Known as "Boston's literary photographer," Sharona shoots editorial, commercial, and commissioned portraits and headshots of authors, academics, and innovators living in New England. Based out of Arlington, Massachusetts, Sharona's imagery treads the line between the commercial, editorial, and fine art worlds. Her portraits have appeared in The New York Times, Wired, Salon, NPR.org, The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, Bitch Magazine, and many other respected publications. A gallery of her large-scale author portraits, collectively called "The Boston Authors Project," are on permanent rotating exhibition at GrubStreet, one of the nation's leading creative writing centers, and the founder of Boston's Literary District.
Frequently Asked Questions, answered by Sharona Jacobs
What types of portraits do you shoot?
Not just authors! Though, much to my pleasure, I do work with many. I also work with publications, ad agencies, and commercial clients, as well as on individually commissioned work, such as portraits and headshots. My work has been published everywhere from magazines, to book jackets, to LinkedIn and individual websites.
I'm not photogenic and a bit of an introvert. You may have a tough time working with me.
I doubt it! Most people aren't used to being in front of the camera, and because of that feel awkward. I often tell my clients that unless you're a professional model or actor, there's absolutely no reason why it should feel natural to be in front of a camera; that's why it is my job to make you comfortable! I always build in time to get to know you and your professional needs, and figure out the things that crack you up or make you think to get those moments that are truly you. And then all that gets captured. Not the awkward bits, I promise.
Where do you photograph?
I'm located just outside Boston in Arlington, MA which is adjacent to Somerville, Cambridge, Lexington, Winchester, and Medford. I also shoot in the Maryland/DC area and NYC several times a year. Many of my clients hail from Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Arlington, Lexington, Newton, Brookline, Wayland, Winchester, and Weston, MA. I do travel, particularly on the East Coast. I shoot on location and also in my studio in Arlington, MA conveniently located just over the Cambridge line and MBTA accessible. Whenever I go on location, I do bring my lighting set-up with me so that you'll get a clean, beautifully lit image wherever we go.
Do you have your own team of makeup artists, stylists, and assistants you recommend?
Absolutely - all tried, trusted, and true. The folks I work with have particular experience working with the writers, professors, psychologists and the like whom I photograph so often. The colleagues I work with all have a light, discerning hand coupled with quick wits, and are fantastic at making sure my clients look like themselves - just their best selves.
Do you handle postproduction work at your studio?
Yes, all pricing includes up to two rounds of subtle and tasteful postproduction work including: touching up stray hair, softening shadows and lines, and color balancing.
Do you teach or coach?
Yes, I've been a speaker and a mentor at the Inspire Photo Retreats, and coach individual photographer clients by combining my graduate training in counseling psychology and career counseling with real-world experience in creative strategy and portfolio development.
Why should I choose Sharona as my portrait photographer?
Seeing within. You're looking for a photographer who captures the wonderful complexity of charisma, intelligence, and soul that makes up a human being. Someone who can reveal the life that dwells both in front and behind the eyes. Perhaps you are an author, or an art director, professor, or psychologist; all people who work with complex thoughts and concepts. You want to find a portrait photographer who is part artist, part psychologist, with the kind of personality and skill that can bring out a person's best self with kindness, good humor, and consummate professionalism.
I create thoughtful character-driven portraits, and photograph many of the authors, creative professionals, and educators that make up the eclectic culture of Boston and beyond. Boston has some of the biggest thinkers on a global scale here in our little city, and I'm proud to have the honor of photographing some of our best and brightest.
As both a trained psychotherapist and photographer, I work with each person I'm photographing to visually bring out their personality and warmth, and I make sure the process is fun and enjoyable as well. Whether a client is coming to me directly for a commissioned portrait or headshot, a magazine is looking for a portrait for a feature, or a company is looking for corporate artwork, what you'll get is an image that immediately portrays the humanity and character of that individual.
It's also important to me that each image be beautifully lit as well as composed. In addition to training at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh Filmmakers, Maine Media Workshops + College, and my first working years at the George Eastman House, I've also studied with some of the finest portrait photographers out there, including Gregory Heisler, Charlee Brodsky, and Rick Friedman, so you can be sure that your image will not only convey your character but be technically solid, and beautiful, to boot.
When choosing a photographer, aside from ability and technique, the most important ingredient is the relationship, the match, between the photographer and photographed. The people who enjoy working with me value authenticity, have a fine arts sensibility, and enjoy life with a large dollop of humor.
What is the difference between a portrait and a headshot?
Simply put, the difference is intent: a portrait is photograph of a person that tells a visual story through creative expression, and a headshot is a photograph of a person with a marketing or business goal in mind. Both portraits and headshots are the media version of a first impression to your potential readers or clients, which is why it's so important to get them done right! First impressions can either give or deny entry, which is why it is vital that they represent your true self and creative or business vision.
Sometimes I joke that the difference is between the two is expression - a smile (headshots), or a more multi-layered expression (portraits), but the true answer is that there can be a lot of overlap, especially in my work. The headshots I shoot involve complexity and expression while still keeping my client's business goals in mind.