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Today I feel awkward and nerdy and frustrated.

Let me be clear that the girl in these pictures is NOT me, but actually a portrait client named Cori. And she is not nerdy at all…she is actually super cool. Only a super cool person would be willing to act nerdy on camera, which she has graciously done here (thanks Cori!).

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The social network driven world we live in pressures us to be cool, successful and perfect. We want to look good, we want to look busy with our business even when we are struggling to find work. We don’t feel comfortable to be vulnerable or honest. I’m NOT advocating that you spew emotions on Facebook or take your sacred story and share it just anyone, because none of that is safe. Boundaries are really important when you share. I do think, however, when we wear a mask all day long, every day…life starts to feel…fake.

I hate fake.

So let’s get real for a moment. Here are the top 5 ridiculous things I did this month:

JENNI’S TOP FIVE RIDICULOUS THINGS

  1. The other day I had a pen in my hair because I often use pens to make buns when I can’t find a hair band. So when my husband needed a pen, I pulled it out of my hair and said “here.” When I did I noticed my hand was covered in blue ink. The pen had exploded on my head without me realizing it, and my scalp was so blue, my husband had to help me wash it out. For 3 more days my hands were blue when I touched my head no matter how many washes. The worst part is, I had met up with people and had meetings that day, with my hair twisted up in that pen…with blue ink all over my head.

  2. This morning I dropped my Corgi off at the dog boarder, and as I was leaving I said “hopefully Walter doesn’t sprout wings and fly away, he’s so sneaky”. The woman behind the desk looked horrified and said, “Oh! Don’t say such things!”  I realized I had made it sound like I was worried my Corgi would “die” in their care — sprout wings like an angel and fly away. Of course this isn’t what I meant…I was just imagining my corgi getting bored at the dog place and growing wings to escape because I have a really weird mind and I like to imagine animals with body parts they don’t really have. AND my dog is so awesome he probably knows how to do that, grow wings. Any attempt of explaining this just further horrified the receptionist.

  3. A couple weekends ago during the very portrait shoot featured in this post, I stood up on my photographer’s stool (since my client was tall)…and it shattered. That’s right, the stool shattered. When I stepped on it… it violently blew apart, like it was made of glass. As we all know, it is every woman’s worst nightmare to sit or stand on something and have it break, especially in front of somebody. I was mortified (but it’s pretty funny).

  4. I bought a beautiful pair of earrings and accidentally threw them away. I realized it too late and they are gone. I’m really sad, but the Gnomes who live in the trash will be really happy.

  5. After FINALLY gearing up the mental energy to go work out in my garage, I ran out there all pumped up, and promptly tripped on a loose free weight that was on the ground and broke my toe…or if it’s not broken it sure is black and swollen and un-moveable. I was shoeless because I was looking for shoes to work out in. A successful first work out for sure.
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I am what is called a “Fine Art Photographer”, which is a fancy way of saying that I shoot weddings in a style that focuses on classy “artistic” story telling… that has a certain editorial look to it paired with the authentic moments. This world, Fine Art Photography, is very high end and can be very intimidating. If you have ever visited the blog “Style Me Pretty” — you know what I mean. Everything is beautiful, bright, perfect, and pretty.

The very nature of my industry makes me feel so dorky! Even as I write this post, the floors of my living room are covered in dog hair…which is why you’ll only ever see me post pictures from my white walled garage or outdoors. Real life is messy. Real life means I have a blue scalp and my photographer stool breaks because I’ve put on 15lbs in a couple short months. All these things can make you want to pull your hair out and just scream!

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For all the days of mismatched socks, blue scalps, horrified receptionists, clients who seem too cool for you, weight gain, too much dog hair…there is worth in this. Listen Folks, all the beautiful Instagram accounts you look at? It’s all farce. Even mine is. Yes I took the pictures. Yes I styled my lunch. Because I love Instagram…but you should see my laundry room. It’s a nightmare.

