August 29, 2012

A Session with Team Dotson {Jekyll Island portrait photographer}

Boy, do I adore the Dotson family!  After our very fun portrait on Saint Simons Island in 2011, I was so stoked when they asked me to photograph them again this year! 

Not much has changed - Shannon and Mark still look fabulous, the boys still love cars and have gotten a little bigger, but Mark debuted a much shorter, spunkier cut after donating his ponytail last year for a good cause.  And speaking of hair, the whole family showed up to their shoot with some amazing styles, thanks to Mark being a professional hairstylist based in Atlanta!  (Look him up at Salon Ten80! He regularly travels to Saint Simons Island to pamper his growing clientele there.)

At the beginning of our session, we met on Jekyll Island's Driftwood Beach, where the boys loved searching the sand for crabs.  We then traveled to the other side of the island, where the Courtyard at Crane's gardens never disappoint.  The sun was picture perfect and cast a beautiful glow behind an already beautiful family.

Enjoy this sneak peek from my session with Team Dotson!  I can't wait to see and photograph them again!

 Is it just me, or do these two look like they're up to no good?  :)

August 28, 2012

Caroline & Russell {Jekyll Island engagement photographer}

Several weeks ago, I received the sweetest email all the way from the U.K.!  Russell explained he and Caroline, his girlfriend of over 7 years, would be traveling to Jekyll Island for a long holiday and was interested in having a portrait session.  But this would be no ordinary portrait session - on Caroline's birthday, Russell was going to propose, and he wanted me to capture the moment!  How exciting!

Two weeks ago, the big day arrived, and early in the morning, the three of us made our way to Driftwood Beach.  I'm not sure who was more nervous...Russell or me!  When he felt the time was right, Russell asked Caroline to sit down, as if he were staging our next shot, then knelt down and popped the big question to a very surprised and happy Caroline!  What a joy to be a witness to such a heartfelt moment and capture it all with my camera!  Russell did a wonderful job designing a beautiful custom ring for Caroline, and she apparently thought so, too, because she just couldn't stop staring at it!

Congratulations, Caroline and Russell, as you begin this exciting new chapter of your life together.  I am so honored to have been such a big part of this new beginning and wish you a lifetime of happiness and much love!

Russell takes over...and Caroline looks a little suspicious...

She said YES!

And a new chapter begins...

August 24, 2012

Self Portrait: A Peek Into My Process

I've been so fortunate to meet and photograph many wonderful people every year.  Some of you have wondered what I do while post-processing your images.  I do many technical things when editing, just like any other professional photographer, but I also do something that may be unexpected and unique: I smile.

I smile when I edit your photo session or wedding - from start to finish.  I smile so much, my face aches after a while, so I take a short break...only to return and smile some more.  I smile because the people I photograph make me happy.  I smile because I love knowing I'm creating a memory that my clients will cherish for a lifetime.  I smile because I love what I do.

It's an honor to photograph each and every one of you.  You make me happy, and I thought you should know that my happiness continues long after your session is over.  Thank you for choosing me to be your photographer.  I simply adore you.  xo

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Jennifer Leigh Photography is based in Southeast Georgia, but Jen happily travels all over the country photographing true love.  She specializes in weddings and portraits...and will be revealing another exciting specialization of her brand in the next month.

August 15, 2012

The Smilek Family {Jekyll Island portrait photographer}

A few weeks ago, I was delighted to have the opportunity to photograph the Smilek family, who traveled to Jekyll Island from the Atlanta area.  From the beginning of our session, I could tell they are a very close, loving family that enjoys sharing a lot of laughs together.  I especially loved the strong bond between Mom and Dad.  Aren't they adorable together?

I did have one small challenge during our session.  Mom mentioned to me that a certain somebody recently decided that revealing her teeth while smiling was not the cool thing to do.  No amount of tickling and heckling from Mom and Dad could make this certain somebody reveal her beautiful pearly whites.  But don't think for a second that just because she doesn't like to show her teeth doesn't mean she can't rock a super model pose!  In fact, her brother and Dad (hilarious!) also decided they would join in on the modeling.

