An Open letter to the Brokenhearted

I’m sorry. Those are words that you need to hear, but you may not have heard them yet. So, I am sorry that you are hurting.

You are hurt and confused.  You thought this relationship was the end of the games, the confusion and the hurt. You’ve thought, “Given the pain I’ve been through, there can’t be more.” Yet here you are again, alone with the pieces of your fragmented heart, wondering how it could happen again. After all of the time that you spent rebuilding and learning to trust again, how are you sitting in your room, crying over someone?

It will be your first inclination to close off that wonderful heart of yours. You are thinking, “That’s it. I’m not doing this again.  I don’t ever want to hurt like this ever again.” Please don’t hide that light from the world.  Not everyone will speak lies.  Not everyone will betray you.  Not everyone will hurt you in your weakest moments.  But everyone DOES see that glittering light that shines from your soul, and they are drawn to your love and joy. Don’t let him/her steal that from you on top of everything else.

You are asking yourself, “How will I ever trust anyone again? How will I ever trust myself again?” You will.  Not today, and probably not tomorrow; but you will. How do I know? Because that’s what makes you you.  Your resilient heart, your enduring optimism, and the light that you see in every other person. You have your own beautifully unique way of reaching others. Only you can love people the way that you do. Don’t let anyone put out your light.

Don’t run away from those wonderful friends and family in your life; those people who see your worth and never capitalize on your love.  They will endure with you, encourage you, and speak truth to you. (Even when you don’t want to hear the truth).  They will listen with love and care for you in the ways that you need.

Do listen to your feelings.  Do feel. Do process with your closest people. Do trust again, it will be worth it. The right person will never let you feel like this. The right person will never let you question your worth. The right person will see you, all of your darkness and scarring, and they will still choose you.  The right person will make you feel like you are the only person in the world that they could possibly love. The right person will be the one who makes you feel alive again.

For now, let that person be you.  Love You with all that you have.  You are worth loving.  Your heart is worth protecting.  Your mind is worth knowing.  Your soul is worth celebrating.

You will wake up one morning and the ache will be a memory; you will breathe deeply into your soul and celebrate the new adventures you are about to embark on. When that day comes, I hope I can join you on that journey.

 

love ehjae

3 Things That are NEVER Funny

I consider myself to be a person with a hefty humour, and I like a good sarcastic joke. But something that I have been reflecting on as of late is the misogynistic jokes that have found their way into my relationships with guys, and I let them slide because I didn’t want to be “That girl.” You know that girl, the one who is a little too intense about women’s issues, the girl who takes every opportunity to share her opinions about women’s rights.. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.  But if I don’t take the time to speak these truths, then I am doing a discredit to the fiery passion for human dignity and empowerment that is written on my soul.

Here are three recurring jokes that I can pinpoint throughout different times in my life that are NEVER acceptable, EVER.

1.Violence

I have actually had guys jokingly threaten me when not happy with something I am doing or saying. “I will punch you in the face,” “I will kick you,” “I want to choke you right now.” I am not kidding. At the time, I would just jokingly return in kind, saying that I would hit them back or kick them in the balls. Now that I reflect back, I am horrified that I ever spent time with these people. It is NEVER funny to joke in this way. A guy who is genuinely concerned about your safety and cherishes you wouldn’t find this funny or acceptable in any situation.

2. Numbers

Believe it or not, I actually had a guy give me a score on my “Wife-Abilities.” There were categories such as Cooking, Appearance and Mothering… The list goes on. I kid you not. I know what you are thinking, “Where in the world do you find these guys, Ehjae?” You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. I cannot express the damage that was done to my soul in this experience. While it is the most extreme case that I’ve experienced, sadly it is not the only one. I have heard guys describe women as numbers in different categories more times than I care to repeat. “Her face is a 4, but her cannons are a 10”
Women struggle with perfection and comparison on our own. We always feel like we fall short of the standard, and are gloriously reminded that this is the case with the barrage of media reminding us to stay fit, but not too fit; to be nice, but not too nice; to be successful, but not too successful; and to be the perfect mother/wife. If a guy ever, EVER removes your dignity by describing you OR ANYONE ELSE by a number, walk away. No, RUN away. It will never change, and you will forever feel like a prisoner trying to be freed from the prison of “Not Enough.”

