About - Jessica Irwin




This is me, with my baby niece and camera in hand. I'm usually behind the camera, but every once in awhile someone catches me in front of it.  

This is me and my family circa 1990-something or other. Can you tell we hated family pictures? My sister scowled, my brother squinted, my parents tried to look like they were okay when they totally weren't, and all I remember about this day was how upset I was when I couldn't find the shoes that so perfectly matched my blue and white-striped dress.


Sigh.


We lived in Pakistan and sent this picture to everyone we knew in America who probably all thought, "They must really hate living in Pakistan."

But actually we loved it. It was our home. And now that Pakistan is a place so far away, wrapped in the cobwebs of time and space and memory, the real family photos, the ones that help me remember the best of us, are these...

I liked to play with my sister and climb things and make mud pies. I liked to color and create. I liked to go to the beach. All of these things are still true, though I haven't made a mud pie in a very long time. 

While my childhood was out of the ordinary (it's hard to get a camel ride on a beach in Florida), the cost of admission was pretty high. Sources of Western education being hard to come by in Pakistan, missionaries long ago established a boarding school up in the foothills of the Himalayas where their children could go in preparation for college back in their countries of origin. So this is where my brother and I spent half our year, day and night, away from our parents and our little sister.


(There I am in a rare boarding photo, happy and in a mess because we're packing our trunks to go home for Christmas.)

We were a heartbroken family, one who missed out on so much time together. It's an ache that I never quite outgrew.


But because of this sense of lost childhood, I believe I found my calling. Through photographing families and children, I've found a small way of reclaiming all that lost time spent away from the people who loved me most in the world. By giving back to families a visible proof of how much they love and are loved, I find myself growing whole. 


That's me as a photographer and, in a nutshell, as a person too. If you want to know more about some random aspects of my life, here are a few fun facts...

• I have been to a different country for every year of my life. Also, I'm on my seventh passport. Seven!


• You know in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's how Audrey Hepburn says, "I'm craaaazy about Tiffany's"? That's how I say, "I'm craaaazy about Italy." Long before I studied there in college, I fell head over heels innamorata with the Italian language when I watched La Vita È  Bella, and I haven't fallen out of love with it since.


• In case you can't tell, I'm crazy about movies too. While films like Sunset Boulevard, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Some Like It Hot have undoubtedly influenced my own artistic vision, I do not confine myself to the higher brow alone. In a theater in Auckland, New Zealand in January of 1999, I first saw You've Got Mail, and my life was forever changed. My collection of chick flicks, including but not limited to, While You Were Sleeping, Sleepless in Seattle, Emma, Pride and Prejudice (the BBC version only, of course), and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, have become some of the oldest and dearest of friends.


• Childhood is my obsession. I read children's literature. By myself. For fun.


• Being an aunt is by far my favorite part about being alive. The children in my life, though none of them stamped with my own DNA, consume just about every inch of my heart.


• With a little space left for chocolate.

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