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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

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

It happens every spring. April to be exact. I fall into a creative slump. The “I suck” comments are completely overpowering the “I got this” mantras in my head. I start the dreaded exercise of checking Facebook, comparing myself to others, over feeding the “I suck” machine.

It happens every April.

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I debate if I am worthy enough to be an artist, an educator, a voice. I wonder if my fans and followers will see through my facade and call me out on being a fraud. “I don’t know what I am doing”, I say to myself. How can I expect to help other when I suck so badly.

It happens every April.

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I try to come up with a backup plan in my head. What would I do if I wasn’t a photographer? Who would I be? What other talents might I have. If I quit, would I let down my family, my sponsors, my fans…. myself? Would I miss my camera? The women I work with?  Would something else fulfill me like photography? The struggles, the smiles, the tears and the joy.

It happens every April.

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Last April was a bad one. I was thiiiiis close to quitting. I didn’t. I struggled through though, I can’t lie to you about that. I don’t know why it was such a tough time. I try to give myself a break. I try to remind myself that being great will only come with practice, and patience. Patience. Not my strongest suit…. Sigh.

This April I was determined not to fall in the slump. I have spent my sleepless night thinking of what I can do to prevent it. Take control of my feelings and insecurities. I decided on few things. The first is getting creative.

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I decided I needed to get out of the studio.  I shot this weekend on Long Island at the White House Farms Mansion. This was a great opportunity to push some limits. I decided on a milk bath.

Milk bath photography is so popular these days, but I wanted to do it differently. They are typically very muted and romantic. I decided to make it colorful and edgier.

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I don’t know if I succeeded in making beautiful images, but I DO know that I succeeded in making myself happy. It was so amazing to shoot for me. No pressure, just fun. No limits, no naysayers. No one else to impress. Just me, my camera and whatever else I wanted.

This April, I win.

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I would love to hear from you guys about your experiences. Do you fall into slumps? What do you do to prevent it? Help yourself? How do you push your creativity?

 

xo,

Jen

 

PS… Thank you to my amazing beauty team Diana and Toni for helping my visions come to life.

All Images shot with the Nikon D3S, Sigma 50mm Art and lit by the Westcott Flex.

  • Ryan Schmidt - Jen, it happens to us all. I think it awesome that you took April by the horns and just went at it. I know from past experience that this happens not only to me but others, and I make it a goal every season to put on that creative hat and just go for it, all or nothing. It keeps me sane and gets me pumped for what’s to come. I love the images, I got to say I’m sad I didn’t think of doing colour firstReplyCancel

  • Teri Hofford - I think shooting for pleasure is a huge key. Going back to images that you were imperfect, but shot with passion and lust for the craft :D Getting off the internet and getting out and just creating keeps me moving….and I think that that’s the key with slumps. You will have them, but if you keep moving, you will move out of them <3 You rock ;)ReplyCancel

  • Mary Gajda - i think what endears you to us, above your talent and personality, is that you are human. Perfection is boring. The fact that you reveal yourself is relatable. I respect you more all the time.great work, and Great blog! MaryReplyCancel

  • layne - Yessss, totally.
    (We live in Canada and) the months of cold and grey are restful for awhile and then culminate in an intense moment of Needing to be creative again but not even knowing how/when to start.

    I love this shoot!
    xo.
    LReplyCancel

  • Laura A - Jen, thank you for sharing your struggles. April I find my hardest month and its Fall here heading into Winter. Feels like the Winter blues and last year I was thiiiiisssss close to chucking in the camera. And this year has felt much the same.

    I’m struggling to get bookings after increasing my price after having consistent bookings and wanting to price myself out accordingly. It’s hard and I have the voices in my head saying “I’m not good enough to book, you suck Laura, get a real job”, with many tears shed thinking how much of a failure I am and all my wonderful clients that I do have think I”m doing great. And would kick my ass if I closed up shop.

    Saturday I done a shoot for me and they only paid our Hmua, it was amazing. A bit hard knowing I don’t earn anything but the love of it screamed passion and I felt like I had it. The images show it. And It kicked my bootie in the right direction.

    Jen, my long story short, I fall into slumps all the time. April is the worst. To get out I claw my way up.
    Re-thinking, re-focus, re-fresh.

