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Last spring I met an incredible woman named Sandra. Sandra came to me for a boudoir shoot after being hospitalized with brain cancer. You can learn more about Sandra from my first blog about her, HERE.

I received this email a few days ago from Sandra’s Sister:

“Hi Jen, my sister Sandra did an amazing photo shoot with you last year when she had just got out of the hospital.. Unfortunately, she has left us to heaven less than a month ago. I found her beautiful portfolio book that you created for her and I wanted to THANK YOU so much for  that. I remember you creating a blog on her that she shared with me and was hoping you can provide the link to me. We are collaborating a memorial for her in September with her friends and colleagues  because she truly was a remarkable character and has left such inspiration to hundreds of people.”

I was one of those hundreds of people.

Sandra, your time here although way too short, was incredibly meaningful. I hope you rest in peace. I will never forget you.

To my readers: If you want to leave some thoughts for Sandra and her family in the comments below, I will make sure it is seen by them. 

  • Kim G - Blessings for Sandra’s family. May you find peace in the love you have for her.ReplyCancel

  • David - My warmest thoughts and prayers go out to your family. I’ve last a mother and sister and know how hard it can be. Please stay strong and know she’s in good care now.
    Sincerely DavidReplyCancel

  • William Mock - My condolences to the family…May She Rest in Peace!ReplyCancel

  • Eliza Daniels - What a beautiful tribute to her strength and beauty. My thoughts are with her family as say goodbye <3ReplyCancel

  • Al Vandever - My heart is always saddened when I hear of the passing of someone so young and with so much life ahead of them. My sincere and profound condolences to Sandra’s friends and family.

    AlReplyCancel

  • Laura Luongo - I am so very very sorry for the loss of Sandra. May her memories live on and she will live in your hearts for ever and ever.

    While I feel a great sorrow for you, I am glad for you that you have the legacy of her pictures. They will provide you a wonderful memory and a great comfort.

    Whenever I hear of someone losing their battle, of someone who has lost a loved one to cancer, my heart is always filled with sadness.

    My deepest condolences to you and your family. LauraReplyCancel

  • Rick Steverson - Our family’s’ deepest sympathies for your loss. From looking at her image you can see that she was a beautiful earthly expression of God’s grace and love.ReplyCancel

  • Cathy nance - My sympathies for you and your family. It is a comfort to have beautiful photos to remember someone by.ReplyCancel

  • Kim Pedersen - The story went all the way over the ocean to Europe.

    I was touched and inspired by Sandras story, and the way she handled her situation with great strength and beauty.

    I am sadened to read that she has passed away in such a Young age.

    My sincere condolences to Sandras Family and friends and anyone who knew her.

    Sincerely Kim Pedersen, DenmarkReplyCancel

Today is July 4th. Happy Birthday America! 

Birthdays are often met with great joy and celebration. We love making our friends and loved ones feel good on their special day. I wonder though, how do you feel when it comes to your own birthday?

Me, I would rather it pass without notice. No parties or hoopla for me. I hate being the center of attention and getting older is something that sadly, I am struggling with.

Today marks one month until my August 4th birthday. I am turning 40! Fucking 40! How did that happen?

I am often reminded of 40 by my growing number of gray hairs, the struggle to stay fit, and the amount of time I say to my kids, “When I was your age…”. I always thought I would be the type to grow old gracefully. Accept the grays and wrinkles and enjoy them since they were earned.

Well, now that I am faced with my own 40th birthday, I only have ONE thing to say. FUCK THAT! 

I’m not saying I won’t grow old gracefully. I just want to redefine graceful. I am going to own 40 and beyond in my own way.

Starting today and for the next month, I am going to post an image to instagram every day that represents how I feel at 40. What makes me #ShamelesslyFeminine in this time of my life.

No more hiding in the corner. This year, I am going to celebrate who I am!  Follow me on Instagram by clicking HERE! I will be using the hashtag #My40thF*ckingBirthday

Happy Birthday America – After 239 years, you are still one pretty hot chick!

xo,

Jen

PS…I found these candles – I think they might just do the trick this year!

