The adage, “The eyes are the windows to the soul,” has been credited to many including Shakespeare, da Vinci and Cicero. But no matter who said it first, it’s an ageless truth that Jessica Robicheaux has made her life’s work. Jessica is part artist and part philosopher, but foremost a mom who began capturing the essence of her children’s personality through photography. Now it’s her gift to other parents who want more than the standard, “say-cheese” snapshot to document the complexity of their little treasures.
While Jessica chose to leave teaching, that experience is a large part of her ability to connect with children, making them comfortable in revealing their true character. “It’s simple,” says the endearing and enthusiastic entrepreneur. “I just talk to them. I ask questions and as they think and talk, they make natural – and adorable expressions. That and snacks. Snacks are good.”
An Eye for It
Encouraged by a supportive mother who saw her eye for photography, Jessica was an avid hobbyist by age 12. “I remember having disposable and Polaroid cameras, and being in awe of photos in fashion magazines like Vogue. I graduated in marketing from LSU and even did an internship at Sophisticated Woman in 2006.” After a brief foray to Houston, Jessica quickly returned home. “I’m just a Louisiana girl and came right back. But, not living in a big city, I thought it more practical to teach, so I earned a Master of Elementary Education from Southeastern.”
Jessica taught third grade in St. Tammany and married husband, Sean, who is a CPA. They have since welcomed two children who inspired her to trade in the idea of practicality for her longstanding passion. Jessica’s style and vision have grown along with Colton and Avery, now five and two. Not yet owning lighting equipment, she shot outdoors when photographing her newborn son. As her obsession grew, she put up a backdrop and taught herself studio lighting in a spare bedroom.
No Denying the Calling
While taking a year off after Avery’s birth, Jessica decided that she wouldn’t return to teaching, but to the calling she couldn’t deny – children’s portraiture. “I found studio space in Mandeville near the lakefront that I love so much, and by word of mouth and social media, my clients found me. When I got new equipment, I’d bribe Colton with ice cream to help me test it. It’s a balancing act to juggle business and home life, but I know the studio will be a great childhood memory for them. As they get older, my focus has also matured.”
Now Jessica Robicheaux serves as families’ documentarian. “I want them to come in year after year, even through high school.” The key to repeat business, says Jessica, is the environment that she creates. “It’s stress free and fun for everyone. It’s not a timed business transaction – not rushed. They say I have the patience of a saint, and I do. Being a mom, I relate to the importance of capturing these precious, fleeting memories and making the process joyful.”
Inspired by Her Own Childhood
So important are Jessica’s childhood memories to her that she named her business after a treasured one. “My grandmother would always sing a Doris Day song to my mom. My mom sang it to me, and I sing it to my kids now. It goes, ‘I love you, a bushel and a peck,’ and represents the generational passage of love and memories. I’m doing that with my camera now, thus the name Bushels and Pecks.”
As word spreads of her playful approach and the unique images she coaxes from her small subjects, Jessica’s popularity grows. She has won The Northshore’s Best Photographer for both years her Girod Street studio has been opened. When asked how she measures success, she beams with pride, “One mom said, ‘You won’t be able to get rid of us now.’ Another said, ‘I can’t look at your photos without crying.’ I have six-year-olds that I’ve photographed since birth. Those families feel like my family.”
Bringing It All Together
Outside the studio, Jessica enjoys the flexibility her vocation affords her. “It’s important that I’m a part of the Old Mandeville Business Association, a room mom, attend my son’s games and that we spend time at home around the dinner table. I also plan to mentor photographers starting their first business.” Part artist, part philosopher and foremost a mom, Jessica leaves us with her personal truth. “I feel so blessed. It’s true that when you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life!”
Jessica Robicheaux: Bushels & Pecks Photography is located at 413 Girod Street in Mandeville. For more information, contact 985-264-5510 or visit bushelsandpecks.net.
For more inspiring stories of Northshore entrepreneurs see past Enterprising Woman Cover Features.