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Dirk Olsen Photo Shoot { Model Portfolio ~ Jenna Pegelow }

Coming into a photo shoot for the first time, I did learn studio lighting and how to actually use the settings on my camera (I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit that since, thanks to Dirk, my photos have vastly improved since then), but I would have never expected to come away cherishing the people I got to know or seeing a much deeper side to them. As with most people that I've featured, their talent sparks the initial contact, but, in the process, I gain an unexpected friend. For that, I’m eternally grateful for this humble little blog.

Using “humble” just then, though it probably contradicted its meaning, only speaks to its recognition of often undiscovered impressive talent or genuine heart. With Dirk, you’ll find both. I’ve written before that yes, he’s unarguably talented, but he’s also one of the nicest people you’ll have the pleasure of meeting. This second trait is often neglected in measuring success. There’s the illusion that monetary gains, public popularity, and peer recognition define success, but just treating people well and inspiring them, that’s pure gold.

Dirk, as portrait photographer, often shoots model portfolios. This particular photo shoot for model Jenna Pegelow was a year ago but has finally come together to share incredible images by Dirk and more importantly to share Jenna’s perspective. Scroll down to see my behind-the-scenes shots, the final images by Dirk, and Jenna’s story.

Jenna’s Story

"I'm very selective with who I'll pay to work with. Most of my portfolio is actually built off of TF (trade) shoots, so, I really have to feel a need for a photographer's creativity to pay for a shoot. I had added Dirk as a friend on Model Mayhem shortly after I moved to Middle Tennessee from WNY over 2 years ago, and admired his work for months before I contacted him about a shoot. I'm located in the Nashville area, and he is located just outside of Memphis, so I knew it'd be a mini-trip if I decided to shoot with him. With all things considered, Dirk gave me a very reasonable rate, and stayed in touch with me on a regular basis... bouncing ideas off of me, and I him up until the shoot.

Before I moved to Tennessee, I was a paid model. Most of my income came from paid gigs. After the move, I waited to get settled into my surroundings before I started looking for photographers to update my Portfolio with. And then not long after that, it happened. December 11th, 2009 my Mom passed away of complications due to stage 3bLung Cancer and the chemo treatments she was receiving. My whole world was turned upside down, and I just totally fell of the wagon. Coming back from that was hard, but I knew I had to do it. I had to do it for her - that’s what she would want. So, finding the right photographer to kick start things was no longer just important, it was crucial. And I knew Dirk was THE photographer.

I was incredibly nervous driving to Collierville. The entire time I was just thinking... "Am I really ready for this? I'm NOT in the shape I used to be in... What is he going to think of me? What if I'm awful after all this time?" Upon arriving at the studio, I felt a sense of relief. Dirk was there to greet me with warm smile. I told him my story, and I could sense the genuine interest and concern he held. I think knowing my story both encouraged and enabled him to capture me at my best, because the images were beautiful! I can't even begin to explain the sense of relief I felt once I saw them. My favorite image is definitely the image in my red dress. Not only is it my favorite from the shoot, but it's definitely in my top 3 images ever taken. I'd like to believe that says a lot, due to the wide range of talent I've had the honor to collaborate with."

Dirk Olsen Photography

Top left and bottom group of three images by Dirk Olsen. Location: Mike Trobee Studios and Collierville town square. Graphics by Sophorn. Wardrobe: model's own. Hair/make-up by Anna Bearman.


  1. Just gorgeous stuff by Dirk. You're right-- he's an amazingly humble talent.

    And great behind the scenes shots, Sophorn!


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