I wish I could put into words exactly why this event felt so special to be involved in, but I can't. I haven’t been speechless from a shoot in a while, but this one got me. It was such an awesome experience being included in Henry’s Bar Mitzvah a few weeks back in Sedona. I was introduced to Henry's mother through another client (who is on my calendar to work with at the end of March). That was the first humbling moment. I hadn't even worked with her yet and she was thinking to refer me to her friends. I connected with Christina, Henry's mother, via email and worked out some details. What I was most concerned about was being as respectful as possible to the ceremony. My siblings and I weren't raised with any religious preference, but a few of my brother's friends were Jewish and invited us to their Bar Mitzvah's but obviously it's been quite a while since I attended one!
I asked if there were any boundaries on where I could stand and if I could use flash. My only experience shooting a religious-based event was a Catholic wedding in a Catholic church some time ago. In Catholic weddings, there are boundaries on where the photographer can stand and oftentimes they prefer you don't use flash in the church. Christina shared that their group was very relaxed - she was absolutely spot-on with that description. Everyone in Christina's family was so welcoming and the rabbi even took a moment at the beginning of the ceremony to introduce me as the photographer saying, “Jess is here with us today and her light is immediately noticeable. We’re so glad she’s here.”
I also haven't been around many religious events since having been on my own journey of spiritual exploration, so observing this ceremony and learning about the beliefs, practices and perspectives was a really powerful experience of its own. It was a really existential position to be in and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment.
I’ve been especially emotional and grateful lately for all the communities I’ve been a guest in and the kindness I’ve been shown. This event made me feel that tenfold. Even though I'm there on the job, so often I leave events like this feeling like I spent time with my own family. Now that this digital album has been delivered to Christina's family I can only hope my camera helped capture this day authentically and honored it the way it deserved.
Driving away from this photoshoot I was in a complete state of peace and gratitude. Driving back up the switchbacks from Sedona I thought, "This could be all of my Monday's. This could be how I feel every day after work. This is how I should feel. Photography is freedom." For those of you who I don't see often, my conversations lately have been heavy with the dissatisfaction of my day job. I've been taking step after step in my photography business with an increasing hope and belief that one day I will be able to completely support myself with my photography. I'm getting closer but am working through a lot of years of self-doubt, societal expectations and denying myself the option of even looking at this as a legitimate option. Each time you share my photos, drop my name in conversation or book me for a photoshoot it breathes belief into me and helps me make this dream a reality. Thank you for believing in me all along while I was having trouble believing in myself.
"Can we say FLEXIBLE, PROFESSIONAL, MINDFUL and SPEEDY? And honestly let’s face it, for a super affordable price—all images included. Jess rose the bar on what a photographer should be. She captured our vibe without me micromanaging. Forever thankful." - Dr. Christina R.