Hello and welcome! Magnolia Grace Studios is about understanding the value of human connection, and the importance of documenting life. We truly specialize in photography for love and life because we understand the significance of your story and leaving it behind for others to read.
How did I get here?
About a year ago, I found myself walking along this beach, confused about life, business, myself and pondering how I got to where I was. I was struggling internally with so many things: my identity as a stay at home mom, my life as an entrepreneur, my performance as a wife, and my existence in this world. I was broken. Sadly, I had been broken for a far greater time then I had even realized. Fortunately, this beach and my trip to Beaufort South Carolina opened my heart to the idea that I could live the powerful life I wanted… all I had to do was believe.
And so, I spent the winter of 2015, into the spring of 2016 exploring and realizing I wasn’t walking the path in life that I wanted, especially in business. I wasn’t really doing things the way my heart yearned to do things. I felt like I was sinking into the thickest, deepest quicksand and it was getting harder to stay afloat, to breathe, to believe I could ever find solid ground again.
The Magnolia Grace Studios Story
I grew up under the wings of my grandparents who were the most unbelievable souls to walk this earth, and while my grandfather is still living, to this day I still feel my grandmother’s embrace around me. Her heart was literally made of pure love and she poured it onto everything and everyone she touched in her life. The connections she made with people in her life, because of the way she loved, were so incredible and undeniably strong. I spent months weeping after her death, and to be honest, I’m not sure I’ve ever fully accepted loosing her… but that’s for another story on another day. As I walked in the crisp cool air, watching the sunrise on this beach, I felt her and I knew she wanted more for me then when where I was. I was struggling and I needed a something to save me.
The idea of Magnolia Grace Studios came to me by accident, actually, but the more I thought about the idea of it, the more I felt a fire in my heart. The idea that someone would simply want to photograph people because of their emotional connection to each other literally consumed me. So many people are in business and money is their motivator, and yes, money is why I started Jennifer Manzi Photography: I was panicked; I didn’t have a job for the first time in 15 years; I bore a second child who’s birth almost killed me; I was accepting unemployment with a master’s degree from Columbia and my pride was broken. So very broken. We needed to pay bills and photography was all I had, so I started a business. Somewhere along the way, the money didn’t really matter anymore. Sure, I needed it for bills, but something else wasn’t working. My business was not working for me, and I began to dislike it. The more broken I felt in life, the more broken work made me feel. For me, money wasn’t making me happy. Surprisingly, money was part of what was pulling me down as an entrepreneur.
Magnolia Grace Studios became a healing tool for me; a way for me to develop what my heart has been holding inside for so long. I started to believe that I could show the world the kind of love my grandmother had for others exists out there. I’ve always believed that everyone deserves beautiful photographs, not only people who have big budgets. My heart exploded and I realized I wanted to be a photographer of love and life and not just a wedding photographer, which I had limited myself to previously. Human connections exist everywhere: among siblings, within families, in couples who are in love (and not just new love, but old love too!!).
What does Magnolia Grace Studios mean?
In 2015, my husband and I move into his Great Aunt & Uncle’s home on Manzi Drive in Millbrook (yes, our road named after his family). This home was built by Naz and Carol and they lived here until they died. They planted two tiny magnolia trees in the front yard that are big and beautiful and bear the most gorgeous blooms every spring. It’s one of my favorite things about this home and one of the moments in the spring that makes me the happiest.
Grace is my Great Aunt, my late grandmother’s sister, and the twin to my late Great Aunt Betty. My Aunt Grace turned 93 on September 27th. My grandmother and Aunt Betty would take my sisters, cousin and me to Aunt Grace’s house in Midland NJ every summer. We would spend time at the beach, amusement parks, or on mini-trips to historic landmarks in the Mid-Atlantic region. We called ourselves, “The Get-a-way Gang” and must have gone for 10 or so summers in a row before we had to break up. Those were the best summers of my life and memories that will never be forgotten.
Studios just sounded awaesome 🙂 but really, at some point in time I have hopes to find a cinematographer to bring on staff for weddings, a dedicated second photographer that will shoot all my weddings with me, and maybe an associate or two that will shoot specific genres such as newborns or high school seniors or something else that is amazing. For now, it’s just me, documenting your love for each other in the way I do best!
So here we are, Magnolia Grace Studios. My journey to bring photography for love and life to the hands of all people. I hope you will continue on this journey with me, reading about our clients and their stories, and more stories about myself, and my family.
– with sincerity,