S. Dopudja: Having seen Jessica’s HUGE heart, generosity and hard work from the day she moved to California, I am blown away that people would post nasty comments about her. Obviously, they’re people who don’t know her. She doesn’t need me to defend her, but I had to chime in on this one. No one has earned her success more than Jessica. Keep censoring them Jessica. Free speech doesn’t come with a guarantee to be heard. 11.21.07, 6:22PM
Kris Kendrick: Anyone who passes judgment on your subject matter isn’t a photographer, IMHO. Makes me wonder why they are posting in the first place. 11.20.07, 11:43PM
SNB: Jessica, I often wondered how you deal with the bad comments that I just know all you photographers must receive since a good friend of mine is a photographer and chronicles the pain of dealing with nasty comments she gets on her site – it’s a big drain on her positive spirit to read and then delete and try to forget such comments. I think it’s entirely your business to moderate your comments as it’s YOUR blog! I appreciate you putting your clients first of the reasons you wouldn’t want to let negative/nasty comments remain on your blog. There’s no doubt that some people let their "inner ugliness" run free with the annonimity the Internet affords them (except for the owners of sites such as your blog who know where the comments originate from) and I just have to wonder if they feel good about themselves unleashing such negativity? Thanks for bringing up this topic. 11.19.07, 3:17PM
Elise: When I saw the un-birthday post I was totally jealous, although I would not at the time admit it to myself. All of us are jealous, covetous, little beings and it is silly to pretend we are not. After reading through the comments, especially one from one of the mothers of the birthday girls, I can see how small and selfish my thinking was and how much freedom there really is if we quit judging and start living our own lives. Thanks for bringing up this topic. Jealousy is a universal disease. 11.17.07, 11:28PM
Cristina Navarro: So interesting….I’m late on this post…but I’m glad you dared to ask the question. I believe that you have a heart of gold and that the most of the people you photograph do, too. Is there such a thing as excess? Of course… we can look to some of Hollywood to see what excess may or may not to someone. There is such a things as waste. I do believe, however, that I cannot make that call on behalf of someone. As photographers, I believe that we face a danger in our attraction to beauty. Why? Because let’s face it…money often equals beauty…. beautiful people, places, things…. It is hard not to want to photograph that all the time. But we must remember that money never equals beauty of the soul. The simple person. In the end, isn’t that image we are all after? 11.17.07, 11:04PM
jessica claire: Memoria, Not exactly. I said that I would not post anything that could hurt my client’s feelings, and when in doubt, I err on the side of conservative judgement. I felt that your post was very judgemental in tone and I wouldn’t, from a clients’ perspective, want to see that. That’s all! I am willing to post comments I don’t agree with–there are tons here. But it’s not exactly a platform for completely free speech–this is a private blog and I will not post anything questionable that could potentially bother a client. 11.17.07, 9:04PM
Memoria: Hello, Jessica. I would like to know why my comment was not posted. I did not say anything hurtful intentionally. I only related my opinion and the truth. On your site, are we allowed to do so only if it agrees with your way of thinking? I hope not. 11.17.07, 8:54PM
Dan Speicher : I do not believe that there is to much. Those people that others are envious of work their buts off, or did at some point. They just found a way to make a dime, and ended up making money. Even if their money came from their family, sombody worked hard for that, who is anybody else to judge what someone has. The ones who are really selfish are the ones who turn envy into hate. Your work is amazing. You really capture the inner beauty of a person and no one can take that away from them. Who is anybody to judge the intents or cost of an event, or who helped to provide the wedding of a lifetime. Thanks for the inspiration Jess 11.17.07, 1:53PM
Lindsay Kipp: I wish I could throw my son a birthday party like the ones you have had the oppertunity to shoot or even had a (any) photographer at my wedding! I’m not a materialistic person by any means but if I had the money to do any thing I would for my son (he’s never had any birthday party) and those ‘special’ occassions. I have breifly spoken to you about doing our family portraits but I’m just going to have to keep saving and one day it will happen… he might be getting married by then :-). I don’t think you need to defend anyone, it’s their money and they can do whatever they want with it (besides thats how MANY people make their living. Take care! I think your work is wonderful! 11.16.07, 4:38PM
Laurie: As a big fan of your work and someone who pretty much struggles financially, I do sometimes look at the pictures on your site and say "hmm…not hard to take great pictures when the people you are shooting are beautiful and can afford Jimmy Choo’s…" When my kids ask if we are rich, I tell them we are rich in spirit and in love and *those* are the riches that really matter. Who am I to judge, who am I to know that these very well to do families don’t tell their kids the same thing? We all have our own sense of wealth. Even though I am envious (I’ll admit it) of the shoes, the dress, the location, the flowers, I’ll continue to be a huge fan of yours and to scrimp and save in the hopes that some day you can shoot my own daughters wedding. God Bless, Jess. 11.16.07, 1:04PM
christian burge: it’s sad that you had to waste a good post on people being hateful…….4 get them…tell me more about photography!!!!!! I LUV U!!!! 11.16.07, 8:24AM
Elana: I visit your site ALL the time to marvel at your gorgeous talent. I have to admit that I have, many a time, sighed to myself and thought "Oy…that’s nuts…way too over the top". ( I swear I never post anything nasty!). All sorts of people spend all sorts of money on wasteful things…and the truth is that that’s their prerogative. It doesn’t bothee me so much that they are spending their money…after all, it’s their money to spend. What sometimes bothers me is that I KNOW that many of these people truly believe that spending that kind of money over and over and over again will truly make them happy. I really believe that many of these people don’t realize that it’s not the money that will make them happy. It’s TOTALLY not my place to judge these people, which is why I’ve always kept those feelings to myself. I truly hope that they can remain as fortunate as their are…but still find happiness in the more beautiful, free things that life has to offer, such as true love, lazy sunday afternoons and contentment. 11.15.07, 9:42PM
claire: UNBELIEVABLE…reading your blog today and came across the how much is too much…I am almost in tears for you…I couldn’t imagine getting a nasty comment…(I love just getting a comment on my blog) I just can’t comprehend why one would want to send nasty words..when I look on your blog it always picks me up!…I love your photos your work and your comments…if anything I am a little jealous of all your fabulous work and photos..but I couldn’t imagine writing something nasty….please know that for every (hopefully there are few) nasty email there are thousands of great ones…and thousands of people who think you and all your clients are wonderful! I am sorry that this happened to you c 11.15.07, 9:20PM
