Florida greeted us with a week of promised rain showers and no beach days. We were stressed by the disruption and cabin fever. The next evening we went to the beach. My daughter reached for my hand and then asked me if I had felt nervous when I had started preschool. I had failed to see through my own stress that I had not given her the encouragement and time to open up. I was met by my own tide of emotion. Just maybe planning to do nothing is more significant than always planning to do something. And sometimes perhaps we need a tide to wash through to help us see that.Read More
My ultimate goal in my Unscripted Life Sessions is to capture the true essence of a family and their personalities. I never force a smile and I encourage natural and even serious expressions. For 2018, I decided to completely revamp my Fine Art School Portraiture as a way to provide parents with a taste of my Unscripted sessions through genuine and timeless school portraits. I aspired to carry the message of embracing and cherishing life - in the here and now - further than just the families I have the honor of photographing.Read More
It is a privilege to be invited to document a family's milestones. I am incredibly thankful for repeat clients as I get to witness a family's love and dynamics grow and change. I first photographed this gorgeous couple in 2011 for their engagement. The affection between Beka and Mike radiates! They are a fun-loving couple, and they will bring a smile to your face from the moment you say hello to long after you have parted ways. We have kept in contact over the years, and I was so delighted to hear that they wanted to make a trip to the city for me to photograph them again. This time with their adorable little man, Camden!
Camden led the way through The Loch in Central Park laughing and exploring the entire time! What a sweet and curious little boy. He roamed the paths of the North Woods with his parents taking in and enjoying his new surroundings. His adorable laughing when Mom and Dad tossed leaves into the air had me in giggles as well! Throughout our session, this adventurous little one repeatedly asked for shoulder rides and tosses in the air from Dad. Best buds for sure those two are! And still, his love for Mom is evident in the quiet and affectionate moments they shared by the water. Such strong bonds always shine so brightly.
Thank you to this beautiful family for once again inviting me into your lives. I cannot wait for the next time!
Fellow Mommas, why do Mondays feel like Fridays sometimes? I had a vision of starting this week awake, rejuvenated, and ready to take it on. Supermom versus the world! However, when my eyes opened this morning, I felt as though I had not slept in days. The week ahead seems daunting. My body tense. The stress was already working its way through my muscle into my mind. We have all been there, probably more times than not. We carry on, check off items on our To Do List, juggle a work schedule, and take care of those we need to. Of course, we are happy to do so. I always feel fulfilled in doing such, but sometimes that demands more energy that we might have available within us.
Yet, when you hit that "wall" do you recognize it? Permit yourself to listen to your body and mind? Do you slow down to recharge?
In Portugal, for a small period, I found myself completely alone in the gardens surrounding Palacio da Pena. For a moment, I felt the compulsion to rush and catch up with my husband and daughter. But I stopped myself. I concentrated on taking deep breaths. To take in my surroundings completely. The silence. The air. The smell. The peace. The things that I would frequently miss in my everyday life.
I sat in the middle of the path, and I watched the fog roll in around me. It felt like an embrace. An acknowledgment of sorts from Mother Nature that self-care is essential. A lesson from Her to root yourself in the moment and realize that the energy of your environment can be healing if interpreted correctly. The acceptance that such moments are not selfish. That those moments are essential because I am taking better care of my family by taking better care of myself.
What do you when you hit your "wall"? Where do you find yourself most able to recharge?
The Kalyanpur boys are full of life and exploration. If there is no fun to be found, they create it! I am quite sure that comes from the adventures they encounter all over the world with their parents. Their session took place in Central Park and was full of laughter, running, and bubbles! We explored the trails of the North Wood and chased bubbles along The Loch. You could see just how much the youngest adored his brother; mimicking his every move. Every frame I shot, felt like a keeper as the connection between the family simply radiates through the lens.
