Star Spotlight 24: Jeff

I grew up with many sisters — sisters by blood and birth, sisters by choice and chance. Sisters who have formed a tribe of women in my life, and helped me feel supported and strong even when I’m struggling. Until recent years, there weren’t many men that I’d put in this “inner circle” category. At this stage of my life, however, I feel proud to say that I’ve got a few really amazing men in my life; a short list, even, of those I’m honored to place in the category of “brother.” Jeff would be one of these guys. We now get on the phone every week, just the two of us, to hold Monday Morning Meetings and clarify our goals for the seven days ahead. I couldn’t ask for a better guy for the job: he listens well and cheers me on, gives advice without being preachy, and himself shares openly and vulnerably about his biggest challenges and triumphs, alike.

Jeff and I met originally at Vibrant Studios, when he attended a yoga class and hung out afterward for happy hour drinks and lively conversation. Soon afterward, our friendship deepened, and he volunteered his services to host a private photo shoot at the studio; granting a full morning for group and personal shots, in addition to pictures of the space that continue to grace the Vibrant website and nearly all of our promotional materials. (In fact, I give Jeff partial credit for all of the rental business we’ve received over the past several years! Ever since posting his pictures, we had a dramatic upshift in interest and bookings, with his beautiful photos serving as the impetus for many contracts and signed checks. This is NOT, however, why I love him. But it’s good context for his amazingness.) This is no small feat, friends; Jeff is a renowned photographer, with clients spanning the globe. He’s been flown to shoots in Hawaii, Fiji, and everywhere in between. I was astounded by Jeff’s kindness, his generosity with his time and talent, his willingness to welcome a new passion project with open arms. He was working from a space of love.

But Jeff’s not always someone who lands gigs haphazardly, or based solely on whims. Jeff has an amazing work ethic. He’s efficient, self-assured, and cheerful. When I watch Jeff work, I see a man in his element. A man who knows what he’s doing. A man who has an acute ability to observe. A man able to respond to the space and the energy and the people around him, and to work toward producing a product that will meet all of his clients needs and desires.

Jeff’s scope of talent extends far beyond a standard view of what it means to be “professional;” what it looks like to work at a high level. He is a beautiful example of what it looks like to run a business based on bottom-lines and non-negotiables, but also rooted firmly in a true care and love for what he does. He redefines for me what it looks like to act consciously, morally, ethically, and consistently. Before running his current private photography business, he owned a wildly successful dance studio in Portland. This guy’s got quite the skillz. He knows how to hustle. He knows how to build a clientele, accumulate and maintain a following, and keep his customers happy and loyal.

And yeah, yeah, he’s not perfect. Jeff’s not always efficient with his time, but it’s never due to laziness or lack of care — it’s simply because he has so many things to juggle, and sometimes his body isn’t able to work as fast as his mind. Jeff also bumps up against the edges of his life on a regular basis: learning where his boundaries are, what his patterns of communication are, where his strengths and weaknesses lie in the realm of work life and personal life. He’s a deeply dedicated and loyal friend, and can work and play and love to the point of exhaustion. Sometimes, he becomes overextended, as he catapults headlong into providing a limitless supply of help and support for the people close to him — so much so that he fails to maintain his balance, fails to take care of himself. But even this, to me, feels admirable; a clear indication that Jeff’s not willing to compromise the amount of energy he expends on the relationships in his life. He demonstrates how much he values family and friends by his constant rallying and fierce protectiveness. He’s always available to lend support, offer wisdom or guidance, or simply to hold space kindly and generously for whatever processing needs to occur. He’s caring and considerate; a great listener and an astounding source of knowledge on topics ranging from mindful living, to the nuances of entrepreneurship, to where to get the best prices on travel tickets or a rental car.

Jeff consistently strives to be a better version of himself. He pushes himself to work past his conditioned patterns, and break behaviors that no longer serve him. As a result, he’s made huge strides in his life and career, and I have observed more and more breakthroughs as he commits consistently to a daily practice of meditation, self care, and making time for the things that bring him true fulfillment.

Jeff, you provide so many amazing things: levity and dark humor, playfulness and frankness, solidarity and kinship. I love the way that strong emotions come quickly to you: whether it’s unbridled joy or immense annoyance, you feel deeply, express deeply, emote deeply. I see a firm sense of what’s right and what’s wrong; a refusal to compromise on areas that are important to you; a burgeoning trust (growing more expansive by the day!) in yourself and your immense and innumerable talents. I can’t wait to see what your future holds. Thank you for YOU!

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