Sublime Photography: Wow, Jessica. What a thought provoking post. I honestly think people who post mean-spirited comments are just jealous and bullying you makes themselves feel better. I think the more successful you get, the more people want to see you fall. I am inspired by you other photographers who put themselves out there because I know how that can make you more vulnerable to criticism. As far as "how much is too much," it all comes down to values. Everyone has a different set of values and who am I to judge what others should/shouldn’t spend their money on. Whether you want to spend your money on a wedding or retirement or a single pair of shoes, go for it. Whatever makes you happy. 11.15.07, 9:20PM
Louisa Coulthurst: I would have to add to this that if you can’t give back to others when you earn £1, you won’t be able to give when you earn a million. Is it wrong to treat yourself? No. Do I think that these weddings etc are extravagant? Well I am embarrassed to say that I have not really noticed – I mean that yes I have noticed a few Jimmy Choos floating about and I know how much they cost – but to all extents and purposes one wedding dress looks very much like another to me – designer or not. How do I know if someone paid top whack or got it off Ebay? I don’t think that a person’s wedding or event would look any less glamorous if they spent less if it is captured by a good photographer. I have learnt a lot from looking at not only Jessica’s work but also other photographers and becoming more visually literate. 11.15.07, 7:23PM
Heather Fowler: As a wedding photographer too I have felt like I see a lot of "wasted" money in my profession. One night after a tough job years ago I came home crying because I was feeling guilty about being part of all that "waste" and I was questioning my own position in all of it. Was I a waste too?I was thinking about the amount of flatware and glasses that needed to be washed that night by the caterer and how much energy that was going to take up on this earth! Wow I was loosing it! But if it were not for that "waste" I would not have a job. I have had so many sweet, good, admirable clients that made me cry too because I was happy for them and they really deserved all the pampering and "waste" even if it was just for one day. 11.15.07, 6:21PM
Karen: Hmm…this is an interesting question. Especially with the "there are starving children on the other side of the world" comment. Last year, I spent 2 weeks in the poorest country in the WORLD. Niger. The poverty is unbelievable! But at the same time, the generosity of the people I encountered and shared meals and days with BLEW ME AWAY!!!!! A woman who had NOTHING insisted on giving me a gift when we left her house … just because! How many Americans, wealthy or not do you know like that? The gift she gave was of little monetary value, but she could have sold it for a profit to feed her children…. Perhaps the question should not be "How much is too much" but How much can *I* give? 11.15.07, 4:37PM
Christina LeMarr: Birthdays happen once a year, weddings, hopefully once in a lifetime, in my case, my "once in a lifetime" happen to be the second time around *grin* if you want to celebrate something that is truely special to you I say celebrate it how you chose to, and to have someone as talented and with beautiful creativity as you, why not?! To each his own, and what may be simple to one person, my be extravigant to another, and it’s how it makes you and your loved ones feel is all that matters!!! 11.15.07, 3:57PM
Michele: Although I could never throw a birthday party for my daughter of the "Un-birthday" magnatude I find it so intriguing to see pictures of those who can. Your photography is amazing and the purpose of this blog is to share your artful soul and not to be chastised for being a part of something so extravagant. Judgement should never be cast on those you do not truely know. Keep up the amazing work Jessica and THANK YOU for showing us the beauty you get to see daily. Something that should never be taken for granted, wether it be the smile on a young childs face, the love in a new husbands eyes or the simplicity of a years old lock. 11.15.07, 3:12PM
Gina Covington: Hi Jessica, Just wanted stop by and say hello…I love ALL your work and could never understand way you would get “rude” comments posted about it…unless can we say “Jealousy” …shhhhhh I didn’t say that. Any way keep up the great work! You FAN….. Gina 11.15.07, 3:01PM
Frank Weichmann: Jessica, I happened to stumble onto your site by dumb luck 3 or 4 months ago and glad I did. Amazing craftmanship shines through in your work. Keep it up. As for this discussion that is taking place ( I apologize to anyone who made this point already but I did not see it), What do the haters think happens to the money being spent on these events? They provide JOBS! People work and provide for their families. Without the spending of the wealthly or able many jobs would not exist and families would suffer. We in the US live in a consumer economy, services/goods drive our financial well being. We do not produce the amount of goods we did years ago, like it or not. As far as donations and voluntering, its has to do with the personality of the person and not the size of the wallet, rich or poor. Again, Jessica love the site and work. 11.15.07, 2:26PM
Desiree Hayes: Dont let the nasty people get under your skin! You take BEAUTIFUL photographs and give people wonderful memories. Beautiful. However people choose to spend their money is their own business. I think some people just cannot handle other peoples’ successes in life. 11.15.07, 12:50PM
Briana: I agree with the posters who point out that most Americans really are wealthy compared to most other parts of the world. It reminds me of a roommate I had once who complained that her savings was down to $8K. I realize that to her this was near broke, but it still put her in the top 1% wealthiest people in the world. So it makes me wonder what the complainers really are complaining about. To me, riches come in the form of values and love for others, not through finances. "Too-much", I think, is when and events entire focus is on material things, while ignoring the relationships and people. It can be damaging to people, children especially, if they’re not taught the concept of "do unto others" and "love your neighbor" while being given so many toys and treats . I think that’s why childrens parties in particular (I assume) bring out so many opinionated comments. I do not know any of Jessica Claire’s clients personally, so I wouldn’t comment on how any of them live their life. I only see the photographs, but whatever ideas I have about the lives behind them, good or bad, are only in my imagination. The reality, I hope, is that they are people as beautiful on the inside as in the photo. 11.15.07, 12:19PM
Nikki McLeod: Gobsmacked………….. 11.15.07, 11:28AM
Gregg: The question wasn’t "Are Jessica’s photos beautiful" but "How much is too much?" Our job as photographers is to freeze a moment in life, and preserve it. To take pictures that make people stare and marvel at what we were able to capture. And Jess did just that, and quite well I may add! How much is too much? Well, you can never take too many pictures!! How much wealth is too much? Money, material things, parties…these are all temporary distractions of this life that we all enjoy. Good can come from them and bad. But God looks at the heart. I don’t know this family so it’s hard to say what their motives were in throwing this event. But let’s just assume that they love their little girl and want the very best for her! 11.15.07, 10:50AM
