Blooming — My Artistic Journey with The Unraveled Academy

As with anything, it is important to continually further your education and to rehearse your skills…

This Spring, I have been participating in a three-week online workshop with The Unraveled Academy. For our second week of the course, we were given a series of questions to answer and then challenged to dream up and style a masterpiece photoshoot, just for ourselves.

Here is my submission for the Becoming Unraveled Workshop and the answers to my questions. My inspiration was to be truly honest. I ask my clients to do this for me all of the time, so I should have to do it too.

If I dug deep, I already knew what being truly honest was for me. Before I knew it, I had foraged a small bouquet and was visiting my Dad’s headstone, for the first time at my own will.

Self-Portraits, for Dad.

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Why are you an Artist?

I think that I have an open mind and heart that accepts all kinds of people and their circumstances. I like to think that others can sense this about me and feel like they can be open to sharing their story. Sometimes I think too much about all of the bad things happening in the world and working with people helps me feel like I am doing something to make it a better place (or at least more kind and more accepting of diversity place) … one photo shoot at a time. 

Why do you create art?

It feels good to create something with someone. A portrait session is a special occasion where people get to share their true selves. We have created a space where it is ok to be open and explore whatever emotions come up. Sometimes people need something that is fun and silly and sometimes they turn out more serious, it’s never the same.

Who or what is part of your dream photoshoot?

Somebody with a story close to their heart that wants to use Photography to explore/validate it. 

Where will this happen?

A meaningful space for them, either in their home or outside somewhere that resonates with them.

What kind of connections are you hoping to make?

I hope they can forget I am there taking their photo and that they turn inside to feel their feelings or to enjoy themselves. Or they use a photo session to connect with somebody they love, like friends, a partner, or their family. 

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Alopecia Awareness with Brooke

The hardest step she ever took was to blindly trust in who she was.

— Atticus

I am going to keep this writing short and sweet because I could go on and on about how beautiful and full of light this woman is. My friend, Brooke, has been dealing with Alopecia — an auto-immune disease that attacks the hair follicles — her whole life. This year, Brooke’s alopecia has changed from being manageable, to losing chunks of hair every day, to finally taking control and shaving all of it off. 

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It was horrible watching it slowly fall out and having to constantly sweep it up off the floor. My husband helped me shave it off and it felt so good.

For somebody to gracefully take a big life change and choose to fully embrace it is no small triumph. It takes incredible strength on the inside and spectacular support system on the outside, which Brooke kept saying she is so thankful to have.

Brooke explained to me that she has many friends and family who have been there for her throughout her journey, but has not been able to find many other support resources specific to Alopecia here in the Kootenays… so she started her own.

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Brooke literally said the words: I think that this was meant to happen to me and be what I do in life.

We talked about how having no hair was a big adjustment at first, but now feels quite liberating and comes with its own perks. We laughed about how she didn’t have to worry during the lice outbreak in one of the schools she was studying in or how simple her morning routine has become.

I know that whatever comes her way, Brooke will always see it as an opportunity to grow and help others.

Thank you for thinking of and trusting me for your photos Brooke, it was truly my pleasure ❤︎

Brooke has started a Facebook group for anybody with alopecia looking to join a safe and supportive community. Click this link to visit!

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Brooke has started a Facebook group for anybody with alopecia looking to join a safe and supportive community. Click this link to visit!

 

FEAR of Photography — Honest thoughts with Jena Lee Photographs

I will get photos done when __Insert your perceived flaw here___.

This post is for women and men, adults and children, and anybody who has ever ducked out from in front of the camera or felt insecure about having their photo taken.

Doing those things is perfectly normal. As a photographer, I know that I am asking a lot from you. I want you to be vulnerable and have that documented forever and that is scary.

I know that fears, body insecurities, shakey self-esteem, jiggly thighs, frizzy hair, big noses, chins that do that thing when you smile too big, other squishy body parts, dopey feet, freckles, not enough freckles, broken nails, squinty eyes, big cheeks, small cheeks, poofy eyebrows, thin eyebrows, or unibrows are all terrifying reasons not to get in front of the camera for most people. I have had enough experience working with people as a photographer to tell you with two thousand percent honesty: your flaws are the reason you should get in front of the camera.

