mother daughter portraits

Mother daughter portraits at Ft. Williams, Cape Elizabeth Maine

When Tiffany called we had a conversation so that I could get to know her a bit. I wanted to know why she wanted portraits of she and her daughter right now. What was special in her life. And, of course, what she wanted for products for her home. 

I found out that Tiffany isn't from Maine, she is from Atlanta, Georgia and really wanted to capture the beauty of Maine. It is so different then where she is from! I also learned about her daughter Jordan and how she was born way too early. How Jordan came into the world at a whopping one pound! She was in the hospital for three months, but you would never know it today. Tiffany thinks of Jordan has her miracle and I can see why. All parents think our children are the most amazing wonder of the world so I can't even imagine what it must have been like for Tiffany when Jordan was born. What a scary time that must have been for Tiffany. Her connection with Jordan was a joy to watch and capture. 

 She choose Ft. Williams in Cape Elizabeth since there are several spots there that she really loves to spend time at. I agree that is a perfect Maine backdrop for portraits. There is the grassy open lawn with the dappled light and a rocky beach that Maine is so known for. The evening was perfect the night that we chose to go out together. 

If you are thinking about portraits make sure you take the action and just call. What matters on a day to day basis are these times. The moments spent just hanging out with our family or children. We spend so much time at work or rushing from one appointment to the next that soon years have gone by. I am always so joyous at being able to savor these memories for my clients. So that they can always look back and remember them fondly. 

I am starting this post with the portrait of her finished wooden keepsake box. These boxes are selling like hotcakes. They have an image printed into the top of the wooden lid and are truly one of a kind. They hold 15 mounted art prints with room left over for you to add your own printed memories. They are beautiful as gifts or to keep to give to your children when they are all grown up. I am making one for my own daughter since she just requested one she loves them so much!

In life and love - Jen 

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 

Mother & Daughter Connection

What I see in mother daughter relationships is a connection unlike any other. Then again I think all relationships are their own unique connection. I don't think this one is any more special than another, but I think that all the connections we have as humans are so very important, vital to our ability to thrive and be happy. I have a daughter and I know that nothing will ever compare to the love I have for her. And I am sure other people feel the same about their children be they boys or girls. 

I believe that our happiness is tied to our relationships with people. I have always thought that how we treat others and the level of depth in our relationships often shows how happy we are. Working with people to capture these connections with each other is something I really value. It drives my work. 

I understand the importance of these relationships through the lack of one to my own mother. I am not saying this to garner empathy, but rather to say that I have spent much time thinking about it and seeing how it has shaped my life. I know that I appreciate the people in my life that much more because I grew up without a connection to my own mother. I seek to capture the importance of this love for others and for the future generations of the family that I am working with. I watch how laughter and love shapes our daily lives and gives us something to fall back on when we are stressed or frustrated with the things that life throws at us. The foundation of our lives is our family. Whether that family be by blood or by choice. 

I was adopted by a family 15 years ago and they have given me the same love they give to each other. That post is coming up next. In the meantime here are some of my favorites of this mother and daughter (and some fun portraits we did individually as well). Stephanie is one my stylists for glamour make over sessions. She is an amazingly strong and kind woman that I have grown to love. Her daughter is a reflection of this strength and beauty. I am so glad that I got to capture them together. I am working on some big canvases to hang in the dining room of Stephanie's home. To remind her, on maybe a day when she is feeling down, what joy she has in her life. Because really one of the best things about being alive is the joy and love we share with each other. 

In life and love  - Jen

When there are no words- Mother and Daughter Portraits

Many of us mamas don't exist in photographs. Or maybe we do, but they aren't the portraits we want to share. We are always the ones behind the camera. Making sure that we capture the fleeting moments of our children's lives, the soccer game, the special trip to the fair, or even just that long list of firsts that happen to all children. And that is hugely important. As a mama of a 6 year old force of nature myself I don't want to miss a single thing.  I want to experience it all with my girl,  remember it with her, and for her. I want to show her the story of her life as I see it. That is my wish as an artist when I take portraits of my daughter. I feel strongly about wanting to record her life. Maybe you are the same.

Us mamas; we don't take the time for a lot of things, cause frankly we don't feel like we have the time. This week I did a 10 hour wedding, was in the studio for several long days, am doing two presentations about photography, picked up Charlie from school, got her to soccer practice AND made chili. Yes, thank you very much, I am pretty impressed with myself as well. Ok, fine I have a cold too. I am not a supermom. Whomp.

All you mamas out there are nodding as you read. Life is always always over filled. But we do need to do something for our daughters and sons. Something more than just take all those amazing portraits of them. We need to make time. Take the time. Take it!! To have your own portraits done. And if you need to use your child as a reason to do it then that's fine too. Do the portraits with your child. Please just remember that they will want to see you in photos. Because they do see us...as perfect. And, no, I know they won't always see us as perfect. Our children will have phases where they dislike us or we fight or we aren't on the same page. But then it comes back around again. When they are grown ups - like you are as you read this, they will again see us as a friend, a rock, a mama. Whatever the words are for them. Just the same way you view your mama now. But if we don't exist in portraits they won't see us. How many of you are reading this and wishing that you had one absolutely beautiful portrait of your mother to hang in your home? And if you do have it. How much would you pay for it now? 

Every time I do a session with a mother and daughter (or any mother and child) my heart breaks a little. Because I get to see and record that connection between mother and child. It is so very beautiful. And really there are no words to describe it accurately or perfectly. That is why there are portraits. So we don't always have to have the words. I feel like when you look at this portrait you may not have needed to read this blog post. But maybe you were intrigued about why or how this portrait happened. 

That is the reason I wrote this. Because just you seeing this portrait might not have been enough to motivate you even though it tugs at your heart strings. However, if I explain a few things further you just might call me. 

I just read a letter that was sent to a fellow photographer and that I need to tell you about...maybe it will help motivate you. 

The letter was to a photographer from a mother who had wanted to come in and do a session with her adult daughter. She had always loved this photographers work and it really moved her. She found out the prices and thought they were just too much money. A few months later her daughter died in a car accident. She wanted to write to say how much regret she had when they went to find photos for the funeral and the only good ones, that weren't Facebook or phone shots, were from her 16 year old professional portrait session and they looked nothing like her. 

The mother goes on to say that her own mother also died early that year and she realized that she had very few portraits of her either. That she wishes so much that she had done the session since it would have meant so much. That she realizes now what this photographer gives to people...memories and now her one chance is gone.

This is not the first time I have heard this story. And I had a groom of a wedding I did call me six weeks after the wedding to say his mother had died and he wanted the beautiful portraits that I had taken of them during the formal portraits and dancing for the funeral. The family was so grateful to have them.

What I want to say is that I am regularly reminded that life can change so quickly for anyone. All moments are fleeting. I hear so often, "Oh well, when I lose the weight then I will have you take my portraits". Or a laundry list of other excuses as well. And I know how busy we all are...trust me!

This portrait below came as a gift from a son to his mother, her four sisters, and grandmother. It took 6 months to coordinate getting all five of the daughters and the grandmother in the same place at the same time. Grandmother now has Alzheimers as well. She is 89 years old. I spent some time taking individual portraits of each of them and then a bunch of group portraits of all the women together. This one portrait though...when the daughter leans in to say something and her mother leans back and closes her eyes. As I clicked the shutter I teared up. I knew what I had. This is why I do what I do. Stop making excuses and give yourself a work of art that brings you a smile every time you see it now and for the next few decades. 

That black and white portrait...oh man, there are no words.

                                                                                    In life and love- Jen