Yolanda : Good grief: Don’t hate the player, hate the game. One never knows what the "haves" have gone through in order to get to this point. They could have been "have nots" for all we know. Bottom line; Jessica Claire is taking time out of her day to showcase her God given talents and skill sets with all of us; she could be very selfish and password protect the entire site; but she’s not doing that. If you don’t like what you see, keep it moving! I assure you Jessica will continually be successful. Jess- make your enemies your footstool. I may not always comment, but I do appreciate you, you are a true inspiration to me. 11.15.07, 9:54AM
Detra Dowling: Honestly, is there a too much if you can afford it? I have four children, two girls and two boys. If I had the money I would fly in the party planner and have our very own Balloon hole at the entrance to our next party! It may be extreme and a lot of money, but these children grow as fast as I can blink! Why not make their childhood happy with lots of fun memories? You only get one chance to do it. 11.15.07, 9:30AM
lauren c.: jess, good for you for saying all of that!! sometimes people can just be nasty & rude only because by saying things like that it somehow makes themselves feel better about their own situation…there really isn’t enough time for people like that, life is too short!!! : ) 11.15.07, 8:59AM
ron storer: totally agree with you….it’s all relative. btw it was an incredible time just hanging out with you at beckers…keep up the wonderful work. 11.15.07, 8:57AM
Jules Morgan: I’ve just returned home to South Africa after living in England for a long time and am constantly confronted with a lot of poverty… in Cape Town there are people literally sleeping on the streets. I used to feel guilty for living in a house and not being able to give to everyone. When driving to a wedding at a higher end venue here, I’m constantly confronted with both extremes… and in some senses I do think a bit of it is over the top to spend so much money on one day when there are people starving. But each to their own… it’s people’s own choice and it is a great event to celebrate so why not? Also, many of the people who are starving need to learn to help themselves.. there is a huge ‘give me’ attitude in Africa where people just expect aid from foreigners when they are perfectly capable of growing their own food etc. 11.15.07, 8:53AM
Kris: For me personally many of the events you capture on film would be "too much" – but that is just me and my personality. I recognize all of humanity has varying degrees of needs and wants and it is simply not my place or job to judge. I thoroughly love looking at your images and seeing how you capture a moment in time – your work is stunning. In this world there will always be the "have’s" and the "have nots" – what we do with our "have’s" speaks volumes for our character. If you are in position to have a lot, then for the sake of humanity you should also give a portion of what you are blessed with. That is what we are called to do for our fellow human. I have no doubt that the clients you have do their fair share in monetary donations as well as raising awareness for worthy causes. It is a given fact that the more you have the more you are free to give. If along the way you are able to enjoy life as well that is fabulous and even more of a blessing. Let us not judge others on this earth – judgement is not ours to render. 11.15.07, 8:45AM
Mom: If anyone dares to say a mean thing about my daughter, they will have me to wrestle with, which won’t be pretty! Jess stands up for what she believes in and is always careful not to offend anyone. If anyone does not agree with that, please call me. Jess will gladly give you my #. She has set a wonderful example for everyone out there even for me, the parent, and I have learned much from her. Keep it up! 11.15.07, 8:40AM
ellen: I have a personal family blog that I keep private for very close friends and family. Why? Because there are people out there that are just mean and hurtful and shallow and hide behind the anonymity of the net. What you post is beautiful work of beautiful people and I’m sure most that come here are looking for inspiration in their own photographic lives. I hope that these shallow individuals don’t ruin it for the rest of us that check out your site regularly. And even though you delete these comments you have to read them and be exposed to them first and I know that will affect you. I’m really sorry you have to see them. Keep taking pictures and sharing them. I know I look for my JC fix daily!! I live up in the great white north and I especially enjoy the warm sunny pictures in the dead of winter. A little escape from reality and a little inspiration for the season to come. 11.15.07, 7:20AM
Krystal McGee: When I look at your photographs and read your comments, I always get the feeling that you are a really thoughtful and wonderful person, and it shows in your photographs. I love your children’s party’s photographs because the kids look like they are having the time of thier lives – and isn’t that what we want for our kids? I never believed in karma until recently, but people who hurt other people seem to get thier comeuppance eventually! You are inspiring and awesome, and truly my favorite photographer. 11.15.07, 5:32AM
Jon Moss: Very interesting reading the comments and thoughts from such a diverse group of people. Personally, I think a birthday like that, for someone that age is WAY OTT. Totally ridiculous. However, it is up to the parents, and if they feel comfortable, then fine. Each to their own. I am a firm believer in doing what you think is right, but I am an even bigger believer in being able to give, my, own, honest opinion. And in this case, the party looked fab, but I could not have done it for my child or any child for that matter. 11.15.07, 4:20AM
Marina: First, I can’t believe people would post mean comments about you on your blog just because they disagree about decisions made by your clients. That’s ridiculous. You document the important days in people’s lives, and you do it beautifully. It’s a shame that people have nothing better to do than to denigrate that. As to your question … it’s a great question, and something I think about often. On the one hand, none of us is in any position to judge. We all prioritize our spending in whatever way makes us happy — some people spend money on electronics, others on fashion, others on travel, and some on weddings & parties. I’ll admit that I used to look disparagingly at people who spent $100k+ on weddings, thinking it was so ostentatious and a waste of money. I prided myself on having a relatively modest wedding. But when I felt the sting of someone on a much smaller wedding budget criticize me for what they perceived to be my too-expensive wedding, I understood how hurtful it can be to judge, especially without knowing all the facts. It’s all relative … what’s expensive to me isn’t to someone else, and vice versa. On the other hand, it does seem like some things are over the top. There’s no obvious bright line or dollar figure I can attach to it (is a $1k children’s party ok, but not a $20k party?), it’s more just a gut reaction. I was born in a developing country, and have lived and traveled in many of the world’s poorest places. Coming back to the US is always a shock. We are a very consumer-oriented and materialistic society. I really wish more Americans would travel, both to understand how lucky we are, and to get a sense of how the rest of the world lives. The consumption issue seems most prevalent to me when it comes to how parents spend money on their kids, which may be why your recent post triggered some comments. All that said, I do recognize that many of the most affluent people in America are also the most generous, and that everyone absolutely has a right to spend their money however they want. In the end, we’re all hypocrites. The money I spend on my morning latte could feed a family for a week in many parts of the world. I am well aware of that, yet I continue buying my morning latte. Because I’m imperfect, like we all are. We can’t go around feeling guilty all the time for every purchase. But I do think we can benefit from opening our eyes a bit more and at least thinking more seriously about our choices and our priorities (how much stuff do you really need to be happy? how much space do you really need to live in? etc). 11.15.07, 1:09AM