I am so thankful to have a "job" that allows me to the opportunity to grow deeper friendships. A "job" requires me to capture the love between a family. A "job" that gives me the ability to show them how beautiful they are.Read More
In this post, New York Photographer Jessica Leigh details the importance of unscripted life sessions to preserving your memories before they fall prey to the 3-month rule.Read More
Maybe you have already completed your holiday shopping, or perhaps you are a bit like me and are just finishing up as the countdown begins. The holidays are a time when families come together, create memories, and start new traditions. I have put together a last-minute gift list that will show your family how much the memories you have created together mean to you.Read More
What I love about running mini sessions is the number of new families I have the opportunity to meet and photograph. During my Summer's End Mini Sessions, I had the pleasure of photographing The Frank Family. Let me tell you; a mini session has never flown by so fast as we were having such a blast! We chose to meet at Bow Bridge in Central Park, and the four of us spent the time exploring the trails around the areaRead More
What Do Your Holiday Cards Say About You? Order one of our beautiful, custom designs for your 2017 holiday cards and make an impression admist all the other cards your loved ones will be receiving this holiday session.Read More
There is nothing quite like watching siblings interact and play. There is an extraordinary bond between siblings close in age. Especially boys! I had the privilege of photographing Tucker and Quinn along with their parents on a beautiful - and warm - fall afternoon last month. For their Summer's End Mini Session, we met and explored Safari Playground in Central Park. The session flew by as my camera snapped pictures of them frolicking, laughing, and spending quality time together.
Tucker surely loved being outdoors! A natural explorer, he jumped through leaves, climbed trees, and created fun little games for him and his brother. It was a joy watching this silly and fun loving four-year-old concur his surroundings. Of course, his 15-month-old brother Quinn was in tow! Quinn followed his big brother, through the playground and encompassing area, idealizing and attempting to mimic Tucker. Quinn's big smile never left his face during the entire session. I found myself smiling throughout that day just thinking of the fun this family had together. There is no doubt that the adventurous and caring personalities of these brothers are due to their amazing parents, Adam and Tina! They both made sure to create engaging and interactive play. At one point, Quinn just could not stop giggling every time Dad pretended he was an airplane swinging him through the air! There were even quiet moments of snuggles and comfort with Mom.
This loving family was such a pleasure to photograph. I adored every moment of their mini session! Being able to capture Quinn and Tucker's personalities along with each boy's unique and special bonds with mom and dad, was an absolute joy! Adam, Tina, Tucker, and Quinn, thank you for letting me document and create a visual story of such a beautiful time in your lives!
This holiday season, give the gift of preservation with a gift certificate for family documentary photography with Photography by Jessica Leigh.Read More
Before it turned winter overnight here in New York, I had the privilege of creating photographs for the Frankfurt family during their Summer's End Mini Session. We explored The Pool, The Loch, and all the North Woods of Central Park. What an adventure it was! This mini session was not the first time the Frankfurt's have been in front of my lens and watching Henry grow, and change has been incredible!
Henry is such a vibrant, spunky, and caring little guy. The confidence his amazing parents have instilled in him is evident as he was always ready to explore and discover no matter the environment. Watching mom and dad play with, listen to, and hold their beloved Henry with such joy as we chased one another through the park was contagious! I could not help smiling the entire session. As I culled through the images, one thing was so evident - quite frankly - it pulled at my heartstrings. No matter how much fun we were having, Henry always made sure to keep an eye out for his parents. He would stop playing to give them some attention and love. Seriously, tearjerker!
I enjoyed spending time in Central Park with The Frankfurt's. I am so grateful to them for allowing me to create a visual story of this extraordinary time in their lives!
Sunday changed me. It changed me in more ways than I probably can put into words. My soul changed. My body changed. My willpower changed. On Sunday, I ran the TCS New York Marathon. As I write this blog post, my body is aching, begging for fuel and attention. I am mentally and physically exhausted - close to how I felt after childbirth. And yet - similar to how I felt after birthing my daughter - I feel powerful and exhilarated.
When I run, I find the ability to concentrate on one thing only. I put my headphones on, tune out the world and all its noise, and focus on my body. Running has always been independent for me. I am a member of only the New York Road Runners, and I shy away from running clubs. Running isn't social for me; it is therapeutic.
