Inspire Speaker: Jessica Del Vecchio

In this series of blog posts we are introducing the faculty at Inspire 2015. Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica Del Vecchio who will be teaching a workshop: Exploring Salted Paper Printing & other Alternative Printing Processes

Jessica Del Vecchio

There are days when dealing with emails and editing and all the little things that we deal with as business owners starts to take it’s toll. This time of year in particular, photographers can feel pulled in a million directions.  The burnout is real and the stress is palpable. Doing meaningful work - work that feeds my soul - is the best way that I’ve found to combat the stress and burnout.

I’ve had personal projects to spend time on and I love the slowness and comfort shooting film and alternative print processing gives me.  I love getting my hands dirty and remembering why I fell in love with photography in the beginning.  That magical moment when an image appears - and to see that it is as good or maybe better than you thought it might be in your mind’s eye.  The waiting, I think, took some of the instant criticism away. I know I am my own worst critic as I’m sure most of us are.

All of these things rejuvenate my photographer soul, but the most meaningful photography work I do is the work I do for others.  This is the work that makes my heart smile.

Several years back I was looking for a new way to volunteer but I wasn’t finding anything that spoke to me.  There was a charity that I donated to regularly and I put my business card in with a check with a note - “I’d like to contribute more - can I do some photography for you?”  My finances were finite but I could always squeeze a few extra hours in to help out a charity that I loved and supported.

From that note I have been able to build a wonderful partnership with Bread for the City. It’s an organization whose mission is one I strongly stand behind. Bread for the City provides vulnerable DC residents with comprehensive services - food, clothing, medical, legal, and social services - in an atmosphere of dignity and respect. By doing so, they make my community a better place to live - in concrete real ways for the the most vulnerable and indirectly for all of us in the community. I contribute monetarily what I can but I also contribute my time by donating my time and photography services. I’ve even run a fundraiser for the past few years to raise money for their Holiday Helpings program which provides holiday dinners to 9000 DC families each year.  This year, I offered a limited edition print set in exchange for donations with my “Art for Turkeys” fundraiser.

Photographing the annual volunteer appreciation breakfast each year, where outstanding volunteer after volunteer is honored and their devotion praised, makes me feel wonderful and less cynical about people in general.  Watching the hundreds of people raise their bid cards to donate a “Day of Bread” at the annual gala & auction each year brings tears to my eyes.  It’s not a trip or a work of art that they are bidding on - but food, clothing, medical care, legal and social services for people who need it.  When I get the opportunity to photograph clients picking up their annual holiday meals - turkeys and all the fixings - or when we put on our annual free holiday photos for the families served by Bread, my heart smiles.  Hugs and smiles and thank yous abound. Emails are a little easier to respond to.  Holiday cards are bit easier to create.  Editing goes a tad bit faster.  And my photographic soul is renewed and refreshed.

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