3.“WOMAN”

Have you ever been called, “Woman” by someone? It’s always said in a mocking voice, “Woman, make me a sandwich; Woman, bring me a beer.”

 MY NAME IS EHJAE.

Calling me “Woman” tells me that this is all that you see. You see my breasts, and the opportunity for conquest between my legs. I can hear some of you protesting- that’s not the case. So what is the case? What is the pressing need for you to diminish our worth? The sake of a joke? I can tell you that no one is laughing. And further more, why would calling me “Woman” somehow grant you power, as if to say that a woman is weaker and must submit to your request?

The verdict is out, and the joke is on you, misogynistic men. Women are strong. We are courageous, and we are not going to be treated like this. “It was a joke.” is NOT a reasonable explanation to ever do any of the above. Having let people speak to me, and treat me in this way for much too long, I hope that it will take some of the beautiful women out there less than a quarter century to stop enabling these destructive language and patterns. It starts with us, ladies.  We must stop joking back, and start walking away.

Girls Games

Have you heard about Mo’Ne Davis? The 13 year old has taken the world by storm. She became the first girl to pitch a shut-out in the Little League World Series, and earn a win! I read her story, and it was actually the story of Maria Pepe, who carved the way for girls like Mo’Ne to play in the Little Leagues who truly inspired me and triggered the emotions for me.  In 1972, she was a threat to her male competitors who asked her to be removed from her Little League team because she was a girl. That began a long legal battle which eventually led to the Little Leagues allowing girls to play. Hearing about Mo’Ne makes the younger version of me excited for the future.. As a young girl growing up who loves sports, you always feeling like the opportunities are limited for you simply because you were born a girl.  Women play for the love of a sport, because what chances do we have to get paid or become a professional?  That aside, the opportunities to even learn certain sports are limited.  Hearing Maria’s story of adversity and fighting for girls’ rights to play, leading to Mo’Ne’s incredible accomplishments is what drives me to write today.

I play for a women’s tackle football league in Canada.  It is the highest level of women’s tackle football available in Canada, yet every single one of us pays to be here.  We do so willingly, and will continue to do so for years because we love the sport, but also because we believe in competitive women’s sports.  I think I speak for our whole team when I say that playing women’s tackle football does not just resonate in our souls and ignite a passion within us; more importantly, it feels like we are pressing forward in an unseen battleground, building a forward momentum for the girls who come after us. When I was 13 years old, playing tackle football in the schoolyard (when the teachers weren’t watching) I remember a sad thought that cycled through my head.  “I wish there was a girl’s football team in high school, I wish I could play on a girl’s tackle football team.”  I look at the dream that has literally come true for me, and I am not ashamed to say that it brings proud tears to my eyes to see how far we’ve come.  Last year, our city introduced girl’s flag football to the high schools, and 16 teams participated! When I was in high school, I never would have imagined I could play on an all-girls football team of any kind in high school,  let alone with the prospect of going further after high school to play with our WWCFL tackle team, the Valkyries. I know this is only just the start, and it’s not about football.  The momentum that is building is that girls deserve these sports opportunities too, and to be respected in their pursuit of sports excellence.

So I guess I’m just writing to say thank you:  Thank you to the women out there who have gone before me, fighting hard and working hard to see a world where girls can play; and they can play hard and strong and fast without compromising. Thank you to the men who have joined the journey and teach us with integrity and excellence and respect.  I’m also writing to say that I’m committed: I’m committed to fighting hard and working hard to see the world continue to change and grow so that the opportunities keep arising for those girls coming after me.

Moment

Life is full of moments.

Moments that stand still

Moments that fly by, where you soar high

Moments when you can’t see and you can’t breathe

and you begin to wonder if you’ve ceased to be

       Anything

Worth loving

——-

NO

——–

We

need

to see

that this is not who we’re meant to be

That life is full of these moments

So that we know what it means to be free

A new year doesn’t mean no tears

Happy New Year.

I wish I could sit here and fill your hearts with inspiration, but the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.  I spent the New Year surrounded by people, yet feeling completely alone. In truth, I’m writing this post half out of desperation to escape the tears I’ve been crying in the darkness of my house, and partially to reach out to those of you who are in the same place as me.  You are not alone.