On Sunday I was prepared, rested, and game for a hilly 26.2 miles through New York's five boroughs. I had my playlist synced to my step count. Every detail was meticulously planned out to put me over the finish line at around four hours. I knew I could do it. I was ready to do it no matter what mother nature threw at us runners that day.
The rain started just as the cannon went off for my wave. That didn't matter; I was prepared. Mile one through 14 I was steady and my energy high. And then the Queensboro Bridge happened. I did not anticipate how slippery the metal channels of the bridge would be. As I began the steep and long incline I stepped on one, and my right knee went right, and my leg went in the opposite direction. I heard a pop as I stumbled a bit, but never stopped. I knew if I looked down or acknowledged the pain the race would be over for me.
I made it all the way to the Willis Avenue Bridge before fatigue caught up to me and I could not tune out the pain. I began to slow down into a hobbling lope. I saw an end before the finish line, and it was crushing.
I looked to my left and saw a man struggling like me. I saw the pull of his hamstring and the pain on his face. He was as depleted and in as much pain as me. I pulled my headphones off for the first time during a run and said to him, "We need to do this together." I needed someone to support and encourage me, or I would have failed. My music wasn't enough anymore. My willpower wasn't enough anymore. I needed help. I needed someone other than myself. At that moment, I found my team in what I considered a solitary sport.
For those last few miles, we encouraged one another, pushed one another, and in the last 200 meters he grabbed my hand, and we ran. We ran faster than we had in those preceding miles together and finished the race, hand in hand, before collapsing over the finish line. And without my headphones on.
We thanked and embraced each other, and in a cluster of other finishers, emotions, and marathon volunteers we walked our separate ways to find our families. As someone hung a medal around my neck, and a poncho draped over my shoulders, I broke down. Yes, partly from exhaustion and my knee pain, but mostly because the realization of speaking about "Creating A Tribe Of Motherhood" isn't just in raising our children. We need a team to help raise ourselves. We need a team to show us what we are capable of achieving. And what is possible if we have the support and strength from those around us.
So thank you to the stranger that broadened my Tribe yesterday.
Marathon #1 accomplished!
A litter girl exploring the woods of The Ramble in Central Park during a family mini session.Read More
In this blog, Jessica Leigh Photography discusses a new private Facebook group being set up for a Tribe of Motherhood to escape parent-shaming and find support and love.Read More
In this post, NYC family documentary photographer, Jessica Prokop discusses how family portraits can boost happiness and self-esteem in children.Read More
This beautiful documentary family session was photographed by Photography by Jessica Leigh during a family outing in Central Park at the Three Bears Playground.Read More
"When you travel with your children you are giving them something that can never be taken away. Experience, exposure, and a way of life." -Pamela T. Chandler
As parents, we believe providing our daughter with the opportunity to view the world's beauty, diversity, and to cultivate respect and appreciation for all, is of the utmost importance. Our wish for her to recognize the value of travel, yet remain grounded and humble without a sense of entitlement that can come with such experiences. Let's not BS here, at almost three years old how can we expect her to grasp that concept? (Quo the full blown temper tantrum that took place today - hitting at me and throwing herself onto the pavement - over me saying no to a second dessert).
My expectations are realistic for her first European visit. No, I do not presume she will remember the tour of Lisbon or the all the historical stories I have presented to her this past week (geeky history buff over here). Yes, I expect that scoop of gelato to be more important to her right now than all the time and effort my husband and I put into planning this trip.
Still, with the little memories, she will retain of these trips during her early years I am confident that the experiences, encounters, and environments will shape the person she will become.
Her appreciation for adventure will continue to blossom. Her world will become bigger than the city she calls home. And her understanding of the good and the evil that makes up humanity will be well-formed.
So for now, I will take deep breaths as I attempt to peel my kicking and screaming child off the pavement - while mouthing silent apologies to those around me. And I will relish the "WOWs" that escape her lips as she wanders through the foggy forest of Parque e Palácio Nacional da Pena.