It breaks my heart at the number of people I hear from that won’t get their photograph taken because they think they are too heavy, too skinny, their hair isn’t long enough, they’re waiting until after their diet, they want new clothes first, they hate their arms, their legs aren’t the right size, they don’t like their smile, the list goes on.

The sheer volume of put-downs I hear people say about themselves is astounding. One time a woman said she isn’t that beautiful so she didn’t want her face to be in too many of the photos. Many people only agree to be in a photograph if they can be in the back so their body is hidden. I have had hundreds of people ask if I can photoshop 10 pounds off of them. It’s not even just adults, it’s children too. One time an 8-year-old girl told me that she didn’t want her photo taken because she thinks she is hideous.

Does that break your heart as much as it does mine?

Last weekend, my family and I went to the Fearless Women’s Summit in Calgary, Alberta. All of it was amazing and inspirational but one quote stuck with me:

Would you say your own insecurities about your best friend or children?

Imagine telling your best friend she shouldn’t get her photo done because her nose is too big. That sounds ridiculous. Say that out loud right now and it sounds even more silly. Yet we are so quick to be hard and judgemental about ourselves. It’s time for that to end.

Your feelings are legitimate but my goal as your photographer is to help you leave them behind. Kick them to the curb. Throw them to the wind. Let’s say it again: your flaws are the reason you should get in front of the camera. They are what makes you, you. They are the best part of you. They are what others love most about you. Your flaws make you different and unique and it’s time to own them. Right meow.

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I’ll go first.

My insecurity is my hair. It’s thin and lifeless and sometimes frizzy. In photography school, I felt like my portraits would always look nicer if I just had better hair.

But I don’t. And I am sure as heck not going to not have photos of myself because of my hair. I decided a long time ago to stop worrying about it and stop letting it have control over me. Now I let it do what it wants to and sometimes its good and sometimes its bad, but it sure feels wonderful not to worry about it.

Then, last week, I got in front of the camera and tried to be myself. Myself is kind of shy, loves plants, loves to create, enjoys working with people and lives for connection. Here is all of that in some photos of me that make me feel happy. Anybody can have this experience. It’s not always easy, but growth as a person is often uncomfortable.

Here is my message to you: Don’t miss out on photos with friends/family/pets because of a superficial insecurity. Get in there and be different and be you. This is my push to you to own your flaws, starting today.

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Available Jena Lee Photographs sessions include Your Baby’s First Year photography bundles and Family Connection Sessions.

Jena LaRoy completed her Professional Photography Diploma at Langara Collge (Vancouver B.C., 2017) and returned to her hometown Golden British Columbia to launch her photography business (2017). Jena Lee Photographs offers a full-service photographic experience of personalized photography sessions and custom professional printing and framing services. Serving the East Kootenay and Rocky Mountain areas of British-Columbia.

Little Unicorn Swaddlers for you, from Jena Lee Photographs.

There is a little bit of a promotion going on at Jena Lee Photographs (which you may have seen if you already are following along on Instagram).

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As part of the new Your Baby’s’ First Year photography bundles — more info. about them here — Jena Lee Photographs is including one of these beautiful 100% organic cotton Little Unicorn swaddlers when you book your photography sessions.

On a first come first serve basis, you can choose one of these Little Unicorn swaddlers to wrap your new baby in for your photography session with Jena Lee Photographs. This offer is available only for Your Baby’s First Year bundles, where you get to bundle two or more photography sessions for ultimate value and to perfectly preserve your first year together.

Available sessions include: Maternity – Fresh 48 – Newborn – 3 Month – 6 Month – 9 Month – One Year Birthday

 

If there is a particular swaddler that you love, make sure to act fast and guarantee your blanket and your spot with Jena Lee Photographs. I can’t wait to hear from you ❤︎

 Book Now

Your Baby’s First Year — Jena Lee Photographs, Golden B.C.

Select three or more occasions to document you and your baby’s first year together.

As a new parent, you already have a million things and questions running through your brain. Learning how to breastfeed or wondering about bottle feeding, being unsure of how much crying is within normal, adding up the few hours you slept last night, trying to figure out if you have ever loved anything so much before …

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Before you know it, you will be feeding them with ease, getting into the swing of things, and sharing your experiences with other new parents. Before you know it, a year will go by and they will start walking and talking. Then you will have a toddler, a child, a teenager, and you will lovingly hold on to the sweet distant memories of them squeezing your finger with their tiny hand. 

