I’m a wedding photographer. It’s the busy season. I am so grateful. And so busy.
A couple of weeks ago, my nearly 9-year-old approached me, and asked if I would have time in my schedule to book a wedding with her. She wants to put on a wedding for her beloved dolls who have fallen in love. And, because apparently I’ve raised her to understand that an artists time is worth something, she wants to pay me. In lots of love and massages. YES. Her 7-year-old sister caught wind, and wanted to be a part. She offered to pay in “dirty work”. I’m not quite sure what “dirty work” means yet, but that was a deal I was definitely willing to make. They booked the shoot, and they began planning.
Apparently Barbie (who is lovingly named Lila, now) and Justin weren’t able to wait for their wedding day to hold their ceremony. I guess I missed it. I was a little bummed. But I was still humbly asked to shoot their formals. At the art direction of my daughter, of course. I obliged. Because, heck yes.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a more fun afternoon collaborating and creating art with my loves. All three of them came up with their own really fun and creative things to do that I probably never would have thought of. I love how kids can refresh my creativity and my soul, all at the same time.
Here’s a little snapshot of what we created together, minus the memories to last a lifetime.
It’s no secret that I had a fantastic day with these two people on their lovely wedding day. Their zest and love for life and each other was palpable in the air around us, and there wasn’t one unsmiling face in the crowd to celebrate it all. It’s an honor to be a part of every special day that my client’s bring me in for, and this one was no different. Here’s a slideshow of my faves from the day. Thank you Ian and Jen, I can’t wait to capture more of your beautiful love story!
Early last year, when I embarked on a brand new project with my new friend, I felt like one long, lost soul. Life was chaotic and crazy for me, a mom of three young, hysterical, energetic, strong-willed ladies (read: stubborn, hard-headed, doggedly determined). I was trying with all my might to home school them, run my house, and a fledgling small business all at the same time. Oh, and also treat myself like a human being (as opposed to my self-martyring mom role I sometimes can play when I’m overwhelmed). Oh, and be a good wife! And friend! The time for me seemed nowhere to be found, and I was slowly folding inward with my introverted self wishing for more ways to express myself, my darkness. I was feeling trapped, claustrophobic, like I was keeping a part of myself locked up. “How can I get out of here?!?” I thought. The restlessness of my brain was just too much, and I just had no idea how to calm the beast. Do you ever feel that?
Anyhow, as most lost souls are found, I just kept walking the path of life, doing my best to navigate with the life skills that I had, and adding more in as I learned them. Thanks to said friend, I stumbled across some books by Brene Brown (if you haven’t read them, DO), and wow did she add to my skill set! I learned so much about vulnerability and courage and bravery and honesty, and I also learned painfully honest truths about my worthiness and self-esteem. After a great deal of reading and discussing with my esteemed friend, and several vulnerable interviews into our project, I was finally inspired to try a different form of creativity from my photography. I knew it had been brewing inside me. I knew I wasn’t doing enough, creating enough. I heart photography, believe me I do, but I also love to create in other ways; physical, hands covered in paint and glue and glitter that you can’t get off kind of creating, and I was missing out on that. Like my soul was craving it. My darkness wanted to be unleashed! Explored! It wanted me! We interviewed this watercolor and illustration artist, Jenna, from Mon Voir, and my mind was blown. (That’s her messy watercolor pallet up at the top.) I so much appreciated her vulnerability and courage to be so honest with us about the process of art and what it means to her. That the process of art, and what you learn about yourself during the process is what matters, not the outcome. She was incredible and inspiring. Thank you, Jenna! From there I dove in, and haven’t looked back.
After some research and getting involved in the creative community more, I found this really great community online called Get Messy Art Journal, and it’s been just incredible. The support of the creativity, and the process, and everything that goes on in between beginning a project to the final product, being an artist can feel like a lonely road sometimes, and they make it so much more fun. They also encourage you to art journal every day, or as often as you can manage. Which sounds impossible, and has been for me so far. It’s been really hard to fit it into my schedule, and I’ve really learned a lot about carving out art time for myself. Especially in this latest season of prompts they came out with, the Season of Lists! If you know me, you know that I am a lover of lists. I will spend my downtime making lists. It’s relaxing and fun for me. It helps me to feel prepared and organized and in the know. So when I found out that they were doing a season of lists, 30 Days of Lists over 6 weeks, I was so stoked! I was in for the challenge. And it was super difficult for me to keep up. I didn’t get to art journal every day, I would do a bunch of a week’s worth of work in one or two days after spending the week writing out the lists. But I gave myself grace, and tried my best to keep up, and get the most out of the process as possible. And it was wonderful, and I’m so proud of myself for finishing. And really, only a few days after the season has ended, so I wasn’t so behind after all! The process of making my beautiful, messy, tiny art journal was as freeing and cathartic as I thought it could be, and my darkness is pleased to be expressed in the process, not the outcome.
In the spirit of lists, and because I just got off of 6 weeks of writing the best lists ever, I thought I’d share my pearls of wisdom that I learned during the Season of Lists…in a list! Here it is:
I can create art purely for myself, without care of external input.