    Thank you again for sharing the realism of your life. And our life is somewhat normal <3ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Coon - I first saw you on Creative Live and INSTANTLY fell in love with you. Not only as a photographer, but as a person. Now that you say you struggle (just like all humans) only makes me appreciate you even more!! I am fairly new to digital photography and find inspiration in photographers such as yourself. I may not practice boudoir, but you inspire me to go further and become the photographer I wish to be. I search for other photographers who push their limits of greatness and give me ideas and concepts that motivate me. Thanks for this! Love the paint by the way!!ReplyCancel

  • Michael Linkous - Love it!ReplyCancel

  • Eve - Hi Jen…thank you SO much for sharing your heart. I totally understand and empathize with you. I go through this every winter. Although social media is a blessing at times it can also be a curse. The constant comparing your own work with others is exhausting. And then I know its time to pull away from it all for a while. We all have our different gifts and talents to bring to the table. Don’t give up!ReplyCancel

  • Cate Scaglione - I love every bit of you for your honesty, your vulnerability and your drive. In doing something for yourself, you shattered some boxes and created something no one has seen before. I love this session and I love that you took time to do it for yourself!!!!

    I fall into all kinds of slumps. Creative slumps are uncommon for me, because my ideas literally keep me awake all the time. I have to force them down. I did blog some ideas for those who fall into creative slumps… If ever you want to peek I will link you up.

    love you for this post.ReplyCancel

  • Phillip Van Nostrand - “I win.”

    Love you, Jen! Totally killed it with this one!ReplyCancel

  • Dawn Nash - Hey Jen! Love that you shared this & know EXACTLY how you feel…and BTW, love the water work! :)ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - WOW! It is so nice to know I am not alone! Someone on creative Live has what I call “dark moments” too! Just this last week I freaked out that I was not going to book enough clients to go full time. That I would be stuck in an office job forever… Im comforted to know that I am not alone:)

    ps. the last image is my FAVORITE! #love!ReplyCancel

  • Margherita Introna - Great post Jen! Thank you for sharing.
    You nailed it :) xxReplyCancel

  • Jen Rozenbaum - Thank you all for taking the time to read, comment and compliment. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. Not only because it feels nice – but because it feels even better to know I am not alone too. I truly love you all.ReplyCancel

  • Heather Potter - Thank you so much for sharing. I wonder if it’s the “rush” that wears off after WPPI. I found myself feeling the same way, thank goodness I have some pretty amazing and support friends in the industry that have helped me along the way.ReplyCancel

  • Daria Keenan - Gorgeous images ! Thanks for being real!ReplyCancel

  • RaeAnn - Jen,

    This is EXACTLY what I am feeling today. I’ve been waking up every morning for the past few days with those same questions and compare myself to others, and think…it’s time to just quit.
    You are such an amazingly talented artist, so I never imagined that you would ever have those thoughts. Thank you for being so genuine; it helped me to see that I can push through and challenge myself to think differently.
    This shoot is so artistic and beautifully done. You knocked it out of the park, lady! Please don’t ever quit; you have been blessed with a talent to makes others see the beauty in people…and that makes the world a better place.ReplyCancel

  • Matt A. - WOW, nice to know we are not alone.

    You Go Girl!…wish I had more, but a good photo shoot is always
    a nice rush to start those engines.ReplyCancel

  • Henry - Hi Jen.
    I attended one of your seminars in NJ, and I have followed you on Creative Live. Part of trying to decide if I have the energy to enter Boudoir Photography as a second career after retiring from my primary career. I have a considerable amount of experience in photography (had a camera in my hand since I was about 10). Sooooo…I can understand you second guessing your talents…but worrying about sucking…really? I would be happy if my talents were considered as being nearly as good as yours on those days when you think you suck. You are a very talented photographer and teacher.Thanks for your creativity, your inspiration and your willingness to pass on your skills through your seminars.ReplyCancel

  • Henry - Follow-Up to Previous Post:

    Hi Jen.

    So that you don’t think that I missed the point from your inquiry…I am always questioning my skills and whether I suck. Many have looked at my photos, told me how great they are while I am thinking…”I don’t think so” You see, I am my own worst critic. So if you are your own worst critic…feeling like you do as we roll from winter into spring is natural. If you weren’t so talented, you wouldn’t take the time to worry about if you suck or notReplyCancel

  • Marzia - Amazing shots! Thanks for sharing with us, and for always giving us great ideas.ReplyCancel

  • Maria Socarras - So glad its not just me! Creativity is an ever evolving result. You are amazing and inspirational! I love your honesty as an artist and professional.