2015-03-28 15.50.47

  • Tony - Forty is a great age, live the live to the full then when youre my age yo will say I wish I was fucking forty again. lol
    Love your site, take care.
    TonyReplyCancel

  • Sandra - I’m “only” 31 yet, but already I’m torn between “omg, I’m getting old/ too old for this kind of stuff” and “Oh my, I’m 31 already and what have I achieved?!”. That being said I don’t have kids yet and it’s a topic I spend too much time thinking about right now *lol*
    Anyway, I guess getting older isn’t easy for most people, no matter how old you are *lol*ReplyCancel

  • Leslie F - LOVE this. I’m 1 year 10 months and 8 days behind you. I think I did the math right… lol how did we get here so damn fast? I remember being my little girl’s age (5) and looking at my mom wondering what it’s like to be THAT old?!? Now I am, actually older than she was as a mother and I’m in shock that the big 4-O is around the corner. My mental picture of myself is what I looked like in college then I look in the mirror and have to take a second look to realize, I am no longer the wrinkle free, endlessly energetic, can operate on minimal sleep I once was. I can’t drink red wine anymore cause it gives me headaches, Merry-go-rounds make nausiously dizzy and I find myself comparing my youth and how it used to be to how these crazy kids have it today. I have becom my mother!

    Happy almost Fu*king 40! ;)ReplyCancel

  • Matt - I hope your beloved throws you a kickass 40th birthday party! it is indeed a milestone time in life. You will be officially an adult. :)ReplyCancel

  • Henry - Hi Jen,

    Happy 40th birthday. No one would believe you are turning 40 because you do not look a day over 30.

    Enjoy the day. Party, celebrate, have fun.

    40 ain’t old (says the guy who will be turning 65 a few days before you turn 40).

    So from one Leo to another…HAPPY 40TH BIRTHDAY!
    HenryReplyCancel

Recently, I made a mistake.

I didn’t know I was making it at the time. There wasn’t one clear moment of mistake making. It was more like an avalanche that started off small and gained momentum over some time. It wasn’t until I was faced with this big mess in front of me, that I realized the errors in my ways.

The big mess, well that was me (isn’t it usually). My mistake, was everyone else.

No, I am not blaming everyone else. I alone made the mistake. However it was because I was listening to everyone else.

To know anything about me is to know I always trust my gut, after all,  it’s always right.

My gut is a compass that always shows me the clearest direction. I’ve always listened to it, trusted it and been thankful for it. Sadly, the last few months, my compass has been off. When I think I am heading the right way, I’m not. When I look at the mess in the mirror, I ask the woman I see, “How did this happen?”.

I made a mistake. I let other peoples action, thoughts, opinions and comments confuse my direction. I’ve worked so hard to be on my path. My individual path. The one I have worked to identify and still continue to tweak. The path that I work so hard for and on. The one that sings to me and makes me feel whole and complete. I stepped off the damn path. Fuck.

It feels so off and icky, like turbulence on my insides. So today, I get back on the path. Holding true to me and what makes me happy and fulfilled. I made myself (the mess) that promise. To unmess myself. Listen to my gut and follow it again.

As a business owner, this is so important. We all need a reminder sometimes what we are working towards.

STAND OUT (1)

 

This has happened to me before. Getting distracted by what others are doing. Trying to compete and not knowing my place. It wasn’t until I really stopped, and listened to what my gut really truly had to say that I found my uniqueness.

This industry, in fact this LIFE is not about competition. It’s about uniqueness. Stop trying to be like everyone else, and be YOU. That’s what clients, friends, loved ones WANT from you.

Ironically, it’s not easy to just be yourself. So I will forgive myself, and continue to remember that the journey itself is indeed the destination.

xo,

Jen

  • Kate McFadzen - This was EXACTLY what I needed to wake up to this morning. As an emerging photographer, I struggle with following my own heart instead of comparing myself to the photographers around me (and there are maaaaaany). I try to rally myself and say it’s better to build a brand around who I am as a person, because I’ve found that really draws people. I often think “if I only had ____ that ____ has” or “maybe I should shoot more like ______”, etc. I need to focus on my heart compass more. It’s inspiring and comforting to know that even seasoned industry professionals that I look up to struggle with the same things. Jen, your work is amazing, and your CreativeLIVE Bootcamp changed my business. I’m truly grateful. Cheers!

