For any business to be successful there has to be a solidified ‘why’ behind it. In the very beginning of my career I didn’t understand this. I just knew that I enjoyed taking pretty pictures, that I naturally understood the concept of light and that working closely with people brought me joy. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I really started questioning my ‘why’ in order to piece together the puzzle of my purpose, both professionally and personally.
I’m a self proclaimed DIY junkie. I tend to just throw myself into things and figure it out as I go. Photography was no different. I’ve never taken a class because when I picked up the interest in this skill I was a young Mother of two tiny human beings. Instead, I poured hours into reading books and online guides in order to understand not only how a camera works, but how light, composition and emotion play into creating imagery. I photographed everything…my kids, my friends, my friends’ kids, nature, food and whatever else seemed interesting to me. And then one day I turned the camera onto myself and began a series of self portraits. And for the first time, I really saw myself.
Awkward doesn’t even begin to describe the way I felt growing up, while shy is an extreme understatement. I was surely so quiet and reserved because my self critic was relentless at keeping me feeling small. It consistently compared me to every other girl, it pointed out an extensive list of flaws and it successfully created all kinds of sad stories that I would carry with me into adulthood. While I now know that I am not alone in experiencing an interior battle with self esteem, the lack of it and the ocean of insecurities this war creates within oneself, I didn’t know this growing up. I walked around feeling different and intrinsically flawed, searching for love in all the wrong places. I’ll never forget the day in my early teenage years when, while asking a girlfriend of mine how a particular outfit looked on me, she said “Jess, you’re so pretty you could wear anything and it would look good.” I had absolutely no clue what she was talking about. I remember going home that night and taking a long look in the mirror, searching for whatever it was she saw.
I first turned the lens onto myself close to a decade ago. I didn’t expect anything more than to learn about light and angles and how they applied to portraiture. But then something else happened. I studied these self portraits and began to observe my features with curiosity instead of disdain. I soon began to see my strange, almond shaped eyes as expressive, my boring brown hair as beautiful, my annoying moles and freckles as charming, the sharp shape of my jawline as strong, my ski slope nose as cute and my lips as inviting. Through this project I learned to see what my friend so many years ago had seen. And slowly, I began to accept my personal, individual, one of a kind beauty. I’m not proposing that I no longer have battles with my inner critic, but I am more mindful, so the voice is much softer. I also now realize that this is just part of being human. I mean if every single one of the women I have photographed,
including this tall, blonde beauty, (aka: the exact stereotype I compared myself to), has a not so kind inner critic too, then it must just be a human thing.
So why am I Beauty and Boudoir Photographer? Because I know how if feels to look in the mirror and not be happy with what’s looking back. Because I know how deeply connected our personal happiness is to how we feel about ourselves both on the inside and outside. And thankfully, I also know that seeing yourself in a well executed photograph has the power to completely change your self perspective, to create space for self acceptance and the softening of the critic within. Every time I witness this shift in perspective in the women I work with I am humbled and thankful for everybody and everything that contributed to my search for self love and acceptance. I may still be a work in progress, but sharing the gift of self reflection and appreciation with another human being is my ‘why’ and I’m sticking to it. xo