    YOU ROCK!!!ReplyCancel

  • Felicia Kaye - I get the down in the dumps slumps every 4-6 months. I don’t know what brings it on, I don’t know to stop them from coming on. Usually a creative shoot and a lot of writing pulls me out, but it takes me a while to realize that’s what I need. It’s oddly comforting to know that someone with your ability battles the same self doubt sometimes. Thank you for sharing your experience and especially for sharing those AMAZING images!!!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle Jackson - Jen, It happens to all of us. I live in the Northwest were RAIN is a part of spring. I used to avoid it and now I embrace it. Turn the music us and dance around the studio!! Find new ideas and ways to get happy! Your not alone! I struggle daily to keep caught up (never ending battle) and balance everything. Somedays I just have to remind myself that this IS caught up and balanced ;-)ReplyCancel

  • Angela Squicciarini - Thank you for sharing. I think your shoot is great. Things go up and down, and I’ve had struggles, but I’ve always been an artist. If I couldn’t do photography, as a living, I know I would still do it for myself. I recently attended an art meeting at a group I belong too. All kinds of artists. We also share our work at the end. It was so inspiring to see everyone’s work, I could hardly sleep. I use to do a lot of drawings, pen and ink, charcoal, way before photoshop! I wanted to do that, actually touch the medium. I hope to do something by the next meeting, besides my photography. I truly believe it’s important to nurture your own creativity, it always helps on the inside. Congratulations to you for doing just that!!!ReplyCancel

  • Mike Chu - Thanks Jen for being so honest about your struggles as a photographer. I love how you approached this coming April with the conviction of conquering it! After reading, I don’t feel that alone in my creativity. We all hit slumps and it’s how we get back up and address it.

    Love the twist on the ‘milk bath’ project. They turned out incredible. That’s one of the ‘to do’ projects on my list too.

    Take careReplyCancel

  • andrea fine - Yes but what happens come May? I bet things come together again and you move on. Maybe April should be a time to ruminate and regroup…and not work as much. What exactly happens to you when all things are in bloom everything’s beautiful,life starts anew that you feel the dumps? Why do you think people follow you? Your last creative live was astoundingly good. Your images are inspired. And yes you did the right thing. Getting out and pushing in a new direction are things we have to do to jump start us sometimes. I have images of “scenes” I want to create that tell stories about the relationships between mothers and daughters. Even if I don’t have the time to do it right this minute it’s in the back of my mind for the future. Take heart. You are valued and respected.
    AndreaReplyCancel

  • Jen Vazquez - OMG – I was so relieved when I heard this — I only shared my “April” with my husband and adult children, who of course supported me shamelessly. They got me through and my love/passion for helping women feel beautiful. I think your “solution” this year of doing a shoot just for you during your blue time. THANK YOU so much for your BRAVE post!! I think you are just the best teacher a photographer can have and thank you for pushing through those doubtful moments so that I can learn from you and get better.ReplyCancel

One of the most common questions I get from clients and photographers is if I give my clients alcohol to help them relax before a shoot.

My answer is always NO! A big fat NO… but it may not be for the reasons you think.

Yes, of course I want to avoid droopy eyes, drunk clients and liability issues. That however, is not my main factor for my answer.

The real reason I say no alcohol is because I don’t want my clients to numb themselves. I want the women to feel nervous, excited anticipation and their adrenaline flowing. After all, aren’t all those feelings synonymous with experiencing something out of your comfort zone?

When you do things out of your comfort zone, you grow. You change. You are LIVING.

Why would you numb yourself from all of those amazing things?

Something to think about.

xo,
Jen

PS… this is me and my family LIVING this last week. We are all floating in the Dead Sea together. What a week of adventure it was!

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  • George Kash - Interesting point Jen.
    Thank you ;)ReplyCancel

  • Kim Kravitz - Definitely something to think about!ReplyCancel

  • Tim - You know, I’ve seen this debate come up a lot and its always been the issues of liability and lowering client inhibitions. This is the first time I’ve seen this particular stance on the debate and made me look at it from another perspective. I like it.ReplyCancel

  • Andrea Fine - I completely agree with you. And anyway, alcohol is not a good thing to promote, just like giving candy to a child before a shoot. Just crazy. The process of having one’s picture taken is just that…a process, and while the first number of shots may not be precisely what either you or the client is looking for, it will come with the sense of confidence we as photographers can draw out of the client.

    Because of you and your stellar guidance i have determined to work in the field of Boudoir Photography. Thank youReplyCancel

  • Jodi O - You always give me so much to think about, every time I check in with your blog there is always something to learn! Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Todd Kneib - The liability angle is the one I always think about, but having them live the experience makes sense. They will most likely come away from it a stronger, more confident person.

    What!?! not reading any newspapers while floating in the Dead Sea? ;)ReplyCancel

  • NY Boudoir Photographer | All Men are Perverts - […] 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). […]ReplyCancel

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