"Getting the pictures taken allowed me to forget everything that was going on in my head and just have fun and relax. It was a lot of fun. When I actually saw the pictures I couldn't believe it was me. It was like I was looking at a model and reading what my family had to say about me just made me so happy. I gained a lot of self confidence from it and can really see the beauty in me both inside and out."
The goal is to help tweens look and feel beautiful and have unshakable confidence in themselves when they hit junior high. We want to capture the the personality of these girls and record the last stage of their childhood. Imagine the impact a single beautiful image like the one here can do for your tweens self image.
When I looked back at my goals for 2015 I saw that I wrote down that I wanted to be brave. When I saw that I stopped in my tracks. I truly had no idea what that was going to mean for me. But man was that my word for this year. I have had to be brave in all the ways.
Sometimes you look back on a year and wonder at the sheer magnitude of it all. How did I make it through all that sh**?! 2015 was one of those years. But at the end of it all while sitting here writing and looking back...I discovered something. That I am so damn hard on myself. Sound familiar? I am always finding ways to say I wasn't "enough". When looking back I am pretty proud of how I handled the things that happened this year.
I also know I am damn lucky and looking back at the last year was a great reminder of that too. I hope everyone takes the time too look back and makes a list of the things they did right, not just things they need to do better. Especially all of you that are so hard on yourself. Like me. My friend sent me this great blog post today. It really helps put things in perspective. Thank you to Brianna Wiest for the great article :
I went to visit my mom in February. I saw her for the first time in 15 years and my daughter got to meet her too. Thank god I had my dear friend Misty with me. Oh the stories.
Just after I got home I found out that the woman who has guided me for the last 19 years, well, her chemo treatment had stopped working. It was the beginning of saying goodbye. She stayed happy and full of love and life up until the moment she left us. I am so grateful for her unselfish, Buddhist like, silly, sweet ways. They kept us all laughing through it all. I will never cease to be amazed at her grace, humor, and willingness to say goodbye peacefully.
In the late spring I met up with a mentor for my photography. I had wanted and asked her for help. Her new business turned out to be serendipitous to what I needed. I ended up hiring her to completely move my focus. She and her team helped me and pushed me to define my path more clearly. My new website and brand launch came the same week that my god mother slipped into the last days of her life. It all felt so crazy. How could I launch at the same time as watching her leave? And yet, I knew she was so proud of me and it is what she would want. A beginning and an end all at the same time. Oddly, the way life seems to work. I knew I had to continue moving forward.
I pushed my creative boundaries and loved the results. I saw that I am clearly supposed to be working with women more. It's tough to narrow your focus, but also just makes sense. I will not stop working with families, but will focus my marketing more on women and girls. I walked away from every session knowing how I want to do more and different and more and different. (:
I made a video of me working! Well, the 16 hoops team made it for me. But I got brave and did it. It really shows what my 'Dream Sessions' are about. Here is a link in case you missed it.
My daughter started second grade and we played a lot. I was there for her as much as possible. I was there for friends and I asked for help more this year. I relied on people. This feels big and brave too. It's so hard to ask for help and accept it. Because it's one way to admit that we aren't perfect and that we can't go it alone. Scary stuff, no?
That is the nutshell version of what has happened over the last year. I have spent so much time with a heavy heart. And yet, still somehow trying to focus on the work that I love and that drives me.
My new word / phrase for 2016 that I wrote down was to 'Be Seen'. I have no clue what that will mean, but I am excited to start another chapter in my life. I know that I carry the spirit of Catherine with me wherever I go. And, I have a the most lovely loyal friends and family. I have been really blessed (though I don't love that work I am at a loss for another that means the same) by my wonderful clients. They have trusted me to create something meaningful and powerful for them. To capture their essence, to tell their story, to help them see who they are. I am beyond grateful for them.
For those of you out there I have yet to work with, well, I can't wait to meet you. You have your story. And I want to hear it.
Now off for a run before I pop the cork on some champagne! Cheers!!
In dreams- Jen
This post was written by my client and dear friend Sue. She is amazing. Truly. I asked her to tell her story in her own words since I knew it would more powerful coming from her. I feel like in sharing her story it might help others see that none of us are alone in whatever healing process we might be in. Whatever your story is someone else probably has one as well. I think it's important to be reminded of that. So here are her words....