So for today…I wanted you to know : You don’t have to be perfect.

I’m giving myself permission not to be either. You are enough, right where you are, blue scalp and all (if you run into pen problems like I do).

Happy Friday 🙂

Posted in Life + Thoughts

  PRESS PLAY FOR MUSIC

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I’m not really a classic newborn photographer. I don’t love posing tiny babies or putting bows on their head…and even if I did my lack of a beautiful, temperature controlled studio keeps me from doing so. I don’t mind though, because I don’t think posing newborns is really my strength.

But I do love photographing LOVE. So I really feel honored when I get to capture a simple moment in time – be a fly on the wall so to speak — capturing it as it happens, with little to no posing. On this special day, I was able to photograph Baby E.

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A good friend of mine recently opened her home to a baby girl who needed one. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet this sweet little girl and spend time with her, she has big sparkling eyes and a quiet easy going demeanor. Because my friend is her Foster Mama, we can’t show her face but let me tell you, she’s a beauty.

I’ve been amazed by my friend and her husband, who have opened their hearts so courageously to this little one. There are so many unknowns, so many things they can’t plan for. So many large question marks…but like my friend says, “she’s worth it”.

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AS SOON AS I SAW YOU, I KNEW AN ADVENTURE WAS GOING TO HAPPEN. -Winnie The Pooh

“Shes worth it,” my friend says humbly and casually like it’s just the most natural thing in the world to say. I listen to her, marveling. Most couples have 9 months to prepare for a child entering their home, but my friends only had 3 hours. On the way to the hospital, they stopped at Walmart to pick up a car seat and whatever other items they could afford to take this sweet girl home in. What they are doing is so important and wonderful…and to me, they are two of the most brave people I know.

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I spend a lot of time trying to control my life, trying to be better…look better…do better…I fancy that if I just have a good enough plan, things will go my way. That if I just take this supplement or see this doctor or get more sleep…I can build the glittering life I’d imagined I ought to have. It’s amazing what we subconsciously decide our lives deserve to look like.

The truth is we never really know what is coming our way, what challenges — and what surprises. I was reminded of this so intensely while I photographed this little one. What an adventure she is…and will continue to be.

I’m so glad we aren’t actually in control. Aren’t you?

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I was totally overwhelmed by the encouragement and thoughtful words sent my way last week as we launched my new website. What I was even more amazed by was how many of you resonated with my thoughts on feeling flawed and afraid to be on camera. I was really struck by the stories you shared and your thoughts about personal insecurity. Sometimes life can feel so fake…between the #hashtags and the impossible standards of physical beauty, social networking… and all the way up to what culture defines as “successful”…it was purely awesome to see that I’m not the only one who gets tired of it, struggles with it, feels less than worthy sometimes.

Thank you! You really have no idea how much all the support, kind words, and shared stories meant to me. I wish I could take every last one of your photos…truly. On that note I want to congratulate winner SAM LEWIS who was chosen at random by random.org in cooperation with rafflecopter.

Now everybody go out and have a fantastic Wednesday…be yourself and egg anyone’s house who tempts you otherwise.

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All images shot on a Mamiya 645 AF  |   Fuji400H 120 Film  |  Scans by Photovision

The Oregon Coast is pretty incredible. It seems like the perfect place to breathe, dream, scream (if you need to) and on a medium format film camera…capture some pretty lovely pastel, soft and moody colors.

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If I find myself getting waterlogged by a busy calendar or a lack of focus, a little quiet time with a film camera usually does the trick. I think this is common for anyone with a job, but a particularly a creative job. If you lose your creativity as a photographer or designer…getting in a good days work can be pretty painful. I wish I was one of those balanced people who effortlessly manage their calendar in between yoga classes, but basically I act like a freak when I’m too busy, and usually land in a creative fog. So having a little quiet time on the beach was so very needed.