Brian Khang: Jess.. I don’t know you personally, but the people that do know you .. say that you are the nicest person they know. I’m shocked to hear that people sent you nasty emails. I do see a difference in weddings out here compared to Connecticut after helping a few photographers out. The weddings in CA are def. more extravagant, but it’s up to the couple and how they decide to make their day. Spending a little extra or not spending a little extra on their weddings is totaly their choice. I think if money was no object for most people, they would have the most craziest extravagant wedding. Ok.. I’m done ranting now. 11.15.07, 12:49AM
Kabrel: As the mother of one of the little girls who was lucky enough to have the un-birthday party as her 5th birthday celebration i say this…it is not what these children of the "other half" have it’s about how they are raised. Everyone here with a negative or judgemental comment has only seen a one dimensional shot of these girls, a momentary glimple into a minute of a bigger picture. Every one of the decorations has been making their way around Los Angeles to shelters where underpriviliged and abused children live. We have created a travelling tea party so other kids can enjoy what my daughter enjoyed. My daughter spends at least 3 hours a week, every week, without fail, packing food for under privilaged kids, dropping off food, just as a few examples. How many hours have many of you spent this week, this month or even this year giving back? Not to mention that most of the decorations were hand made with the girls involved in each step. I think Jess has posed a fantastic question here, but it is so easy to point fingers and label people rather then look inside ourselves and see who we are and what we are contributing to the world. Believe me, i am under no delusionsI live a more priviliged and blessed life then most, but i am also clear that the "other, other half" exists right in my own backyard. 11.14.07, 11:54PM
Rae Leytham: OK – Jess, you know I love you even though I don’t post much. Avery takes up way too much of my time. :o) I am sitting here thinking about all I want to do for Avery’s FIRST birthday party. Will she remember anything about it? Absolutely not. But, she will look back at the pictures and know that she had a kick-ass party. We aren’t going to spend a whole lot of money on it, but I am sure some people will think we are being extravagant for a one-year old. I don’t care. This is about my child and her smile when she’s 12 and looks at photos. As for the people that say nasty things about your clients and such….shame on them. I assume they are miserable people and make everyone miserable around them. I know you are a kind person and those comments must hurt you even thought they aren’t always directed at you. Hold your head up high knowing that you are giving people gorgeous photos of their beautiful occasions. –rae 11.14.07, 11:52PM
Simply Modern Weddings: People like that are such cowards. They sit behind their computer screens where they think no one can see them and say nasty things to people. That is just wrong! I mean, people can just go down a crazy slippery slope trying to argue the $$ that "other people" are spending. Does that mean they won’t buy a car, because "People are starving in Africa". I mean come on…personally I don’t think anyone has the right to judge or question someone else’s decisions. Bottom line, if they don’t like it…they don’t have to read your blog. I LOVE you for making this post!!! sorry I went off an a tangent there 🙂 11.14.07, 10:46PM
Lyndsey: This is the first time I have commented, but I felt compelled after reading this blog. It is ashamed that people take time to criticize you and yoru work. So the amount of time it took them to write a nasty comment they could have been out feeding starving people in our world, if they are that concerned. Unfornately there are rude people that enjoy trying to bring others down in order to make themselves feel better. Jessica, I appreciate your time that you put into what you do and your heart to share what you have learned with all of us. Thank you!! 11.14.07, 10:33PM
Lisa Russo: Personally, I love getting a peek into how the ‘other half’ lives. And seeing how your images capture these glorious events so perfectly! 11.14.07, 10:11PM
Amanda Key: Jessica–I visit your site for inspiration. This is "your" blog and you are entitled to post what you want. If people do not like your post/blog–then they need to go find another blog to visit. You are a respectable person who has much to offer others. Thank you for sharing. 11.14.07, 9:16PM
angie sloan: I think it is really sad that people would be so unkind to send hurtful messages to you and others. I just had a very close friend pass away. As I thought of his life, I thought of all the kindness and service that he had!!! But, do any of his possessions go with him to the other side? I think it is a blessing and a wonderful thing to have financial freedom, but even better do do really good things for people who have less. 11.14.07, 9:12PM
chris: I have to admit feeling slightly uneasy about such a party, mostly because anyone that young that has such extravagance thrust at them so early runs the risk of becoming a tinge narcissistic. Having said that, you can feed a child in Africa for a year for something like $2 a day, so with that logic, spending anything on luxuries, whether it be a cup of joe or that gem of a lens I want, is an extravagance. I agree with you, ultimately Americans are FAR and AWAY the most generous nation (as both a percentage of GDP and as a total). We enjoy the luxuries of our success, and the blessings we have also allow us to give back in a way that is UNPRECENDETED in the history of the world. Is it enough? It never could be. But should we feel ashamed. Heck no. 11.14.07, 7:44PM
Karen: I just want to say, well said. =) 11.14.07, 7:23PM
Patrina Odette: Ha! I love this post! 🙂 I have to agree, often the ones who have a lot are also ones who *give* a lot. I say, if you haven’t walked a day in my shoes, then don’t judge me. Seriously. You haven’t looked into my checkbook, tax filings, etc (or any of Jessica’s wealthy clients who have over the top parties) so shut your pie hole, wouldja? For crying out loud. xoxo love your blog Jessica! 11.14.07, 6:51PM
David Bracho: Oh my gosh Jessica!! That is the most stunningly beautiful photo of wedding shoes ever!! Could I have a password to her wedding event to buy the photo. Thank you Jessica, David 11.14.07, 6:13PM
laura : I think that if people are against having lavish parties, they shouldn’t have them. or maybe they should stay away from blogs where they are photos of lavish parties posted. personally, i read blogs that bring happiness into my day (like your’s). i mean seriously, if those people are so concerned about their philanthrophic reponsibilties here on earth – why are they spending time posting mean comments? i think maybe their obvious veiled jealousy isn’t of the people in the photos, but the talented photographer taking them. 11.14.07, 5:49PM
