Seeing With Different Eyes...

June 29, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

"Hi Jen,  We got the pictures.  We really weren't interested in black and white photos and there was one with my eyes closed, one with the top of my head cut off and one with Bill hiding behind me.  We were wondering if there were any better ones (close ups) of me or Bill from the indoor shots or other outdoor shots.  There were several we really liked, but we were hoping for a few more."

(no black and whites)


(eyes closed)


(top of head cut off)




This is not the kind of reaction you want from a client.


The photos were for their adult children, as a Christmas gift.  Jane (the wife) booked the shoot.  She let me know ahead of time that Bill (her husband) was going through cancer treatment.  She asked if I could Photoshop the scars and spots on his head.  


It was perfect weather.  We went to a park by the lake.  It was a really fun shoot!  I had only been doing portraits for maybe a year, so I was still learning.  But I thought it went well and the pics were great.


Then I got the email.  I was horrified.  I'd never had a client complain.  I showed the photos to my husband and a fellow photographer, and they said the photos were wonderful.


So I emailed Jane and asked her to do something.  I asked her to show the photos to their children.  Because I knew those adult kids would love them.  

A few days later I got an email from Jane, asking me to call her.  I was at work (my day job) but I found an empty office and called her.  I was prepared for the worst.

She said she was calling to apologize.  She showed her kids the photos and they loved them.  They loved the candid shots, the relaxed and happy looks on their faces.  That these pics were so much better than a boring Sears portrait.

So Jane and Bill went back and looked at the photos again.  But this time, with "different eyes" as she put it.  Once they weren't expecting to see a traditional department store portrait, they loved the photos!!!

So of course I started crying (happy tears) and told her I had to hang up but would email soon.

I wrote:

"I wanted to thank you for taking the time to work with me to understand your first reaction to the photos.  And thank you both for going back and looking at the photos a 2nd time, with an open mind (and heart.)  That was such a gift to me.  I feel like you helped me grow as a photographer."

I think about them a lot.  And I 



Cleveland RNC 2016- (That Time I Played Photojournalist)

April 02, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

I had no reason to be downtown for the RNC.  I'm not a reporter or protester.  And certainly NOT a fan of Trump.  But I love Cleveland, I find politics interesting, and I believe in freedom of speech.  I wanted to see how my town handle the convention.  I wanted to see if protesters would be peaceful and police helpful.  And I wanted to take photos of everything.

My first trip downtown was Tuesday.  I spent the afternoon around Public Square.  There were speakers scheduled throughout the day.  People there to voice their opposition to Trump, the police, the RNC, anti-abortionists, Westboro Baptists, and an array of peaceful activists.

It was shocking to see so many police officers, from all over the country.  Along with military people, bomb sniffing dogs, cops on bikes and horses.  So many guns.  The next big shock was the number of news crews and photojournalists.  When I arrived, there were more cameras than actual protesters.  It was fun to watch them running around to find anyone slightly interesting to interview.

My dream job is now photojournalist.


Where The Camera Takes Me...

April 02, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

New Studio Friends(L-R) Terrence Spivey, Peter Lawson Jones and Harold Crawford


Photography has taken me many places and introduced me to many people.  A few weeks back I found myself with 3 pretty amazing people in my studio.

You can read about each of them here:

Terrence Spivey

Harold Crawford

Peter Lawson Jones


Terrence is bringing a theatre program to Shore Cultural Centre.  He was at karamu House in Cleveland for 13 years.  Harold calls himself a "costume director".  Peter is a former county commissioner turned actor.

I'm going to collaborate with Terrence and Harold on a series of portraits of actors in classic black theatre roles.  I'm learning so much about theatre, as well as just getting to know some really interesting people!

Marianna & Nick's Wedding- Snow In April

September 20, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Bridal Party PortraitBridal Party Portrait at Cleveland Public Library

I've known Marianna for a few years.  We've worked together, gotten to know each other, and have gone through so many personal and professional changes.  Nick and Marianna were the first people to buy one of my large canvas art prints. 

When they got engaged, they asked me to shoot their wedding and I was so excited.  They both have large families, and the wedding planning began right away.  They had so many wonderful ideas, including doing a butterfly release as a way to pay a simple tribute family members who have passed away.

