When I married my husband I knew I had found a great guy. Stable, capable and funny…I really felt blessed. Then I met his friends and I knew I must be the luckiest woman in the world. A lot like Chris himself, his friends are an amazing collection of big hearts, loyalty and character.
So it was a huge privilege to be asked to photograph the wedding reception of our good friends son and daughter-in-law. Unlike the weather that weekend, the Beaderstadts are just good, fun people. With ready smiles they brighten any gathering and are never short of hilarious stories. The newlyweds, Brett and Ashley, are slightly more reserved and were so sweet, graciously meeting and mingling with their guests.
The reception was a perfect representation of the couple and their families. Held at the Copper Creek Golf Club in Pleasant Hill, the decorations were beautiful and understated. It was a perfect evening spent doing what I love and hanging out with people I feel blessed to call friends.
With the crazy weather we’ve had this spring I’m dying to get out and practice all the wonderful lessons I’ve taken in over the winter. Unable to do that as quickly as I would like, I decided that the birds who visit the feeders outside our living room window might make for some interesting opportunities. So…I removed the screen from the window and at least once a day I camp out there with my camera. The crazy thing is that with the screen gone, suddenly the birds seem to have no qualms about just flying right up to, and in a couple of unfortunate incidents, smack into the window. A woodpecker has taken to clinging to the window frame and ever not-so-gently pecking at the glass. And not to be outdone, our cat has taken to tapping on the window to signal his return and “could you please let me in to eat?”
I’d like to say that I’ve been able to put all this pent up knowledge to good use, and honestly, I have actually found the exercise somewhat useful. I’m getting much better at anticipating crash landings. I’ve saved a couple small finches from death-by-cat and in all fairness, the birds are oddly entertaining. I often catch myself laughing out loud at their antics. I have been witness to what I can only describe as a nail-biting reenactment of David and Goliath when a small finch took on a bird twice its size.
I may not be perfecting my posing or exposure but I am being reminded every day that there is value in the moments of our lives when we choose to be present and appreciate even the small things.
For me, one of the best ways to cleanse your soul and clear your mind is to get a little dirty. Sitting here tonight I cannot describe how bone-aching weary I feel. Nor can I begin to relay the contentedness of my heart. I just spent the day heaving, lifting, sliding and pushing some of the prettiest potted trees and plants my eyes have seen. Now, that may seem an over exaggeration and I agree I might be looking through rose colored glasses, so to speak. Spring has not exactly made itself know yet around here, so its easy to get carried away when presented with cart after cart of beautiful, colorful plants and several hours of sunshine and a temperature that doesn’t make me want to jump into my sweats and back under the covers.
A year ago I made some huge decisions that quite honestly terrified me. I walked away from a job that offered definite financial benefits but left me drained and sad. I started my own business and took on a part-time job to help relieve some of the financial pressure. Today, that part-time job has turned into an enormous blessing and unexpected inspiration. When I made the choice to leave behind cubicle walls I promised myself that whatever else I did I would never compromise or settle. That I would be true to who I am and that my work, whether my photography or other employment, would be a true and accurate representation of me and my values and my passions.
Today, standing amid an array of arborvitae, spruce and juniper, feeling the ache in the tips of my fingers and in my feet and back, I felt amazing. I know it isn’t always possible to do work that brings you joy and I am so completely grateful for all of the people in my life who have given me the encouragement and opportunities to do what I do. I know this would not be possible nor would it be the same without my family and friends and co-workers who inspire me every single day.
Now, a word of warning. Tomorrow morning if you see me and I don’t seem so…”joyful”…bear with me…my body likes to keep me humble and remind me that I’m not a kid anymore.
I am going to just put this out there and say that even though I’m a photographer, I do not like having my picture taken. I often joke that I’m behind the camera for a reason. I do not think I’m photogenic in any way shape or form, and 99% of the time the pictures that I see of myself confirm that. So, last night when I finished my Marketing Jumpstart class by Katelyn James and realized the very first thing I really needed to do is take a more professional picture for my website and social media, I closed my browser and went to bed.
When I woke up this morning to another cloudy, cold day I was quick to make the excuse that I couldn’t possibly get the right picture on such a day! The minute I had the thought I heard a little inner voice challenge it…”Oh really?” So, I set out to prove my own self wrong! It needs a little work but honestly, if you could see my first attempt at a professional head shot about 6 years ago you’d understand just how far I’ve come. (Maybe I’ll get brave enough to share it sometime.) For now I think I’m going to take another one of Katelyn’s suggestions and share a few things you might not know about me.
I believe the smell of eucalyptus and spearmint is the bees knees. My mouth actually waters at the thought of QuikTrip ice with a little splash of pineapple papaya tea. I have broken my right wrist twice; once when I was eleven and again when I was thirty-two, both times while rollerskating. My favorite city is Chicago but in the name of full disclosure, I have not been to many big cities. I adore the soft socks from Altr’d State. All-time favorite vacation…Niagara Falls. I hate horror movies or anything violent for that matter. Gilmore Girls will forever be my go-to series. I will never get tired of the sound of rain on a metal roof and my favorite form of escape is my camera, a gravel road and good music.
April…why has thou forsaken me? Okay, so I’m being a tad dramatic. If we really take the time to remember back a little bit, this weather is not all that unusual. We’ve just been spoiled for a few years. So…I’m continuing to do my upmost to make the best of it.
