I don’t remember many specifics of July if I’m honest. Days were made full of activities to ward off boredom. Water was a constant companion due to the temperatures outside, and this mama joined a gym with an amazing nursery to help with the ever delicate mental/emotional wellbeing. I enjoy the one on one time I have with Poppy when Isla is at school during the year, but it’s nice being able to take both girls on morning trips here and there. And if I was really on my A-game, getting to go do those trips with friends. Botanica and all of the splash parks were definitely among the most popular destinations.
I hope you enjoy this splash of summer in these winter months.
Welcome to the second installment of my self-portrait project! This week’s guidance for our self-portrait was finding stillness in the midst of the fullness of life.
When nap time rolls around for my girls, I immediately go into me time. Actually, I am downright greedy about it. I put my phone on silent, and for the most part I use this time to do only things I want to do. Whether I work on my photography, take a class online, read a book, take a bath, exercise, crafts, whatever. As long as I am enjoying it, that’s what I am doing. I realize this sounds like crazy talk to many moms out there, because how do I get anything done, right? Well, honestly, I don’t. I kind of scrape by with the minimum effort in all the “house” things that I don’t enjoy doing.
Nap time is where I often find my stillness. I don’t necessarily stop and meditate (though I am trying to do that everyday), but the act of doing something creative or enjoying something someone else created slows me down. I take time to enjoy that, which is around me. I light a candle and stop to notice the aroma. I see the patterns of the afternoon light streaking through my bedroom windows. I notice how much I love certain combinations of color. I feel the tingly warm water of the bath on skin as the tension washes away.
I used to feel selfish for my lack of productivity during nap times. But I know that even though it looks like I’m doing nothing, I’m actually doing something very good for my soul. When I take time to fill my cup I love my life and those around me so much more.
Regarding the portrait, I set up a scene of me reading some books I’m loving right now: “Wearing God” by Lauren Winner and “The Secret Lives of Color” by Kassia St. Clair. During the shoot I noticed that the sunlight was hitting the lens of my camera just right so that it created this dreamy, sunny, wonderfulness. And maybe these images allow for a better representation of what it feels like to be quiet and present in the midst of all the busy.
June was an interesting month. It was full of literal mountain top highs followed by some scary, dark lows.
Josh and I went on a long weekend vacation to Park City, UT to celebrate our anniversary. We honestly only picked it because there was space available, and it was a direct flight. I never would have guessed that it would end up ranking among my top memories of this past year. We had days full of adventure, exploring, and some downtime, too. We even (rather stupidly) rode in a bobsled! Utah now holds a very special place in my heart, and our morning at Guardsman Pass and Blood Lake are etched in my memory
There’s no need to go into detail, but not long after that trip I just wasn’t good or me. I was in a bad mental space. I’m surprised I have any pictures of this month at all after our trip, but I’m glad for the ones I did shoot. They show that the light existed in the darkness all along.
Sorry for the downer post, but it’s my truth.
I was very flattered and maybe a bit surprised when I was invited to be a part of a yearlong project of self-portraits done weekly. What lured me in was the purpose behind the project. That in doing this I am exercising nurturing self-care, acceptance, and introspection when those things can easily be lost in day-to-day life.
Forgive me for skipping details, but I found an incredible mind body therapist and have been seeing her since September. Whether you call it an issue, burden, trauma, baggage, or any other variation upon that theme, we all have it. Some more profound than others. Some heavier than others. Some so old and deeply hidden that we don’t even know it’s there. This ended up being the case for me, and I was so surprised. But sessions after session unearthed this pain, and not only have I begun to remember and feel it profoundly, but to see it’s reach in my beliefs and behavior.
This trauma stunted part of my emotional development: the part that deals with all of the negative feelings. I did not learn how to feel negative feelings in any kind of healthy way. As a 33-year-old woman, I am just now learning how to not be swept away, but to stay present when anger, frustration, sadness, or whatever it may be happens. And in staying present, that those feelings wash through you verses being stuck and harbored inside. But being late to the game is most certainly better than never.
So when I’ve thought through goals for this year (which I may write about in more depth later) and this project, the word I have clearly in my mind is “heal.”
heal verb \ˈhēl \
1a: to make free from injury or disease: to make sound or whole
b: to make well again : to restore to health
2a: to cause (an undesirable condition) to be overcome
b: to patch up or correct (a breach or division)
3: to restore to original purity or integrity
Healing is a multifaceted journey, and I’ve been implementing many tools to help me. One of these tools is visual meditation. I’ve meditated on places I’ve been, places I haven’t been, being embraced by a mothering God, inhaling color, and being filled with liquid sunshine. This morning a saw something I’d never seen before in our house. Our front doors are pebbled instead of solid glass, and something about that pebbled glass along with the perfect angle of sunlight made the most magnificent display of strips of uniting rays of light. This light felt special, like a gift just for me. When I saw this beautiful, glowing, multifaceted light, I knew this would be a stunning representation of my healing journey.
