Stay Scared // Spady Sunday

I have come to the realization that I am scared. A lot. And believe it or not, I am perfectly ok with that.

You see, not too long ago, I was never scared. I went to work and came home. I enjoyed time with my husband and my cockapoo. I went running, read a lot of books, watched some TV, and did other things to fill my time. And I truly enjoyed it.

But just a few years ago, I got scared - and I got moving. I suddenly realized this thing that I had done, taking pictures here and there, was becoming more than just a hobby. I began to fall in love with photography, everything from the business side to the fun, creative side. I started to read, read, read about how to take better pictures. I enrolled in school at the New York Institute of Photography. I picked up my camera more and more frequently, and turned it from landscapes (an art form in itself) to people.

In the process, I realized that I could truly fail at this. It is possible that in 10 years, I will look back on this and shake my head. This is one of the only things in my life where I do not have a guaranteed success. College, high school, and working...none of them were easy, but as long as I showed up on time, did the work, studied, and put in the effort, I knew I would succeed.

But photography is and was a whole new experience. I do not have guaranteed success. I am promised nothing beyond enjoyment for now. I could fall flat on my face, and everybody would know it.

Yet somehow, this drives me. I know that I want to succeed - and for me, success is about serving my clients and forming relationships, not making money or becoming famous (that is a different blog post though!). I know that I want to continue to improve. I know that I want to run after this thing, however big or terrifying it may be, knowing that I might fail...or I might, by some blessed chance, succeed.

Friends, stay scared. Do not let life pass you by. If you are content with the life you are living, fantastic! There is something sweet and good about a simple life. But if there is a passion inside of you, deep down, that you cannot get rid of no matter how hard you try, then run. Run hard after it and don't look back, no matter how scared you are.

Happy Sunday everyone!

Airplane over Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington

What Does Photography Mean to Me, Part 1 // Guest Blog

I've asked a few people I hold dear to my heart to answer the question, "What does photography mean to me?" I think it's so important to hear from real people about real events in their life, and understand why families choose to get pictures taken. This guest post is from Rebekah, who I've known for years - she was actually my babysitter when I was younger! Rebekah currently lives in Southwest Virginia, is a wonderful mom of 3, and is also a doula and marathoner. She keeps pretty busy! I hope this was as big of a blessing to you as it was to me!

I was recently asked, "What have pictures meant to me in my life?". Initially, this question took me off guard, because honestly, photos are something I tend to take for granted. I mean, with the surge of smartphones (we have 2 iPhones in our home), it is ludicrously easy to get snapshots or videos on the fly. Then, I started really thinking...

In early December, my husband and I went on a belated 7 year anniversary trip to Gettysburg, Pa. (We're both history nerds... what can I say?!) About three weeks before our trip, I had the sudden idea to hire a mini-shoot photographer to capture our getaway and to celebrate our 7 years of marriage.

I think this photo - taken by Rose Finley of The Focus Photography in Gettysburg, Pa. - speaks for itself.

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We have this shot framed and hanging in the hall just outside our bedroom door. Why?  This photo captures the joy of a weekend getaway, just the two of us.  It captures thelove we've shared for over 7 years.  It captures the friendship we've learned to cherish.

So, then, I started to think about what daily photos have grown to mean a lot to me.

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Photos can celebrate those routine day-to-day moments that we may not remember otherwise, those precious moments we may be too sleep deprived to remember on our own!


Photos can capture special times together with family - time enjoying creation together, relaxation after dinner together, a fleeting smile that would have otherwise been missed.  


If it wasn't for this photo (Copyright - Aaron Stewart), would I necessarily remember the green of the grass by the lake in Michigan in July?  Would I remember how positively frigid it was that day and how I didn't pack enough warm clothes?  Would I remember how we laughed as we huddled together and smiled for the camera only to bolt inside to warm up once the shots had been taken?

You may be wondering - why even bother?

Photos capture memories.  Joy.  Life is filled with so much joy, but sometimes it takes looking back at a snapshot - a frozen moment in time - to really become aware of the joy that has filled our memories.  

So, as I've reflected on the significance of photos in my life, I've come to learn that photos are important reminders of time spent with family, special memories shared together, and remembering joy in the seemingly mundane.  As cliche as it may sound, a picture really is worth 1000 words.

A Giving Spirit // Spady Sunday

Over the past week, I’ve had the absolute joy of meeting tons of different photographers, some local and some from far away. Recently, Katelyn James wrote a great article about why our industry is so different from so many others, and it echoed exactly what I’ve been thinking about this whole week.

It has been a crazy week. I mean, absolutely insane. I’m typing this right now in the car on the way to Maryland for a wedding while my sweet husband drives so I can get some work done (and, in theory, sleep…ha!). I traveled to Charlottesville on Tuesday to attend a posing workshop by Justin and Mary, then drove to Virginia Beach on Thursday to meet Amanda Hedgepeth at a styled shoot and Q&A session. On Friday I shot a gig for Fox Hole Kingdom, and Saturday was a wedding. And I have SO many pictures to go through, edit, blog, and everything that goes along with that!

But as I think back on it, there’s not one single thing I wouldn’t have done. Meeting Justin & Mary, and Amanda, along with all the workshop attendees, was such a huge blessing. The photography industry can be so cutthroat. I’ve heard stories of big name photographers treating those who are new to the field in such an unkind way. Thankfully, I’ve met none of these people; in fact, I’ve had the OPPOSITE experience. I have just been absolutely blown away this week by how open other photographers have been. It’s a scary thing to share your business secrets, or your shooting style, or how to set up off-camera flash, or ANYTHING. And most of these photographers learned it through trial and error, and messing up a lot before they got it right.

I am truly blessed. I got to ask SO many photographers SO many questions this week, and not once did I receive a canned response or a cagey answer because they didn’t want me to know how they did it. I am owed absolutely nothing, and yet, I have been given so much. I have pages and pages of notes from this past week, a newfound confidence in my ability, and so much knowledge about how to be successful.

I just want to publicly acknowledge how thankful I am for each and every person I met this week. I wish I could name everyone in here but I honestly can’t remember everyone I talked to. So, to those who have helped me, thank you. To those who have answered questions, I am grateful. To those who have given me ‘industry secrets’ joyfully and without hesitation, I am indebted to you. I am excited and terrified to go on this journey of being a photographer, but it is because of the giving spirit of people like you that I’m able to step out in confidence. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Happy Sunday everyone!


Veritas Vineyard in Charlottesville, Virginia