I’m currently taking a class from Katelyn James. She along with her husband is a wonderful wedding photographer and she just has a beautiful spirit about her. I’m so excited about what I’m learning and since the weather is not offering much opportunity for outdoor practice I decided to spend some time at home today applying a few things I have been picking up. Lighting is something that I knew I wanted to work on and I have no issue geeking out about how much fun I had experimenting with difficult lighting situations.
I love our home but it is rather dark, especially on cold gray days like today. Normally I don’t mind turning on a lamp here and there and just enjoying the cozy feeling but when I’m trying to take photos the space can be very frustrating. Today, however, I felt like I was discovering my love for photography all over again. I felt like a kid playing around with ways to use what light I did have (no lamps, Katelyn’s orders). I have one window in my living room that, on days like this, affords me any usable light. So, I needed to find a secondary source or reflector and spent over an hour playing around with a piece of white backboard that I just happened to have in my craft closet. I do have an actual reflector but I love the creative aspect of photography and honestly, enjoyed the idea of thinking outside the box and coming up with other solutions.
This photo is far from perfect but I love it because when I look at it I know the effort and creativity involved in making it. And the impact the process will have on my skills and how that will translate to being a better photographer is priceless to me. So if this gloomy spring is getting you down, challenge yourself. Find a way to use it to your advantage. Get creative. I know, I hear people say all the time, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” Nonsense. Everyone is gifted in some way with creativity and no it is not always artsy in nature. Solving problems involves creative thinking. Planting gardens, building decks or any sort of building really, or even just planning your week can, and probably for many, involves a great deal of creative thinking and juggling. The weekend is here, why not find new and unexpected ways to enjoy it.
April 3, 2018…it’s 27 degrees and feels about 19 with the wind. More than once I’ve looked out the window today to watch snow showers bathing the buds on our beautiful front yard maple tree. I’m almost positive my magnolia buds are burned by the cold but in an attempt to not let the weather turn me cynical I decided to throw on my coat and see if I can turn mother natures bitterness into something to smile about. I desperately want to be spending more time outdoors, putting into practice all the hours of webinars and online blog reads I’ve soaked up over winter.
Walking across the yard and under that wonderful maple I watch as several small birds and a couple blue jays scatter and then disappear into the brush that runs along the ditch next to our yard. They seem to not mind the wet and cold at all as they chirp and flutter about and cheered a little, I follow. For a moment I’m mesmerized by a pair of chickadees as they fly about in an amazingly graceful dance through the thick branches. A sudden wind reminds me that while it’s spring on the calendar apparently not everyone has gotten the memo. A cold drip lands squarely on the middle of my neck and sends a shiver to my toes. Standing in the squishy grass that looks as desperate for warmth and sun as I do, I’m grateful to have put on my rain boots but know that the small nail-sized hole in my right boot will soon betray me and my sock. I glance up at the offending branch and decide I’ve found my subject for today.
I’m a photographer. I am a photographer. Hello, my name is Tina and I’m a professional photographer. I’d like to think that anyone who has started their own business, especially in a creative field, might understand why saying those words out loud…to people…can be daunting and at times terrifying. Why is that? When I turned sixteen and got my first job at Sonic, I was never nervous to tell people I was a carhop. When I was a secretary I had no issues with telling people what I did. Now, as a photographer, put me in a room with people and suddenly my voice gets shaky, my palms sweaty and I’m stammering something incoherently about taking pictures and then…clear as a bell…” and I also work at Earl May.” Sometimes I don’t even mention the photography, I just go straight to my day job and then, if conversation lends itself I may mention something about being a photographer. I love my job at Earl May but I know, deep down, my heart is behind the viewfinder of my camera.
So, why the trepidation when I hear that question, “What do you do?” Is it fear? Insecurity? Lack of self-confidence? I know, to some extent it’s all those but more than that, for me anyway, it’s this overwhelming concern that the person or people I’m talking to hear me say, “I’m a photographer,” and they automatically start making judgments. ‘Oh, a photographer. So you just walk around and take pictures. Isn’t everyone a photographer these days? Huh…my aunt’s cousin and her sister are photographers and so is my neighbor, and my wife’s uncle Fred also takes pictures of squirrels and birds on their back deck.’ Now, do people really have these thoughts? Yes, I’m sure some do, maybe more than I really want to know but why is it that what someone may or may not be thinking has so much control over how I feel about my work? Honestly…I have no idea. Now, I have listened as people poked fun at the idea of taking pictures for a living and I was raised by a conservative grandmother who had strong opinions about what real work was but when my adult self is standing in front of someone, shaking at the knees and trying desperately to sound confident, I’m not thinking about my grandmother and her opinions. I’m thinking about the person in front of me and their opinion. Why?? They are not living my life. They do not have my dreams, my passions, my specific desires. Most of the time, they hardly know me at all, yet somehow they command a great deal of control over how I feel about what I do.
Here’s the thing. While people do matter to me, their opinions are just that…THEIR opinions. They are influenced by their own backgrounds, experiences, dreams and talents and unless they have my history, my talents and my specific point of view then their opinions about what I do are probably going to differ from mine and that’s okay. That’s okay because the only opinion I should be concerned with…is mine. Not the opinions of my loved ones, my friends, my acquaintances and certainly not the opinions of total strangers. I’m the one who should be commanding control over my own dreams. I think it’s wise to seek out advice and input from those I trust and, while I cannot say that I don’t value the opinions of those close to me, it is my humble opinion that when overcoming fears such as this, mine is the only opinion I should be focused on.
“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” Eleanor Roosevelt