“I think every working mom probably feels the same thing: You go through big chunks of time where you’re just thinking, “This is impossible – oh, this is impossible.” And then you just keep going, and keep going, and sort of do the impossible” – Tina Fey
Parenting has never been simple, but these days, it can be downright overwhelming. Throw social media into the mix, and now everyone has an opinion on what you should or should not do as you raise your kids. I joke that I am #badparenting, but sometimes my child is not going to eat organic food at every meal, and sometimes I am so exhausted in the evening we curl up on the couch and watching a movie together and that does not mean that I am treating my TV as a babysitter.
We all know how disheartening it can feel, especially when you are just barely holding life, work, and family in a fragile balancing act.
Parents, I hear you. I see you. I am you.
Right now, I am attempting to type this post as quietly as I can (because today my two-year-old will not nap without me next to her) while I am simultaneously listening in on a conference call. All I want to do is snuggle down into her and feel that mother/daughter bond as we both drift off to nap. Yet, unfortunately, that is just not a possibility today. #badparenting
Here comes the guilt. The guilt in the realization that I know that these moments are fleeting. That one day I will not have the opportunity to wrap my arms around her and feel her body relax as she drifts off to sleep. That there will come a day very soon, when she will say, “Get real, Mom!” if I ask her for a hug and kiss in public. That “fix it all” Mommy will no longer be needed, and she will be able to soothe herself when she gets a boo boo.
I cannot quit my job. I cannot be a stay at home parent. I cannot allow this guilt to tear me up because I did not give up my personal and career ambitions the moment I became a Mom. And no, I am not a #badparent because of all this.
THESE ARE MY PERSONAL CHOICES. I do not judge any parent on what choices they made for themselves or their families. We are all just trying to make it through each day the best we can, right?
Still, the question lingers, how do I alleviate some of this guilt as every time I blink my daughter is growing and changing?
I make sure to carry my camera with me everywhere. Sometimes I feel like it’s just adding to the weight of my diaper bag (that is the size of a carry-on), the stroller, and car seat. Only when I start shooting does all that outside noise dissipate, and it is just me and my family focused on moments I will miss so dearly once they are gone.
It is therapeutic as well as comforting in knowing that I will have those moments preserved forever. So that one day when life feels like I am in the middle of the Fiestas of San Fermin with bulls running over me, I will have those deeply cherished photographs to pull out, bring a smile to my face, and know that I am doing the best I can.
“Behind every young child, who believes in himself, is a parent who believed first.” – Matthew Jacobson
The right time – Oh, those three little words.
To me, everything about parenthood appears to revolve around these three words. When is the right time to have a baby? When is the right time to start solids? When is the right time to start potty training? When is the right time to go back to work? What is the right time to sleep before your child completely loses his mind (that ‘tipping point’)? In all these considerations and choices, you are required to make daily how often do they revolve around you solely? Elizabeth Stone’s words could not resonant truer.
‘Making a decision to have a child is momentous; it is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.’
The woman nailed it! Is this how every parent’s thought process changes instantly the moment they decide to try conceiving a baby?
Moment-by-moment, day-by-day, year-by-year, we live it. Frankly, it’s exhausting. These decisions and anxieties make the time pass unimaginably faster.
For me, when my world (and brain) slows down in those soft moments of cuddles and fits of laughter, or when I find myself crying because I cannot comprehend loving anyone more, I would just want to stop time and savor it. Unfortunately, almost never are these moments preserved through images.
By booking one of my Unscripted Life Sessions, these precious moments can be held on to forever. These photographs become an asset when the stress of managing that balance feels overwhelming or when the bonds within your family need tightening. My sessions are structured to narrate the family stories – your story – of the chaos, love, and laughter in a way which traditional photography is unable to capture.
This balancing act of life and work is difficult and demanding. Your efforts will remain unknown and underappreciated to your children until they experience it one day.
You owe it to yourself, to have photos of you and your loved ones during these baby and adolescent years to show your strength and resilience. When the time comes to say, ‘I remember….’ you will have images to share along with your stories.