Just this Monday, I had the pleasure of meeting face to face with Jenna Hidinger, an RMU Honors Alumni now running a successful wedding and portrait photography business. Growing up in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania and graduating from a private academy’s class of 26, Jenna enrolled in RMU to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic and Web Design with a minor concentration in photography. Possessing seven years of photography under her belt, she recalled the senior thesis she, as any other Honors student at Robert Morris to date, was required to do. The initially-documented plan of the very business she elegantly operates now, Jenna Hidinger Photography, comprised her thesis. This habit of organized planning has remained with her throughout her career, as she states that she has arrived at a rhythm of speaking with clients personally before their shoots, timing the entire session, and preparing for weather and location. Her lighting is predominantly natural, as one can see viewing the impressive pictures on her website. With her honest and ambitious qualities being very apparent, she offered advice to a busy photography student currently in the Honors Program at RMU.
Beth Barbis is wrapping up her junior year here as a Photography major and Illustration minor. From the very beginning of her exchange with Jenna, they cordially connected on aspects of their quite similar interests. Their fondness of certain equipment formed the foundation for a deeper conversation into the pressures and struggles Beth deals with regarding her photography practices. As an issue that plagues most every college student, Beth confided in her habit of introversion – and in turn – not charging enough for the gigs she works so tirelessly on. Jenna responded with reassuring words, stating that our “growth is all different” and that the central attitude we must adopt is one of getting past the introversion that arises from self-doubt. Profoundly enjoying the career she has, she explains that her main intention in taking top-quality photos for her clients is answering the question of, “How can I make this person feel better about themselves?” To Jenna, her clients are “awesome as it is”, so it’s simply a matter of situating her work in a way that showcases that to the highest degree. On the more fiscal side, Mrs. Hidinger advised Beth to break down each aspect of her services within a given job, adding already-established prices for each said aspect. With a pricing sheet, one will not be left guessing or hesitant of what to bill for their hard work. Jenna concluded her spiel on this with a warning to not price based on emotion, as well as on comparison to other individuals in the same field. “Find where your passion intersects with making money,” is what she summed up with.
In the fall, Beth is visiting Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Prague on an all-expense-paid Vira Heinz scholarship to focus on youth and gender ethics through method of visual art. As packed as her schedule is, she is learning to attain a happy median of what Jenna describes as finding “a middle ground between hustling and not having a life.” Along with the life lessons acknowledged within this intimate conversation, the three of us discussed the beauty of trial and error, persisting after failure or rejection, and ultimately being happy and driven in the field one chooses to pursue. This exchange brightened the day of us all, and personally, it was a privilege to speak with the both of them.
– Selene Cerankosky