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Emotional Storytelling with Twyla Jones

Sep 3, 2020

Are you feeling burned out creatively? Are you starting to compare yourself to other photographers? Do you struggle between providing a service and being an artist?

All these struggles are so connected. They come from a place of stuck creativity – whether because we haven’t challenged our mindset or maybe just from the monotony of life. Let’s break out of the rut!

My conversation with the amazing Fer Juaristi is going to stretch you to look at things differently and to be a lifelong learner. You don’t just have to take photography courses or spend hours on Instagram or Pinterest – the best inspiration may come from music or books or just your clients and locations themselves. 

You’re going to love learning from this master. 

Introductions and how he got started. (2:30)

We start by talking about his e-book and illustrations over his images. He mentions being inspired by the work of Paul Arden. He got started because he needed art to promote his band in high school. So he read a book about photography and he didn’t let it go. From the mid-90s on, he kept pursuing the craft. A teacher let his use a camera and his creativity felt fully engaged.

The power of mixing visual and audio creativity. (8:00)

Even without video, you can use slideshows to maximize the emotional connection using tools like slideshows. Fer shares his tips for getting personal audio to use in his slideshows. His background was in videography, but he loves the otherworldly colors he can get with photography. He uses Artlist to get music for his slideshows. There’s a slideshow challenge happening on his Patreon

The adventure of becoming an artist and why he doesn’t follow photographers. (17:00)

He mentions the book, Just Kids by Patti Smith as inspiring him. He suggests not over-following other photographers and creating truly unique work. “I’m a big supporter of always being a student.” He went to as many workshops and conferences as he can – he was present at Adobe when they were launching Lightroom. The group Fearless Photographers especially inspired him. He gave instead of just wanting to take from people he wanted to learn from.


Ira Glass’ iconic video. 


Fer’s biggest source of inspiration and how he makes it happen. (26:00)

Break the cliches. “You have to go into every assignment like a Martian. You have to see everything with fresh eyes. It doesn’t matter if yesterday or two days ago and tomorrow you had another session. You just have to go blank – zero expectations – it’s like being on LSD 24/7.” He loves the Super Feel approach.

He captures moments more so than perfect style. We talk about how we fill out portfolios and how to diversify them. (30:00)

“Everyone is trying to find their way.” We need all kinds of photography. Different clients want different things too. He also shares about balancing between providing a service and creating like an artist. He doesn’t bring a second shooter to his weddings. 


What he looks for when he arrives at a location. (34:00)

He builds a picture from the back to the front. He looks for a clean backdrop, patterns, and then adds in the couple. He takes the time to compose and be really intentional. He got burned out on videography, so he’s really intentional about keeping the creative spark and passion alive. 

“You have to have your rules of creation” and decide what your photos are going to represent. Sometimes you need more tools, but sometimes you need to simplify and just use one lens. Sometimes Fer will leave his favorite lens behind. We need to take risks instead of blending in. “I”m always trying to justify the investment they are doing in me.”

Logos, branding, website, and marketing. (46:00)

Hiring a team for a website project is a great way to not have to work with the same team on repeat, but to get experts in certain areas (like copywriting or graphic design) can help. Taste continually evolve and change – that’s okay.

What productivity looks like for Fer between photographing weddings, running a Patreon, being an educator, and a husband and father. (49:00)

“As a creative, you still need discipline.” Fer wakes up at 4am to get enough time in. He recommends the book Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. He reads a lot of self help and productivity books to keep growing in this area. “It takes work and discipline, but I keep seeing the benefits in playing with my kids and being present.”

We also talk about being good people and it translating into the work we create. He talks about the importance of empowering people and staying humble.

Want to learn from Fer? 

He did Conference and Chill recently (I was a teacher too!) and make sure to check out his Patreon!