    -KateReplyCancel

  • Joe - Thank you for this. This turned around my whole month.ReplyCancel

  • Brenda White - signing up for the VIP and free guide. Thank uouReplyCancel

  • Nicole - I SO needed to hear this today! I finally know exactly what I do and don’t want to shoot and have my numbers in line; I’m on track to getting the right clients, clients that value my vision, and there are people, not my clients, telling me I should do this and do that and I’m too pricey. No way! I know what I want to do and I have value!
    Thanks for this wake up!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - Love your honesty. I too have completely mucked up again. Causing myself so much self doubt. But it was exactly for the reasons you talk of – trying to be something that you’re not and feeling one has to go with what others keep saying. So I too will try to re believe in myself from today and follow what I know rather than what so many others are saying is the right path.
    Kim :)ReplyCancel

  • Shannon Davenport - I always love your honesty…thanks for making me pause to think about my own path! :-)ReplyCancel

  • Anna - Thank you for sharing Jen! Trusting our gut is a simple truth and it’s simple to not quite hear it when everyone else’s opinions/voices speak loudly. Luckily it’s also like riding a bike. We never forget how to do it. So get on and ride girl and thanks for reminding me it happens to us all.ReplyCancel

  • Graham Riddell - Jen,

    If you’re honest with yourself and you know IF you made a mistake, then that’s always good. Publicly admitting it is brave (I don’t know the mistake you made?) but I would say the pass of progress is littered with mistakes. Trying to be everything can be a real challenge, but it makes you grow exponentially and makes you a bigger person -providing the same mistake are not repeated.

    This is YOUR journey and you allow others to share it so they just have to accept that.

    Best wishes
    Graham.ReplyCancel

  • Felicia - Here’s to you Jen! Keep on keeping on. You are an inspiration. I love your honesty and how real you are. Thank you for being you,simple as that!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - Now I am intrigued, where were you heading?ReplyCancel

  • janice - thanks for this – nice to see I am not the only one who gets off track. it is so easy to compare the perfect facade that everyone presents with the incomplete insecure off track me, and when I do that I get even more off track. Really off track right now, and taking a sabatical from all of this to figure it out. but you piece helped. I know it will all come right, soon.
    janiceReplyCancel

  • Kira Wood - I think you need to give yourself a break. As artists, I think it is natural to do this. I find myself continually loving my work, then seeing another persons work and flipping the page back and forth. Comparing mine to theirs. Seeing if mine flows how theirs flows or seeing what deal they are giving their clients. Pick yourself up and move on. As much as I love your work, I adore you even more. You are relateable in a way I have never found with other photographers. That trait alone is will never be replaceable.ReplyCancel

    • Jen Rozenbaum - Thank you Kira! Love to you as well.ReplyCancel

  • Alicia Heaney - Exactly my struggle! As a recent college grad I’ve spent so many years trying to please professors and change my style to accommodate their needs and style preferences for a good grade. I can’t wait to really push my business and work on my own with no influence but following my heart and my gut.ReplyCancel

  • Gord Klimchuk - I think we all fall into this trap. We look at other photographers’ work for inspiration, but instead we end up comparing our work to theirs. Then we think we have to change our work to be more like theirs to be successful. We then loose our own style and become “parrots” of other photographers. Instead of learning and improving our own work, we just copy the styles of others.

    Our journey should be our own road trip, not a bus tour. And anyone who can read a map and say “fuck” when they notice that they took a wrong turn, their journey will be the most enjoyable!ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - I love your honesty. And that you embody your mission and message. It’s so darn relatable. How any times have I forged ahead with sails filled with the wrong wind. Only to crash and burn. And like a Phoenix, rise up, in my own weird private rebirth. I’m just grateful that you always seem to hold the lantern up ahead, show your bruises and lead by example. That is such a strong message. Whatever your mistake, it had to happen to bring you to know. And I’ve no doubt that you will continue on your path and do great things. xoReplyCancel

You heard me right. All men are perverts.

At least that is what I am starting to believe that is what the world perceives. Don’t believe me? Recently I was a guest on the Dr. Drew show where we discussed a teacher who gave a “Nude” final. (Check out the full story here.)

They asked me to be a guest since I am clearly comfortable with nudity, the art of the human body and of course I offered a different opinion than those on the panel. I thought we were going to talk about nudity not being shameful, but what actually occurred surprised even me! Take a peek at the clip below:

 

 

Did you read the article? Did you see the part where no true nudity had to take place to pass the class? That every students definition of nudity might be different? I myself have photographed women without makeup on, fully clothed, that felt more naked than if they were in their underwear.  Nudity isn’t always about being naked.

Did you read the part about the sexual monster, the PERVERT that teaches the class? No, you didn’t. Because he isn’t one.

Not only did the panel (in my opinion) shame the women that were participating in the class (after all I am not sure there were strippers in the class, and if there were…??), but they shamed men too!

If you are a male boudoir photographer, take notice of this! Am I saying you can’t be a boudoir photographer, NO! I am saying however that you might find the same reaction from people when you tell them what you do.

