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The Best of 2018 | Jessica Rae, Maine Portrait Photographer

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The Best of 2018 | Jessica Rae, Maine Portrait Photographer

As 2018 came to an end and we rounded the corner into 2019, I took some time off to refuel and recharge. 2018 has been a year of growth, change, and new beginnings for me both personally and professionally. After the hectic holiday season, it all came to a whirlwind of an end, and I found myself needing some serious off-time to reflect, center myself and get back to basics.

At the end of each year I like to go back and look through the sessions I’ve completed. It’s rewarding and assuring to see my work improve over time, and it’s interesting to see how my style and approach may change with the seasons.

The images I’ve chosen to include in this post are not necessarily ones that are technically my best work in terms of lighting, composition, etc. But instead, these images are ones that provoke some real emotion within me, which is something I set out to accomplish more of in 2018. Over the years I’ve slowly drifted away from the overly posed, cookie-cutter images where the subjects are simply standing there and smiling at the camera, and I have naturally gravitated more towards images that show a subjects’ true emotion or making a connection. Now, it’s not that I feel that those cookie-cutter smiling images are bad or wrong, but they don’t “do” as much for me as an artist compared to images that make me FEEL something. I may feel connected to a particular image because of a genuine laugh or smile, a silly expression, a sense of wonder shown on a child’s face, or because I nailed the lighting on an image and I personally felt excited and accomplished in doing so.

When selecting some of these images I struggled with figuring out exactly why I loved them so much; I could acknowledge that yes, the lighting looks great, or overall it was just a beautiful image to look at. But after some thought I found that I loved the image because of a deeper meaning. Some of these photos were taken when I was at a point in my life where I was making big changes and exciting things were happening and I was at a very high point. With others I could think back and hear the song the couple was dancing to at their wedding when I took the image, and could remember the emotion I felt watching this beautiful moment unfold in front of me. But in the end it all came down to authentic and raw emotion. That’s the shit that makes me feel alive inside!

I express it so often, but I truly live a very blessed life; Part of me is afraid that if I say that too many times then it will lose it’s meaning, but it’s just so damn true. I get to witness some beautiful, life-changing moments for a living. People willingly invite me into their lives to document some of the most intimate and vulnerable times of their entire lives. They invest their hard-earned trust and money into me to accurately and beautifully document one of the most pivotal moments in their entire existence. I sit here and struggle to put into words just how much that blows my mind. And I can’t help but sit here and chuckle to myself when I’m reminded that these same people thank ME for what I do, when in reality I owe them all the thanks in the universe. By believing in me, you all have given me such an incredible and meaningful life.

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In 2018 I photographed a total of 179 separate portrait sessions, 14 weddings, and 11 personal projects. Within those portrait sessions I completed 34 newborn sessions, 28 maternity sessions, 57 family sessions, 13 couple’s sessions, 7 boudoir sessions, 5 Fresh 48 sessions, and 5 seniors. I had to double check those numbers. Twice.

In 2018 I traveled 7,288 miles to and from sessions and weddings, and witnessed some of Maine’s most breathtaking places.

I quadrupled my total income from last year, when my ‘realistic’ goal was only to double it.

I excitedly and fearfully opened a new studio in January 2018, only to need to move and upgrade to an even bigger space 8 months later.

I invested time and money into continuing my education and improving my skill set which proved to be the best thing I could have done for my business at the time.

I met countless beautiful, kind humans that have become such an impactful part of my life whether they realize it or not. I have formed so many new friendships with clients and other industry professionals.

To put it simply, I far exceeded my expectations of 2018. For that I owe a very big thank-you to all of my clients that have trusted me to be a part of their lives this year, and to all of my loyal and faithful fans that never shy with their support. It does not go unnoticed and I’m so humbled and grateful that words could never express the exact magnitude of it.

THANK YOU! And let’s kick some more ass together in 2019!

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Lauren | Maine Boudoir Photographer

Two days after I purchased my studio space back in January, I put out a model call for a boudoir session so I could play around with my new space. I've always loved a very simplistic and minimalistic style to boudoir, so I went out and purchased a new airbed, a bedspread, and some white sheer curtains. Voila; I have a makeshift boudoir studio 2 days after getting my new spot! I've certainly improved since, but these will always hold a special place in my heart for being one of my first in my now very FULL studio! <3

 

 

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Finding Inspiration | Maine Portrait Photographer

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Finding Inspiration | Maine Portrait Photographer

Confession time...I've been in a funk.