Creating something every day helps me to feel more human.
If I don’t create every day, I feel like I am missing a part of myself.
The world needs me to create my art. No one can create my art but ME.
I am unique.
My voice matters.
I will never be perfect, I will just be me.
I enjoy spending time exploring my darkness while creating.
Grace is very important to have for yourself so that you can give it to others.
Healthy self talk leads to better results than negative self talk.
Being a part of a community of people who also feel the need to create every day is inspiring and life altering.
When I create, I am a better person.
Without further ado, here is a Flip-a-gram of my little, mini-messy art journal for the Season of Lists…
I’ve been going through an artist’s struggle the past couple of years. And if you’re any kind of creative (you should be, we all are!), you know what I mean. I’ve been going through that constant cycle of “This is awesome. This is tricky. This is crap. I am crap. This might be ok. This is awesome.” And so it goes, round and round, each new cycle teaching me something more about my craft, my creativity, my darkness, my need to create. There’s this really great quote from Ira Glass that you can watch/listen to here that describes that artists struggle to a T for me. And so I keep on trucking. Every time I feel like my art is crap, I know growth is right around the corner. And I keep wading through the crap until I get to that feeling of “This is awesome!” once again. Because the artist’s journey is never over. There is always more story to be told. And I’m determined to be the author of that story.
The Lewis Family is a very special family in my life. They are, by and large, just like any other average American family, trying to live the dream. But they have something that sets them slightly apart from many families, and that is that they are all choosing to be a Forever Family, together. I think that is something incredible and amazing. This session came up for me when I was deep in my funk. Not feeling the flow of my art. But when I found out that they were finalizing their adoption, I couldn’t think of anything more joyful to capture. This family, for me, embodies grace, joy, patience and gratefulness. I think there is something very profound about intentionally choosing to be a parent, intentionally choosing to love unconditionally. It truly touches my soul, and I feel so grateful myself to have them in my life. We were able to meet for a very quick session before they headed out to the courthouse to finalize the adoption, and make these amazing kids officially a LEWIS! It was truly an honor to be a part of this day with them, and to be able to capture memories that I know will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
Here’s an overview of our short, but extremely joyful morning together. One of my favorite parts was when they first got there, and Michael RAN into my arms and hugged me, and I could feel his excitement and joy exuding from his little body. I don’t know if my heart could have withstood any more joy and gratefulness than I felt in this morning. Thank you Lewis Family for sharing it with me, and allowing me to tell this part of your story…
A new forever family jumping for joy! Congratulations, Lewis Family!
I never knew how much the saying “It takes a village to raise a child” was true until I had a few of those children myself. I’m three kids into this parenting game, and some (read: most) days I’m ready to scream out for my village (or whoever is wiling) to come and save me from the insanity that can be my chaotic house. Other days, I’m reaching out to my village to share in the joys and triumphs of my children, who make my heart so full I feel like it could literally burst sometimes. The village is important. Everyone needs one. When you become a parent, you’ll likely seek one out if you don’t already have one.
This particular village was a spectacular village. There was so much love and laughter and support, you could feel it surrounding you. See it sparking in their eyes as they looked at each other. It was quite a privilege to be let in to tell this part of their beautiful story. Best friends often go through everything together. Breakups, breakouts, bad clothes, bad relationships, bad jobs, college, roommates, more boyfriends, graduation, marriage, babies, the works! These best friends are no different. In fact, I got to photograph FIVE best friends, experiencing one of the best milestones you could ask for in life, having babies!! Ok, only 2 of those friends were actually pregnant, but those babies have a LOT of love coming their way. It was truly such a joy to spend time with these guys and capture this amazing time in their life.
Not so true to California weather, mother nature had us going for this shoot. It was POURING rain the morning of our first scheduled shoot day. It was less than ideal settings. As in, usually I’d cancel! But knowing this would be the only day we could have them all together for some group shots, we just went with it anyway. I’m so glad we did. We ended up doing 3 separate sessions, with 3 separate groupings of people. Enjoy a rather long photo montage (and commentary) on our time together!
I asked them what their fave pass time is with each other. They said singing. WHAT?? Please, serenade! And oh did they, with one of my favorite Journey songs!
As good women tend to do, they brought these two good man together. BFF’s.
Hold the baby, caress the baby…don’t drop the baby!! 😀 Dad’s having fun making some surprise pics for their ladies at the end of our rainy day!
So, it was so good that we immediately rescheduled the photos for the next weekend, because one mamma went into labor early! And baby boy Steck was born almost before I could even finish Mama Steck’s photos! These friends were entirely too adorable together. I couldn’t help but have a great time with them.
We were professionals at squeezing in as many shots as we could in this evening. We had some gorgeous light!
“…and she loved a little boy.” The Giving Tree. Love.
Several weeks later, we got the rest of the photos in! I couldn’t be happier that we were able to reschedule and get
all the photos in that these guys were hoping to get before their bundles arrived.
These love birds had some amazing chemistry!
Ahhhhh so much beauty with these ladies! A big thank you to Laurelyn, Tara, Greg, Josh, and Bria for allowing me to tell this part of your story. It was an honor. <3