Now, I am not a man of course… but I do have some advice from a woman to all male photographers out there to help you overcome this challenge.

1. Don’t be a pervert. Duh! Sounds obvious but you would be surprised what I hear from men in workshops I teach. Use proper words (Try bum or tush instead of ass.) Give appropriate compliments, and keep your hands off. Be respectful and gentlemanly – with a little edge. You are the photographer – she wants to hear a compliment from you, just make sure you aren’t “that guy”.

2. You have a gift women photographers DON’T have. You can see women through the eye of a man. I can’t. It sucks. I have tried over and over again but I just can’t. Use it to your advantage.

3. If a client has booked you, she already trusts you. Don’t let being a man get in the way of that trust. It’s no longer a hurdle.

4. Think about having a female assistant. You may like this idea, you may not… but just think about it. Also – I probably wouldn’t serve alcohol if it is just the two of you (but I don’t like serving alcohol anyway).

5. Have clients sign a consent agreement that says they are over 18 and they consent to having their photo taken. (Please see a lawyer in your area for this paperwork.)

6. Men are some of the best photographers I know. Keep proving the doubters wrong.

Men (and women) out there – post your best tips below to help men overcome the challenges that they face in society today.

xo,
Jen

 

  • Mark - Always have a female assistant…whether it is your wife or girlfriend, another photographer who happens to be a female, or a female intern. Boudoir is usually booked for a fiance’ or just to show what she looks like so she can remember when she is older. It is a beautiful thing….Totally agree with Jen!ReplyCancel

  • Tim Duquette - I just shot a client a couple weeks ago that told me a few things that I found helpful. On Facebook and your website, post as many reviews & testimonials as possible. She told me she read everything that everyone else wrote days before contacting me. My standard way of booking also includes a personal consult/introduction in a public place (Starbucks)so we can get a feel for each other. The combination of what she read and what she seen in person made her feel confident and safe enough to book.ReplyCancel

  • Sherman Orendorf - I always keep everything up beat and have a friend conversation going… no weird your so hot comments….. and i never touch a client/model ever!!!! so far everyone is having fun and nobody gives a crap that im a guy and short fat and balding they just want awesome pictures and a good experience doing it:-))

    great article by the way… i think its the general public that has the bad idea that guys are all pervs…. I try to change that perspective one client at a time;-)ReplyCancel

  • steven spaulding - I can’t say i’ve ever had an issue with this, but then again i’m not a pervert. I’m in it to create good work and to reinforce that my clients are beautiful people inside and out.

    what i have had a problem with is dating, I don’t look to date any clients (they are hands off) or even others in the industry, but as soon as i find someone that i like and they find out i’m a photographer they automatically assume i sleep with everyone.

    so i’ve decided not to date and just work on building up my busiess :DReplyCancel

  • Diana MacDougall - I STRONGLY suggest female assistants. After all, male doctors have them. Too many things can be misconstrued, and if you are alone, there are no witnesses to protect you. It shouldn’t even be a thought, in terms of protection all the way around.

    I had a very bad situation happen to me alone with a male “professional”. Never again.ReplyCancel

  • Marc - Jen, you know me as a tech rep. When I work with female clients I always work in conversation about my family, my wife, my girls. I talk about my oldest who wants to go into art therapy and is starting to build a portfolio. I show them that they can trust me and that we are there for them to achieve images that they want to have and share. It has proven well over time and I can honestly say it has helped clients relax and have a positive experience with a male photographer.ReplyCancel

  • Al Wright - Male doctors have female assistants because most medical assistants are female. Duh. I had to go to my doctor’s office recently for a very personal problem, and the only doctor available to see me was a woman. Did she have a male assistant? No. I don’t do much boudoir nowadays, I’m more into glamor, but in the past I did quite a lot of it, and never had a problem photographing scantily clad or nude women by myself. I always had a consult first, and have a studio I shoot in instead of a hotel room or a home. Do what’s right for you and your business, but please stop this gender-bias crap!ReplyCancel

    • Mark G - Al – I must respectfully disagree with your final statement. This isn’t gender-bias crap. This is an ongoing, real world problem for women in a biased world full of jackass men who seem to think it is their God-given right to harass, abuse, and worse to any woman they see. As a proud father of daughters, I am all for doing whatever it takes to make the client/model comfortable. In the litigious U.S., I am all for taking reasonable steps to protect myself as well, so having someone with me while shooting is a great idea.ReplyCancel

