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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
As a wedding photographer, I encounter a lot of well-intentioned happy people in love, and several unhappily single people. As a result, a common thread surfaces. My singleness.
There are so many blog posts are articles written by married people about how important it is to wait and cherish your single years. As a single person reading those, they can be inspiring– but the underlying message STILL seems to be that single people should be happy being single so that they can be happy being married. I just wanted to write a “quick” note to all of my single friends.
What about being content in your singleness for that sake alone? Not every one gets married, and we need to start removing the perspective that marriage is the ultimate goal in life. Yes.We’re made for relationships; we thrive together. Why is there this obsession with a romantic relationship being the ultimate goal? When did marriage become THE fulfilling relationship to pursue? I have so many deep and fulfilling friendships in my life. I would say that if I was to enter into a relationship, that those friendships would be the reason any romantic relationship could thrive or survive.
I’ve gotten to a place in my life and in my heart where God has captivated me so entirely that THIS relationship is the one that I want. I don’t want to pursue a romantic relationship unless I can see how it would be a part of what is already happening in my life in regards to the journey that I’m on with Jesus and I would want that guy to feel the same way. As a result of that, I am SO happy with loving myself, and getting to know myself more and more each day. I love pursuing growth and understanding in myself. It’s almost like I’m dating me!
Oh fellow single friends, my hope and prayer for you is that you could discover this in your life. Be so content, confident in who you are and happy with yourself that nothing can sway you. There is nothing more satisfying than to pursue life fully, embracing what is NOW and enjoying life alone. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-relationships. I have an open heart and open hands to what the future holds, but my life is already so rich in love and joy as a single woman. Other people are much more dismayed about my marital status than I am.When I use the phrase “If I ever get married” a gasp can be heard, and I’m assured, “Don’t worry, you’ll get married someday.” I’m not worried. If I end up married, I end up married. If I end up single all my days, I end up not married.. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard, “How are YOU single?” If I wanted to be in a relationship for the sake of having a relationship, I could. That’s not the point of life though.
IF I ever marry, I will be able to say without a doubt that the guy I end up with was someone so incredible, so perfect for me, that his life was so aligned with the direction I was headed that I was willing to give up my singleness for him. Because, YES, being single IS THAT AWESOME. Sure, that sounds pretty crazy. Maybe even selfish. Isn’t it more selfish to sit around waiting for some unknown, desperately putting everything on hold, and not doing something purposeful with our lives? Let’s start being more protective of our hearts and our lives. Don’t forget that you ARE worth loving, you are loved. I’m so tired of this whole “True Love Waits” idea. You’re not waiting. A true, perfect, selfless love has already come for you.
I’ve discovered a peace in my life lately that has settled into my soul.
Unshakeable, unbreakable, yet fragile and vulnerable. That’s how I feel.
I can look back on my life and see moment after moment of brokenness, but moment after moment after moment of the light breaking into that dark brokenness. I want to be real. I want to be genuine. I want people to know that they are loved; That I love them; That the love that pours out of me is an outpouring of the love I’ve been given.
How much do I share from my heart? How much of my soul do I bare? Somedays, the darkness is unbearable and all I can do is cry out one single word. “Jesus!” He just knows. I know that some of you who may read this don’t share my beliefs. I don’t care, because I’ll love you just the same. But if I could only express the comfort in knowing in those dark, dark moments that He knows and loves me despite my shortcomings.. Oh.. if I could only share that with the world.
There’s a part of me inside that is wanting to curl up and hide somewhere instead of writing this post. But another part of me has been screaming loudly, boiling my blood, reminding me that words like these must be spoken, no matter the hour, no matter the potential loss. I’m shaking as I write this because I’m scared of how this could be taken. But I’m writing it because I’m scared of a world where we don’t speak up.
Earlier, I was out with some friends at the bar. A young woman walked in wearing a beautiful sundress, walking in heels. Some of the people seated at my table made faces at each other, and when they saw me catch their gaze in disdain, the justification was this “She wanted us to look at her if she came the bar dressed like that.”
Deafening Silence. I couldn’t say a word.
So the only logical reason that she was dressed up was for your visual stimulation? Since when are women only allowed to wear what you’ve dictated as “suitable bar clothing” without “inviting” lewd eye gawking and stupid comments? And dressing nicely suddenly means she’s a slut, or asking for attention? We’ve definitely come a long way in our modern era.
1 in 4 women are victims of sexual assault or know someone who has been a victim.
Now some of you are thinking, “Whoa, it’s just a girl at the bar. It’s just some dudes admiring her from afar. This isn’t rape.”
You’re right. It’s not. But it also isn’t really admiring her, because what was said to me revealed a lot more than what they thought of her appearance.
What that statement is doing is perpetrating the mentality that women are inviting disrespect and degradation in how they act or how they dress. In fact, a person’s inability to honour a human being as a human being and not as a piece of meat tells me that they aren’t much more than a piece of flesh themselves. Let me tell you something about rape. It’s dehumanizing. It leaves the victim feeling completely worthless. The biggest struggle? Self-blame. Shame. Guilt. Self-hatred. Where does this come from? hmm.. I wonder. Perhaps it is this idea that a violating action or a debasing comment is somehow NOT the violator or the speaker’s fault because it was somehow provoked.
Let me ask you this, is it OK for a human being to ever be degraded below their fundamental worth? Because when I listen to you tear apart a girl because “her face isn’t hot, but she’s got great cannons” it shocks me. Then it disappoints me. It used to silence me because I didn’t want to be labelled as that girl who is “too uptight” or “takes things too seriously.”
I’m done letting people talk about other human beings like that.
I’m done being silent.
I’m not going to apologize for taking human worth “too seriously.”