glamour portraits

Healing the Scars

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 

Cancer is ugly, but life is Beautiful.

Cancer is always ugly. Maybe you are one of the lucky ones who still only knows the effects from a friend of a friend. Pretty much everyone I know has a close friend or family member dealing with, recovering from, or has lost someone to cancer. I have several people close to me who have it. So far they are winning and for that I am so grateful.

I find myself infuriated by cancer and why we don't know more about it. I am sure most people feel the same. It seems, so far, that no amount of money thrown at it will be enough. There is just too much still that we can't figure out about this mysterious disease.

So what we do now is fight it the best we can physically and emotionally as well. I have no real concept of what it is like to have cancer other than the observation of my god mother and friend. Who day in and out stay in a positive frame of mind to face a barrage of invasive procedures and sickness with grace and patience.

What I get to do, on occasion, is get to know someone a little bit through my lens. I get to see who they are when they let their guard down. Or when they feel empowered and full. I get to see who they have become after experiencing something as life changing as cancer. That is what I got to do with Holly.

I had never seen Holly before she came to my studio. I will admit that after our session and her telling me that she used to be a blonde I did go peek on her Facebook page since I just couldn't imagine it! (: Personally I like her with the amazing soft brown curls that I got to see in the studio. The curls that grew back in after treatment.

The thing that I could clearly see about Holly, and that I am sure others experience as well, is that she was just so full of joy and love for life. She was so grateful to have her health back, to be going to school, planning a trip, to be doing all the things that the rest of us who are healthy get to take for granted. Today I am grateful that I get to sit here with my head cold and be grumpy about it, but that it will go away and I can begin anew with taking for granted those daily things. (Though I will try not too) I am so blessed with my healthy normal boring stuff. So maybe take a moment and be grateful for your health or pick anything that you are grateful for. It's always a good way to prioritize life and make your heart full.

                                                                        Love who you are. Right now. - Jen

Glamour or Boudoir Mini Sessions - A Valentines Day gift for yourself! or a special someone!

Have you been thinking about doing a session, but been waiting for the right time? I always say "Love who you are. Right now." So here is your chance to just do it and sign up! (: Sessions are a lot of fun, but don't just take my word for it...see the what other clients have said below.

These sessions are for 3 days only and I only have 6 spots! 

You will get your hair and make-up done while sipping champagne. Then 45 minutes of portraits with one outfit change. 

Take a short break and come back to see your portraits that same day!! You can order something just in time for Valentines day too. (: 

 Call today to reserve your time.  

Sessions start at 9:30am and 1:00pm and are only $95+tax. 

And remember from every session fee and product 10% of all profits will go into my new photography fund for women survivors of domestic abuse. 

What others have said about working with me...

From Laura C (who's dancing in the portrait above!)-

Jen turned me into "queen for a day" at our glamour session. What an incredible experience! As a working mom, I rarely get dressed up, and almost never get photo evidence when I do. Jen made the session so much fun - the hair, makeup, the gourmet goodies...and the amazing pictures she took - wow! I am incredibly happy with the photos and have ordered a gorgeous album to pass along to my daughter. My husband also joined us at the end of the session for a few "couples" photos. He was so impressed with Jen as well. We couldn't be happier with the experience and the wonderful photos she captured. Thank you, Jen!

Malina O  (boudoir session) says-

I decided to get my pictures done for my husband for our second year anniversary. 

Doesn't everyone look like their perfect selves in every picture that's ever been taken of them? I mean, none of us have experienced an awful, cringe-worthy picture, right? Oh, wait, silly me; nearly all the pictures I have of myself only my mother could appreciate. Except these. They are me. Me. She left me looking like me, imperfections and beauty all wrapped up in one. They were perfectly 'touched' and 'untouched'. It was important to me to give my husband me, my face, my he sees it, not how I wish it looked. She did this beautifully. I feel beautiful looking at the final pictures. Jen's creativity, time and vision allowed me to have a day I will remember for years to come, give my husband a gift he was excited to receive and embrace my body as strong, beautiful and sexy. Her prices are fair, earned and WORKED for. She is invested in getting you the picture you envision. She takes your time and wishes seriously. 

I will go back to her for sure! I may even make this an every five year gift to myself!! - Malina O.