"This is a post months overdue. Why has it taken me soo long to write this? I suppose it’s because nobody wants to write about those scars that cut deep to the bone, even if writing and talking about those scars helps the scabs heal. My photo session with Jen was about helping the scars heal. The scars of sexual abuse tend to wax and wane as time passes on. You have good days, weeks, months, even years….and then out of the blue something reminds you of an innocence lost. Of a freedom taken away from you. For me the camera represented that “something out of the blue”. It was part of my abuser’s arsenal in stealing a child’s innocence. The one thing that should have not made me recoil in fear, look down or turn away became just that for me. Over the years, I tried to fight that fear, I tried to embrace the visual beauty of what the camera produced. Memories. Stories. A lifeline to sweet moments past. But I couldn’t. And it saddened by husband. And other family members. But most of all, me. How could I bury the ugliness the camera represented to me? How could I embrace it wholly? And then I watched my daughter who has battled more demons than any child should, light up in front of the camera. For her, it represented something magical. In Ethiopia, it was probably the first time she ever saw a photo of herself, through the camera screen. It was my time to do the same.
I knew Jen from her time at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. I knew her way with people and images. I knew her role as her mother came first and photographer second. I knew she could hear my story, my fears and turn them into something safe and beautiful. And she could do this with my daughter by my side. One of my sacred familial touchpoints. I will not lie and say that photo shoot was easy for me. It was so hard. And yet the photos of my smile, my body turned into my daughter, those are real and soft, genuine and represent such a moment of ease. I look at my photo shoot once a week. I am reminded that I am not a hostage to the camera anymore….or to my abuser. I can now live in the light of the camera flash and enjoy my story.
Thank you Jen. I love you." - Sue
Let me count the ways I love this girl. She is so totally full of life!! I would sum her up as 'on fire'. She is at that great age where she is still young and silly, yet also confident and strong. She is an amazing performer and a sweet soul. I loved working with her strong spirt and goofiness.
It was so great that she used her fashion to show how she does not fit in the usual dancer box. She wanted to wear her sneakers and plaid shirt with a beautiful pink dress. And she sported overalls and a crazy patterned shirt for some of her time as well.
I wonder what it's like to be able to move with such grace? To feel as though you are floating. This may be as close as I will ever come to knowing, but I have a deeper appreciation for the hard work and how easy she makes it seem. I can't wait to work with more dancers! If you know one...have them give me a call!
Lexi tirelessly jumped and flipped through my studio. These are just some of the results. I have a lovely 40x60 canvas of the first portrait below in my studio. It reminds me of a soaring bird. This image encapsulates freedom and grace. I find it calming and inspiring. I am so grateful to get to work with girls (of all ages).
In dreams - Jen
Call today to secure your session 207-318-0467
Create something beautiful for your home. Let me capture your child in this moment.
The dichotomy that is being a girl in America with all the elements of pressure that it entails. That is what I want to explore in a continuing series of portraits with girls of all ages.
The messages that we grow up with that inform us on the shoulds of being a girl...be pretty, be chaste, be smart, be passionate, be a career girl, be true, be a mother, be tender, be strong, be yourself.
Pursuing what it means to receive and translate all those messages into creating who we are from day to day. How to throw them off or embrace them depending on what's truly inside of us. The fear that comes from, so many things, like standing up and saying no. The drive that comes from endless possibilities.
I seek to find and reflect back the ideas and emotions surrounding these conflicting demands from our culture. I want to explore these ideas through portraits of girls in a storytelling way. I haven't figured out my exact path. I tend to work more as I go along. I have ideas I will try and fail at and will share what I can as the process unfolds. I also still, always, wish to creates works of art. Art with emotion is how I would describe it.
Here are two different directions a recent session with my own daughter took. I have been planning on portraits with this red backdrop and a red dress. Charlie and I went into the studio to play and she directed much of what happened. She is like a wee sage to me. She is clear on what she wants and feels. And yet, I still see in her the mixed feelings from everywhere that influence her too.
May these images capture your imagination and heart. Each frame is it's own story and dream.
Call me if you want to join this project and create art with me. 207-318-0467
In Dreams - Jen
Yah for toothless grins!
We all get stuck. Sometimes just in our own head. I often get stuck there. Not sure which direction to go next. Wondering if I will be here for a long time. It happens to all us all. At different times and for different reasons. But it feels the same. Like slogging through mud with hip waiters on. Like trying to swim in a pool of gel. Sometimes I am ok with it. Sometimes I find it infuriating.
I started to get all these ideas though. I got them slowly over the last few months. I wrote them down and just kept waiting. I kept taking notes. I signed the lease for my new studio. It was supposed to be really exciting. And it is. Except that it's also terrifying. What if I fail? What if no one comes? I don't book any sessions and people stop paying me to do the work I love? I keep going into my new studio and realizing I am completely frozen. Stuck.
I am on a cliff. The big edge of something. I know it. Every time I am stuck I come out of it. Often with a renewed sense of excitement for my work and fresh ideas. I know I am close.
In my travels of collecting ideas I remembered this session with my daughter two summers ago. And that there were images I liked. So I pulled this one out and played with it. Consider this a small introduction to the direction my work will take. I love stories. I always have. I believe an image should leave you wondering what the story is.
In dreams. -Jen