I've always been the sentimental type. I'm the kind of person that holds on to memories and mementos. I'm the kind of person that thinks the most ordinary of things can be beautiful.
I remember when I first started to seriously pursue photography, I focused on learning traditional portraiture. A huge flash and umbrella, props, posing, backdrops...not lifestyle and carefully curated "candids"- real traditional portraits. But in my personal shooting, I captured my kids playing in toilet paper. The cows in our side yard. Weekly trips to the zoo. I honestly captured my friends in their role as mothers. These things made me smile. They made me happy.
But in the back of my head, I kept thinking, "But this isn't real photography..."
"Nobody wants this everyday stuff."
"Nobody wants to pay people to take pictures of them in jeans and a t shirt."
"This isn't good enough."
So, I continued learning and studying light, learning about composition, and advanced technique. All the while, happily shooting my own kids in the most authentic of ways. My style eventually moved to lifestyle and natural light, with more relaxed posing. And I grew to be a very, very confident shooter.
About that time, my daughter decided that for the whole year, she only wanted to wear costumes. It made me so happy to see her living out her most whimsical dreams! I shot her every day like that. Learning and growing with her in our own respective ways.
I realized that shooting in that way wasn't honoring what I was feeling inside. And I had (still have) this deeply held belief that motherhood is a hard, beautiful journey. It's filled with ups and downs- days when you feel like you've got it under control and days when you feel like you're a failure. You look around at the mess in your house and think it's a reflection of your life and how you're raising your family. And it's simply not true. Yes, it's true that life gets messy. Yes, it's true that life gets hard. Yes, it's true that you may lose your temper. But that doesn't make you a failure, it makes you human.
In 2016 I decided that I was going to follow my gut. I am going to shoot honestly and authentically- and I'm not just going to do it for myself. I'm going to tell the stories of our days and shoot in a way that shows us that life is about more than "pretty". Life is about loving and feeling things deeply. It's about human connection. Motherhood is a journey of self love, forgiveness, and grace. I'm going to shoot these memories for mothers and provide them with photos that document more than their mere existence.
And so my friends, that's what I have done. This is my why. This is my reason for doing it. I want you to have more than blurry cell phone pictures of yourself and your kids. I want you to be able to look back on these memories that you treasure in your heart and have a visual representation of how that looked and how it felt. A picture is more than just the actual picture, it represents a season that you experienced as a family. A season you can't get back, a season of people who may no longer be with us. Something deeply more personal and meaningful to you.
It is real.
It is good enough.
It is valuable to the legacy of our family.
And that is why I do it.
If you'd like to book a storytelling session with me, click here or on the contact tab above. I'm happy to help answer any questions and help you plan your perfectly imperfect session.
Jess is a photographer serving families located in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She specializes in documentary and storytelling photography.