It's Jess here, and I've failed at blogging the last two Wednesdays. I should explain that it's because I took on a project larger than myself for the summer - it's an inspiring, incredible, amazing thing, and it's taken on a life of its own. I'm not sleeping enough. I'm not swimming (boooo!) enough. But I am out of my mind excited with the work, and even though I'm a little sleep deprived -- it's worth it.
I call it my Tween Empowerment Project: Boston Baby Photos' Who I Am Project.
I took pictures of loads and loads of tween girls in their bedrooms in the month of June, and collected quotes about them from people who love them. Then I edited the photos and created a slideshow that combines words about the girls with these photos we took... and now I'm spending July visiting all these girls again, showing them their photos and giving them their loved ones' questionnaires... And my goodness, these meetings have been incredible.
So.... now you know why the blog has been languishing the last two weeks! The good news is, the heroic Kendra Stanton Lee has stepped up to the plate and helped me out with a guest post all about the project. I'm inserting some collages showing Who I Am Project photos below, because I want you to see some of the incredible faces behind the project... but I'm excited to share her post because her words are SO much more eloquent than mine would ever be.
So without further ado -- a guest post by Kendra Stanton Lee (copywriter, calligrapher & mama-to-a-tween girl).
When Jess McDaniel (Boston Baby Photos founder and also my neighbor and friend) shared with me that her business was turning 15 this year, I was in awe of the longevity and reach of her art and hustle.
Then, when she shared with me how she was going to mark this 15 year-celebration, celebrating the tweenagers in our midst, I was simply at a loss for words.
But then I found those words; I picked them up from the residue of joy and wonder of watching her carry out this project that I truly believe will become something of a movement.
Because, as any tween girl parent knows, we don't photograph our kids much anymore. Not for a lack of desire. It's just that we are oftentimes in a battle to get our tweens to do anything (e.g. clean rooms, brush teeth, put on deodorant--for the love of all things sweet-smelling!!). We sort of have their baby photos framed as a reminder of the darling, complicit children they once were. Then, we'll look forward to their senior portraits when they're about to leave our house. What happens in the meantime? A whole lot of living and challenging and discovering, I can tell you that much.
Enter: the Who I Am Project. I saw a new twinkle in my daughter's eye the day Jess visited to photograph her. Jess visited 28 other girlies and I assume their parents saw the same eager cooperation. Because this photo session wasn't about posing or wearing something that would make their grandmothers happy. This photo session was all about them: their interests, their ideas, their moment in time as a tween.
When Jess visited us to share the slideshow, our daughter was enormously surprised to learn that a folder had been compiled with questionnaire responses from just a few of her favorite people. And they were saying lovely things about her! The photo packages Jess offers with the slideshow were a no-pressure situation, but knowing that we might not have the opportunity to document our girl just as she is right now was incentive to purchase some keepsakes.
Jess told me her own daughter Sadie was glad to have her album (containing photos and quotes from the questionnaires) because every time she felt she'd disappointed her mom, she would go read in her album about how much her mother loved her. That's a perfect summation of the tween years, I think, and also a perfect summation of the Who I Am project. These moments are fleeting, as are the words we use to describe the wonderful parts about these not-yet-women under our roofs. This project is about capturing them, if only holding it close like a firefly before we let go once more.
Kendra Stanton Lee is a copywriter and calligrapher in Milton, MA. Her daughter, M., loves to skateboard and rock out on her guitar.
Oh, and one more note from me, Jess: If you're interested, you can follow along on Instagram with the hashtag #bbpwhoiamproject and you can see slideshows (when the girls tell me it's OK for me to post them) up on my YouTube channel. You can also watch slideshows and see images every day at noon all summer long on my Facebook page. Also, the good news is I'm LOVING doing these sessions so much that I'm going to do them again. Every year, I'm thinking - likely in January or February when my work life is quieter... so if you want one for your daughter, visit the Who I Am Project website and fill out the form that pops up when you click on the "interested" link. I'll be in touch when I'm booking the next round of these.
I'm Jessica McDaniel, and May 2017 marked my 14th anniversary photographing babies and their families all around Boston.
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