Jena Lee Photographs wants to help you preserve your favourite moments together forever and is pleased to introduce Your Baby’s First Year photography bundles. Available photography sessions include Maternity, Fresh 48 (first 48 hours of life), Newborn, 3-Month, 6-Month, 9-Month, and One Year Birthday. 

Available sessions include: Maternity – Fresh 48 – 3 Month – 6 Month – 9 Month – One Year Birthday

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Always remember your first moments with a Fresh 48 session and capture their growing personality with lifestyle photography throughout the year. You can build an heirloom album, a custom coffee table book, or a signature wall collage to display your photographs and enjoy them forever.

Jena Lee Photographs is located in Golden BC and also serves Invermere, Banff, and Canmore areas. Get in touch for more information about Your Baby’s First Year bundles today.

 Book Now

Jena Lee Photographs’ Beautiful Line of CORE Print + Display Products

If you have followed along with any of my social media accounts (Facebook or Instagram), you know that I am thrilled to offer my clients a beautiful line and high-quality print products for them to choose from to display their new photos. Everyone loves the experience of looking through the books, albums, and prints and then choosing their favourite core product for displaying in their home. 

Think about the last time you looked through your parent’s old photo albums or flipped the pages of the book you printed from your last family vacation. Each photo is looked at with intention and a smile. Perhaps some brought on laughter from an old memory or caused tears from remembering a lost loved one. This is the way photographs were originally meant to be enjoyed, physically in real life for you to look at. Clicking through images online just doesn’t bring the same joy and nostalgia the way printed photographs do.

Don’t get me wrong, Jena Lee Photographs is not anti-digital photography. I am pro social-media, pro iPhone-photography, pro digital photos. In fact, Jena Lee Photographs includes a watermarked social-media image with every printed image purchased — because if you are anything like me, you love sharing your images online with friends and family. Document your images however in whichever way is best for you, just make sure you print them out too!

… and when you are ready to have your most cherished memories professionally photographed, we will work together to choose which print products are the right one for you and your home.

Without further ado, I am happy to introduce Jena Lee Photographs’ carefully selected line of Core Products:

Leather or Linen Heirloom Album 

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This album is incredible. Its heavy weight sits comfortably in your hands while also speaking towards its quality and durability. The Heirloom Album comes with thick sturdy pages that lay flat on the table and are each custom designed by hand.

There are a variety of luxurious linens and leathers to choose from. You can match your home or pick a colour that catches your eye. The leather or linen Heirloom Album is available for all photography sessions and can hold between 20-50 images — that’s enough room to include every image, in case you love them all.

Hardcover Coffee Table Book

The Hardcover Coffee Table Book is just as beautiful as the Heirloom Album but offers a bit more subtlety. It can hold all of your images or maybe just a few that you want to keep for yourself. This book is durable, beautiful, and printed with only the highest-quality artisanal papers that are only available through professional labs, so your images will be elegantly preserved forever.

The Hardcover Coffee Table Book comes in a variety of linen colors, can hold up to 50 images and is available for all photography sessions.

Artisanal Wooden Memory Box

If you want something different from a traditional photo album/book, the Artisanal Wooden Memory Box is for you. This is my personal favourite Core Product because it is handmade, unique, and gives you the ability to hold each individual photo in your hands. There are small boxes to display your entire photo session or large boxes that you can continually add to over the years. Each photo is mounted onto 3mm styrene board so that it stands up on its own in the box, ready for you to look at.

Signature Wall Art 

A classic way to display your absolute favourite portraits. All wall art comes ready to hang and can be framed or float mounted (see picture below). Each piece is built to last for generations and is laminated to protect against dust and fingerprints. You can choose to exhibit large statement pieces or you can create a collage that grows with you and your family over time.

I love the print products! How do I get my own?

When you are ready to have your extra-special memories professionally photographed by Jena Lee Photographs, all of these display products will be available for you to choose from plus the line of ‘Add-On Gift Items’ which will be introduced next week.