I don’t think most of my posts will be so long winded, but since this is the beginning I wanted to give it enough depth and understanding so that if you feel so led you can follow me in this journey.
Oh May, you marvelous month. In real time May felt jammed packed with school performances, dance recitals, and with this that and the other things, but looking through these photographs don’t make me feel over-scheduled or rushed. They make me feel grateful for so many sweet moments with family and friends. The month of May brought warmer weather, more trips to the farmers market, summer water activities, a visit from my Kentucky family, and a lot more time with the girls. Simple moments often make for my favorite pictures. There is a picture of Isla and Poppy snacking on some watermelon at the pool, and it’s one of my favorite pictures of them of all time.
With almost all of these pictures I was just shooting with a simple Pentax K1000 35mm film camera. It’s lightweight, compact, easy to tote around, and because it’s film I stay right in the moment with those I’m with. No overshooting, no scrolling through what I took to see if I got a good enough shot. It’s so completely satisfying. Oh! and when you get your film scans delivered in your email? It feels like Christmas morning.
Well, I think I waxed eloquently enough about my love of film. Enjoy.
Welcome to my first post all about my journey into film photography! Oh the lure of film…. it struck me way back when light and airy photography was the newest trend. Currently the trend is dark, contrasty, and desaturated so clearly this was awhile ago. Why film? Nostalgia plays a part for sure, but primarily the depth and beauty of the colors is unmatched. And as a highly sentimental person, the dreamy quality it gives an image hit me right in the heart strings. Also, I love photography and learning is fun; so why not try to learn a new medium of photography?
Why did it take me so long to learn? Well, to put it simply, I fear failure. Yep, I would have rather not learn than failed at it. How logically is that? Not at all, so I’m glad that I was encouraged to just try. As the actress Jameela Jamil says “trying is winning and everything else is just cake.”
I’m actually really pleased with my first rolls of film. Are they perfect? Far from it. In typical film newbie fashion, I under-exposed left and right which causes grain and muddy colors. I also had to get used to focusing manually which is harder than it sounds, but when I nailed it *Italian hand gesture* it was amazing! Lastly, I quickly realized that selecting a good film lab is just as important as taking good pictures.
It’s fun to go back through these to see how far I’ve come in eight short months, but also to see those two precious girls grow. My poor bittersweet mama heart. I’ll be sharing more of my film learning curve from the last eight months so check back here for more posts!
If you follow my instagram, you may have heard about my journey into film. I had been dying to learn film for years and years, but ever the perfectionist I was too timid to try (#lifestory). After some encouragement from fellow photographers who understood the medium at The Family Narrative retreat, I bit the bullet and just started shooting and learning. I am so so glad I did. It has been life giving in ways that I did not foresee artistically and personally.
Someday soon I’d like to share those initial rolls of film with you. They are jam packed with my day to day life and moments with friends and are very specially to me. However, I really wanted to try client-type work on film so I set up a session with a new mom, Mallory, and her adorable little lady, Nova. The result was magic, and I am so proud of what we created together. I have other sessions I’ve been working on and dreaming up, but for now I’d love to share with you my first newborn session on film. Enjoy!
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about photography and me, more specifically my relationship with my photography business. I am a photographer. I have been one seriously for the last 8 years, and more truthfully I have been one for much longer than that just not with a fancy camera. I have grown my skill to a place that I am proud of, and I love that my excitement and passion for it continues to grow. It feels like a very natural extension of myself, and to not do it would feel like losing one of my senses.
When one is a photographer, it is assumed that you have a business, and I just rolled with that assumption. However, I have never fallen comfortably into the role of a businesswoman, and having a business and marketing myself as a business isn’t a natural fit. That is not a knock against businesswomen. I have mad respect for those who do it, because there is no way to half-ass your way into a successful business. While I do not love the business side of having a photography business, I love taking pictures for people. I can think of no greater gift than to capture the love, connection, and intention of a period of time for a family/couple/person/project into images and hand that back over to them. Truly, it feels like holy work.
There is no need for me as a family photographer in this world. There seems to be approximately 5 million photographers in Wichita alone and our population is just under 400,000 people. Trying to sell myself to people feels so bad, and it feeds into old, not-quite-healed wounds of desiring acceptance and fearing rejection. When the market is as flooded as it is, you’re not exactly a business-type, and you feel uncomfortable trying to convince people to hire you it is all but a guarantee that you are not going to be “accepted” often and will be “rejected” more times than not.
