About eight years ago, a very skilled and wise photographer named Mary Marantz said to a small group of us sitting in her living room, "don't miss an opportunity to let people get to know you". I scribbled those words down on a piece of borrowed scrap paper. I hadn't shown up with a a Macbook to take notes with that day; I barely had the gas money to drive to Connecticut.
I held onto those notes, those scraps of paper, right up until my husband and I recently moved into a new home. They were just white-lined pieces out of a composition book and at some point I had stapled them together and put them in the top drawer of my desk. They traveled with me through several homes, a painful divorce, a career leap, and at long last to a forever home with a forever family.
Alongside the advice there were notes like "shooting groups with more than eight people at f/4.0" and "ambient light is controlled by shutter speed", as well as information on histograms and tips for creating natural posing. And all of those things became second nature over the years while I still struggled with the most important point Mary made that day.
Don't be afraid to share yourself; not in the perfect light that the internet insists you be. Tell the truth and let it be beautiful regardless.
My name is Jackie Michelle Fox. I am 33 years old but just last week I told my husband I am definitely 32. I am self trained and incredibly dedicated to my work. Photography was never a business model for me; it has always been about perfecting a craft that has been gnawing at my insides since I was 17 years old.
I have literally been dreaming about photographing your wedding since I was a child and that heaviness, to me, is beautiful. It's why I cry at all of my weddings; both because it's such an honor to watch the commitment of two people, and also because I never thought my dreams would actually come true this way. My gratitude is immeasurable for this gift and if words could explain it, I would use this platform today to tell you. But I can't.
My childhood was often times ugly and that's why I have so much compassion and love for children. That's why motherhood means so much to me. That's why humanity means so much to me. It's a huge part of why I chose (a long time ago and against advisement of peers), to include family portrait commissions as a part of my workflow. I simply love being around that kind of love. It fills my joy tank.
Don't ask me what eventually allowed me to throw those scraps of paper away because it happened in a heartbeat. We had been packing for weeks already but I didn't put anything related to my work away because it is my busiest time of year. I began to rifle through my desk and after flipping through the white-lined pages, I read them whole heartedly one last time. I laughed because I always shoot family portraits at f/1.6. And I smiled because somewhere along this path, those words of advice started making a lot more sense. I've had a lifetime of stories to share these last eight years, but finally now I have the voice that echoes their weight. I'm completely imperfect and somehow still beautiful and I am honored to have you all along for the ride. Thanks so very much for joining me.
Three images above created by the very talented Noi Train Photography (Atlanta) while we hung out on a rooftop in Marfa, Texas.