Category Archives: work schmurk

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The number of times I have pulled up this blog only to close it again without writing is immense.

Why? I do not know.

I blogged sporadically in early 2012, if at all, and after posting the ‘Best in Big D’ pleading to vote I took a hiatus.

From blogging.

From putting myself out there.

From vulnerability.

I won that 2012 competition, but didn’t celebrate it here. 2011′s nomination and subsequent (and surprising!) win was a blessing. What better way for a newly single mom of 3 to support her family while still being available to drive carpool and be available at the drop of a hat (ie, that dreaded call from the school nurse).

2011 carried me through my last few months as a single mom, and the 2012 nomination (and, again, surprising win) swept me into my first year as a newlywed mom and stepmom.

2013′s nomination led to less fanfare, as I worked to find my balance in this new role as a mom to not just my three, but stepmom to his three, with four schools between them and cooking and cleaning and laundry (OH! The laundry. There are no words.).

2013 blessed another local photographer with the honor, and I was able to hunker down and work on perfecting my crockpot skills while navigating four schools worth of conferences, days off, holidays, and (of course) sick calls from the nurse.

2013 also led to an opportunity by way of kismet and good luck, where a design company in Chicago asked for a proposal to shoot magazine covers on assignment, and then ACCEPTED my bid.

Pinch me.

So while I have been on hiatus from this blog, I have certainly NOT given my camera much of a rest. Now, once or twice a month I fly wherever I am told, photograph a family with an incredible story, stay in a hotel (WITH ROOM SERVICE AND NO KIDS AND SOMETIMES THE CURTAINS BLOCK ALL OF THE LIGHT), and say thanks to the road that got me to here.

Our children: Healthy.
Our relationship: I need to hit ‘publish’ really soon, for a very good reason…no need for 3am editing sessions to keep me company
Myself: Adept at crockpots, schedules, matching socks and juggling. Plus, way more organized than I ever thought (with so much more organization still needed)

In other words, Sugar is back.


Best in Big D!

I am so very pinch-me-quick, I-must-be-dreaming honored to have been nominated by the editors of D Magazine for Best Family Photographer in this year’s Best in Big Dcompetition.

Voting is HOURLY through May 29th, and if I’m not already driving you nuts on Twitter and Facebook, I’m sure that’ll soon start to happen ;)

Huge thanks in advance to clients, family, friends and colleagues who are spreading the word and sharing the link (and all the love that goes with it).

I’m honored to be tapped for this, but mostly just proud to stand beside the other finalists, many of whom I’ve known and admired for years. We are all *already* winners (let’s link arms and sing Kumbaya).

If you haven’t already, go here and vote (“Best Family Photographer” is at the VERY END).

As they say…vote often, vote hard, but keep it sweet!



The other side of the lens

A few weeks ago I was able to experience life on the OTHER side of the lens.

At my sessions I am cognizant of the work that goes on behind the scenes as families prepare for their session. I offer a few tips on coordinating clothes, make suggestions as to snacks and the timing of the naps. I know that parents sometimes fight the urge to stare lasers into their child’s soul until they stop clowning around and ACT NORMAL ALREADY. I see my little families leave their session, shaking their heads, telling each other “She didn’t get anything good. I just know she didn’t get anything.”. Then I see the sniffles and happy tears at viewing sessions, the heart clutching, happy swoony sighs of adoration at seeing your babies, your loves, captured exactly as you wanted.

All of that. ALL. OF. THAT. Was what we went through a few weeks ago. Carefully orchestrated clothing coordination became a mad dash to The Gap at the last minute (because hi, I procrastinate). Perfectly well-behaved darlings became Crazy Heathens of Mischief once they realized they could pretty much get away with anything during the session. We left the park and I called a friend, promptly reporting “He didn’t get anything. I know he didn’t get ANYTHING. They were NUTS!”. Then I sat in Matt Nicolosi’s office yesterday, watched the first slide of our session appear on his screen, and immediately began to cry (let’s not even mention the fact that the first slide simply said “The Weintraubs”).

This session began to formulate late last year, which he describes in his blog, and needless to say, to see my children whole and happy, and the joy and we-ARE-going-to-be-okay-ness that emanates from these images, I am reminded of WHY photography is so important to us as photographers, but also? To the parents. Who want to capture their babies looking just the way we KNOW they are. To be able to point to a photograph and tell your child “See? Do you SEE how beautiful you are?”. I watched my littles beam with pride as I scrolled through Matt’s blog today, and I am so thankful for the gift of photography. To be able to give it, and now to receive it…it is indescribable.

I cannot WAIT to have these hanging in my home, evidence of our happiness and joy, that which has been found at the end of a very long and emotional process. Matt, from one photographer of relationships, moments, new lives and old loves to another, I thank you.

We photographers are a lucky breed. And I know so many that have spent as many years as I have, photographing others and simply snapping our own as we go. But after this, I am a convert. We know the photographer side so well…the lighting, the setting, the tricks and post-processing. If you haven’t had been photographed with your children in a few years, I urge you to find a photographer who’s style you love (and in my case, a style that is very different from my own), and give yourself, your children, your family this gift.

And I dare you not to cry at that first slide ;)


Happy Holidays!

Our family holiday card was an absolute last-minute, mommy-got-a-wild-hair, here-kids-eat-some-chocolate, wild and crazy event. Literally, at noon on the Tuesday BEFORE the kids’ class parties (which is always my personal deadline for our cards) I hit up The Gap, wandered around for over an hour cursing the photographer that was making me dress my three kids for a photo shoot (oh, wait…that was ME), and started bribing them from the minute they came home from school.

It had all the makings of a disaster…Coco was exhausted and hadn’t napped. The light was fading FAST. Husband was out of town. Big kids had both had big days at school. And MOST OF ALL-I forgot Coco’s shoes.

But once I’m up against a deadline, we do or die. And so, we did.

Front (several chocolate chips were harmed in the making of these images)
front (2)

Inside (you’ll want to click the image to view it a little larger…loved being able to squeeze in a few details on each kidlet)

Back (because I MUST always include a photo of someone either a) crying, or b) pulling down their pants. This year, we went with crying.).

I LOOOOVED the final card, they arrived in time to hand out that Friday, and the kids declared it the best afternoon of their WHOLE LIVES. LOL

Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone. We hope you have a wonderful night, and an even better year!


Jen and Family


Break out the holiday martini!

Texts started rolling in to my phone late this morning (a few from people I don’t even know…whoever you guys are, THANK YOU!). We made the final cut!

This last round is undeniably the hardest, and the Matilda Jane peeps will announce their pick on Friday.

I think we should send a martini their way as well…that’s one job I *definitely* don’t envy!

Big, huge, sugar-coated thanks for all of your votes, sweet comments, emails and even texts. I am overwhelmed, absolutely humbled, and just pleased as can be that the image I am so incredibly proud of has made it this far.

What we need now is a Miss America type line-up. The uber-talented finalists can hold hands, tell each other “I LOVE YOU!”, and nervously await the final result ;) (What? NO! I haven’t started in on the martinis yet…that’s TOMORROW’s plan).

Regardless of what happens, I have loved every minute of this! It was an honor to be picked, and every image from day 1 was outstanding. Bravo to all 43 of you (and a HUGE hug and pat on the back to the Matilda Jane girls. I have a feeling you’re gonna need it. THANK YOU for putting this together and making it happen. It was obviously a huge project, and I can feel an after-Christmas pout settling in.).