Denise: And I already voiced my opinion – but I wanted to add – I don’t provide an email because my email is super stupid- I’ve had it since high school – and I don’t have a website – unless myspace counts… but here’s my email – I’m not a coward 🙁 – and I only post nice things – ONLY NICE THINGS! 11.14.07, 5:23PM
Danielle: I’m a lurker and rare commenter. I squirmed a bit seeing the un-birthday party. Not because you shot it or because of your pictures, but because of the age of the child. She was what? Three? Four? She’ll barely remember that when she’s older. It’ll also likely set her up for feeling that she deserves that kind of treatment ALL the time. It’s nice to be pampered occasionally, but nobody deserves that kind of over-the-top party EVERY year. She might lose the ability to appreciate the little things, like an ice cream cone at the zoo. Heck, I had birthday parties at McDonald’s and swimming parties at my grandparents’ when I was little and thought it was the greatest thing ever. So to me it’s not really a matter of the people throwing the parties being big charitable givers. It’s about the disappointment and entitlement they might be setting their kids up for in the future. That could cause a lot of problems! 11.14.07, 5:18PM
Katy Larson: Forgot to put the email addy and my website on the other post. No need to post this 🙂 Have a super week! 11.14.07, 4:59PM
Katy Larson: Spending your very own money in whatever way you see fit is, of course, one’s own business. Who is to judge what is too much. How much one spends for a party, wedding or celebration is of course a personal choice, I adore celebrating love, I spend more money at Valentine’s day for those I love than most people do at major holidays. I just love celebrating love and making my love ones happy.. If someone can earn a living that affords them certain luxuries in life, then good for them, using that money ot make themselves or their loved ones happy is wonderful! More power to them. Jessica, you share gloriously beautiful images with us, some of them depict lavish events that lots of people only dream about, insight into those lifestyles is a great way for the rest of us to get great decorating and design ideas, AND a fabulous example of your ability to capture happiness and genuine emotion. I value that, keep doin whatcha do and sharing with us!! Thanks!! ~Katy 11.14.07, 4:58PM
@nnaliza: there seems to be a lot of that crap going around here in the blogsphere. for some reason most of the blogs that i love are being attacked by the anony-party-poopers who are so freakin’ coward they can’t even put their name. i mean, really, at least put a name. i think they are insecure people who are unloved and are seeking to put others down in order to gain some type of personal gain. i can’t believe it. there’s really a lot of it going on. your pictures are absolutely gorgeous and you captivate the most beautiful moments in life and that’s what i love about you and your work: you can see your heart right through the photos you take. keep up the good work. you’re awesome! i can’t wait to do our session with you next year! 11.14.07, 4:56PM
chipgillespie: I have to confess that when I saw the Un-birthday party post, I initially had a similar (yet far less prideful) feeling of sadness regarding oppressed and impoverished children on other parts of this planet. But your post today made me think. How often do I withhold from others who don’t have as much as me while i plan to buy my next toy or gadget? Or spend a few extra hundred dollars on Christmas gifts instead of donating it and my time to the soup kitchen. The truth is, we’re all selfish and stingy to some extent. I think that many of the nasty comments you’ve gotten were #1) misdirected, and #2) just a classic example of the whole pointing out a speck in someone else’s eye while we have a cedar plank in our own. I love and respect your work. Thanks for doing what you do. 11.14.07, 3:55PM
cindy: If it’s YOUR money and it brings you pleasure without financial burden on the family – DO IT!! I have tried to teach my children to ALWAYS give back…however it is perfectly okay to spend your money the way you like. I don’t "NEED" a fancy camera with an arsenal or lenses, but I have them, and they bring me so much Joy! 11.14.07, 3:46PM
Denise: 🙁 I’m so sorry people aren’t saying good things! People can get pretty jealous and superficial – I’m TOTALLY jealous of 1.) Your talent and 2.) That little girls un-birthday. 😛 Keep posting, I love looking at your photos – I keep looking for ideas on how to take better pictures of my son. 11.14.07, 3:40PM
Lu: I am not much for people leaving comments anonymously. They are cowards. Plain and simple. The party you recently photographed was beautiful and over the top. I don’t fault the family for giving their child a fantasy party like that. Great if they can afford it. I wish more children could have parties like that. My only concern is how grounded the children are who have parties with so much there. The parents should not be ashamed of their wealth. It does not matter how generous they are. There will always be someone out there who says it is too much. I am not one of them and I did not look at the party thinking they were nuts for doing it. I believe there are better ways to spend money, but ultimately, that is THEIR money. More power to them. 11.14.07, 3:31PM
Kymberli: I posted on the blog that you are (from what I gather) are referring to. I posted my view on the extravagance, but also that this is America and everyone is entitled to do what they want with what they have. For the posters on here who are saying "it’s unfortunate people have to put down others" and such – are they truly looking at themselves, as well? I can’t imagine that they have never put down someone in their life or made judgments about what someone is doing with their ‘stuff’. My opinion (which I’m entitled to) is that yes, you can spend your money the way you would like, but you also shouldn’t chastise another person that has a different way of seeing it then you do. It’s the other person’s right to feel the way they do as well! And why does it have to come down to saying that the person is jealous? That’s a cop out. Voicing your opinion on something that you think is outrageous and where you can think of a thousand different ways the funds could have been spent to help those who are less fortunate, does not make one jealous! It makes them realistic! Anywho, sorry you had to catch the brunt of whatever happened, but I feel as long as you have an opinion and it’s not mean-spirited, I don’t know why people can’t just agree to disagree. P.S. The post I most relate to and agree with is Ashley’s. Kudos to those that can stand up and be REAL in how they feel. 11.14.07, 3:26PM
Tammi: I’m a total lurker and I hardly ever respond on blogs, but i thought this question was interesting because my husband and I have been talking about this very topic for the last several weeks…consumerism, the holidays, wasting money, It’s so easy to look at other people and say, "look how they waste money" or "I can’t believe they would spend xxx dollars on something so frivolous (vehicle, toy, vacation, birthday party) etc, but in reality we are ALL blessed and we all spend money that could be better spent elsewhere. Our family doesn’t spend thousands of dollars on birthday parties because we can’t afford it, but we also don’t point fingers at people who do. Know why? Because the $30 we spent at Applebees last night would’ve looked like living in excess to the family in the projects that could’ve fed their family for a week on $30. And the money that I gave my kids for cleaning their room and doing their chores yesterday could’ve bought 4 gallons of gas to get someone back and forth to work. And the $90 a month we spend on cable tv could provide food, water, and healthcare to about 3 kids in Africa for a month. My point? We ALL spend money frivoulousy – whether it’s $20 at the fast food joint, $6 on a Starbucks latte, or $1,000 on a birthday party for your kid. We should all pull the plank out of our own eyes before we complain about the splinter in someone else’s. 11.14.07, 3:18PM