Your first step to displaying these gorgeous products in your home is to book your photographs with Jena Lee Photographs. There are Lifestyle Family sessions or various newborn/baby sessions available. To start your perfect family photos, leave Jena a message and she will personally get back to you within 2 business days.

I can’t wait to hear from you.

Book Now

Angela + Navy — Six-Month-Old Baby Photography

Angela & Baby Navy Mae

Angela said what every parent says but truly means with their whole heart: “It sounds cliche but I just want her to be happy.”

Navy is one of the happiest six-month-olds ever. Anybody who meets her wants to keep her. I want to keep her, all you have to do is look at her and Navy is thrilled.

“I also want her to go to college and to go through that life experience, meet other people and cultures… I want her to turn out fabulous like her mum!”

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I couldn’t agree more, fabulous is correct. Spending the morning with Angela and Navy was like hanging out with old friends. There were many things to talk about with many baby cuddles in between. It is a true pleasure when someone can speak honestly and openly about themselves and their experiences. Angela has a calm confidence in herself that came through in the stories she shared with me about her life and new experience with her and her partners new baby, Navy.

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Angela explained about her pregnancy with Navy and how she was born breech, which means that she was born bottom first instead of head first. It’s clear that Navy still finds this position quite comfortable and that it is how she prefers to sit. When left on her own, it’s only seconds before Navy has her foot in her mouth or her heels above her head.

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Navy inherited her love for people and being social from her mom and has the busyness and energy of her dad. She inherited her names from family members and is always wrapped in a sentimental sweater or blanket. Her mom explained that she found her voice last week and hasn’t stopped babbling and yelling about things. She likes to grab everything and hold everything, all while continuing to stare into your eyes and smile.

Thank you to Angela for being such a lovely mom and to Navy for being the character that she is. I loved spending the morning with you both xx

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Diane, Emma, Molly & Mac — Family Lifestyle Photography

This was one sweet sister session.

The secret to great family lifestyle photos is to let everyone be themselves. Family dynamics will naturally take over and people will act as they always do. Those are the special moments I watch for: when people are being themselves.

Sisters Emma and Molly planned photos together with their Auntie Di and her dog, Mac, as a surprise Christmas present for the rest of the family. After the Holidays, I was told that everybody was in tears upon receiving their photo gifts. Can you imagine receiving surprise portraits of your beautiful daughters and their auntie as a gift? No doubt there were tears, and no doubt the girls ‘won’ Christmas this year.

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Newborn Family Photographer — Golden, B.C.

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Pamela, Cole & Logan

There were several wonderful things about this session and I wish they could all be this soulful and honest.

It was an early smoky morning in Golden B.C. when I showed up to photograph Pamela, Cole, and their six-week old baby, Logan. They are originally from Golden and came home to visit their parents and escape the city for a few days. Pamela and I are old friends since elementary school and it was special to reconnect over a photography session.

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Pamela and Cole didn’t say if they felt like natural parents, but the way they moved and watched their baby it would seem so. The two of them worked together as a team in a constant sway of snuggling, changing, and feeding little Logan. There were a few moments where the new parents snuck in a quick kiss or hand-hold in between tending to their little one. Everything about Pamela, Cole, and Logan was very real.

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There were no apologies for his tears or fussy moments, there didn’t need to be. These are moments that come and go and you never know when the last time you soothe your little baby will be. My heart swells knowing that Logan is going to grow every day and that Pamela and Cole now have their beautiful memories documented forever and ever.

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For part of their newborn family photography session, Pamela and Cole held their baby in the same spot that they exchanged vows last Summer. I told them to take a moment to really sink into this moment of holding Logan where, only a short time ago, they were committing to becoming a family. The three of them seemed to melt together and hold each other as they thought of where they were at this point in their lives. It might be a year before they come back to this place and Logan will be running around the yard exploring instead of sleeping squished between his parents.

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As I said, it was a session full of honest love. Thank you, Pamela and Cole, for being so open and genuine throughout your newborn family photography session.

Newborn Family Lifestyle Photography is part of Jena Lee Photographs’ Baby’s First Year package. Four photo sessions bundled together to preserve important milestones: Maternity, Newborn (your first 48 hours together), 6-months, and one-year celebration. Choose individual sessions that suit you best or pick all four to preserve your baby’s first year forever.

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I would love to hear from you, leave a comment or hello below!