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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.

The Eventual List

Here we are, friends, entering week 7 of lockdown. Stay at Home Orders have been extended through the end of May here in Illinois. I hope you and yours are all safe and healthy, and as sane as possible during this very strange time. My family and I are doing OK. I’ve been focusing on the many positives in my life instead of giving into the anxiety swirling around the “what-ifs.” We have our health, our safety, and each other, and I am so intensely grateful for all of that.

So, JSP. Although outdoor, distance photography has been cleared as OK in May, after a lot of thought and soul-searching, I’ve decided it makes the most sense for me and my family to keep JSP shuttered until Orders lift (hopefully) in June. We are all in this together, but everyone has their unique situations when it comes to how best to cope as individuals and families. I have a lot of reasons for this decision, but a big one is the thought of having to tell any one of your kiddos to keep their distance from me when they are running in for a hug makes my heart hurt. The greater amount of planning on the front end that would be required on both of our parts, the distance during the session, the fact that salons are closed and a lot of us would have to figure out how to hide our roots (I jest…sort of!) all point to more stress than it’s worth right now. I’d rather we wait and have the fun, lighthearted, friendly photo shoot experience we have all grown accustomed to. It’s the soul of JSP and I’m not willing to compromise that X factor.

What I am going to do is start “The Eventual List.” A waitlist for scheduling once Orders have lifted. You email me and let me know you’re interested in photos sometime in the remainder of 2020. I will email you back once we get the “All Clear,” and we will find a weekend date that works. (Since all of my plans for the rest of the year have been wiped clean, I will have ultimate flexibility!) Sound good? If you’d rather just wait and see, and contact me once things become clear, that’s fine, too. This has definitely been a growing experience in letting go of planning, control, and A-retentive tendencies!

From the bottom of my heart…I miss you all so much. I feel privileged that I have been able to be there for my family during this difficult time, but a big piece of me has been missing since I’ve had to put aside my camera. I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t feel lost in all of this. I can’t wait for the day when we can meet again safely and comfortably and we can catch up, friends. Thank you for sticking with me through this. I can’t wait to see your smiling faces again soon.