5 minutes with — Jenny Hammar

Foto av Jenny Unnegard

Jenny Hammar is a wedding photographer based in Vaxholm, just outside of Stockholm, Sweden. She was the host of the Way Up North podcast twice and is now also hosting Way Up North 2.0 in February. We had her attention for a few minutes to share a bit more about herself and what she does.

WUN: So for those who don’t know who you are, who is Jenny Hammar?

Jenny: So, my name is Jenny Hammar. I’m a photographer who live on the island of Vaxholm, Sweden just north of Stockholm in the archipelago. I almost alwaysphotograph people in different forms, everything from families to corporate portraits and even weddings. But especially portraits is my thing.

WUN: So people might already know a bit about you since you were the host for the Way Up North podcasts the last two times.

Jenny: Yes, I hosted the Way Up North podcast for Stockholm 2016 and Rome 2017 and next up is being the host of Way Up North 2.0 in Stockholm in February.

 

WUN: You mentioned earlier to me that you’re shooting fewer weddings now than you used to?

Jenny: Yeah. I’ve been thinking a lot about it recently – how I actually started a long time ago, if you compare it to a lot of the people attending Way Up North and even the presenters.

I Probably started shooting weddings in 2002.

That is 15 years ago and at the time, it fit into my life really well and I went all in and I was always available for travel and for destination weddings and then my life changed. I got twins. That was seven and a half years ago and for a while I was clinging on like crazy to weddings, because I felt that it was my thing. I’m a wedding photographer and I tried to make it work for a long time. Even with very little sleep and while I was supposed to be on maternity leave, going to meetings with potential clients to not miss a season and I was so worried that I was going to be forgotten that year.

It took me a while, but I think now I’ve come to terms with the fact that I still love weddings and I want to do them, but it can’t be my main focus right now because it just doesn’t fit into the rest of my life. I now have three kids and we all know how weddings are – very demanding, usually on Saturdays etc.– and you know, it’s not a great fit. So I had to rethink how I do things. Not leave weddings, but do it well enough that I really enjoy doing them.

WUN: So you have transitioned into other types of photography over the last few years?

Jenny: I have, yes. I have transitioned over the past six years and now I have come to terms with it. My big focus right now are families and children. Probably because that’s what is close to my heart right now, since I live that life at the moment. This means I connect pretty easily to kids and feel like that is my sweet spot right now.

I also do a lot of commercial portraits as well. Not with a backdrop and big studio lights or anything. It is still my style with natural light, which has been key for me, because I’ve been able to carry my wedding style that I started with and developed over so many years into the other things I shoot.

I think before, I was afraid of losing that. To me, corporate shoots equals boring, stiff. I don’t have any freedom to do what I want.

But In fact, that has changed a lot. I feel my clients really trust me to do my thing even for companies or commercial shoots.

WUN: So what is your experience coming from a wedding photography background and now doing that kind of work? Do you feel that it has helped you to develop a different way of shooting compared to other portrait photographers?

Jenny: Definitely. I would say doing wedding photography for so many years has been the best school ever, because I’ve become a versatile photographer thanks to weddings. I noticed that I – I think for all of us who do or have done weddings – we know that first of all, you got to make it work. It has to be good.

You don’t come there not at your best – you know it’s game on.

There’s that kind of energy that you bring to the shoot and you also know how to do portraits and details and scenery and mood shots and how to catch the important moments. You have that intuitive sense of where do I need to be and what’s happening so you know where to be at the right time.

So we have this versatile way of shooting compared to other people in the industry. You know, people who do products, apartments or whatever.

For instance, I have a couple of real estate clients that actually have an in-house photographer. And their photographers do not like to shoot people. They are great at light and their stuff can really be artwork. But they don’t enjoy interacting with people or maybe have a hard time  to get them to relax, so that stresses them out.

It’s interesting to me that they would bring in someone else to do portraits in that situation.

Just all that to say that doing weddings makes for a very versatile photographer. I think that has been a very good base for me when I’m branching out into other industries.

WUN: You can show up at a shoot and feel confident that you – even if something new or unexpected shows up – you have at least some experience doing that.

Jenny: Definitely. I think I’m a lot calmer than many others. My attitude is that whatever happens happens. I got it covered, because that’s what I’m used to. So you don’t need to tell me everything that’s going to happen. I will go with the flow and I have noticed that not everyone is like that.

WUN: I would think that if you’re used to having a controlled situation all the time and then you show up to do shoots, you want to control the situation. I mean if you can’t do that or if the client suggests something new, you might panic and stress out about it.

Jenny: Yeah. I think that maybe another photographer could freak out if someone suddenly suggest “OK, let’s do a group shot,”. For a wedding photographer, it may not be a favourite thing to do, but I’m not going to freak out and have a panic attack. You know that suddenly somebody could take their shirt off and start dancing on the table – you just have to make it work.

WUN: Right. So it’s interesting to hear your perspective on that transition and how to bring your wedding style into a commercial setting.

Jenny: Yes, when I started as a photographer, it was often seen as a bad thing to be a wedding photographer among other branches in the industry. A lot of people had separate websites. You know, here’s my wedding work that I “absolutely don’t want anyone in the advertising industry to know about, because that would be so embarrassing”.

But now, I’ve noticed that people want my wedding style. Even if it is big corporations that has an event, they don’t want me to come there with a flash and work around and take group shots with people. That’s not why they hire me. They hire me to treat the event like a wedding. They want the details. They want me to tell a story. They want me to open up with my moody shots of the environment and feel the atmosphere in the room.

It might be kind of a boring conference to an outsider, but I get into it as well. I even listen and try to tell that story even though I may not be as invested in that topic.

So now all of a sudden, it’s a good thing to have that style or to do weddings because it makes you qualified in another way. People are getting so used to seeing something different from two people looking into the camera at a conference and wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am.

They want a story as well. So that’s kind of cool.

WUN: All right, that’s great. So thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

Jenny: Thank you for talking to me. I’m very honoured.

Find out more about Jenny Hammar online here: Website | Instagram

Profile photo of Jenny is by Jenny Unnegård

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