I cannot say enough good things about Jess and her consummate skill and talent as both an artist and as a patient, professional intermediary between the very best aspects of her subjects and then a finished product that reflects EXACTLY that spontaneous beauty, humanity and the genuine emotional tenor of the scene.
In February, I was lucky enough to schedule a "Day in the Life" photo shoot with Jess where she came to our house for a full day--7:30 AM, in all our household's sleep-rumpled, half-dressed and chaotic "glory." She'd explained that she would simply be part of the pack that day and photograph all our regular daily goings-on--from the mundane to the "sublime" (as if any activity in a family with three children, ages 5 and under, could ever really reach such lofty, artistic heights!). But throughout the day, as Jess warmly engaged with my children, who were almost immediately smitten with her and begged her to move in with us, and with both my husband and I--it was amazing how quickly and organically she blended in with our family dynamic! At first, when she explained the concept of the "Day in the Life" shoot, I was a little apprehensive--a total stranger in my house from sunrise to sunset, "tagging along" after all of us, capturing us at our most unimpressive (and worse, those less-than-flattering) moments, like making lunches or watching TV or...yes, growing frustrated with toddler antics or (as in my case) becoming so distracted that I didn't notice my children had overfilled the bathtub and bubbles were spilling out throughout the bathroom(!). Still, she encouraged us to just be natural, to go about our daily and life like we normally would...Would we be able to do that with "an outsider"--equipped with a camera no less!-- infiltrating and documenting us?
From the moment she walked in, it was obvious that working with people--and especially children--is a unique and amazing gift she possesses; she is, hands down, one of the most immediately likeable people I have ever met--and for children, I'd imagine that earnestness, playfulness, and trustworthiness is the golden standard to which all kids would like adults held. As any nerves or sheepishness on our part melted away, she got to work familiarizing herself with us and observing our dynamic, and then it was practically unnoticeable when she brought out her camera to start the REAL WORK of photographing "A Day in Our Life." Throughout the day, she was both a vibrant and wonderful presence in our household, yet she was entirely unobtrusive and even graceful as she maneuvered about capture shots of our always high-energy household.
And while I had an absolutely fantastic time and really enjoyed the EXPERIENCE of "A Day in the Life" shoot, the images that she captures were absolutely breath taking. Those mundane moments I'd mentioned? The PB&J-making, the bundling of the kids in snow pants and coats and mittens and socks and boots (as it had snowed that day and schools was closed!), the kids' wrestling and romping in the toy room, my littlest one (6 months) swinging in his swing with his bottle propped up by a blanket because, hey, third child! ...Well, all of these images absolutely WERE us--it was a totally accurate, undiluted look into a normal day at our house--but what is so easy to forget is, even the less glamorous moments of family life still is set against a backdrop of love, and humor, and loyalty, and abiding appreciation for each other and our companionship--even when, in the moment, it doesn't FEEL as if it is.
The "mundane," OUR mundane, is actually beautiful because it's OUR family and the dynamic, though crazy and exhausting, underscores everything we do everyday as a team, with the people we love the most in the world. But it wasn't until I saw the photos Jess had taken that I could see the *sublime* in the moments of mundane; the photos reflected so beautifully--both aesthetically, artistically, and thematically-- that our home (even messy) is perfect for us, my beloved children (even when misbehaving) are still a delight, and our routines (though not seemingly photo-worthy) are the very substance of who we are as a family.
I CHERISH these photos, in ways that I don't think I'd even imagined when inviting Jess to come over and photograph us for the day. I was eager for some "cute" or "funny" photos of the family that I could oooh and ahhh over for years to come; but it is a testament to her true skill and artistry that the photos Jess took were absolutely gorgeous. She intuitively captured and rendered who we are as a family on film, and then suddenly everything that we did that day--when aesthetically elevated by Jess' keen eye for lighting, and perspective, and background--conveys this ethereal majesty and reinforces the god's honest truth: "A Day in the Life" of this family, even when it doesn't sound or look very "pretty" superficially, is still awash in beauty.
Jess, I am forever grateful,
Your #1 fan :)