  • Every Model Has Stories | Pixel Dust - […] Rozenbaum also covered the subject. NY Boudoir Photographer | All Men are Perverts, well that can be the […]ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - I would like to just chime in here… I went to college in New York, and although it wasn’t an art school, I was studying Digital Art and Design, and had to take foundations my first year. One of the classes in the foundations course was figure drawing. At the end of foundations, we had to draw ourselves, life sized and naked. When everyone brought their drawings in, NO ONE had a full frontal, NO ONE showed any private parts. It was very tasteful, and everyone portrayed themselves, naked. It was nice to see how everyone saw themselves naked, and how everyone understood this was about portraying yourself, and not being dirty. I think the class is fine, and I think what the professor was requiring is fine. The parents, are overreacting. Also, these are not “kids” they are adults who are furthering their education. I hate how we are now all of a sudden in this padded wall world where these things are looked down upon. Thanks for sharing this, Jen!ReplyCancel

  • Daniel Whitaker - I spend a lot of time listening to model’s stories. Those are eye opening. Listening to clients can help too.ReplyCancel

  • Every Model Has Stories… | Daniel Whitaker's Blog - […] Rozenbaum also covered the subject. NY Boudoir Photographer | All Men are Perverts, well that can be the […]ReplyCancel

  • Rafael Maduro - I’m just starting in Boudoir photography, i had researched a lot and this is what i came as a workflow, i partner with an renown makeup artist, she is just wonderful and i’m taking full advantage of her well known reputation, people already know me from corporate cinematography but i wanted to do photography as well and decided to challenge myself, to bring the stories with the photos as well as i did with my documentaries. i found very disrespectful to be touching a model, client, that’s why your female assistant or the make up artist (female in this case) is there for, i just don’t think about any great deal of them naked or in lingerie, their eyes, and gestures tell the story and i just try to capture that, the model release is mandatory and i don’t like to share their photos since i live in a small island, so my clients rather want all their photos to be as private as possible and i just respect that, i was thinking to hire a model for public portfolio what are you thoughts on that guys?ReplyCancel

  • Jonathan - Totally agree with you, the problem is in the eye of the person judging the art.ReplyCancel

  • Joe Tharp - Great advice for male photographers. Always treat your clients with respect and make it a fun experience for them. Ladies deserve to be pampered.ReplyCancel

  • Mike - I agree with everyone who says have an assistant, I would like to add don’t be afraid of your client bringing a friend with them. Make it a “girls” day out. While you are shooting your client they can watch or even get hair and make up done. Regardless, the friend will help client feel more relaxed which leads to a better session.ReplyCancel

  • Jameel - I know some men are like that. But, I am not one. I take a very professional approach. When I do an boudoir or nude shoot I have aonther woman present. I want my client to feel very comfortable and relex. It makes the shoot so much easier. All women have the parts. Some just have different height, shade, shape, etc……ReplyCancel

Everyone has his or her own path in discovering photography. Mine, well, it was unconventional to say the least. Becoming a Photographer wasn’t in my life plans. I wasn’t inspired by famous names or drawn in by the thought of starting my own business. Instead, photography found me.

When I had my daughter in 2004, I asked my husband to buy us a DSLR camera so we can take pictures of her. How hard could it be to figure out, right? I was wrong. It was very hard. So after briefly trying out the camera, and not “getting it” right away, I got frustrated. Instead, put the camera away and allowed it to gather dust for quite some time.

I was a stay at home mom at the time, and loving it! My daughter and I took music classes together, went on play dates and spent every minute enjoying each other while she was growing. Before I knew it, she was off to preschool and it was the perfect time to have another baby. I was very lucky with my daughter. I got pregnant very easily. I assumed the same would happen the second time around.

I was right. Just a few months into trying I was once again pregnant. My 8 week appointment went beautifully. We saw a little heartbeat and everything looked great. I was giddy with excitement. It was so hard to keep it a secret. I was already showing. Even if I didn’t tell someone, they knew! I lay in bed at night dreaming about my perfect little family that was soon to be.

A few weeks later, my gut told me something wasn’t right. I was feeling TOO good. Sadly, my instincts were correct. On Christmas Eve, at my 12 week appointment, the doctor broke the new to us. The baby stopped growing at 10 weeks. There was no heartbeat.

I was heartbroken, yes. Was I going to let it get me down? No. After all miscarriages are normal, right? At least I convinced myself of that and I kept my head high during this hard time. I had been pregnant twice and I already had a child so I knew it was possible.

