Life Well-Lived

My husband’s grandfather passed away this past weekend, and his funeral is today.  I only met George Blazin twice, but he was the kind of person who you could immediately tell was a legend in his own lifetime.  A brave and intrepid force for good, he never sat around and just let things happen.  During my last conversation with him, he told me about working in his garden with his walker in one hand and a hoe in the other – “You can either sit around, or get up and do something.”  And get up and do something he did, all his life, accomplishing some astonishing things.  Even spending a few minutes talking to him made you think twice about how you spend your time, because he exemplified a productive, hardworking life without neglecting love for his neighbor or his family.

The thing I liked most about meeting him was seeing where my husband gets some of his amazing qualities – including unfettered kindness, particularly for those who need help, unbounded sweetness towards his wife, and a determination to make things happen rather than just talk about them.  Although I’m sad that he passed away, I know he’s having a joyful reunion in heaven, with celebrations happening both here and there for a beautiful life well-lived.

Although this post isn’t really about photos, I have one thing to say.  The above image was taken one late morning at a beachfront family reunion we had over Thanksgiving.  Everyone happened to be out of the house, and Danny’s grandparents were standing on the balcony watching their grandchildren and great-grandchildren play.  There were over 60 family members at the reunion, and the numbers on the backs of our T-shirts reflected where you were in order by age (I was #35).  When I saw them standing there, I loved the symbolism of it – we wouldn’t all be here together if these two hadn’t first fallen in love and gotten married 70 (yes, seventy!) years ago.

Because this was ostensibly also a vacation, I wasn’t carrying my big heavy camera everywhere.  When I saw them on the balcony, I knew what a great shot it would make, one that might be meaningful someday.  I didn’t really “feel like” going all the way upstairs, unlocking all the doors along the way (the whole place was regulated by keypad entries), digging around for my camera, and running back downstairs, re-locking behind me.  They might not even be in that spot when I got back, I thought.

But something told me to, so I set down my beach towel and ran upstairs as fast as I could.  I snuck behind them and took the image just as a seagull swooped by on the right.  I don’t even think they knew I was there.

You can guess whether or not this ended up being worth the trouble.

I’ll close with this thought for the holiday season:  Getting out the camera isn’t always convenient.  And you definitely can’t live through your camera; there are times when you should put it down and just be present in the moment.  But sometimes, it’s worth a tiny bit of extra inconvenience to have it out, to corral people together, to get out of your chair and take a photo.  Because years later, you won’t remember the inconvenience.  But you will have the image.

Wishing everyone much time with loved ones and many beautiful moments this holiday season.


Jan Buerge - December 19, 2012 - 8:24 pm

I am so glad I’ll get to keep reading your lovely blogs even though you won’t be living close. What a beautiful tribute to your husband’s grandfather.

Blessings to you all!

Nik - December 19, 2012 - 10:15 pm


The Coys | Family Photos in Clipper Mill, Baltimore

She’s in that curious, delightful, “mommy’s necklace is the best toy ever” phase. Crawling, reaching, touching, investigating everything with little chubby palms, flashing a smile that ensures she’ll get away with it. Her brilliant parents make perfect dinner party companions. They’re the Teach for America, tech-savvy, stylish type who everyone wants to hang out with. Best of all, they’re the kind of people who are actually making the world a better place instead of just talking about it. (Plus, they introduced me to Ticket to Ride, and my life has never been the same since.)

We spent a 67-degree day in December wandering through Clipper Mill, an artistic neighborhood that has risen from the industrial ashes of Baltimore. An area that could so easily have been a ruined blight has transformed into a bustling street of elbow-to-elbow shops where glass and iron are coaxed into art, and people dine on restaurant patios while neighbors walk their dogs along the street. We shot until the last rays of sun slipped beneath the hills above us. I slipped my key into the ignition and rested my head against the seat for one moment before driving away, closing my eyes and thanking heaven that I get to spend this part of my life in a growing city with some of the very people who will make it thrive.

Ann and Andrew, thank you so much for a fun evening, and for (as usual) introducing me to some treasures of Baltimore I’d never seen before. You guys never cease to amaze.

Happy holidays!

Jeffrey James - April 10, 2013 - 12:35 pm

She is adorable and energetic

Home | Fort Ward Park Family Photos, Alexandria VA

Family with baby on natural white background, Alexandria VA

Around high school graduation, everybody clings to each other for a few weeks.  Then, as unimaginable as it may have once seemed, we slowly drift in our own directions.  At first, everyone comes home for Christmas, and get-togethers are planned.  Or if you’re in a small city like Boise, you inevitably run into them or their parents at the mall while everyone’s out shopping.  Or maybe you’d bump into them in the hallways at your high school when you go back to visit a teacher or two.

But as the years pass, the hometown loses that center of gravity that pulled everyone back in a few times a year.  Whereas you once at least drifted in the same orbit around that spot you all still called “home,” your lives slowly turn to revolve around other things.  Holidays at home become infrequent, jobs pluck whole families up and lift them across continents and oceans, children are born, ties to other friendships and cities are made.  And while life and change are exciting, there’s nothing like spending time with people you grew up around.  The people who saw you when you were all braces and glasses, who sang next to you on creaky auditorium risers, who can finish your sentence when you say “Remember how Mr. T used to get so mad when _______.”  It’s a quiet loss of adulthood no one really warns you about.

