For the past 20 years, Jen Capone has been snapping her way into stills of the most moving kinds of glimmers in life through her seasoned practice with camera-views.
Formerly working for different studios throughout Manhattan, photographing for companies like Swatch watches, Sam Goody and Warner Brothers after graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology, Capone began her own shop in Royersford about a decade ago.
“You can capture a moment as it’s happening,” Capone said. “It’s raw, and the emotion is very true. You have to capture the expression—you can’t paint it later, the way you want it.
“If you’re painting, and you don’t like the expression that’s being given to you, you can change it. But in photography, you have to relate to the person you’re photographing at that moment, and they must relate back to you, or else it’s not going to work. You can’t change it later. It has to be honest and true, whereas if you’re painting or drawing someone and you want them to be more expressive, you can lie, and in photography, you can’t.”
Capone reflected that with such a wide variety of digital cameras on the market today, many people think they can photograph, and in the literal sense, they can, but the success of a truly good photograph is harder to come by with most untrained eyes behind the camera, in her opinion.
She’s had about 17 cameras in her lifetime. Five of those are current, and one is converted to infrared. Her favorite camera for grabbing is a Nikon D200. Its lightweight feel, compared to many professional cameras and how heavy they are, makes it ideal for a bit less stress on the job.
“When you’re holding a camera for eight hours straight, not putting it down, it hurts,” Capone said, noting something most probably don’t think about when imagining photographers busy at work.
Cropping and editing in Photoshop is not something Capone practices, as she said her job isn’t done right unless the eye-scene is a perfect view right from the lens, without the need to doctor up any sets of pictures on a computer later.
She estimates that she’s taken around half a million photographs she is proud of and stamped her name on, in her lifetime.
“I don’t like photographing nature; I’d rather buy a post card,” Capone said. “But I do love photographing food, usually French food. I like people and what people make.”
She considers food its own art form, something people put their souls into, with each prepared meal as an extension of its maker.
Capone photographs for restaurants around the Philadelphia area, taking about 20 minutes per piece to get lighting just right, as she warned that chocolate can look like something far from palatable, in poorly handled illuminating effects.
A lot of her photography is commercial. She’s done work for Lowe’s, but she has clients across the country, too, in New Jersey, New York, Maryland, and Illinois. A few of her clients are from overseas, like in Munich, Germany.
Family portraits are something Capone focuses on more locally, with a lot of families moving out of the area and coming back to her studio for their portraits when they’re visiting in the region.
“Your memory is only so great. You forget things. Everything happens so fast,” Capone said. “It’s hard to stop and enjoy things, but it’s easier to photograph, look back and remember.”
Referencing a quote she once discovered about how those who work professionally behind the lens are simply voyeurs, without getting to know their subjects, Capone finds it most rewarding to relate to and connect with those she photographs.
“I can’t not photograph,” Capone said in considering if she for some weren’t able to do what she loves. She’d find a way to still photograph, no matter what, she said.
“When people start crying, that’s all I want,” Capone said. “When people start talking in high squeaky voices, about the picture, I want that raw emotion, and then I’m happy.”