Leesa Zelken: Well said, Jessica. As a children’s party planner, I am constantly questioned by those *on the sidelines* about this topic of birthday- party-indulgence. My take: Just as times have changed, so has the way in which some people choose to celebrate. Gone are the cocktail parties of yesteryear(that my parents enjoyed-sans kids), and welcome to the world of children’s parties as a guise for adult social get-togethers. Parents have busy schedules and little time to spend with their children, so birthday parties have become a way for parents to *give back*-agree with it or not. People who can afford to do so, celebrate with much fanfare–as do those on more limited budgets(trust me, I see that too)–perhaps to make up for where they feel they fall short or even for what they wish they had as a child. And, as you state, many are the very same people who find it a priority to contribute and donate in charitable ways, as well. This is clearly an emotional topic for alot of people-even those without kids–seems like it has all the makings of an interesting reality show! Would garner sky-high ratings, I’m sure. 11.14.07, 3:16PM
Shannon: Jessica – I love your work – I even linked your blog from my blog last night because I was so enamored with the engagement shoot you did in NYC – WOW is all I can say. That is a real bummer that people feel the need to leave you comments like that. I’m glad you shared so I won’t take it personally if it ever happens to me. I love the Alice in Wonderland birthday you recently posted and I feel like you really should not judge someone you don’t know unless you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. I just wanted to let you know that I love your work and there is no judgement coming from this side! (just kudos!) 11.14.07, 3:05PM
Heather Kincaid: I think it’s so unfortunate that some people have to put others down for whatever reason. We all learned in elementary school that if people say negative comments about you, it only comes from some negative feelings they have about themselves. Unfortunately, we can’t do anything to avoid comments like these. I think you’ve handled it just fine! I’ll deal with this sort of situation in the exact same way if and when I ever get such a comment. Rock on. 11.14.07, 2:42PM
Theresa: Hi Jessica…. People are mean….but it has nothing to do with you. Read the "Four Agreements". So……is it too much? If it is real, and they are not financially strapped (as we saw on Oprah a few weeks ago about a mom living a life she could clearly not afford) then no… I just wonder why "4" when "5" is a bigger milestone. The good part is that they had the good sense to hire a photographer! (I shot a "5" year old Willy Wonka party last year, and bound it in a coffee table book). Otherwise….no captured memories? What a waste!!! Now they have a great memory for ever and ever….I say good investment. Can I post your blog question as you wrote it on my parenting site??? 11.14.07, 2:33PM
YELENA: Here’s the thing- Jess is OBVIOUSLY an extremely talented photographer who chose to photograph people’s happy occasions. IF that happens to be a wedding or a child’s birthday- it’s the CLIENT’S occasion and money that are being spent, NOT Jess’s. SO if anyone has a problem with people’s spending habits, they should sort out who they’re pointing the finger at. Success has a different definition to different people, and it’s sad how in America- the land of opportunity- if you are rich and successful, you somehow get put down for it… Jess, keep doing what you are doing! 11.14.07, 2:31PM
jeff: I have a hard time too watching the way ‘rich’ people spend thier money, but then I have to think that at least by spending it they are putting others to work. I think (the rich and famous) Dolly Levy said it best… "Money is like manure, it doesn’t do anyone any good until you spead it around." 11.14.07, 2:28PM
Mandy: Wow- Jessica I was so surprised to hear this posting- I can’t imagine people saying such things- I look forward to your postings everyday and never once have had a negative thought like that entered my head. This world surprises me sometimes but I think you do a great job and you’re there to capture the moment- so who cares what people spend on a party or wedding or whatever. It’s their business and you are just lucky to be there and share it with all of us! Keep up the great work!! You’re an inspiration- 11.14.07, 2:22PM
J: Hey Jess, sorry you have to deal with folks that are not so tactful in what they say. It is all relative in my opinion…someone who lives in California may have made a million dollars on their house in the last couple of years, so they have income to throw parties or buy a fancy car. That should be their prerogative, they earned the money so they should be able to spend it how they want and as you said–most of the wealthier people I know all contribute to charities more than I could ever hope to! So we should be thankful for what we have and feel rich in our friendships, not knock others for their actions. Keep on Keep’n On! 11.14.07, 2:12PM
Joseph Yoon: I’ve never felt that what I’ve seen posted on your site is "too much" you operate out of Orange County–where the new wealthy are enjoying the benefits of hard work. If I recall correctly, the majority of wealthy people in Orange County have usually earned their wealth through their business ventures and hard work. To see that they spend it on creating special occasions for themselves and family is a good thing–nothing to criticize. I’m not wealthy by any means–I’m just a student getting by to finish school, but if anything, things I see posted here are just extra kicks of motivation to work smarter and really take advantages of opportunities that lie ahead. My parents always have taught me that if you can’t help yourself…you can’t help others. Sure you can criticize those lavish parties and weddings, but is that someone’s jealousy talking? Or is it genuine concern for starving children in underdeveloped nations? 11.14.07, 2:05PM
rik: jessica, this is, i believe, exactly the question i was trying to pose on another post, and i’m not that sure it was interpreted as such by others. am i jealous and mean-hearted just because i asked a question or expressed surprise at the expense put down for a party? goodness, i hope we haven’t come to the point where expressing a dissenting opinion automatically makes you mean and jealous. i think that it is possible to create feelings of entitlement when great amounts of money are expended on a whim, feelings that would be a great disservice to anyone that developed them, especially because they tend to make you think less of those around you. i agree with ann and ashley that intentions should also have some say in determining limits. that isn’t to say that any parents that throw lavish parties or weddings are spoiling their children or trying to one-up the neighbors, or that any one having a lavish party or wedding thrown for them will turn out bad. it is impossible to make blanket statements about how much is too much (or about the intentions or feelings behind a comment) because every situation involves a different set of actors with different values and a different perspective on life. again, i’m glad you asked this, jessica. the discussion is healthy, i think. and i suppose, in the interest of full disclosure, i should admit to having actual feelings of jealousy at the time i asked the question, though the feelings were caused more by your talent with the camera, jessica, than by anything else–thankfully, that little girl will have those pictures to remember her party by for quite a long time. 11.14.07, 2:05PM