2014 has been a year full of milestones for me.  My business has been flourishing, doors have opened, and I’ve had recognition in ways I could never have imagined. The opportunities are endless.  However, the past year has also been full of heartache, depression, anxiety, and loneliness.

There have been days when the darkness suffocated me, and I hid my tears and anxiety under the covers of my bed.  I know people don’t understand because I can be laughing and having fun, but they don’t see the emptiness I can be feeling in the midst of my laughter.   While it’s true that I’m having fun in those moments, nothing can fill the skeleton that has overtaken my soul.

While Jesus remains the hope I cling to, somedays it just doesn’t feel like He is enough. My one saving grace has been expressing these emotions through my art and poetry.  I’ve also begun to speak to someone who has professional insight into the biology behind the darkness I live within. I highly recommend it.

While everyone else has been excitedly writing new resolutions and plans for their futures, I’m barely holding on while the thoughts are crashing in: another year may bring many more sleepless nights and this overwhelming sense of despair will come back to steal more of my joy.

My New Years resolution is nothing new at all. If anything it is a revolution against painted smiles and being shamed into silence.  I desire to be transparent with my emotions, find strength in my weaknesses, to speak truth into darkness and shed light onto desperately lonely places. So this is to my dear ones who have stumbled upon this blog, desperate to know they are not alone in this world, seeking a place to be heard:

You are not alone in your sadness.  You are not alone in your despair.  The darkness will NOT overcome you. Stay strong, beautiful ones. You are stronger than you know.

love ehjae

 

 

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/depression-signs-and-symptoms.htm

http://depressionhurts.ca/

http://www.cmha.ca/mental-health/understanding-mental-illness/depression/

http://www.camh.ca/en/hospital/health_information/a_z_mental_health_and_addiction_information/depression/Pages/default.aspx

3 Mistakes I’ve made as a Wedding Photographer

I’ve been a part-time photographer for 7 years now, and in the full-time biz for a year. In that short time, I’ve already made more mistakes than I care to count. In sharing a few of them with you, I hope that you can avoid them!

1. Not having a system.
I am a typical artist. Un-organized, scatterbrained, and a little bit forgetful. (where are my keys?) So often, my editing process would double and sometimes triple in time because I couldn’t remember which photos had been culled, or what I had promised to one client in our discussions. Charge the same amount for everyone, have a set rule for what each client receives, and for the love of your poor soul- get someone to help you figure out a system. Ex. Import photos AS SOON AS YOU GET HOME, have a backup system (I have an external harddrive, as well as online backup. https://www.backblaze.com/).

2. Not Knowing My Value
Do you believe your work holds value? Do you believe that you have something to offer that no one else does? You should. Because you do. You are the only version of you in existence.  Only you can see the world as you do.  Only you can inspire people’s souls as you do.  I have often allowed others to devalue me.  Not necessarily always by word, but also in deed.  When someone has tried to discredit my value by telling me that I am “too expensive” in the past, I have often tried to meet them by offering a discount. DO NOT DO THAT. Am I saying that you should never cut someone a deal? Absolutely not.  But I am saying that if someone devalues you from the start, they are not the person you want to work with. No $$ value is going to make them see your worth. In agreeing with them and lowering your cost, you are telling them that they are correct: “You aren’t worth what you are asking. ” Please, Please, PLEASE! Remember that this costs you more than money. Your life holds significant value, what time is spent on these clients is time never gotten back. It IS NEVER WORTH investing your time and heart and soul and sacrificing them for people who don’t love what you do.

(Need to hear more about your worth? Read a previous post about “Knowing Your Worth“)

3. Viewing Everyone as Competition
This ties into #2. Technically, where I live is an incredibly oversaturated photography market. We all do. With the growing accessibility to nice cameras, everyone and their dog has opened photography “businesses.” While it has been incredibly tempting to judge and hold resentment on those who drive the industry pricing downwards without offering much to the industry itself, I have learnt that this is a harmful mindset.  All of us begin somewhere.  Remember that every person has intrinsic value. All of us have been touched by art in some form or another to have picked up a camera. To view them as competition is to view them as an object, an obstacle: Something to crush or jump over. Instead, view your fellow photographers as companions: together you are inspiring the world with beauty. Someone inspired us to pursue our passions. We are all People first. Artists second. Businesses last.