You can read more reviews on my website

I can't wait to create some beautiful memories and portraits with you.

Love who you are. Right now. - Jen

Cheers to a New Year of Being Brave and Starting a Charity Fund!

This is my whole life. This daughter of mine. I want to show her what it means to be a whole person. A real woman of courage, confidence, and grace. I think this post explains why I was drawn to glamour (makeover) photography and what I seek to do with it.

Domestic abuse – a tricky subject for a laundry list of reasons.  We all have our take on pretty much everything about life, from religion and politics to the psychology of why people do the things they do. Everything can be approached from so many perspectives and opinions and, some people find that they don't talk about a lot of these subjects openly. I can understand why.

Then there are the subjects that I think we would benefit from talking about but we still don't. Subjects like mental and emotional health issues, and domestic abuse. I think these subjects are hard for people. There is a huge stigma that goes along with all of these subjects. You know, the subjects that makes you cringe when they come up.  

I want to talk about domestic violence and abuse. I could get into statistics of victims of domestic abuse. They are always appalling. How about I just share my story. Because we all have a story. For those that have experienced domestic abuse our stories are ones of fear coupled with courage, with a strength of spirit that is a sheer force of will. It is our stories that I want to capture and celebrate in my photography.

Here is my courage, my story- in the nutshell version. By the time I was five my mother was marrying her third abusive husband. Though he never hit me, he did count how many sheets of toilet paper I used before I was allowed to flush, among other random insanities. After many failed attempts to leave, my mother gathered her strength and left for the last time. That time he chased us down, tore the car hood open, and ripped out wires as we were driving away.

He threatened to kill us many times. So we lived in hiding. For 6 months we lived with friends and made plans to move across the country. He found us shortly after we moved. He followed us, found our neighbors and waved the gun at them. He was serious. He was going to kill us. He stalked us everywhere we went. Hid in bushes outside friend’s houses. Left gifts on our doorstep.  And, generally just scared the living shit out of me. We lived like this for an amount of time that, for a child, seemed like an eternity.

Eventually he gave up. My mom married again. He left our lives. But his memory stayed with me for much of my adult life. For over half my life I slept with nightmares that someone was trying to kill me in some horrible way.

Then there is my own mother. Abusive herself. The kind of bat shit, lock herself in her bedroom for weeks at a time, screaming fits of rage, cut off all her hair, periodically suicidal, beat the shit out of you, and tell you that you will never be loved kind of lady.  

I grew up with no confidence at all. My mother and her husband’s had me living in fear and hating myself quite thoroughly. Moving beyond that was an immense amount of work. Sharing this out loud is a very scary thing to do. I worry, like everyone does, about being judged. Even though intellectually I know this was all outside of my control.

Now I am a photographer and I work with women whose courage and strength of spirit still prevail. Through portraits I work to capture who they are -  inside and outside. There are some clients though that come to me who truly don't realize how beautiful they are because they are too afraid to really look. All too often they can't see it. For those who find their way to me, it's like taking another step in the healing journey.  Maybe no one has ever taken the time to nurture them; to look them in the eye and tell them they matter... to see that they are beautiful and lovable. That is something I understand.  I have had clients cry when they see their portraits and realize how beautiful they are inside and out. I feel so fortunate to be given the chance to capture the grace, wonder and fun of being female, while showing women that it is ok to see themselves as beautiful as well as strong.

I have created a life that fills me with contentment. I get to play with my daughter, have work I love doing, read my favorite books, drink wine with my friends, and make enchiladas and cake (my favs)! I am very fortunate. I have known for some time that I want to give back and been working on what that would look like. The people in  my life who did not protect me or hurt me are my past, but they no longer define me. My story is so much more than my past. My story now will include women who invite me into their life as they change their story.

From January 1, 2015 moving forward, 10% of all profits from Radiance Sessions will go into a fund for women who have experienced abuse to come have a Radiance Makeover Portrait Session. If you are interested in donating to the charity please email me at  If you know of someone you would like to nominate for the charity please talk to them first and then get in touch with me. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope that it has given you something to think about and that maybe you too will become part of an open dialog about domestic abuse.

Love who you are. Right now.
- Jen

PS: I owe a big thank you to my friend-family who read and edited this and who encouraged me to share it.