The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

Strike A Pose: The Jodi Williams’ Story

Photo by Karen Floyd
Jodi Williams is photographed by Karen Floyd, a fellow portrait photographer. Professional photographer and teacher, Williams finds passion in sharing her portraits with the world.

As a sophomore at San Pasqual High School in Escondido, teen Jodi Williams stepped inside her first film photography classroom. At this time, digital photography was not as popular as it is today. However, the “magic of the dark room” immediately grabbed Williams’ fascination. 

While Williams was always a lover of art growing up, she never felt that she had the patience for painting and drawing. When she found photography, she loved the satisfactory feeling of gaining instant gratification from her work. 

By her senior year, Williams was valued as the photo editor for her school’s yearbook. Unfortunately, Williams wasn’t able to take many photos outside of class due to issues with developing film. 

After graduating from high school, Williams moved to Arizona where she attended Northern Arizona University. Following in the footsteps of her high school photography teacher, Williams decided to major in photography. Despite her passion for camera work, her parents disapproved of her career selection. 

A cluster of multicolored aspen leaves rest over dark soil. This image is one of Williams’ early nature photos that later inspired her to seek more nature photography work.
(Photo by Jodi Williams)

“My parents didn’t have a strong understanding of the variety of careers available to artists…they encouraged me to major in something else, and since they were helping [pay for] my education, I took their advice and so I minored in photography so I could continue my passion with it but I actually majored in interior design,” Williams stated.

Despite not being able to major in photography, Williams was finally able to take her loved hobby outside of the classroom. While in college, Williams embraced the rise of digital photography in the world by switching over from film photography to shooting digital photos. 

After college, Williams continued her career in interior design. 

However, the tragedy of 9/11 forced Williams to reevaluate her life choices.

“The first few years after 9/11, I was reflecting on myself and asking myself if what I’m doing is serving a greater purpose. I quit interior design and went back to grad school to get my masters to teach photography. Realizing…my heart was being called to serving people through photography,” Williams said. 

After hard work and determination, Williams received her masters in photography at the University of Arizona. Upon finishing grad school, Williams was uncertain of where she wanted to start her new life.  

“I didn’t really know where I wanted to live so I moved to Orange County. I tried out the East Coast, went to Washington, DC. I [moved to] Santa Barbara and ended up getting a job in the district that I grew up in,” Williams said.

During her time in Santa Barbara, Williams served as a professional wedding photographer for five years. 

Although the job aligned with her passion for photography, the physical demands of the work became problematic.

“It’s physically exhausting, you’re on your feet for eight-to-ten hours carrying very heavy gear, so I loved it and got pretty successful at it but just felt like I couldn’t physically do it long term, plus I taught full-time…so I was never not working,” Williams stated.

After almost seven years, Williams finally settled down in Carlsbad. During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Williams came to the conclusion to stay in Carlsbad with her first-born son, Reid.  

“I had a baby during COVID and I felt like I wanted to be a lot closer to him for daycare purposes and participating in school once he’s old enough so I decided I needed to work closer to where we live in Carlsbad,” Williams said. 

This is Williams’ first year teaching photography here at Sage Creek. While she may be new to Sage Creek, she has been teaching high school photography for 15 years. 

After looking online on North County Coastal for a new teaching position, Williams found a photography teacher vacancy open for Sage Creek High School

After only a few weeks teaching at Sage Creek, Williams believes that the students and staff embrace a positive energy. 

A bride and her bridesmaids pose as William’s captures a special moment inside the lobby at Hilton Del Mar. On an unusually hot day, the outside portraits were canceled for this wedding. Former wedding photographer, Jodi Williams, was able to arrange an inside photoshoot for the wedding inside of the hotel’s lobby. (Photo by Jodi Williams)

“I feel like there’s a very collaborative and supportive environment in both the students and staff and I think that makes it very unique because not all schools have that,” Williams said.

Both the staff and students seem to love the new addition of Ms. Williams into the Sage Creek community. Art and photography teacher for Sage Creek, Cathryn Burroughs cherishes the new member of the VAPA team. 

“I think she’s wonderful, she’s very professional, she’s a very dedicated teacher and we’re lucky to have her,”  Burroughs stated.  “She’s taught very high levels of photography…knows how to write grants and get new equipment, and [provides] everything that we needed in a photo teacher. She’s the perfect fit.”

From admiring each other’s fun and engaging lesson plans to collaborating on new and creative ways to reach the marked curriculum, Burroughs’ and Williams’ relationship has only grown in the past few weeks of the school year.  

“So far it’s a very harmonious situation…mostly she’s just taking it and making it her own, which is completely great, so even though we’re both teaching photo one, I’m doing totally different lessons than her [while] hitting the same standards,” Burroughs said. 

Not only has the relationship between Williams and the staff grown but so has her relationship with her students.

Freshman, Travis Silva finds Williams’ one on one teaching style to be very effective in her class. 

“She’s pretty easy and she’s nice, she goes around [with her students] so that it’s like a one on one with her rather than the whole class,” Silva said.  

Outside of teaching photography, Williams has her own personal photography business. Williams currently has her own photo studio where she takes portraits for her clients. 

She has her own photography Instagram account (@jodilisterphotography) where she shows off many of her portraits to the social media world. 

Inside of her studio, Williams uses backdrops, studio lighting, large softboxes to diffuse light, and a traditional Nikon digital SLR camera to photograph her clients. 

Recently Williams purchased a new mirrorless SLR camera, which is lighter in weight as compared to the traditional SLR. Williams described this new “toy” as the “wave of the future.”

“I need to jump in and try this to get comfortable with the way things are going instead of just trying to hold on for dear life to the old stuff,” Williams stated.

This unique image of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is Williams’ attempt at portraying nature from a different perspective. This particular mountain range is one of Williams’ favorite landscapes to photograph. (Photo by Jodi Williams)

When in her studio, Williams believes that meaning and content is what makes a great photo. 

“I really like to showcase the true personality of somebody…I’m able to find the most flattering way to photograph people…my intent is to capture the best photo they’ve ever had taken of themselves,” Williams said.  “[I take pride when] people walk out with more confidence and that makes me feel like I’ve done something to honor and help them a little bit.” 

Williams doesn’t only find joy in photographing people, in fact Williams is happiest when she’s outside photographing nature.  

“I go through a process when it comes to nature of thinking about highlighting the subject in a way that people would not typically see,” Williams said. “I think my style and approach has changed because of [the access to] digital photography.” 

“There are so many people with a camera who can take an average photograph now, it’s more challenging to be a successful photographer. [To stand out], I have to think about how the light shapes the subject, the time of day, the weather and what camera techniques can…highlight certain aspects of nature [in] photography,” she said. “I like to think about the meaning and intent behind what I’m shooting before I shoot it.” 

In the future, Williams plans to continue her passion through teaching photography. But when asked about the direction of her personal photography pursuits, Williams is indecisive.

“I’ve had a little bit of an identity crisis: [do] I want to keep my portrait business growing or do I want to transform my client base and…create some fine art?”

With the majority of her professional photography on hold due to the pandemic, Williams has been taking a break from working around the clock. Thus, leaving Williams time and space to discover what the future of her photo business holds. In the meantime, many of Williams’ portraits have been centered around her newborn son, Reid, reckoning that it will stay this way for a while longer. 

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About the Contributor
Isabella Bernabeo, Assistant Web Editor-in-Chief and Opinion Editor
Isabella Bernabeo is a senior at Sage Creek High School, returning for her third year with The Sage as the Assistant Web Editor-in-Chief and Opinion Editor. During her free time, Isabella enjoys playing soccer, listening to music, and writing.  

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