“Just don’t have a business and shoot whatever you like,” I hear you saying. Yes, I’ve thought of that. That is partly why I have created my new instagram account (@jillnicolecurated) to encourage me to create whatever it is I want to create (like the pictures in this post). But even that doesn’t feel quite right. Is it because I want to be recognized as a photographer? Is it because I desire to be “successful”? Is it because you can only shoot your kids so much without getting bored, and it can be hard to convince people to let them take your picture “just for fun”? I would guess it’s probably a mix of all of those things. Not only that, but I love shooting families.
So where does that leave me? A tentative and not particularly disciplined “business owner” who wants to have success because she’s passionate about what she is selling. I’m thinking of taking a break from calling myself a photography business to see how that feels and to see what would come of it. What would I create if I weren’t a “business”? Would I figure out my niche? Would I take things in a totally different direction? Am I just being a quitter? I’m not sure of any of those things. I guess I’ll have to wait and see.
When it comes to me in my skin, I have two main thought patterns. My obvious favorite is when I look and find the beauty, strengths, and abilities I possess. Duh? Right? Acceptance and grace, it always feels good. Never have I felt this more strongly than after giving birth. I floated around postpartum feeling like a kickass queen: “LOOK at what my body did!” Then there’s the other thought pattern, one of disgust and disapproval. Viewing my body as something that needs to be above all else, visually and socially acceptable. Deep smile lines, saggy/flabby thighs, small hooded eyes… unacceptable. I would do everything in my power to change them– to “fix” them– and believed that I could not be acceptable as a whole until these grievances could be rectified.
I really like to swing the full spectrum of emotions, don’t I?
The older I get the less I care on what society has in mind for us women. However, I am and forever will be a recovering perfectionist. Sometimes that drive toward perfection takes over, and I can become obsessed about this, that, and the other thing. But more times than not I try to appreciate my body/face/self for what it is. Mine. Healthy. Capable.
Never in a million years would I imagine myself willingly taking self-portraits WEEKLY much less to find such creativity and inspiration in them. Choosing to let ideas just happen, and to be curious without expectations. I do not love every picture I take, but I don’t love every picture I take of anyone. Why should I be any different? I know women find it uncomfortable to put themselves in front of the camera. But I posit that if we bump up against ourselves time and again in pictures or otherwise, and we view them with the framework of seeing all that we are versus all that we are not we might begin to like what we see a whole lot more. And nothing has changed but our minds.
If you follow me on Instagram (which you totally should, I post often), you know that for most of this year I have challenged myself with taking a self-portrait every week. With anything that is constrained, you’re forced to look for creativity in new ways. It could be movement, color, emotion, light, subject matter, etc. While this has been a growing and expressive outlet for me, occasionally I would love to use this as a way to share things that I enjoy with you. First up, RMS Beauty.
Lipstick is my secret weapon. It helps me become whatever I feel like being at that time. Chic. Badass. Girly. Tough. Unstoppable. Bold.
Almost all of my makeup is by the brand RMS Beauty created by a veteran makeup artist Rose Marie Swift. After learning that many who work in the beauty industry suffer from medical conditions due to the toxins often found in cosmetics, she decided to make beauty healthy with cosmetics that are not only non-toxic and organic but healing and rejuvenating. I have been using RMS Beauty for over 5 years, and I am the biggest fan. If ever I get a compliment of my glowing skin and lipstick, I’m quick to tell them my secret weapons.
I like my makeup to look fresh and natural with the occasional pop of lip color. Here are some of my favorites of this fantastic brand:
The Uncover Up with the foundation brush – One of my very first purchases, and I’ve never strayed. Depending on how much sun I’ve had I use either the “11” or the “22”
Luminizer X Quad – I started with the original Luminizer, but it’s fun to have options, right?
Buriti Bronzer – Perfectly sunkissed, and I’ve read you can use it for contouring if you’re into that.
Lip2Cheek – I am addicted, but my all time favorites are “demure” for blush and “beloved” for a bright red lip.
Lip Shine – My lips are my favorite feature so I love a good pop of color accentuate them. Try “sublime” for a little pop, and “sacred” for a big pop.
Vintage Cake Liner – On the very rare occasion that I use eyeliner, this is my absolute favorite.
I am in no ways a beauty or makeup expert, but I’ve hope you’ve enjoyed this little something different. Go check RMS Beauty out, and if you love it tell your friends.