Portraits from Rural France
Jenna + Jody Hill are a creative couple hailing from Canada's Okanagan Valley, who have built careers as a photographer (Jenna) and a cinematographer (Jody) in the fine art wedding industry through the use of film--a medium many believe is dying out, but in fact has experienced a renaissance over the past decade. For those couples looking to achieve a sense of timelessness, romance, and handcrafted artistry on their wedding day, fine art film wedding photography and cinematography is an ideal choice.
While traveling in France, Jody + Jenna were photographed by renowned film wedding photographer Erich McVey, whose work and workshops have been featured numerous times on Vale + Vine. Since Vale + Vine seeks to provide not just inspiration but education for brides and vendors alike, I thought a Q+A session with Jenna + Jody would pair nicely with their portrait session set in the Dordogne region of France.
Q: How would you describe your relationship to film?
Jenna: I started shooting film in the fall of 2013 and really haven't looked back. The process of creating images when shooting film is something I can't replicate when I'm shooting digitally. The experience of creating an image that you cannot see immediately is something I love, and it's integral to everything I shoot, from weddings to photos of my family. I love knowing that I'm creating memories I'm going to treasure.
Jody: What I love most about shooting film is how tangible it is; it's a hands on experience from choosing the film stock for a certain look or lighting situation, to threading and loading the camera. When I'm shooting, the whirring mechanical sound of the motors really gives me the feeling of intense excitement and adds sense of mystery. Because I can't see an immediate playback of what I shot, I really have to trust what I captured in the moment. Once I get my footage back from the lab and see it scanned to HD, I'm transported right back to the experience I had when I shot the clips, so even the editing becomes a beautiful creative process. I have never been able to achieve that same feeling shooting digital cinema, which feels too clean and lifeless to me. The natural grain, colours, and subtle nuances of light rendered with film always captivate me, and that is something I want my wedding clients to experience as well.
Q: Who most strongly influences your current work?
Jody: I have to say Curtis Heyne from Living Cinema as well as Amy McVey have been my biggest inspirations in shooting motion film. Amy creates an emotional connection with her Super 8mm films that I really gravitate to. I feel she captures such an elegance and grace with her filmmaking that really pushes me to achieve the same in my own work. Also, Kevin Snelson from The Why We Love as well as Nazar Melconian from Naz Films.
Jenna: I'm inspired by Ginny Au and everything she does--the way she can effortlessly tell a story with images is what I strive for in my own work. Also Erich McVey. I attended his workshop in the fall of 2013 which is how and when I really started shooting film. He seems to get better every time he shoots, which I can't believe is even possible!
Q: What's it like to work together as a creative couple?
Jenna: I love working with Jody because I feel like we know exactly what the other needs in order to tell the full story. Watching Jody's films once they are complete inspires me because he captures a wedding in a way that images simply can't. I think we compliment each other well and constantly push one another to do better.
Jody: Working with Jenna is a ton of fun. We don't always get booked together but when we do, I find we work cohesively to tell an emotional story through photographs and motion. I cherish our open discussions regarding how we can make our shoots the best possible experience. Without Jenna, there's not a chance I'd be doing what I do today with wedding cinema.
Q: The Okanagan is quickly becoming one of the top destinations for weddings in Canada. Can you describe what you love most about working in the Okanagan?
Jody: Shooting in the Okanagan is such a privilege. While I crave the adventures of global destinations, whenever I return home I'm amazed by the diverse scenery we have to share. Everything from valleys and deserts that remind me of eastern Oregon to hilltop vineyards that resemble France. What really makes this area distinct for shooting is that every venue or location looks and feels so different
Jenna: I think the Okanagan is a hidden gem with the best of all four seasons and beautiful views. I appreciate and am inspired by the diverse beauty we have here--you don't have to travel far to experience something different. We have so much beauty here to offer, and I truly want to be a part of showcasing that.
Q: What's your vision for the future?
Jenna: We've been fortunate enough to be working internationally this year and we'd love to continue with that, not just because of the beautiful destinations (although they don't hurt) but the couples who are seeking us out, seeing our work, and saying "I want that, I need that for my wedding day". I also love working here in the Okanagan with a number of talented local artists and vendors, and would love to continue building those relationships.
Jody: My vision for the future is to continue honing my craft in the wedding industry and helping other film shooters along the way. I would love to work as a destination wedding cinematographer for people who really love my work, and capture their stories and love abroad through this unique medium.
Q: Do you have any advice for photographers/cinematographers just starting out?
Jody: For those starting out in Super 8mm or 16mm motion film, just shoot, and shoot lots. Don't be afraid to let loose and capture moments, whether they're home films or weddings. Motion film has an undeniable sense of magic that every visual artist should experience.
Jenna: You just need to start shooting. Find other like-minded individuals and start creating!
Q: What advice would you like to share with potential clients and other vendors to ensure the best possible collaborative experience?
Jody: I share with my potential clients that in shooting their weddings on film, I'm not looking to showcase specifically what their day looked like, rather what it felt like. I want to create a wedding film that they will cherish.
Jenna: When selecting vendors for your wedding, find those who are passionate about capturing and curating your day. Bring on artists you're excited to have there--those individuals you have no reservations about who will produce beautiful results. I love weddings where people are excited to have me there and fully entrust me to capture the memories from their wedding day.
Well that's a bit of a departure from Vale + Vine's shorter writeup that accompany image-heavy posts, but for those who are in the industry, interested in photography/cinematography, or are planning your wedding, I hope this little interview was insightful. Now on to the images! To view more work by Erich McVey on Vale + Vine, check out this Oregon Coast anniversary session for Canadian photographer Jessica Rose and her husband Daniel. You can view Jenna Hill's photography work here and Jody Hill's cinematography portfolio here.