All in all, we had a super fun session and have some beautiful images to show for it.  I hope you enjoy this sneak peek into my time with the Smilek fab four!  And if ever you find yourself in the Jekyll Island area, please contact me to book a family portrait session of your very own!

August 2, 2012

What a Difference a Year Makes {My Life}

Today I am very happily celebrating my first anniversary!  When you hear anniversary, you might immediately think marriage, and while my first wedding anniversary will be this September, the anniversary I'm celebrating today is much, much different, but still very special.

It was one year ago today that I suddenly fell ill with mini strokes and seizures that put me in the hospital twice in a 12-hour period and ultimately revealed a mass in my brain...a possible brain tumor.  A week after the rough diagnosis, I found myself surrounded by my family and soon-to-be husband at a hospital in Savannah, having parts of my head shaved and prepping for a robotic-assist brain biopsy, where doctors would remove a nickel-sized piece of my skull and remove several pieces of the supposed tumor for testing.  Up until that point in my life, I had never had surgery or even a cavity.  This was all new and scary territory for me and everyone around me.

 Self portrait - August 18, 2011, eight days after surgery

Fast forward through a few weeks of healing, inconclusive test results and meeting with a new team of doctors for a second opinion.  A few days after our wedding, instead of being on a honeymoon, Jason and I were at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville learning that within a month and a half, the mass in my brain had shrunk on its own by 85%, ensuring the doctors that the inconclusive test results on my brain matter were right - the mass was not a brain tumor, and surgery to remove the mass was not needed.  What is left is scar tissue from August 2nd & 3rd's series of mini stroke-like events that caused seizures, and the scar tissue will probably always be present but not ever become an issue.  In short...this was a fluke occurrence, and I was healthy.  My doctor's advice?  Go and live and long, healthy and happy life.

So today, that's what I'm celebrating - the one year anniversary of the beginning to my new and improved life!  And oh, what a difference a year makes!  Within the last year... I married my best friend!  I left a full-time job that was not right for me and solely focused on building a successful business around my passion for photography!  I attended several amazing and inspiring photography workshops that changed my life!  I photographed my first international wedding!  I am almost 17 weeks pregnant with Jason's & my first child!  And I am healthier and happier than I have ever been before - mind, body and soul!

A year ago today, I didn't know what journey my life would take from day to day, but I just knew that my journey was not meant to end.  By taking a moment to reflect on what I really wanted my life to look like, focusing on moving forward, and choosing to only surround myself with positive people, I have spent the last year reinventing myself into the me I have always strived for and wanted to be...but never made time for.  Now I laugh more.  I give more.  I love deeper.  I forgive.  I spend more time with my family.  I spend more time on me.  And while that ideal "me" is always changing and strengthening and adapting to life and my goals, today I am going to pause and be thankful.  I am thankful for the wake-up call I needed and for the second chance at living the life I was meant to live.

I also want to tell you...whoever you not wait for something horrible and scary to happen before you decide to make some positive changes in your life.  What does the life that you dream of look like, and what steps can you take to achieve it?  You owe it to yourself to pursue now what makes you happy.  Tomorrow is never promised - live for today.

6 months after beginning my new and improved life - Photo by Brian Tausend

August 1, 2012

The Womack Family {Jekyll Island portrait photographer}

I love living in the beautiful Golden Isles on the Southeast coast of Georgia for many reasons.  One of them is that it is a very popular vacation destination for families.  And I love it even more when those families contact me to make their vacation memories everlasting with my camera.

Meet one such family - the Womacks - who traveled to Saint Simons Island with members from both sides of their family.  They wanted a nice variety of beautiful images taken on a beach, so I naturally suggested Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island.  While it was a very overcast day (we almost cancelled due to an earlier downpour), we had a wonderful time taking our shoes off and relaxing in the sand.  But with two young "water babies" in the family, the Womacks soon turned to the ocean for some quality play time while I captured some fun candid shots of the action.

Enjoy a sneak peek into my shoot with the Womack family.  And if you ever find yourself vacationing in the Golden Isles, please don't hesitate to contact me for a fun family portrait session of your very own!