Or at least that's what I've been calling it in my own mind. I know I'm not alone; I know others have been in this same slump I've found myself in. Especially those who create art or content, or make a living as a creative.

I think as an artist I often struggle with feeling inadequate. I've surrounded myself with things and people that I've intended to help inspire me, only to find that it's all left me feeling like less in the end.

And you know what? I *know* I'm not "less;" but sometimes I simply can't help but feel that way. It's not those "things" and people at fault for making me feel this way instead of being inspired, that's all on me. It's up to me to keep my mind open and heart full, no one else.

Sometimes I sit here and I stare at an image that I already carefully selected and have shared online, but most times, I'll admit, that I'm not staring out of admiration. I'm staring at all of the things I could have and should have done differently.

"I should have feathered my light a little more."
"I should have had her rest her hand there instead of where it is now."
"I should have used a lower aperture in this shot."
"I should have spent 5 more minutes making sure Baby's fingers were straight under her chin."
"I should have used my 85mm for this shot."

I should have. I should have. I should have.

But I didn't. And I can't change those things in the images I've already taken and delivered.

But you know what I can do? Instead of interpreting all of those "should-haves" as weaknesses, I can start seeing them as strengths.

Strengths, because I have the power to take those mistakes and turn them into improvements. Next time I'm going to lower my f-stop to make sure that bokeh is spot on. I'm going to make sure those fingers are as straight as can be. I'm going to be sure that my light is right where it needs to be.

Instead of feeling such a lack of inspiration and "in a funk" because I've failed to find it in the things around me, I'm opening my eyes to see that I truly can be my own inspiration simply by recognizing what I have the power to do going forward. And don't get me wrong, a lot of my daily inspiration and drive lies within my children, my husband, my family and friends, but sometimes you need to find a new spark to ignite the fire within you again.

I sometimes forget that this hobby-turned-career of mine should not be taken for granted. This is a gift that I've been given to change lives with. You know, to some people, this camera in my hands is just that, a camera. But to me and to some, this camera is a life-changer and a memory-maker; It's a time-freezer, and a tear-jerker. It's a straight up super power. And I think I'm just now realizing as I write this... That I had actually forgotten just how much of an impact I can truly make on people's lives with this gift I've been given, including my own.

I've come so far, I just need to open my eyes.

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Rachel, Silvanus + Maya | Feature Friday | Maine Family Photographer

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Rachel, Silvanus + Maya | Feature Friday | Maine Family Photographer

Today's Feature Friday goes out to these cuties. You may have recognized them from previous blog posts or from my Facebook fan page. Since June of 2017 I have photographed them on three different occasions and each time they got more and more fun. 

I love all of my clients, and I like to think I'm the type of person who gets along with everyone. I'm a people person and I like to make people laugh and feel comfortable, and it's pretty typical of meeting clients for a session for the first time that it takes everyone to warm up to each other and feel each other out. But from one of the first times I conversed with Rachel to book her session I knew these guys were "my kind of people." When we met up in June for their first ever family session it was an instant connection!

Since then, I'd like to say we've become friends and follow each other on Facebook, which I LOVE because I get to watch Maya grow and watch the hilarious videos that Silvanus and Rachel post of her. They've had some very exciting things happen in the past year like an engagement and building a brand new home, and I love watching them grow as a family knowing that I've been a small part in creating some of these memories for them.  

I can also safely say that they are hands-down some of my biggest supporters out there. They are always sharing my work, constantly spreading the good word about me and my business, 'liking' all of my posts and commenting kind words. During the holidays I received not only the most beautiful Christmas card with my images on it, but the sweetest heartfelt hand-written note, as well as a gift from them. (I may or may not have cried for 4 whole minutes.) It might not sound like a lot to some, but to me it is everything, and it's honestly the littlest gestures that really make the biggest difference. Not just for helping me bring in business, because yes that is what it comes down to in the end, but it's just knowing that I have real people out in the world that truly support me that keeps the momentum inside of my sometimes-tired heart and soul going. 