I hope that you have found something in this list to guide you away from a few of the mistakes I’ve made. Any thing to add, or do you have any questions? I’d love to hear from you!

love ehjae

How to capture unique and intriguing ring shots

 

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of inquiries about my ring shots.  To be honest, this is one of my favourite parts about shooting weddings. Every couple has a different set of rings that represent their personalities and their love for each other.

Almost all of my ring shots are taken with my AF-S Micro Nikkor 105mm 2.8 and ALWAYS in manual focus. I cannot emphasize the importance of knowing how to focus your lens manually. If you aren’t comfortable doing this, practice with random objects around your house and don’t settle for anything less than a crystal clear, crisp image.  The crispness is beautiful and when I can capture that moment when it’s in focus, my heart melts.

If you are really struggling with focusing your lens, you may need to calibrate it. To be honest, I’ve been struggling lately to find the focus points, and am going to calibrate my lens when I have a chance. Wondering what I’m talking about?? http://photographylife.com/how-to-calibrate-lenses 

A huge part of photography is engaging in the world around you to capture the essence of what is happening. I don’t think there is a “right” or “wrong” way to capture ring shots, and I really don’t want you to just take up my methods, because you should find your own artistic way to express your art.

I’ll try to tell you a bit about the background behind the shots that I’ve taken and hopefully guide you towards your own ring inspiration.

How to capture unique and intriguing ring shots
Using your surroundings (Nikkor 105 mm, ISO 160 f/9 1/160)

This couple married under a big tent out in the country, and we were surrounded by a beautiful prairie landscape. It was a no-brainer to gather some of the wildflowers together. The sun is setting just behind and above this shot, creating a soft, yet bright glow.  I had to stand on a log to capture this shot.

How to capture unique and intriguing ring shots
Celebrating the couple’s heritage (ISO 1000, 50mm, f/3.5, 1/160)

The groom’s grandfather owns and rebuilt this beautiful Thunderbird, so the couple had the wonderful pleasure of riding around in it all day. The groom’s ring is actually a nut from his longboard.

How to capture unique and intriguing ring shots
Using Whatever you have around you (105mm, ISO 400, f/10, 1/125)

The couple from this wedding had their reception in a dark basement of a hotel.  We hadn’t had time to capture some ring shots while we were doing our formals outdoors, so I wasn’t sure what we were going to do.  But then I noticed the bartop. Shiny, glittery and PERFECT for a reflection shot of the ring.  I used my flash pointed upwards, off camera and remote triggered.  (There was a counter directly above for the flash to bounce back down on the ring)

How to capture unique and intriguing ring shots
Using Home Decor  (Sigma 150mm, ISO 400 f/3.8, 1/400)

This shot was taken at the bride’s home as she was getting ready. She has a beautifully decorated home, and works as an interior decorator. It seemed fitting that this gorgeous textured plate would be a perfect background for her even more gorgeous ring. This shot was taken in natural light, with the window to the right of the photo. This is one of the shots that took me a painstaking amount of time to capture, because of the amount of light being reflected, it was difficult to focus on the ring.

A couple of tips:

1) Close up that Aperture.
Even though the shots are macro, a smaller aperture, or a deeper depth of field is good to aim for when you are using a macro lens. Don’t worry, you’ll still capture that nice bokeh effect.   If the lens is wide open, you will have a harder time focusing on all of the intricate details of the rings.

 

2) Do anything for the shot 
Don’t care about what you look like while you are taking the photos. Sometimes we worry about what it’s going to look like while we lie on the floor, or underneath a tree. DON’T. If you are inspired, do it. Your bride will thank you for it.

3)Try something new
Inspiration can come in super weird forms. Once while I was capturing some detail shots, I noticed a cool soap dish in the bathroom.  Don’t stop yourself because something seems unconventional. (But if you are going to take ring shots in the bathroom, don’t forget to plug all the drains. That could be a really bad day otherwise)

Have any thoughts? Additional tips? Questions? I’d love to hear from you.

Let the wedding bells “ring!” 🙂

love ehjae

photographs. people. purpose.