My husband and I decided to try again a few months later. Again, a few months in, I get pregnant! I am over run with joy once again. I was so hoping this time would be it and that it would help ease the pain of the miscarriage.

A week after my positive pregnancy test, I was on the way to Florida for a planned family vacation. That morning I felt small cramps in my abdomen. By the time the plane landed, I was doubled over in pain. I went straight to the ER. The Doctors there told me I was having another miscarriage. They gave me some pain pills and told me to “hang in there”.

The pain, both physical and emotional, was unbearable. Upon my second visit to the ER (After the pain medication wouldn’t work) I was told again to just wait for my body to take care of what it needed to. Well I waited. And waited. The waiting was torture. I was stuck in bed and all I could think is how I couldn’t believe this was happening again. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I keep a baby? What did I do to deserve this?

The next morning we returned to NY and saw my OB/GYN. She was confused. She was giving me a sonogram but couldn’t see anything. She sent me to a local radiology office for some further testing. The tech in the radiology office quickly told me to get dressed and wait in the waiting area. A few minutes later, the nurse put me on the phone with my Doctor. I can hear the words in her voice in my head so clearly even today.

She said “Mrs. Rozenbaum, I want you to ask the receptionist for your records. If she can’t produce them in the next minute – just leave and meet me at the hospital. You had an ectopic pregnancy that ruptured. You have been internally bleeding for 4 days and if you don’t have surgery in the next hour or so, you will die.”

Die. Do you know what it’s like when someone tells you that you are going to die? I was like stone. Numb. I rushed to the Emergency room and they took me right in. The funny thing is I remember the Doctor telling me that I was, most likely, going to lose my ovaries. That is when I finally felt something.

I felt gapping hole in my stomach. A pit that would make the Grand Canyon seem like a pothole. Rolling into the OR I remember thinking this could be it. Was I going to die? Was it possible I couldn’t have any more children? The gravity of each was equally as heavy.

I ended up losing a fallopian tube. The Doctor was able to save my ovaries. Everyone told me how lucky I was that I was alive. For the first time in a long time however, I didn’t feel so lucky.

It’s not that I wanted to die, but being alive was painful. I felt depressed. I felt I couldn’t protect my children – even inside me. I felt like a failure, less of a woman. I was anxious. Angry. Sad. Confused. I didn’t know if there was any hope of me having another baby. I didn’t know what to say to all the people that told me “It was time to have another”. I didn’t know how to tell my daughter she might not ever have any siblings. I didn’t know how to tell my husband I may not be able to give him the family he wanted.

I was helpless. I felt alone. All of my friends were having children and complaining about how hard it was. I envied them and they didn’t even appreciate what they had. I pulled away.

When my daughter was at school I was bored and alone with my thoughts. The thoughts were plaguing me. It’s because of this I knew I had to find a distraction. I needed an escape from my sadness, frustration and the constant questions in my mind as to why this happened. It was then that my husband reminded me of the camera gathering dust in the closet. I pulled it out, dusted it off and gave it a whirl.

I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the start of my photography journey and my work with women. My camera saved me. It was my friend and confidant when I needed it most. It helped me see beauty in the world again. It opened my eyes to incredible women that struggled with their femininity for varied reasons. They were just like me! It was therapy.

As I started talking about my fertility issues, I started hearing more stories from other women about it too. They whisper when they tell me. They feel shame. I felt shame. I got it. I don’t know why though? Why do we feel shame over something we cannot control?

I was very blessed to welcome a son into my family in 2009. Some may say my family is complete. And it is. I love my children more than I can ever explain. But it doesn’t mean that I have forgotten the ones I didn’t have. The difference now, is that I can speak about it, shamelessly.

Letting go of the shame hasn’t always come easily. Sadly, women are shamed every day. We are shamed for things such as working, staying home, being too thin or fat. The list goes on and on. We feel our own shame deep down. We allow others shame us as well. My life’s work as an intimate photographer for women is dedicated to helping women celebrate their unique femininity, shamelessly.

It never ceases to amaze me how the universe works its magic. A terrible time in my life quickly lead to a flourishing business and connections with many shameless women. It’s because of these women that I have gained the knowledge and courage to be #ShamelesslyFeminine myself.

The women I have photographed all tell me how I have impacted their lives. The truth is they have impacted mine ten fold. They have inspired me and made me brave. They have humbled me. Most importantly, they have healed me.