So a huge, honest, and heartfelt thank-you goes out to Silvanus, Rachel and Maya. I appreciate all of what you guys do for me and for your constant support of my dreams. I am always looking forward to the next time I get to photograph your beautiful family, especially now in such an exciting season of your lives. <3

 

Rachel's kind words:

"When my fiancé and I had our daughter we knew we needed to find the perfect photographer, capturing memories is something extremely important to us. So we went on a serious search, asking friends, looking at crazy amounts of websites and facebook pages, and looking at reviews we stumbled upon Jessica Rae Photography. As soon as I saw a couple of her photos I was 100% sure that we found the one. We’ve had three shoots with Jess, and every time she was so down to earth and completely went above and beyond to make sure we were comfortable with everything, picked the most gorgeous locations, and delivered photos that we will treasure forever. When you choose Jessica Rae Photography you’re making a decision to own the most gorgeous well timed photos of your family that you’ll ever see. We are so grateful to have found a lifetime friend, and photographer for our family in Jess."

 

Here are some of my favorite images I've been able to photograph of these three in chronological order:

What a bunch of damn cuties. Until next time <3

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The Rideout's Big Announcement | Maine Family Photographer

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The Rideout's Big Announcement | Maine Family Photographer

Back in 2013 I had the pleasure of first meeting Kara, Kenzie, and Kami when I photographed they're gorgeous country wedding. They're really the sweetest little bunch; I remember having such a blast just being in the company of their friends and family on their wedding day. Kara and I became friends on social media and stayed in touch here and there over the years and occasionally chatted online. 

So fast forward about 4 years later, and I receive a message from Kara wanting to book a surprise session for her and her husband Kenzie and daughter Kami. I wasn't quite sure at first what sort of surprise this would be, but she soon told me that she had just found out she was expecting again and wanted to make the announcement to Kenzie and Kami during the session! She asked if that was something I would like to do and I immediately jumped on it! Like, UM YES! HELLO, this is a photographer's dream session! <3

So, we set a date and began figuring out the details on how we would announce it. We came together to make a plan that would surely fool the two of them. And, (spoiler alert) it did!

We started off with shooting like any other family session, then told Kara we could break out the props she brought along with her which were 3 chalkboard signs. On them I asked that they each write what they are thankful for but to keep it a secret and not show anyone else, and then we would one-by-one reveal what they wrote.

 

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Eeeeeeek!<3

 

 

 

Kami went first:

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Then Kenzie went next:

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And then just before the big reveal when Kara showed hers:

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And when Kenzie and Kami turned around...

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Goosebumps and tears, ya'll! It meant so, so much to me to be able to be such a significant part of this event in their lives. I was the first person Kara told and literally no one else knew but the two of us before she announced it to her family. It sessions like these that make what I do SO incredibly special and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

Thank you so much to the Rideout family for including me in two of the biggest, most important parts of your lives. I am so humbled you chose me to do this for you<3

 

Check out the rest of their gallery in sequential order below, you really don't want to miss the 'after' photos!

 

Until next time<3

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Tara + Jacksen | Maine Maternity & Newborn Photographer

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Tara + Jacksen | Maine Maternity & Newborn Photographer

Tara and I met up for her maternity session at a new spot I wanted to check out, not too far from where I live. Her mom and friend tagged along and we headed into the wooded area of this location to find an old stone bridge covered in moss and pine needles, and ever since then it's been one of my favorite spots! 

That evening was absolutely perfect; It was warm out with just a slight breeze and the sun was lighting up this location just perfectly. We walked a little further off the path to find an even better piece to this location; a large stone archway smack dab in the middle of the woods. This thing was giant; and with the warm, glowing rays that shot through the tree tops, it was straight out of a fairy tale. Her golden dress certainly didn't disappoint either. 

Tara rocked her maternity session and was so amazing with trying new things with me, we even got to play around with some smoke bombs!