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What does peace look like? For me it’s a warm towel on my face at the end of the night, soft music, a clean kitchen, wandering in the garden with my Corgi, going on drives with my husband at night when the rest of the city sleeps. It’s the beginning of Fall and listening to Christmas music on over-cast days (which make it’s okay by the way) and thunderstorms at night. Peace is the single most important theme for me in the last few years as I work to become a smarter business woman, but more importantly, putting my faith and people in my life first.

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In some ways, I think the last few years have been some of the most difficult of my life. I’ve had to work on so many difficult things, learn patience and trust in the midst of my own mistakes and shortcomings…as well as the struggles in life that come and go. However when I really step back, I’m so fortunate…I wouldn’t want anything more than I have right now…right here.

All images taken in Manzanita, Oregon 

 

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Multnomah Falls, Oregon  |  Yashica Mat-124  |  Fuji400H Film  |  Scan Photovision

I’ve written about this many times before, but I have a problem with spending too much time looking at creative inspiration. Why is this a problem? Well it’s not…until I find myself in a corner fuming like a bridge troll — questioning my talent, my choices and whether or not to throw all my cameras in the river.

COMPARISION IS THE THIEF OF JOY.   -Theodore Roosevelt 

Ever seen the quote that says, “Comparison is the thief of joy”? Well if you haven’t you can probably find it on Pinterest with various woodland creatures surrounding it, hand written in chalk paint, stitched into a chevron pillow, or maybe typed out on a photo of a sunset mountain top where a willowy hipster stands looking up at the sky.

I have a feeling Theodore Roosevelt was probably referring to mightier things than our etsy shops or weekend hiking adventures….and YET, the truth in the quote is unshakeable. When I spend time comparing myself to anyone, I really am sucking my worth and wasting my precious time. So why do I fall into the trap so easily?

Well, the truth is I’m really REALLY hard on myself. I remember the day I saw the photographs of Elizabeth Messina — I literally gasped out loud they were so breathtaking. I’d never seen photos so gorgeous and well styled, while at the same time feeling honest and real. I felt like I could see her soul in them and that if I didn’t learn to shoot even half that well, I would die. Yes, I’m not being dramatic…that thought honestly went through my head. Now, being that I’d really only been taking photos of buttons and other people’s pets at that point, I had a long way to go.

They say it should be about the journey rather than where you end up. I’ve never been very good at remembering that. I arranged photo sessions with friends with my brand new DSLR camera with a no-good lens on it and had the highest hopes. However, (shockingly) my work was looking nothing like the great Elizabeth Messina. I was devastated and felt like I probably didn’t have any talent. My wise husband reminded me that I had barely shot and that I couldn’t be comparing myself to one of the best wedding + portrait photographers in the world just yet. Seems like a reasonable thought, but I was lost in my tortured “artist” dismay and didn’t heed his good advice.

You’d think I’d have learned my lesson by now! However even though my work has improved light years since that day, I still find myself putting my work on a scale with the professionals who I admire the most. Now, on some level, that kind of self critique is what will drive you to become better. We can’t be too attached to our work because it’s likely we aren’t seeing it clearly (I generally think it’s either worse or better than it is…neither are good). Plus it’s really important to be inspired by and learn from others! But when it becomes toxic, that’s when I’ve learned to step back.

I don’t know the cure for this illness of comparison that plagues me from time to time, but I do know that legitimately being happy for others and supporting them feels like a pretty good remedy. I’ve also learned to give myself the time and space to become the kind of Photographer I’m mean’t to be…no matter how much I love Elizabeth Messina’s work.

If you are reading this, you are most likely a creative person of some kind. Or you wound up here on accident while googling rare Armenian rugs. Either way, I’ll take it. Just know that you are good enough, right where you are. Next time you feel like you suck or at least your work does…make a cup of tea and leave a nice comment on as many creative blogs as you can. You’ll immediately feel better….I’ll do the same!

Posted in Life + Thoughts