Thus, it was an uncommon pleasure to land in Baltimore and, within a few months, find myself sitting across a restaurant table from Chad and Becky just a few miles south near DC.  Two fellow Borah graduates (go Lions!) and choir friends (of the Branton/Totorica years) whom I haven’t seen since we all scattered across the globe.  Only this time we were a party of four – with their bright-eyed daughter smiling up from her car seat, simultaneously charming me while trying to steal daddy’s napkin.

After lunch, we wandered through the fall colors in Fort Ward Park.  They snuggled and bundled and held their little one high in the air.  She’s as in love with her parents as they are with her.  And I couldn’t help but think how lucky she was to have these two strong, amazing people looking after her.  And though we might have been 2,385 miles away from Boise, I felt for a few hours like I had gone home.

Unique family photo, near Washington DC

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Chad and Becky, thank you so much for an incredible afternoon.  I absolutely loved seeing you and the life you’re building for yourselves – one positively littered with accomplishments and love.  I think I will cherish these images just as much as I hope you do.

With love,


Erika - November 29, 2012 - 7:11 am


Jeffrey James - April 10, 2013 - 12:36 pm

I wonder, how you make these kids laugh?

Jenika - April 10, 2013 - 1:31 pm

Much silliness and antics behind the camera. Mom and Dad help, too.

Halloween 2012: The Baltimore Ravens. No, Really.

So there I was on Halloween afternoon, working alone, with no one here to even notice that I’m wearing my cool skeleton socks (*sniffle), feeling bummed that I didn’t carve a pumpkin or get out my bat chandelier this year.

But then.

You know how when you’re working “in the zone” you’re only peripherally aware of what’s going on around you?  As I wrote, I slowly became aware of odd noises outside my window.  When I looked out, I saw a HUGE flock of ravens.  Baltimore ravens!  And no, I don’t mean:

I mean:


Hundreds of them!  Whatever the Halloween equivalent of Christmas cheer is, I felt it.  I grabbed my camera and ran outside, but they had all flown several blocks away.  I kept working, and about an hour later I heard them again.  I grabbed my 85mm lens and dashed outside.

It was a happy Halloween after all!  I think I’ll print some of these poster-size and hang them up next year.

copyright Jenika's Lens 2012

Happy Halloween everyone!

Heather - October 31, 2012 - 6:00 pm

Those are AWESOME pictures! When I saw that first one the first thought that popped into my head was…I want a huge print of that for Halloween next year!!! (Or fall in general)

Nicole Begley - October 31, 2012 - 6:31 pm

LOVE! Don’t want to burst your bubble since it goes with your theme, but they are crows. Ravens are much further north. If you saw them all outside your window today you’ll probably see them alot throughout the winter! They gather in their large “murders” (the crow term for group) throughout the winter every night to roost. When I used to work at the Aviary here in Pittsburgh we were right over a flight path that they used to head over to their roost in the East End. It was incredible. You could stand there for 20 minutes and see literally 1000’s of crows fly over your head in a line headed to their buddies. I’m a self proclaimed bird nerd and corvids (crows, ravens, jays) are my favorite. Ok…they are tied with vultures. Enjoy your Halloween murder! (That sounds terrible!)

Jenika - October 31, 2012 - 6:56 pm

haha, I figured I’d get the species wrong, but it was more of the football joke. That being said, if ravens are further north, why do we have the Baltimore Ravens? Crazy.

Nikola - October 31, 2012 - 11:36 pm

Perfect. Just perfect.

DAVID BAGNARD AND LOIS HEFFERNAN - November 1, 2012 - 11:32 am

Hi Jenika:

The first photograph is a masterpiece. As you know, we live in Crow Hollow and dearly love the Crow, Raven and Magpie family.

Much love,


Falling in Love With Family | Washington DC

The air was still and clear, barely a warm breath on your skin.  Baby Eli napped quietly against his mama, then slowly woke to find her arm wrapped securely around him.   Blinking his gorgeous blue-green eyes, he took in his new surroundings with quiet regard.  After a few curious glances at my camera, he settled contentedly into charming his parents for the rest of the evening.  They sang softly and played, lifting him in the air above them; he responded with glowing smile here, a tiny yawn there.

I’ve never seen two people more meant to be a mom and a dad.  Patience, grace, love, and kindness abounded in every gesture, every soft word, every response to his new discoveries.  My heart brimmed with joy just watching them together, smiling richly at the life they’ve created for themselves.

On my way home, I drove right through the heart of Washington DC.  The Washington Monument pierced the sunset across from the capitol building, with a half dozen memorials to powerful people peeking through the early fall trees.  It looked like a shot from a movie scene, so I considered pulling over to take a few photos of our nation’s seat of power.  But I didn’t.  Because, I thought with a smile, the most breathtaking seat of human power is in a family’s love for each other.  And I was blessed with a front row seat already that evening.

A few frames from our time together:


Jessica and Eric, thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of such precious family time.  I can’t tell you how much I learned about the power and love in a family from spending a short, beautiful evening with you.  I can’t wait to watch Eli grow, and I hope these images remind you of the beautiful memories you’re making now.



Lea - October 29, 2012 - 6:57 pm

I love it! Such beautiful expressions!

Erika - October 31, 2012 - 4:17 am

Oh my goodness, what a cute baby! Very sweet pictures!! What a happy family!

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