Hobby doubles as career for journalism student shutterbug

Claudia Mcintosh

Claudia Mcintosh

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it takes a gifted person to capture the essence of the story in a timeless, beautiful portrait. Jael Trieb is one such person.

Trieb, a 20-year-old junior journalism major, recently launched her own photography business in her hometown of Clear Lake.

Trieb expanded the business, Portraits by Jael, to include in-studio photography in May, after she began working for Express Photo in Watertown. Express Photo had an open studio in Watertown that they offered to let her use. She jumped at the opportunity, and soon, she was busy taking pictures for friends and family. Her reputation as a photographer spread by word of mouth, and she began to work diligently toward a photography career.

“My dad is a photographer, so I’ve grown up loving it, and after a couple mundane office jobs, I decided to take a risk and do something that I really like,” says Trieb.

Entering the photography field is a big risk because of all the costly investments, and also with the digital trend, more people trying it out. Trieb says that to make it in photography, she will have to remain unique, flexible, and especially, affordable.

“I’m very open and flexible about my prices. Everyone deserves to have nice pictures, regardless of economic status. No matter what, I don’t want to become so expensive that people have to go somewhere else and sacrifice quality,” says Trieb.

Trieb has gained experience from taking sports team, engagement, baby and family pictures. She will be photographing a few weddings next summer as well. Senior pictures are her favorite because she can capture clients out of the studio, in settings natural to them, which makes them comfortable.

Trieb believes that making customers feel comfortable is of utmost importance and says that with practice, it has gotten easier for her to do. She also believes that she has an ability to accentuate people’s assets in photos.

“The main thing that sets me apart is the photojournalism approach that I take: everyone has unique, beautiful things about them, things you might not notice just by looking at them, and I strive to capture those things,” says Trieb.

Currently, Trieb takes pictures in the Watertown studio and in the Clear Lake/Brookings area a few days a week and on the weekends. Within a year, she hopes to save enough money to set up her own permanent studio. Although she is still in school, Trieb says that she would like to begin working as a photographer full-time as soon as she graduates. She also plans on focusing on photography next summer, going full-throttle and putting all of her creative energy into it.

“I’m very grateful for the studio that Express Photo has lent me, but eventually, I want to buy my own studio. I’m looking at several permanent locations in Clear Lake. I never really imagined that I’d want to go back to my hometown to start a business, but I think there is a need there,” says Trieb.

People planning on having photographs taken by Jael should be prepared for a different experience. When making an apointment, she likes to learn about a client’s personal interests so she can customize each session.

Trieb says, “It’s a challenge to please customers, so I try really hard to give everyone a little different approach. I don’t want someone to see a picture I took and say, ‘Oh, Jael took your pictures too.'”

#1.885574:4038629650.jpg:jael1.jpg:Jael Trieb takes in the world around her through the lens of her camera.:Jerry Smith