Sacred Water | Story Portraits

Sacred. Intimate. Symbolic. Magical. 


These pictures of my dear friend Emily  remind me why art is so important. This is not a series of portraits. This is a story. As the observer, you may never know all the details of Emily’s journey. But you can feel her story when you look at these images.

Portraits have power. Emily invited her daughter to come to the session. The images of them hugging in the water are breathtaking to me and show the connection that we have with our babies. Even when the babies are big now.

There are varying degrees of impact in all art, but a great portrait shows a glimpse into someone’s soul. We had picked a spot that is special to us - a secret place. As I climbed into the water to take pictures of Emily and her daughter, I knew I was witness to something magical. That the pictures we were creating would capture the transformative weight of the moments we spent together there, submerged in something sacred.


Good photography requires vulnerability. I encourage that, and hope that my clients feel safe enough to lean into it. I want my clients to show me who they are when their guard is down. It is a really big ask. I know this. And every time that vulnerability happens, I’m grateful, because it’s reflected in the portraits we create, and the art is better for it. 


This session was something we’d been dreaming up together for years now. I took Emily’s wedding pictures. Our kids have grown up together. We’ve vacationed together, and laughed together, cried together, and we’ve taken many, many pictures together.


But none like these.


We all have walls we’ve built. They are there for a reason. When we take them down, that’s vulnerable. When we share ourselves without those walls? That’s intimate. To do so in a way that is then documented is powerful, and brave. It is nothing short of sacred.


More and more, I crave that intimacy. The raw, the real, the unrehearsed. I know I’m not alone in that desire.


I had an intense conversation this morning with a dear friend who’d just returned from a conference on climate change. We were both truly distraught by the reality of what is happening to the earth and our what seems like a huge inability to make much of an impact. We found ourselves questioning our choices- in the face of such hopelessness, truly, what matters?


We spend so much time trying to achieve, accomplish, amass. We’re striving to meet standards - set by ourselves or society - and this often results in negative feelings. We judge ourselves harshly, we feel rushed and overwhelmed by life, and are often disconnected to our sense of self. The real work, I believe, in this lifetime, is to reconnect with our soul. To live from a place of integrity and hope.


There are big themes at play. The news delivers daily information that can make us feel small and insignificant. But I argue we do have the power to help. Creating space for vulnerability, intimacy, healing - that matters. Each time we take a moment to help someone be seen, healing occurs. Anytime we can be a catalyst for one person to grow and expand their thinking, to be more aware of who they are in the world, and the impact that they have, shifts are made.

What matters? You matter.  I matter. We matter. Hope, in a time of hopelessness, matters.


These images of Emily feel right. They remind me that art heals. Vulnerability is powerful. Finding someone to help you put your dream thoughts into reality is important, and necessary. To have been able to co-create that with Emily was a gift. On days of overwhelm, these portraits will serve to remind me that opportunities to heal are always within reach. And vulnerability is our path to creating impactful shifts that the whole world will benefit from. I hope when you look at these images, you feel that, too.

Oh, and that last image? Well…Emily really wanted me to share how ‘into’ the session I got. (:

I would love to collaborate with you. In the water or out. (; Send me a message and let’s chat

  • Jen