(image used with permission from Jesh De Rox)
I’m still not quite sure how I found Jesh, but I consider this discovery to be among one of the greatest blessings of my life in photography.
I remember being moved by the interview he did with Crash Taylor a few months ago, and even copied a portion of a quote to print out for my office. He seemed to have a type of vision beyond what most photographers do. And by vision, I mean a depth and purpose in his intentions that is far deeper than the goal of making impressive photographs, having great customer service, becoming famous, making millions of dollars, or any other surface level pursuit of happiness or success.
Soon after reading his interview with Crash, I found myself led to his inspiring website, and I purchased his Beloved Field Guide. Then, a few weeks ago I invested a wonderful two hours in listening to the recording of his inspirational talk given at WPPI. (to hear the recording click on the bottom right of page) The recording is not the highest quality, but the content delivered was of such value that I found myself intently focused on the edge of my seat in concentration to hear and absorb everything he was communicating to his audience. It was a recording of a live event, it didn’t have the images and visual context to accompany some of the delivery, but regardless, it possessed a powerful spirit of truth. I was changed that day forever, for the better.
I am amazed how each sentence he speaks seems to be a proverbial gem. It is indeed full of truth. And when truth is spoken, people can be moved and changed. When truth is spoken, our hearts resonate its validity, and just as the Bible states, “The Truth shall set you free”. Jesh’s philosophy on the meaning of photography has done exactly that for me. It has unveiled something that I have felt for a long time, but didn’t understand. It opened my eyes to what my real purpose for photography could be.
Jesh describes the need for those being photographed to have “an experience”. I hear this term often in the business world, and usually it contains a connotation of customer service and lavish treatment for your clients. Though this is important, his “experience” goes far beyond that. In the interview he says:
…”i also see huge potential for photographers who continue exploring in the direction of inviting incredible client experience. the work i’ve been doing in the Beloved sessions, interacting authentically with those who commission me, has led to several thrilling and unexpected side affects, which have increasingly become the focus of my work.
i believe it is possible a new genre of photography could emerge, focusing on the celebration, strengthening and renewal of relationship between people. photographers deliver a product whose purpose is to remind people of what is most important to them. when that service is provided at the shoot itself,,, a powerful combination of factors collide to create something truly beautiful.
i am told frequently by the people i work with that their experience with me enabled them to grow closer. some have described it as ‘finding’ each other again. quite a powerful thing to be able to offer people, with benefits that far outreach what size wall-print they order.
at the end of the day, photography is conversation. it’s up to you to decide the kind of conversation you want to have.
many people are caught up in ‘fake conversations’ because we practice them so often. their images portray those same insincere relationships. i think we have a beautiful opportunity to give something more.
i believe that the future of photography exists in the frontiers of the human heart, and the ones brave enough to explore it….”
Jesh has gathered these theories into a photographic movement he calls “Beloved”. He describes the movement as thus:
“…my current focus is my Beloved project, which as i mentioned earlier is a movement aimed at the celebration and renewal of relationship, especially between couples who have been together for some time.
when people fall in love, they are number one in priority. everything else is shoved aside for them. as they are together longer, the way they see each other changes. what once was magical becomes ordinary, commonplace. this leads to a dramatic shift in the way they treat each other.
but it’s not their innate value that changes, rather it’s that they each become blind to it. the work that i do isn’t about creation so much as removing what is in the way. my work in these sessions has continued to produce intriguing results. it is my hope that others will take from what i have gathered so far and forge ahead.
i believe if couples were given a regular opportunity to re-see each other, re-experience the one they fell in love with, quality of life in the relationship would dynamically improve. and of course, the relationships closest to us have more affect on us than any other factor in our life.
i don’t think it’s far-fetched to say that if such a genre were established, and thousands of photographers around the world were offering such services, there would be a far-reaching, world-wide affect.
That is just a portion of Jesh. As you can see, his depth and intentions go far beyond the usual fluff of an oft commercialized industry.
Most of us constantly find ourselves in a state of distraction. When we operate this way we are less sincere, we are more blinded to our closest relationships, and we aren’t experiencing true happiness. Jesh’s intentions are to invite those whom he photographs to remove the distractions and be able to see each other authentically again. To fall in love again. To experience truth during a session that teaches us once more who we are, who those closest to us are, and to see our infinite value.
This isn’t done by a mere quick command. And I’m sure its something that takes practice to learn. The photography side of things is not about creating so called “candid” set-ups and ushering a detailed list of directions and commands to create an image, (‘Look this direction”, “smile!”, “turn here”, “chin down” , “look excited!…” –which I’m totally totally guilty of by the way…) but using invitations that allow for real experiences and a range of sincere moments and emotions to unfold naturally–which as an added bonus, we get to capture with our camera–which makes that moment live forever and be moving and powerful upon viewing BECAUSE there was something real happening in that moment.
And that, my friends, is the very essence of what strongly attracts me to this idea. Authenticity. Truth. Sincerity. Removing the roadblocks of how we see ourselves and each other. This is what can truly make photography powerful and life changing. Yes, we can capture memories, we can document events and relationships, but its more than that. Its about helping others see their own potential in themselves and those they love– during the actual session. Its about helping people “see” truth. And that type of authenticity can’t be found just posing, issuing commands or the prodding of artistic direction. And as Jesh further states in another incredible live interview, you can not expect authenticity from your clients until you offer the same authenticity yourself first.
What a powerful concept! And what a huge responsibility. And guaranteed, that something of this nature–with the ability to change people’s lives (photographer and subject alike)–that it will most certainly be met with opposition. The most important things in life always are. Its a whole lot easier to continue to do things as we have always done. Its a whole lot easier to communicate with each other on the surface–especially with strangers or those whom we haven’t yet developed a deeper relationship. Its a whole lot easier to hide within ourselves and cover up our fears, insecurities, hurts, hopes, or dreams. It takes the very essence of risk to step away from the comfort zone of surface level living and communication–but when we do–we experience joy that is only possible when we are authentic and real with one another.
This is the very moral and core ethic that I have been seeking. This is the motivation and purpose that I need rooted inside me to pick me back up when I feel like giving up. This is why photography CAN be powerful.
I have a long road ahead of me. Its going to take practice and a lot of patience. But I also think it will be worth it. And what better cause to fight for.
*If your curiosity is peaked on how Jesh helps invite these experiences during a session, the Beloved Field Guide is of great value. I recommend listening to his WPPI address as an ideal introduction to these concepts.
Brooke Snow is a Lifestyle photographer in Cache Valley, Utah. Her talents and awards include winning the 4th, 5th, and 7th grade spelling bees. Unfortunately she’ll always remember the words she lost on: Buzzard (only used one Z) and Squirrel (only used one R). Completely defeated, she now relies on spell check, and husband check. Both are quite reliable and keep her looking more intelligent. After winning 1st place in an art contest in 2nd grade, she spent her $20 winnings to buy a Beethoven Bust at the mall. She was an odd child completely shielded from popular culture. One of her most embarrassing childhood moments was her cousins 9 year birthday party when she was the only guest who did not know who “New Kids on the Block” were. She’s still not up on pop culture, but she can play nearly any classical song by request. What’s more important anyway?