  • Angie - Oh Jen… I’m sitting here crying for you :( I know we haven’t met, but I feel like I know you. I feel like you are so relate-able and you are so brave for posting this. I wish I could hug you xoxoxo – you inspire me all the time, and sometimes it’s not due to a photo ;) xoxoxoxoReplyCancel

    • Jen Rozenbaum - Thank you Angie. For the first time ever I actually decided NOT to include an image in a blog post. So thank you for that sentiment.
      xoReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth Zimmerman - Thank you for sharing your story, Jen. I love you.ReplyCancel

  • Nardia - This is such a good post. Women feel shamed far too much in their lives, you are judged no matter what you do. I got into photography because I had a sick son and I needed a distraction as I knew I was starting to get post natal depression. Photography saved me, I have recently got into Boudoir, and the comments I have had so far have been amazing, to know I made a woman who was struggling with her own issues to feel beautiful is so empowering!ReplyCancel

  • Eve - Jen you are such an inspiration, and your story tugs at my heart strings. As a mom to two angel babies it hits home. We don’t talk about our angels that often, but I think I will now. I love that you are not afraid to be who you are, and that you inspire other women to live their lives the same way! Sincerely-an inspired Minnesota Boudoir (mom) photographer :)ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - Oh Jen, I can’t even begin to tell you what I’m feeling right now, but I know you know. I lost two pregnancies fairly recently, one in July 2012 and November 2014. As much as I tried to remain strong and promise I wouldn’t blame them on myself, I did. I felt days of being ashamed for feeling so down, because I already have two kids and there are women who haven’t had the chance to have any at all. I felt days of sadness and guilt for running while pregnant. And then there were the days I used my camera to capture more and more of my two little girls. It makes me so sad to know so many women have experienced this loss, but I am so thankful that it doesn’t have to be such a lonely experience. I’m so glad you didn’t end up losing your ovaries and were able to welcome a boy into your beautiful family. (And so thankful that you use your work and your reach to empower women!) Thank you so much for sharing, and I’m sending my love!ReplyCancel

  • Jana Roller - I can totally relate to this post 100%. My first pregnancy was ectopic and I had it for over a month until finally my tube ruptured. I had visited the ER previously for severe pain on my left side and they told me to go home after they tested my blood and it came back positive for pregnancy. Thinking that this was a new pregnancy (as they told me a few weeks earlier I was miscarrying but it turned out it was the same pregnancy over a 2 month period). A day later I went back and we found out I had a ruptured tube and I was developing not only a severe infection but internal bleeding. It was scary. Its bad enough to deal with the loss of a baby but to deal with almost dying too. But you are courageous, beautiful and strong Jen. You made it through. <3ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie Tadlock - Wow… Your story is very similar to my own. I’ve just started my photography journey november of last year and I too had a dslr my husband bought me that sat for a almost a year because I was so depressed. I was told I couldn’t get pregnant again after 2 children and cervical cancer (at 25) then valentinea day 2014 I took a pregnancy test after my hubby insisted, it was positive! I knew not to get excited because if I could even keep it, it was going to be a HORRIBLLY DIFFICULT pregnancy and boy was I right…. Long story short my little mini was born 3 months early and filled a void id had for a very long time… But I was still needing something…I got out the camera and started taking pictures of him and its been a wirlwind since then…I have a studio and contract with a talent agency here in San Antonio, and now have boudoir clients :)ReplyCancel

  • melinda - Jen, first off I admire what you do. I’ve listen in on several of your creative live sessions. One day, I’m hoping to meet you in person. You see , our stories are very similar. I picked up my first point and shoot camera up because my daughter was born (also 2004 baby). I had listen to all my oder friends tell me how time flies, by the time their 5 you won’t remember their newborn years, and they change so much over time. The list goes on and on..

    So that’s one of the reasons I choose photography. My other reason, very similar to yours again. My first pregnancy was a miscarriage. I took SIX test. Yes, the crazy peep stock woman..lol Both my husband and I had some past issues that was worrisome that might affect us getting pregnant. So after almost a year trying, our first child was on its way.

    We were approaching our 6 week appoint to verify the pregnancy. I was working at a dollar store at the time. I was unloading trucks, stocking, lifting more than I should have. I didn’t think it would harm the pregnancy. Boy was I wrong. I started bleeding that afternoon. I called my husband and him and a friend was at my place of employment with 10 minutes. (25 minute drive at least) my manager was called and he came up so I could go to the ER. Sure enough, 6 weeks in I lost the baby. To this day it still hurts. But the wonderful doctor I had to see the next day reassured me that God takes and gives us things he knows we need. God just didn’t think that child was the best for us. She went on and said, I promise 3 months you’ll be back with a healthy pregnancy. This all happened in April. That September baby number 2 was on the way. At our 8 week sonogram, my husband made a bet with me after we seen the ultrasound. He said it looked like a diamond ring. Sure enough, she is our diamond.

