Jennifer Jacobson Photography » San Francisco Bay Area Baby, Child, and Family Photographer, San Mateo County Photographer, Burlingame Photographer, Peninsula Photographer

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Can we talk about fear for a minute? If you asked me when I was a teenager what I was afraid of, I would have said not being perfect. If you asked me in my 20’s I would have said being mediocre. If you ask me now, the answer is I am afraid of being mediocre at something I’m actually good at. I am fully aware that I’m never going to be perfect at anything and I’m okay with that. I am absolutely going to be mediocre at some things, and I have accepted that too. But when it comes to something I know I have a talent for—like photography—that’s where I get afraid. Not afraid that I won’t get the safe shots–the ones that clients hire me for–but afraid that I won’t get the unsafe ones. The ones they didn’t know they wanted until they hired me. The less obvious, subtle shots. The shots that have that certain unexpected quality that makes you stop and look at it a little longer. Maybe they even make you wonder about something, or feel something that you can’t quite put your finger on. The kind of shots that break the rules in all the right ways. Sometimes this fear paralyzes me from taking creative risks, because if I don’t try then I can’t fail. I stay with the light I’m comfortable with, the canned “candid” poses, the compositions I know work. And then I feel even more mediocre. Yan-workshop-1-2

There’s a photographer I follow who consistently produces the kind of throat-punching images that give me all the “feels” in her personal and client work. Her name is Yan Palmer. She’s one of those photographers I look at and think, “She nails it every single time. How does she do it?” So it surprised me when I went to her workshop a couple weeks ago and she told us she still feels like she isn’t a master. That she fights herself to get out of bed on a daily basis. She said that we’re never going to feel like we’ve arrived or that we’re good enough. And that we never should feel that way. Because it would mean that we stop growing and instead become stagnant. Yan-workshop-3

This fear I have will never subside, but if I don’t move through it I’ll never move at all. When change and growth are involved, fear comes knocking really loud, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I need to embrace this fear because it keeps me fresh. It keeps me hungry. It keeps me hunting, experimenting, being ever more intentional with what’s in my frame and willing to take creative risks.

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I’m looking to shoot a handful of sessions with families for the specific purpose of realizing this vision I have, of creating pictures that communicate a bigger picture–that tell the whole story of family life. How sometimes it’s laugh-out-loud-happy, and sometimes it’s soft and moody. Sometimes it’s one hot mess–but a beautiful mess no less. Yan gave me some specific ideas, gaps to fill, and techniques to try and I’d love to creative license to do that. I just need some willing subjects besides my own kids. Here’s what it will look like: not drastically different from my usual work, but sort of like when your favorite music artist cuts a new album that’s more…experimental. Communicating the themes we know and love in ways that are different than what we’ve all seen a thousand times before. Yan-workshop-4

If you like the direction I’m headed with this, if you like what you’ve seen here and here and in this post, and if you, too, are feeling that you want something a little more true/dynamic/less predictable with your family pictures, then come along with me. Let’s break some rules together and see what magic happens. What’s in it for you? Free photos by yours truly. You heard that right–gratis. Send me a note at with some information about you and your family–maybe a link to your Instagram to give me a peek–and see if you’re a good fit for this little project of mine. I’ll look forward to hearing from you!

*Images taken by me at Yan’s workshop.


This is one of the sweetest couples I have ever had the privilege of photographing. It’s a wonderful thing to watch a husband and wife, together for almost a decade, dote on one another so effortlessly. She calls him, “Brooksy,” a play on their last name, which is adorable and I wish there was a way to photograph that. Anyway, I think their joy in one another and in their growing family shines through in this set. A few things about the session–Molly, the mom-to-be, wanted very much to include her first “baby,” Hollis the dog. She also wanted to shoot at Baker Beach, where they often go to let Hollis play in the waves. They both grew up in Kansas and so wanted to highlight their years and home in San Francisco. Hollis had recently undergone surgery and wasn’t up for splashing in the waves, so we decided to shoot both at home and the beach. The red floral dress Molly is wearing in some of the shots was her own mom’s from when she was expecting Molly, so we documented that. Also, Molly works in makeup and her husband works in denim and those elements are there as well. Enjoy!

An artsy couple falls in love, settles down in a charming Victorian home in Alameda, and fills it with two ridiculously darling children. There is laughter and cuddling and wondering and toddling and the occasional whimper because one of those children has a need and knows that mom or dad will meet it because everyone feels that feeling you can only call “home.”  

Here is the second boho look I photographed with darling, stylish Megan from the Quintessentials blog and her husband. (In case you missed the first look, view it here and here). It was so romantic, and I loved capturing their sweet anticipation as they awaited their first baby! There is something so thrilling about watching a family grow from two to three, and I love how maternity photos can celebrate that change. Megan shows just how beautiful a bump can be!

Style note: Megan’s dress from Forever 21 was not a maternity dress, and she told me she wore it all the time through the last weeks of her pregnancy, and will continue to in the postpartum weeks. It’s sold out now, but here’s a similar one for you mamas (preggers or not)! Great find!!

We shot these in some open space on the grounds at Stanford. All photos shot on fuji 400h film with my Pentax 645nii. Developed and scanned by my favorite peeps at the FIND lab.

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