University alumna Jordan Hefler is making Baton Rouge work.
After graduating with a photography degree in 2014, Hefler worked with a local wedding photographer for a year until she found a job at the Manship Theatre in graphic design. A year later she started her own business, Jordan Hefler Photography, and started freelancing for publications such as 225 Magazine and inRegister primarily doing portraiture, editorial and concert photography.
In addition, Hefler is also a well-known entrepreneur and creative figure in the city, providing her expertise in content curation, creative direction, brand strategy and graphic design to various clients.
Fresh out of college, settled in Baton Rouge with a job, Hefler decided against moving away. Instead, she found herself living on Brightside with her college-aged brother, constantly dealing with her EDM obsessed neighbors’ loud parties. Coupled with most of her friends moving away after graduation, Hefler wondered to herself: what is there in Baton Rouge other than LSU?
She moved to Baton Rouge’s Garden District earlier this year, and things seemed to fall into place.
“Baton Rouge is way cooler when you’re graduated and by other people who are your age and pretty trees and nice old houses,” Hefler said.
She stresses the personal importance of the “grow where you’re planted” mentality, and she challenges herself to see something new or exciting every day, she said, helping both her art and her mindset. By seeing Baton Rouge through Kodachrome colored glasses, she is able to highlight all of the good things happening in the city through her work.
She attributes all of the personal and professional successes she’s had to relationships she made on campus, either through the art department or through Greek life. Hefler was involved in the University’s Zeta Tau Alpha chapter.
Hefler picked up her love of photography from her father, who had his own side business doing motorsports photography. She remembers growing up playing with her father’s cameras, going to races and watching him run the business. Even though this was more of a hobby for him, it stuck with her.
She describes her photography style as similar to her personal style, sharing that she has several different sides that come across in her work and persona.
“[In college], I was in a sorority, but I was also an art major,” Hefler said. “In high school, I was a cheerleader but also in the marching band. It’s always been this dichotomy of different things, and I feel like my photography is the same way too.”
Concert photography is Hefler’s personal favorite for its unpredictable nature, she said. It’s what makes her stand out in the Baton Rouge area.
As far as her best work, she said it usually comes from the little situations where she doesn’t go in expecting anything.
“Sometimes the best photos have happened behind a building by a dumpster or in a parking lot with the right lighting,” Hefler said. “Sometimes the best photos are the ones you don’t know are going to be the best, and those are my favorite things to do.”
Other than the colorful, retro-infused photography that has become synonymous with her name, Hefler is known for her stylish and well-curated Instagram, which she started as a personal challenge but has grown into the primary way she attracts new customers.
Post-graduation, Hefler missed the structure of academia, no longer having assignments or deadlines to work toward. To make up for this, she created her own challenge: posting on Instagram daily.
“[Posting on Instagram] is the only thing I hold myself up to,” Hefler said. “I have a terrible diet; I don’t exercise as much as I should. Nothing is as strict as posting everyday. I had a neck surgery; I still posted. I dropped my phone off the Brooklyn Bridge; I still posted.”
As far as the kind of content Hefler posts, she does what she wants — her branded “battle cry.” She has high standards for the quality of photos she posts, but her captions and her Instagram stories are accurate representations of who she really is, she said. She doesn’t care if people are annoyed by her posts, she said; they can unfollow her if they want.
Hefler uses Instagram as her own personal art project — an experiment every day. The most important thing for her is looking at her Instagram and being excited about what she sees, she said.
With all of her accomplishments, Hefler said the thing she is the most proud of is making it a year doing freelance, not going bankrupt and finally being able to live alone.
That could all change tomorrow, she said. That’s the exciting — and terrifying — part for her; there’s no glass ceiling when you work for yourself. As of right now, she shares, she’s at the best point she’s been, living alone in a good area and having enough clients to sustain herself.
She has to remind herself not to put as much pressure on her work as there seems to be. If something works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t, Hefler said.
“I’m not curing cancer," she said. "I’m just taking photographs.”