Cameron Clark: I would agree with Jessica, most of the really rich folks that I encounter as clients are EXTREMELY generous and donate not only their money but their TIME setting up missions in foreign countries, etc. I do think a 4 year old can love a simple cookie cake with icing in the family kitchen, just as much as she does an Alice in Wonderland party, that is those folks choice what they do with their money. If they are nice people, money won’t spoil their kids. Nothing will ruin one’s day faster than jealousy or envy; so I suggest the mean comment people take a long hard look in the mirror and find out why they are so angry. Being too quick to judge a situation is never a beautiful quality. 11.14.07, 2:04PM
rebekah: Jessica, I recently have been feeling the same as you…I cannot say that I’ve had to deal with it directly as of yet..(one day I’ll be famous!) but we have been dealing/studying about this at my church. when you hear statistics like "every 3 seconds another child is sold into sexual slavery", it cuts like a knife….but how many of us are willing to or have the means to take that step to make a difference? whether with our time or our money…bottom line, my husband and I have been in some type of ministry for years. but we got out and went back to school, because for us…we desire to be that 1%, we desire to have the financial means that some only dream of…BECAUSE we want to make a difference. my desire to have a huge house is partly because i want to hear my own echo, but mostly because i literally want to turn it into an orphanage. there is nothing wrong with working hard, succeeding, and becoming blessed because of it. there is a balance, and we should give as we get. i applaud you for your posting..its hard to write about these things…but keep it up! you will be blessed. 11.14.07, 1:54PM
Susanne in Key west: I just can not believe it! It is sad and embarrassing how mean jealous people can react! 11.14.07, 1:54PM
Hannah B.: I have been to many 3rd world countries on mission based trips and have witnessed the devastation of poverty, however whenever I return to America I am overwhelmed with the amount of prosperity and wealth we have here. I would NEVER condem or complain about anyone who enjoys it. Especially when they are doing their part to better the world. I beleive we are a blessed counrty who’s wealthy citizens (many who began in poverty and worked so hard for what they have) do so many unspoken good for the world financially. If you LIVE in America, please DO NOT complain about the blessings you have! Enjoy them instead of blaming everyone who is happy for the problems of this world. But this is such a good reminder to keep a healthy balanced life, remembering most of the world is not as fortunate as we are. We should always be thinking of ways to better our struggling neighbors and be globally minded. Thanks Jessica for the great discussion topic! 11.14.07, 1:46PM
Beth: I am going to be honest, I don’t care what people spend, and it is their money after all. I am just glad that you get to share amazing pictures or amazing parties with us. I guess I like to live vicariously through you and your clients. But that’s just me. 🙂 Love you and your site and your clients and I don’t even know any of y’all in real life. 11.14.07, 1:43PM
Ann: This is a very touchy subject. Depending on where you live, what you have in life and what you have experienced. I don’t belive that people are mean because they are jealous. I think that they are hurt and disillusioned with others who feel they are ENTITLED to spend money frivolously just because it’s theirs. If people are so generous then why is there still world hunger, extreme poverty and death?I recently read an article about extreme poverty in THE USA reaching its highest point in the last three decades. (Census Bureau analysis) I love looking at all your elegant fancy weddings but am also saddened by the extreme waste. Isn’t a a simple wedding or any other type of celebration just as loving/special as an over-the-top one? 25 yrs from now, will anyone care that you wore Jimmy Choo shoes and had a designer gown or will they just look at the beautiful photographs of two people in love on their wedding day? Just my honest opinion 11.14.07, 12:57PM
Ashley: I find this discussion quite interesting. While I am not one to sit and judge how people spend THEIR money, I do question intentions. I will not be specific, so as to not point fingers at any particular client of yours, but I often wonder where the motives lie. Is it really about the children? Or is it about the parents. Having coached myself, I certainly doubt it is about the children, as the likelihood of them REMEMBERING these parties is minimal. Realistically, it has more to do with outdoing the parents’ adult friends. I just really find the “sharing with their family” or “it’s about the children” bit a little hard to swallow, when it simply amounts to outdoing the Jones’ (or Rockefellers). 11.14.07, 12:56PM
Liene: As an owner of a wedding business and having had the opportunity to live and work in some developing countries, this is honestly something I struggle with every single day. Social justice is a huge personal passion of mine and as a wedding planner I literally see the invoices and costs for every single item at the weddings – I know precisely how much was spent, even on the little skewer flags that adorn the welcome cocktails. It is hard seeing the dichotomy in action and it is hard knowing when it is too much, especially since it is not my money being spent. At what point am I enabling waste? And is that even something that I have to be accountable for? It is a difficult tension for me, but I would rather have it than be completely jaded towards one side or the other. 11.14.07, 12:52PM
Suzanne: mean people suck…..And they’re usually just jealous. Envy is a bitch. I usually combat my OWN feelings of too much in my own life by doing something for others: like I volunteer at a women’s shelter and do photo sessions for women who have survived horrendous abuse (after the bruises heal of course…) and I donate photo packages to breast cancer survivors. I donate to military families. I do good with what I do….I create a BALANCE. Those meanies who comment on the blessings of others should really look INWARD to see how THEY can improve the world they live in…. You could always OUT the meanies, you know? 11.14.07, 12:49PM
Molly: Some people are just rude. In response to how much is too much, I think if you have the money, can afford it, and not break the bank doing so then there is nothing wrong with indulguing or etc.. It’s when you don’t have the money and get it anyway-then that is too much. Did I mention, I love looking at this site!? 11.14.07, 12:46PM
Sunnee: **stands up to applaud** You know, it’s easy for most of us to practice open mindedness when it comes to the seemingly ‘tougher’ issues in life, but when it comes to extravagance and bountiful wealth, people find it much easier to attack and judge. It is no less hurtful to the wealthy, especially when it comes to their children, when they are at the receiving end of someone else’s ignorance. How much is too much? I think it depends on intention. Is the importance placed on showing off–making sure your child has the grandest birthday party of the year? Is it negetavily teaching your child to place value on the external? OR, is it to genuinely create a day of love, beauty, color, friendship and meaningul memories for your child? I truly believe the latter can be accomplished at any price tag, but even a lavish fourth birthday party can be filled with non superficial intentions that leaves everybody that was a part of that day feeling loved, cherished and happy. What’s wrong with that? 11.14.07, 12:44PM
