Capturing the Moment …
When we caught up with photographer Julie Jordan in the Raymond Hood Room of the Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple, she couldn’t help but think about all the performances she prepared for in the dressing room that was once just down the hall. Back then, she was a young ballerina with butterflies in her stomach about to take center stage. Today, she still spends plenty of time at the SCC as she captures special moments at countless events as the center’s volunteer photographer. She’s been volunteering for the SCC for five years, and enjoys donating her time and talents to numerous civic organizations. In addition to the SCC, she’s also affiliated with the Children’s Advocacy Center and the American Cancer Society, and she’s a board member of Catherine McCauley Center and their Mothers on a Mission committee, just to name a few. Jordan grew up in West Scranton and now resides in the Abingtons with her husband, Walter, and their sons, Aidan,12, and Liam, 10, and their dogs, Newton and Rigby. She has a positive outlook, plenty of energy, and a smashing sense of humor. Meet event and lifestyles photographer Julie Jordan…
You enjoyed a lengthy career as a court reporter before you became a photographer. Court reporting must have been very different from what you’re doing now.
It is and it isn’t. They’re both very important jobs. Where I used to capture verbatim and use all my auditory skills in court reporting, now I’m photographing verbatim and using all my visual skills. Of course, I’m still using my auditory skills because listening is important and anticipating your moment is important. But I’m photographing pretty much the same way I was a court reporter. I try to tell a story and let the event unfold and capture it. I don’t try to control it in any way. And it’s always for happy occasions.
How did you make the transition from the courtroom to the photography studio?
I always loved photography. It was the birth of my children that prompted me to pick up my camera more. I could see a picture in my head my entire life, but I never knew how a camera worked, and that was the impetus to actually learn about the equipment and learn how a camera works and the technical skills behind photography. I don’t think someone taught me to see the image, but I did have help along the way to learn how to capture what I see. And the camera is the vehicle through which I do that.
Did you have a mentor to help you in the photography world?
I was a court reporter for 20 years and I took some time off to raise my children and be a stay-at home mom. I enjoyed all of those years. I re-entered the workforce, not in the courtroom, but as the Executive Director of the Court Reporters Association for the state. I was able to work from home with that position. During that time, as the kids were getting older, I was working alongside my wedding photographer, Susie Forrester, in Stroudsburg. She’s my mentor. It was never my desire to be a wedding photographer. I still wanted to focus on my children and family. But then other moms and neighbors would say, “I love your photos. Take pictures of my children.” So I thought I better officially set up shop. I never thought it would be anything but some side money because I was still the Executive Director of the Court Reporters Association. I was just doing it because I loved it. Well, I was asked to do a wedding and my pictures were shared, and without asking, other people called me. I really am grateful. In 2009, I had to make a decision. I was working full-time with the Court Reporters Association, I was a full-time wife and mother, and I had a full-time photography business by that time. I was working all weekend and editing at night.
In the end, you chose photography.
And now I’m in my fifth season of weddings.
It seems like you have a lot of fun in this field, too. When we talked about how important it is to archive your work earlier, you even broke into a great little song.
I do sing while I take pictures for people during formal sessions. I Love to sing; I’m not great at it, but you learn. And sometimes I dance a little bit. I have a dance background, too.
What style of dance did you study?
I studied ballet under Helen Gaus at Scranton Civic Ballet Company and I now sit on their advisory board, which is great for me. It connects me with my childhood love. If I could be a singing, dancing, photo-taking ballerina, I think that would be great. But I actually do some of that to make a formal session light. That’s the one time during a wedding where you do have to instruct and take control and have a great session for your client. I was afraid of it in the beginning, so I let loose in the sense of being a little quirky, being myself and people seem to enjoy it. So my sessions are fun and fast, and they’ve got a little dance and a little singing.
How has dance influenced your life?
I gained a lot from ballet, and any child can. I’ve said this to Miss Helen: I was never a prima ballerina and I was never going to dance professionally, but I have great posture, and really great outlook on life. Never give up. You got the double pirouette, now try the triple. Don’t stop. Nothing is perfect in life, so just keep on keeping on. Dance gave me the drive. All those years in ballet taught me to never give up and follow your dreams. So now I take pictures of dancers. How happy am I, to bring this (career) that I love and ballet together. I’ve only shown my ballet work once. It was a show at Lavish about three years ago, but that’s the one thing I’d love to be working on is another show with local dancers. I get it. I get them way beyond life on a stage.
You’re high energy when you shoot events.
I do believe that the energy you put out is the energy that you get back. So when you see someone in a positive light and you’re giving all of your positive energy, when the two meet, it works. It’s just about making people happy and making people feel good about themselves.
Tell us how you started volunteering as a photographer in the area.
My first volunteer shoot was an Everhart After Dark event. I wanted to put myself out there in the community and I really believe it’s been a success to my business. It started at the Everhart, then I came to the Cultural Center and it grew with other organizations from there.
See Jordan in action at Dinner by Design this weekend at the Scranton Cultural Center (see story on page 16). For more information about Julie Jordan Photography, visit her website at www.juliejordanphotography.com.