Check out some of Tara's maternity images below:

It wasn't too long after our maternity session that Jacksen decided he wanted to join us Earthside. I played around with some fall-inspired props and with his gorgeous skin tones, he pulled it off so well. You can see some of his images below:

I say this often but, Jacksen was also such a good sport for his newborn session. Hardly a peep came from him while we were shooting and we finished in almost record time<3

Until next time!

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Heidi, Matt + Maya | Maine Maternity & Newborn Photographer

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Heidi, Matt + Maya | Maine Maternity & Newborn Photographer

Have you ever done that thing where you meet someone new, introduce yourself like you've never met them before, but actually you met them a while ago at a birthday dinner for your brother in law?

No? Just me? 

Well for me that was Heidi and Matt! I can only hope I made a great second-first-impression.

The three of us met in Owl's Head for their session back in August. The weather was perfect and the beaches were pretty empty for the most part, except for a couple of long-lost-lovers making out in the bushes across the way from us which, in my opinion, really set the mood for our romantic beach maternity session. Now thatI think about it, I probably should have left my card with them.

Heidi was a trooper the entire evening; we had to scale down a steep ditch to access the more private area of the beach (which, when we arrived, we discovered it was not so private anymore), she walked barefoot on the rocky sands, got her feet wet in the cold waters, and climbed up into the rocky ledges for some shots. Matt did okay too.

But in all seriousness, Matt and Heidi did awesome! I loved their images and they were fantastic to work with, and they made my job easy that evening. Here are a handful of images from their maternity session:

About 6 weeks later little Maya decided to make her appearance. She was honestly one of the easiest babies I have photographed in a while, and she hardly made a peep until she needed a little snack mid-session. My newborn sessions are typically very neutral and I love working with natural/earth tones and limit the prop usage, but every once in a while I like toinclude some girly stuff like lots of pinks, floral, headbands; the works! Maya let me do that with her and I loved how sweet she looked all dressed up. Thanks for being so good to me, baby girl!

I can only hope that I'll be seeing these three back again very soon, they were so good to me! :)

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Silvanus, Rachel + Maya | Maine Family Photographer

Silvanus, Rachel + Maya | Maine Family Photographer

Now that summer finally decided to join us here in Maine, I've felt myself yearning to find a field with long grass and a delicious sunset to photograph in. There's just something about the sunlight... When it begins to set and the light shoots through the trees in the distance, sending vibrant rays of sunshine to the ground. It glows on the tips of the tall grass, and when a cool breeze blows through, it's like complete and utter magic.

Now, imagine this scene and put a beautiful family smack dab in the middle of it.  If anyone asks, THAT is my happy place. And I have the photos to prove it!

 

Silvanus, Rachel, and Maya joined me at a sunny arboretum for their family session. Taking their photos was a photographer's dream; All you had to do was step back and just watch them together, and just that in itself made for the perfect family portrait. Their love for each other was so natural and unposed, and I barely made any directions for them the entire time we were together.

I'm extremely thrilled with the way their gallery turned out and I hope you'll enjoy it as well! Check out a handful of their images below.

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The Jankow's | Maine Family Photographer

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The Jankow's | Maine Family Photographer

In the eight or so months that I've know the Jankow family, I have had the lovely pleasure of working with them FIVE times so far. Pretty sure that's a record somewhere in my book... I'll have to check.

Casey first contacted me last summer to photograph her maternity, fresh 48 and newborn photos in a few months. Upon meeting up for their maternity session the three of us clicked really well and had a great time shooting, and I immediately knew these were "my kind of clients!" I met them at the hospital a few months later after Harper was born to photograph her hospital photos, and then a week after that for her newborn session. Soon after her that, I photographed her 3 months portraits, now just this past week for a family and sixth month portrait session.

I'm always saying that one of the best parts about my job is that I have the opportunity to meet so many new people. But every once in a while you meet some who end up becoming more than just clients, and the Jankow's are one of them. I'm been lucky to be able to call them my friends and always look forward to shooting with them or even meeting up for dinner.

I love this most recent session with Casey, David and Harper. Not only was I finally able to use my brand new Nikon D750 for the first time with some of my favorite people, but we shot at a new location near the coast which made for the perfect backdrop for their images. I'm already excited for Harper's 9 month session<3

Check out a few images from their portrait session below. I hope you love them too!

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