    So your story is very similar in many ways. My passion for photography came because I was terrified that one day I’d wake and my little girl wouldn’t be there. We had just lost 4 family members every three months it seemed and when my granny passed (I was 14), her passing still breaks my heart. Those people we’ll never get to see again in this life. I wanted to offer my customers lower prices so I KNOW they’ll have something to cherish after our loved ones have passed on. I have even got family members involved to send a photo of a deceased, well loved family member of the family I’m photographing and make a memorial for them. It’s always a surprise. I get some of the best reactions from clients when I do offer them that. My reasoning: life is to short, tomorrow’s not promosied, so make the best you can and make MEMORIES!

    Sorry, my post was to long. Just wanted you to hear another photographer out there is just like you. (NO where near as good.. yet) lolReplyCancel

  • Rebekah - Thank you Jen for your transparency & sharing your heart & real life journeys. I too went through a miscarriage, & other physical things that caused me to feel much shame. I love what you wrote here & it’s encouraging to be reminded that we (women) are not alone in our struggles. We are beautiful as we are, strong & should embrace this.
    Thank you! XOXReplyCancel

  • J.J Murray - Yesterday and today have been really rough, I was late getting back to my dental assisting job at lunch today bc I was at home crying. As Mother’s Day is fast approaching its hitting me hard that I will never be called a mother by a child with my husband. In October 2014 we got the final confirmation that my husband cannot have children, he is such a good good man and would be the best Dad and this has broken him down and hurt his pride so much. So as not to add pain I dont talk to him about how I feel deep down. I bottle it up and then cry In secret. I am at this huge crossroads thinking I am 34 so now what, how can I make this life something outstanding. I want to become a top notch photographer but keep getting stuck for no reason. I love your honesty and openness and really benefit from the way you teach. I really look up to you and hope to have a shoot with you in my future. I Needed this story today, we have to push forward and kick ass as we go. Thank you for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Irene - Jen, thank you for sharing your story. I can totally relate. In 2012 upon returning from my honeymoon I got the devastating news that I was in early menopause (premature ovarian failure) at the age of 38 and that I would never be able to have children. Stubbornly I refused to accept it and went down that path of fertility centers. At first none would accept me because my numbers, particularly the FSH level was over 100. Normal was 7-10. One center finally worked with me after I found a chinese acupuncture and herbalist specialist who helped get the levels down. But even then it was appalling. Some months I still did not produce an egg and they gave me the drugs and where some women produce 8-15, I couldn’t even produce one. We tried for about a year and half but I finally just gave up and sadly accepted the appalling truth that I would never have children. Mothers Day is always a sad time for me. I can’t deny that I still think about it. Honestly I don’t think I ever will. Like you, my whole comfort was found through photography. Right after the time that I got the news I myself started my photography journey. I knew nothing about it. I spent a year just reading, watching videos and finally got the courage to pick up the camera and apply my knowledge. It took me one year to be able to pick up the camera and try because I was so scared that I would fail at that. Not being able to have children made me feel like a failure so I thought that everything I did or considered doing would also mean failure. I have been shooting for two years now and although I am much more confident now then I was then I still get those voices in my head of fear, doubt and failure. Time heals all but I don’t think it ever goes away 100%ReplyCancel

  • Joe Tharp - As a man, I know I can never share the same feelings or emotions that you and other women have experienced. However, I wanted to let you know that I was moved by your blog entry and have great respect for you and what you do to help other women feel good about themselves. Your images show your compassion and dedication.ReplyCancel

  • Laurie - Oh Jenn, like so many others I am in tears. I understand on so many levels what you have went through, as I have endometriosis, and it stole from me the life I thought I would always have. On the flip side it brought me to a better understanding of myself, of women, and of my true passions one of which is photography and art. I still kick myself for missing your Ottawa workshop a few weeks back, but I know working with you / knowing you is in my future, even more so after reading this. We have much to share chicky!ReplyCancel

  • Fundy Software, Inc. | Featured Photographer • Jen Rozenbaum - […] my life. The camera allowed me the opportunity to see beauty in the world in a time I doubted it. I actually recently blogged my whole story. It still amazes me to this day what an incredible healing tool the camera is, often for people on […]ReplyCancel

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