We had the good fortune of connecting with Judy Ann and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Judy, why did you pursue a creative career?
I have always been an artist at heart. Since I was a child. I love to write, draw… create. I’m not one of those photographers who will say “oh, I picked up a camera when I was 3 years old..” or something like that. I did do my senior project in high school on photography, because it was pretty much the only thing I could think of doing at the time. But from there, it became a fickle hobby. It wasn’t until Spring of 2016 that I actually started really getting into photography. My husband had moved to Japan a little time ahead of me, and when I finally arrived, he surprised me with a new Nikon D3300 kit. I played around with it, and then one day decided to teach myself how to shoot in manual and really got it down. Then I taught myself how to edit in Lightroom. I started taking my camera everywhere. I did a ton of hiking and traveling in Japan and Asia, so there was a lot of subject matter to photograph. I gave birth to our daughter in June 2018 and my hobbies all got put on hold of course. We moved back to the states, COVID happened, my daughter grew and became a bit more independent, and here I am back behind the camera. For me, it’s a creative outlet. A way to connect with others. I absolutely love engaging with my clients and getting to know them on a personal level. I feel it reflects in their photos. After struggling with a long, dark postpartum era, I was definitely ready to love myself again. To find myself again. And I found that behind the lens.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am still fairly new to the photography world, but am so proud of where I’m at and my progress. Going from a hobby to a business is not easy, and I’m still in the beginning stages of it. I’m also LOVING it though. Like I had mentioned earlier, I love connecting with my clients. I’m really trying to break into branding photography and work with other creatives and business owners because it just really gets my juices flowing, and I love sitting at a table with them discussing our visions and making it happen.
I want the world to know that I truly want to freeze moments in time. I don’t want to just photograph a couple, posing in front of the camera. I want to capture the truth and love that happens when they think no one is looking. I want to capture the tiny details that can be looked back upon in 50 years and bring back that era of someone’s life. For example, my friend Ashleigh captured a couple of photos of me and my newborn daughter. There’s a photo of me, no make up, exhausted in the hospital bed, gazing down at her, and her little feet are facing the camera. She edited this in black and white, which I love, but I look back at that photo and all the mixed feelings of new motherhood come flooding back to me. My aching body, still sore from pushing my baby girl into this world, the way my nipples bled because I couldn’t get my daughter to latch properly, but I kept trying countless hours, and there were nurses and a lactation consultant that were there to support me through the pain, tears, and frustration, the smell of my baby’s head, the way her soft hair felt on my lips when I would nuzzle into her, the sting from my perennial tear every time I would use the toilet, and my friends coming to visit me and my new baby and just being there for me in that moment.
That’s what I want to capture for someone. All of it. So we don’t forget.
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.
I’m a HUGE fan of Ojai. I love Ojai. I know you’re an LA magazine though, but I know that lots of people from LA love to come down to visit Ojai. The Ojai Meadows preserve is a great place to walk around, hike, take photos, have a picnic, let the kids run. Then after that, downtown Ojai has so many great options for food. Some of my favorites are Revel for a kombucha and acai bowl (I’ve yet to find a better acai bowl), Love to Eat is an Asian inspired cafe with lots of Japanese, Korean and Thai food. I’d recommend the kimchi fries, spicy miso ramen, and the chashu bao. YUM! Ojai Pizza is a modest little pizza joint with great pizza and beers on tap. For breakfast, my go to is the Ojai Cafe Emporium. I don’t do much night life these days because… you know… mom life. Haha.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oh man, definitely my husband. He is my number one supporter. He is always down to back me up through my ever-changing interests and obsessions. He will literally do anything to make sure that I have everything I need, and for that, I am so grateful. I am a military spouse, so we move around a lot, and it’s so hard to find a true support system. Everyone is always kind of just… waiting to say goodbye at some point, and it’s hard to get close to one another. I’ve realized that this is just something that military spouses do unconsciously and I’m really trying to work on it. I’ve connected with a handful of really amazing and supportive photographers in my community. We lift each other up, give each other constructive criticism, encouragement, tips, inspiration, etc. I know it’s sorta sacrilege to spotlight your “competition” but I just don’t see it that way. I think that there is a huge void in our culture when it comes to community, and I really want to play a part in changing that. Big shout out to Samantha Manness Photo (based in the High Desert, CA), Ashleigh Duncan Photography (Monterey, CA), Natalie Dreadon Photography (Ventura County), and Darany Taylor Photography (San Diego County).