A year in review: Doing work that matters
Oh gracious. This year. Oh, this year. It was wild, it was calm, it was great, it was hard; it was marked with God's goodness across all of those facets. In April we welcomed our sweet son, Truman, and 2 weeks later, hit the ground running on weddings. Some really great weddings, with people who are so in love with one another and the family who love them. I love that. It was my ninth season, the lightest workload, but the richest work year. So many things worked, and certainly there were many that didn't. This was the first full year of having awesome-in-the-office Erin on board to pack prints, do bookkeeping and answer inquiries. What a joy and a help to have her support in keeping the gears of this small business going. And what a joy to have a like-minded, servant-hearted, crafty gal to care for our clients alongside me. And lets be honest, Truman wouldn't be as well cared for if Erin hadn't been there to pick up my slack. She even stood in for Luke when I had a workshop trip planned to Chicago and he had to fly far away for work. She hopped in the car with a couple days notice and spent 14 hours in a Chicago hotel with Truman so I could go be challenged in my work at a workshop. That paid dividends for my heart and work.
I shot less than I ever have, in a very long while. And you know what? It was great. The weddings load was just right with Truman. I could retain all of the finishing work of weddings, because I want that in my hands rather than outsourced as many great and admirable photographers have done. Just isn't for me. I didn't feel like I was away from home for all the Saturdays and we still got to enjoy a few really rich Saturdays as a family, which was just the best. Because as much as I fall in love with your people, I still love my people most and want to be present for life. I didn't feel exhausted and dead for many Sundays this year, as I have in the past. So refreshing.
The biggest highlight for me was realizing the work I create alongside clients is still important. That's obvious, right? Hang with me. To be honest, it doesn't feel like work, it feels like a very heavy, but joyful honor. To cradle your newborn while you change out of your spit up shirt to make some memories. Photographing the heirloom ring your husband will place on your finger in a few hours. To meet your mother-in-law who in suffering with a terminal illness, knowing that these images will be amongst those you hold closest to your heart. Having that distinct honor to walk close, to be granted to make the images that cut the crap. That dig deep and show your first look, honestly - as your burly husband crumbles into a pile of tears when he sees you in your gown, his wife. The way your mother and father, now separated, come together to rejoice over your life. Sitting on your children's beds listening to them tell me that their favorite part of having you as mommy is the way you hold them close; when they hurt, when they're glad and when they just need a hug. That you're just the best mommy they know. All of that slays me.
Making images that see right through to the real moments you share with your people is so important. Not the moments under the tree, in the park that have an undertone of being contrived, controlled and setup. Cutting through the big hairbows, ironed 6-month jeans and perfectly primped bridesmaids - to what it feels like to love in this season. The images of your grandfather stealing a long gaze at your grandma. It is really important to make images of the highs, the real lows and the inbetweens. Because when I look back on images, I see the goodness and faithfulness of God weaved throughout and my weary heart needs that encouragement daily.
Having sweet Truman has made my value for imagery increase tenfold, easily. That image I shot of Luke from my hospital bed, holding Truman in his knees is forever graven on my heart. Paige Logan made photos of Truman and I in his nursery one afternoon when she was in town and I literally look at them everyday, as a reminder of God's grace and goodness in the early days of motherhood. A reminder that I can do hard things, a reminder of the gift of a loving, incredible spouse through a difficult pregnancy and a reminder that God redeems all the things for good.
As I approach a new year of work, I've spent the time to evaluate the worked and didn't worked. I've evaluated what best served my clients and what left them hanging, which images and I love and what work I'm absolutely enamored with. All of that has left me with a heart fired up to serve clients in my 10th season with the best parts, cutting away the rest. You'll see changes here on the site over the next month, you'll see all sessions condense into two options - mini-sessions to document the missing tooth, the expected babe and such - and a longer in-home, living-life session that covers all the things in one tidy package that meets your needs, and gets those life-giving images up in your home. You'll see weddings move back to my heart of knowing people, of giving myself the time to understand their story and their people so I can best cut through to the genuine, exposed, untidy moments. You'll see the things I don't excel at get cut out. Through a whole heap of grace, I'll dig my heels deep in to refining my craft and growing what I'm best at so I can further serve you and serve you well.
And I'm excited. Really, really excited about returning to the truth that this work matters. The work you do in your homes matters. The work you do before and during your marriage matters. It is so important. The truth in my heart, the quiet, supremely sentimental place it is, is that images are very important to a select few and I was certainly made to see through life's clutter to the genuine place we all live in. And I can't. Wait. To come sit on your kid's beds and chat mommy hugs with them. Carrying your gown's train just feet away from your husband and standing near to watch all your stress melt away when he hugs you for the first time on your wedding day. To see the glances exchanged on the edges of your wedding day, and present those images to you after the fanfare is gone to sit and savor. Just moving towards serving more of the clients who savor the imperfections in life and images, rather than serving all the peoples who need to slam a family portrait on the wall, because it's what you do - makes my blood move, quickly. There is certainly a place for that, but it is becoming clear to me that this isn't where my giftedness lies. It's in the moments. The in-betweens. The emotion that cuts clear, quickly to your heart.
Thank you for letting me take up your brain space with my words and your couches with my backside and your lives with my camera. It really is such a privilege and I couldn't be more appreciative in my heart of hearts to be allowed in.