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Conversations with the Inspiring Jen Jansen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jen Jansen.

Jen, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was given my first camera when I was 11. It was a pink and purple point and shoot camera that took 110 film.
I discovered a real love for photography in 2000 at ICP in New York. After attending a summer program in black and white printing and processing, I was driven to continue with a job in photography by first working in one hour print lab and then later, by working in a commercial darkroom. I then, had the privilege to manage a traditional portraiture and restoration studio where my commitment to analog photography was solidified. I feel compelled to craft all my images start to finish, including all aspects of the processing and framing. After working for 8 years as a photographer and printer in a contemporary restoration and portraiture studio, I open my own studio to follow my passion of wet plate collodion photography. My studio is in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago, where I create photographic heirlooms that families can add to their photographic timeline.

Has it been a smooth road?
Following your passion is not an easy task. I have been working in a darkroom and as a photographer for 20 years. When I first began, I had an idea in my head of what I could accomplish but I was not able to create what I saw in my mind’s eye with my hands. Developing the skill set to create something that is artistic and sells has made me question my path many times. I would tell any young woman (or young me) to not doubt yourself and to really stretch to try something unique. There will always be someone looking over your shoulder telling you that what you are doing isn’t right, isn’t artistic, that you aren’t an expert and that someone else knows more. Ignore this and create, push forward and make something. This is your timeline and you set the rules!

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into Jen Jansen Photography story. Tell us more about the business.
I create all types of photographic heirlooms from restored silver gelatin photographs to wet plate collodion tintypes. I specialize in preserving memories and moments in people’s lives in the form of photographs that don’t fade or change with time. People know me for my tintype portraiture, for restoring old cameras and reviving antique photographic techniques. What sets my studio apart is that you always leave with something you love. My work isn’t complete unless my client is thrilled with the work! My studio provides an opportunity to be photographed with a true piece of Chicago history. I have restored an 11×14 Deardorff camera that was made in Chicago in the 1920’s. Now, contemporary Chicago families can be photographed with a historical artifact that was made right here in Chicago!

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Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Ken Kaufman

    March 29, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    Unfortunately, we never have had the opportunity to get to know you.
    But, we have seen and heard about your passion and expertise via your inlaws for many years. Very impressive,
    Hopefully Marc will remember who the heck made his rug wall hanging.

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