and to sail from South Africa to Florida on a 30ft Catamaran. I may not have said yes if I knew anything about boats at that time! But it hooked me because I ended up sailing offshore for another 40,000 nm and documenting it all along the way. One of the places I met Zac on his journey when he stopped for repairs was La Cruz, Mexico. Little did I know how important that stop and connection would be for me and how much it would change my life, not only at that moment but lasting long into my career. I affectionately refer to the Banderas Bay, Puerto Vallarta and La Cruz Mexico as my “birthplace” into sailing photography and where I met my original sailing family. It was here that I learned how to photograph almost all aspects of sailing from onboard, in the water, from a chase boat and everywhere in between. I began working with and building relationships with athletes that I had no idea I’d see on the olympic stage years later and who were always willing to entertain my crazy ideas when I wanted to try something new. I was given chances to sail and work onboard with crews during big boat racing. I owe so much of my success and growth to this time of my life and to my original sailing family. This place and this family will always hold a special place in my heart. These experiences and relationships have carried me through my career and helped me to achieve my Everest of being an Onboard Reporter in the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18. I have learned a lot of life lessons over the past 12+ years of my career, enough to probably write a whole book! I believe if you can stay kind, humble and confident through your successes and stay true to your values, keep your integrity and strength of character throughout all the challenges, you will come out on top. People aren’t always going to remember what you did or what you accomplished, but they will always remember how you made them feel. Gratitude for the good and the bad, the successes and the failures, the tiny victories and the major ones, the people who have supported you and the people who have challenged you, will help you grow and contribute to your success. My passion that drives me is telling people’s stories. It’s the same passion that drives my love for documenting the intersection of human adventure and world-class competition in sailing that also drives how I tell your story. My passion is to tell the story of your life.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am very much an outdoors person so I would probably pick anywhere we could go for an SUP paddle or nice hike, someplace we could sit on a patio if the weather was nice and dog friendly if possible! I like to include my adventure buddy, Nikon (5 yr old black lab) anytime I can! 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?
Meghan Murphy, Summit Photography Workshops, Eddie Adams Family, My Sailing Community, Omaha Community & Family, RDQLUS Creative, Outdoor Adventure Family, First Descents, my numerous Mentors and Coaches and everyone who has supported me along the way!
All Images by Jen Edney