"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."
I feel so strongly about girls having a real sense of who they are and feeling confident in that person. I know so many women I talk to want the same things for their daughters too. I think it's important to love and be connected to the body you live in. You get it for your whole life. If you can get and stay comfortable in your own skin you have a real advantage in life. Being comfortable and confident gives you the power to face the tough parts of life knowing that you trust yourself. I believe that trusting yourself comes from being at peace with all the pieces of who you are both inside and out. These tween and teen years are when big changes happen. Keeping yourself connected is huge.
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
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!
Addison walked in and was immediately in control of the studio. She was clear on what she wanted to wear and how she wanted to play and dance. I love seeing a girl her age with such confidence and I hope that it stays with her throughout her life! She was comfortable in her own skin which I respect so much. But then it helps when you are 7 and the world is your oyster. (:
It also helps that mama is also a photographer (an acquaintance of mine) so she is also clearly comfortable posing in front of the camera. She did just what I asked of her and knew how to hold a pose! And that hat was obviously made for her!!
Also I really love the juxtaposition of how grown up a child can look like in that first black and white portrait below and then how a portrait will record such an important milestone like the process of losing your teeth and tell you exactly what stage a child is in. The gift of capturing portraits is not lost on me. I have such joy at working with children and getting them to open up for me. And also in knowing that in even 10 years when Addison is 17 this portrait will mean even more for her mama and for herself when she looks back at it.
Love who you are. Right now. - Jen
I have been working with Alisha for the last few months on my own skin and really love the attention that she has given to me personally. If you have been looking for an aesthetician to take care of your skin I highly recommend going to see
! They offer hair removal services, facials, body treatments, and brow & lash tinting.
It was excited to get to hang out with both Marika & Alisha together. We did a complete make-over for both of them and then did portraits of them together ( for their website ) and then alone. Here are some of my favorites.
Interested in learning more about a glamour session and what it is about? Get the details here in the