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A first and last post for 2021

As I reflect on my year, in the last few days of 2021, my heart is filled with gratitude. How can it not be, looking at all of these smiling faces? I feel so lucky that, despite the continued swirling craziness, constantly changing norms, and ever-present anxiety, I was able to see so many of my dear clients and capture memories for them, this year. That they were willing to travel to me, to be flexible and patient as we rescheduled due to weather or illness, to shoot outdoors, sometimes in less than ideal weather…or even once in my garage!

At the start of 2021, I wasn’t sure where JSP would fit in my new normal. I wasn’t sure, in the struggle of remote school and isolation, that I felt the same passion when I picked up my camera. I wasn’t sure my business could function the same as it had for the past decade with the new stresses the pandemic imposed. Much soul-searching ensued. I decided to try dialing back, to set boundaries, to change how I worked instead of walking away altogether. And I am so glad that I did. Because all of you showed up for me, despite the changes. And we had a blast, and laughed and smiled together, despite the challenges.

As a result, it was one of the best years JSP has ever had on multiple different levels. And, most importantly, I remembered why I loved this job in the first place. Because of YOU, and the friendships we have built over the past ten (eleven?!) years.  Your kids may be taller than I am now. But I still remember our first sessions together, when they were in their diapers and swaddles. We have shared each other’s joys and sorrows, and I will be forever grateful for your loyalty and friendship.

I am excited for JSP in 2022. Some of the changes I implemented may survive into the new year. I probably won’t be shooting in The City as much and may continue to stick closer to home. Who knows how many Blog, Instagram, and Facebook posts will happen. My smile may stay hidden behind a mask during sessions for awhile longer. But, I know it will all work out. It will be OK. Better than OK. It will be good. There are so many special memories yet to capture, and I’m excited to share them with you.

Thank you, friends, for being the bright spot of 2021. And I wish you all a happy and healthy 2022, filled with wonderful new moments.

That’s a Wrap for 2020

I can’t think too much about 2020 in terms of my business. It’s been sad and frustrating. But in the spirit of finding the positives, no matter how buried they are in the muck this year, it’s one thing that hasn’t been totally out of my hands. I’ve been able to set boundaries and new rules, and have made it work in a very limited, different capacity. I have been quietly and safely working through my waitlist for the past several months, so incredibly grateful for each session that weather and health has allowed. I’ve only been shooting outside, in uncrowded, suburban settings. I wear a mask, and keep a distance. It’s been a challenge for a lot of reasons, the biggest one being time. My priority has been my children and helping them through remote learning and homeschool situations, and for better or worse, there hasn’t been much time to focus on much else. (You wouldn’t believe how many times the writing of this post has been interrupted!)

But it’s time to wrap 2020 sessions. The weather is quickly turning, the pandemic numbers are spiking once again, and the holidays are coming. I’m going to focus on the shoots that are already on my calendar, that ones that are currently in the works, but won’t be taking new requests for the remainder of the year.

To those who committed to sessions this year, who stuck with me during very uncertain times, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You rearranged your schedules, some of you drove for over an hour to make it work, you helped keep me and my family safe, you gave me your best smiles, and for an hour, provided a warm feeling of normalcy. I am forever grateful you keep choosing me to capture your family memories, and that I get to be a small part of your lives. For those of you who I didn’t get to see this year, please know I feel the empty space where you normally are acutely. I don’t doubt that we will get to catch up again soon, hopefully in happier, less stressful climates.

This isn’t the first time I have had to shut down or greatly reduce the amount of work I can manage. JSP has weathered surprise bedrests and maternity leaves before. But nothing like this. I miss it and YOU and this very huge part of me that I love. I am not worried. Jen Soares Photography will be here when the air clears and the dust settles. When the time and safety constraints ease up. When you can see my smile and we can give high-fives and hugs once again.

Stay safe, friends.

 

Six Years

In a perfect world, our middle daughter, Hannah Felicity, would be turning 6 today. We would be celebrating her birthday instead of the always devastating anniversary of the day she suddenly left us before she even had the chance to officially join us. But I think we all know now this isn’t a perfect world.

This anniversary is a strange one, because the familiar feelings of dread and sadness over losing Hannah are mixing with all of the depression and anger that is 2020 in general. The thing that’s most striking, that makes me cringe, is that as unbelievable and demoralizing as 2020 as been for so many reasons…it’s not the worst year we personally have had. Six years ago, we were rocked to our core and forever changed. While I hate today with all it’s PTSD, and can’t wait until it’s over once again, I’m grateful for the tragically-earned perspective that comes with being Hannah’s parents. Despite the sadness that will never go away, I’m so glad she’s my daughter.

Hannah is a forever part of me, reminding me to never take for granted the preciousness of health and life.

We love you, darling Hannah. Today and always.

Happy Birthday Eloise!

 

She’s EIGHT! How did this happen so fast?! This sweet, itty-bitty peanut of a baby has turned into a (still sweet) smart, mature, amazing young lady that I am always so stinkin’ proud of. Especially this year, with all of the craziness and fear and anxiety as the world has turned upside down, she has taken it all in stride and taught us how to roll with the punches and appreciate what we still have. We are excited to celebrate ELOISE today! Her Descendants family party is sure to be wicked. Happy Birthday, Ellie-Bean! We love you so much!

Love,

Mom

Adjusting My Focus

I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching as things start to open up more in the next week/month. I love my job, and I miss it…I miss you all. But right now, even though I am allowed to go back to work, I can’t seem to find the brain space for it. While a lot of America seems to be jumping right back into normal…I am finding myself not ready yet. So much is up in the air for my family right now, and I have to figure all of that out before I can properly focus on JSP. We don’t know yet whether Mike can continue to work from home or whether he will have to go back into the office…there are implications to address either way. The girls are struggling with the loss of our summer routines and activities and the emotions surrounding the end of school, even in this strange, virtual state. I am all they have, and I want to give them my all. We haven’t seen my parents, who are frequent, important fixtures in our lives, for nearly 4 months. That’s the longest the girls have ever gone without seeing them by A LOT. Our biggest priority this summer is how to reunite with them safely.

I also just can’t get my head around what sessions would look like right now. I don’t want to lose the heart of our sessions together, which is connection and comfort. And I can’t see that being the same when I’m showing up with a mask, anxiety, and crazy gray witch hair!

So, with all of that in mind, I have made the difficult decision to stay closed this summer and focus on my family. I will open back up again in August for a limited amount of fall sessions, and I will be in touch with everyone who has reached out to get on my waitlist, then.

I really appreciate all of the support and understanding through this strange time. I hope you are all staying safe and sane. And I hope to see your smiling faces in a less stressful, safer time this fall.