Tammy Marcelain: That is a great question. 11.14.07, 12:43PM
Ava Zub: WOW…I check your blog almost daily just because I’m such a huge fan of yours. I am stunned to read that you get hate mail. Let me just say this. Opinions are just opinions and someone will always have something to say. Good or bad. People make judgments all the time. That’s just the kind of society we live in (sad…I know.) Jealousy is the root of all evil. I don’t think you owe anyone an explanation of what type of client’s you have. Keep doing what you’re doing…you rock and you’re fabulous! 11.14.07, 12:30PM
jessica claire: Krista, that is a fantastic example of a post that states your opinion without being hurtful to someone else. Thank you! 11.14.07, 12:29PM
Jinii Boren: I have to say I find it very sad when people have nothing better to do with their time then post mean comments about people they have never even met. Maybe if they spent that time bettering themselves than it would not even be an issue. That said I love being able to see the amazing events you shoot. Keep up the great work! 11.14.07, 12:23PM
Tina Jean Wagner: Jessica, I am sorry that you have to deal with mean comments. I can’t believe people take the time to write them, its so hurtful and uncalled for. I have learned that life isn’t about material things, its about moments. You can spend hundred of thousands of dollars on a wedding or birthday party and in the end if the love and friends are there you have the same great moments as one that costs next to nothing. As a photographer you make every event look like a million dollars photographing beautiful details and you capture the moments that no one can put a price on! 11.14.07, 12:22PM
Krista Guenin Photography: I literally just got back from Africa, like 4 days ago. So, my perspective on this question is a little different than it would have been, say, a month ago. You say you see how the ‘other half’ lives – but the fact is that WE are the other half! In fact, we’re the other 1%. No one in the world has as much wealth as Americans (though it’s quite true that some of us have more than others). People from Zimbabwe, for example, look at us and think we’re rich – and they think we’re disgustingly wasteful. (Just consider how much food you’ve thrown away this week – it’s crazy) The problem isn’t that some people spend a million dollars on their wedding. The problem is that most of us don’t even stop to consider WHAT we’re spending our money on – or what we’re throwing away – or what we could be doing with our money. All Americans are entitled to spend their money on whatever they want (except that little part that belongs to our government). It’s not about what we CAN do with our money, time, or talent – it’s what we should do. We Americans have incredible potential to help millions of people in this world who don’t have food, water, clothing, medicine, etc. There’s nothing wrong with throwing a huge, insanely fun, expensive wedding! I just think about some of the kids I met in Zimbabwe who are eating weeds for dinner tonight, and I’m wondering what else we could do with some of our immense wealth… All that being said, I think it’s awesome that you have such generous clients! Some of my friends who are the wealthiest people I know, are also the most generous and giving. But, I do think that it’s true that to whom much is given, much is required. (and that’s not to say that nothing is required of the rest of us because we’ve all been given quite a bit!!) 11.14.07, 12:21PM
Tristan: I don’t see a problem with these extravagant parties at all. Think about it, if someone with very little financial means wants to spend (for example) 10% of their monthly income on a birthday party for their child and this amounts to a very simple pizza and cake party for a few kids, what’s the problem if someone else who is very wealthy wants to also spend 10% of their monthly income on a fancy party for hundres with Kelly Clarkson playing at their own estate? It’s 10% of their monthly income either way, and it impacts each person by exactly the same same amount even if one party costs millions and one costs less than $100. 11.14.07, 12:19PM
Lindsey Potter: Mean people suck! 🙂 11.14.07, 12:16PM
susan stripling: jess, you know i had to go to a comments-moderated ip-tracking blog earlier this month because of all the nastygrams i was receiving. people felt the need to comment on my client’s appearances, social status, wealth or lack of wealth, choice in decor, and even the wonderfully sly comments on my personal life. i think some people are just nasty and have too much time on their hands! 11.14.07, 12:04PM
Melissa E Earle: I didn’t know where you were going with this post at first, but then the more I read the more I was glad that you had posted it! I really enjoyed what you said about being wealthy and being some of the most generous people, I would have to agree. I think this is good to remember with clients, but also in everyday life. I am not one to out loud "judge" people, but I do find myself looking at people sometimes and wishing I had what they had (hmm aka a shoot sac 😉 ok, just kidding) but in all honesty it is good to remind myself that those that have money probably have it because someone somewhere worked really really hard for that. I guess I need to get back to work 😉 Great thought process though Jessica! Cheerio -Melissa E Earle 11.14.07, 12:03PM
Chris: Jealousy will always breed contempt with some people, whether it’s of a talent (photography) or the wealth of some of your clients. The reason I enjoy following the weddings on your blog is not the extravagance and splendor, but rather the emotions and moments you capture. The love there is evident and genuine, regardless of how much money is spent. People who complain more than likely lack both in their life. Keep up the fantastic work, cheers 🙂 11.14.07, 12:00PM
Shari: I truly believe that when people have less than nice things to say, it is almost always because they are jealous in one way or another. It is sad that some people never grow up! We all know or see people with more than us, be happy for them and be blessed for what you DO have! 11.14.07, 11:59AM
Rej: It is sad that there are some nasty people around…and perhaps that stems from jealousy….there is a great saying I heard somewhere…"empty tin cans make the most noise"… As for how much is too much??…in all honesty, if I had the money to throw a party like that for my daughter or son, I totally would, hands down…jessica I love your work…keep up the great work..you are a constant source of inspriation for me…! 11.14.07, 11:57AM
debbi: This is america people…the land of opportunity. If one works hard, is successful, wealthy, etc…and wants to give their child(ren) fairytale weddings, birthdays, etc…so be it. Everyone has the opportunity to succeed, follow their dreams, chose a lifestyle….it is called FREEDOM. I still find it amazing that some will use blogs to express their negative feelings of jealously etc….Didn’t we learn as children "if you can’t say something nice…… 11.14.07, 11:55AM
Josh: Right on Jessica You have to put your foot down and the people that leave angre comments are probably just jealous. You are an inspiration and an amazing photographer and you set the bar : ) 11.14.07, 11:52AM
[michele]: I think that a. people are entitled to spend their own damn money however they please and that b. jealousy is a very ugly emotion. 11.14.07, 11:42AM