Capturing Joy: Jameson & Heather HootonAug 29, 2022 04:18PM ● By Andrea Kszystyniak
Photo by Bill Sitzmann
Those who attend any Omaha Fashion Week are likely to see Heather and Jameson Hooton posted near the runway, cameras flashing to capture every look as the models strut by. the Hootons have been the house photographers and videographers for OFW since 2015. it’s one of a bevy of projects and clients the married couple has taken on through their photography business,—Hooton Images—and their fashion photography business, Heather and Jameson.
Be it headshots, commercial, fashion, or business campaigns, the Hootons have honed a signature style and approach to their craft. In 2020, Billboard named The Hooton's woodsy portrait of local musician Conor Oberst one of the top 100 Billboard photographs of the year. Hooton images have appeared on book covers and in campaigns for the national retail store, The Buckle. Their art often takes them to unexpected locations and new techniques; a February 2020 Omaha Fashion Week promotional film features models in white flowing gowns, ornate trenches, and embroidered pants, shoveling dirt and posing gracefully on a farm. Models play with a kitten and act deceivingly natural, the background peppered with cows and bales of hay.
“I think that Heather's personality and her skills with people is our secret superpower,” Jameson said. “Because there are a lot of people who can take photos, but nobody can interact with people like Heather can.”
Models who have worked with the couple echo this sentiment. Elisa Foreman, 22, had her first modeling shoot with Heather and Jameson. She was signed to Develop Model Management and right away, began practicing modeling basics with the Hootons; how to move behind the camera in different lighting, mastering certain poses and other essentials. She was 15 years old, and nervous. But the Hootons broke through the tension with their welcoming attitudes and ample feedback.
“They really ingrained in my brain, 'don't care about what you look like, everything will turn out great,'” Foreman said. “And if you're looking weird, it's cool in the fashion industry.”
Foreman’s experience was so good, she ended up asking the Hootons to shoot her graduation photos, a back-to-their-roots experience for the photographers.
Hooton Images started as two students in love, documenting their time together on dates by trading shots on an old film camera owned by Heather’s father, instructing each other to pose wherever they landed; spontaneity forever a key ingredient in their relationship and art.
After their wedding in 2010, they continued the practice with modern equipment. Armed with a new digital camera, the couple rang in their marriage by documenting the honeymoon. They would take pictures by their family cabin in the Colorado mountains and then to a nearby town with internet access to edit, upload, and pick up a new photography tip or two online.
By the time they returned to Omaha, their friends had seen their posts—and they were interested in having photo shoots of their own: engagement photos, family photos, and more.
“And so we were like, 'oh, I guess we do this now,’” Heather said with a laugh.
At that time, the Hootons considered themselves hobbyists. They had neither taken a photography class nor experienced any part of the photography business.
“We had no idea what we were doing,” Heather said. “We were just very excitable.”
They took some free classes and practiced their skills with friends. As the business developed, the couple began to hone in on their individual skill sets: Heather on photography and Jameson on lighting and technical aspects of setting up a shot.
In 2015, the pair’s work really took off. They took on Develop Model Management, Inspired Living, and, of course, Omaha Fashion Week as clients, all of which the couple continue to work with today.
For fall 2022 Fashion Week, Heather and Jameson worked with models at the Orpheum Theater, using the venue’s ornate interior and magnificent lighting to frame models dressed head to heel in high fashion. Heather tried to capture a joyful, yet mischievous, tone: a group of young people sneaking into the theater after hours to celebrate. The models used the full space, sprinting up and down the aisles and dancing on the stage.
Central to much of the Hootons’ work is attempting to capture joy—a fleeting moment of beauty or the essence of someone’s personality. Whether a fifth date or a model’s first runway walk, each photo is a celebration of life, captured for eternity.
Visit heatherandjameson.com for more information.
This article originally appeared in the September/October 2022 issue of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.