But no one expected snow in April.

The ceremony at La Malfa was beautiful.  The bride was glowing and her uncle walked her down the aisle.  There was much laughter and tears, the happy kind.

After the ceremony everyone gathered outside with the little boxes containing butterflies.  But it was so cold and they didn't want to come out of their little boxes.  I looked around to try and figure out a better spot, but it was just too cold.  I worried that the tribute to lost loved ones would end in a mass of dead butterflies.

Suddenly the manager of the venue came running out and told us to come inside and bring the butterflies in!  Everyone came inside and the butterflies started to emerge from their little boxes.  They flew around the party center and the manager just laughed and mentioned how it added an element of "nature" to the place.


Due to the last minute snowy weather, we had to find a place to shoot indoors.  A friend suggested the Cleveland Public Library.  I had no idea how beautiful it was inside!  So many amazing spots to shoot!


And a snowy downtown day makes for a lovely backdrop!

The reception was amazing!  So many friends and family.  And the mother of the groom made sure I sat down and eat dinner.  I love working with big families!  So much fun getting to know everyone.


It was a long day, over 12 hours.  I got 10,000 steps on my FitBit and the reception wasn't even over!


I bet Nick and Marianna got way more steps in on their big day.  They were still on the dance floor as I was packing up my gear!

​Lovely couple, lovely wedding...


See all their pics HERE


June 23, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

I met Stacy at OSU, randomly assigned roommates, 18 years old.  We became close friends early on.  I was there when she met her future husband, I was her bridesmaid at her wedding. 


I moved back to Cleveland for a time, and we lost touch for a year or 2.  When I moved back to Columbus, we eventually met up and went right back to being friends.  The only difference is that she's just had a baby.


I met Henry when he was a few weeks old.  Stacy was my first friend to have a baby.  When she divorced Henry's dad, we became roommates.  Having a  1 1/2 year old roommate is... surreal.  Lisa Ann joined us.  3 adult women in their mid 20's and a toddler.  Of course there are pics of him in earrings and makeup.


Henry and my dog Miles became fast friends.  Henry wanted to do everything Miles did.  Including drinking water off a dirty slip-n-slide.  They would play and wrestle and Miles was always gentle.  When we told Henry we were having hot dogs for dinner he cried and said, "I don't want to eat Miles!"


We lived together for a year and a half.  Then the 3 adult women were ready to get their own apartments, start new chapters in their lives.


Henry and Stacy would visit Cleveland over the years.  He swam in my mom's pool, tried Korean bubble tea (did NOT like it) and got to see his old buddy Miles.  I have a life sized replica doll of Henry that his mom made in art school.  He's been with me for years.

The last time I saw him was at my art show in 2015.  I was excited to give him a print of some weird graffiti.  He no longer went by Henry, but preferred Drix or Hendrix.

His teenage years were rough.  He battled depression and bipolar disorder.  I just kept hoping that his mom could find the right doctor, the right therapist, the right medicine.  And boy, did she try.  And Henry fought hard.  He had his art and music, his dog, and a little sister who adored him.  But on June 15th, he stopped fighting and took his own life.

I'll let his mom tell you about him:


"I do not often talk about my son on Facebook. I am very proud of him, but at 21 considered him to be the storyteller of his own life.


He would want you to know he was a brilliant musician whose breadth of inspiration reached from Nick Cave to Killer Mike to Japanese Jazz to Nina Simone.

He would want you to know he was eloquent and a bit reckless like his favorite writer Hunter S Thompson.


He would want you to know that Depression and BiPolar Disorder are formidable Life Game Bosses, and that each round he fought with them took a bit from him he could not somehow find again.  


Hey, things don't always make sense. This, the end of his story and the way he wrote it, makes so little sense to me and those who loved him. But as Ron Swanson would say, "I Regret Nothing. The End."

I know what you're about, Son."



He loved this quote:


He was also very funny:


He was also a gifted musician.  Check out his music:  HERE


All the photos I've taken, along with pics from his Uncle John and other friends:




I dearly loved this boy.  He wasn't a son to me.  He was just "my Henry".

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