on gratitude

Gratitude turns what we have into enough.

Gratitude is FUNDAMENTAL for living a fulfilled (creative) life.

The more gratitude I have, the more I appreciate the work I’m creating. This in turn gives me that craving to continue to create.

It helps me to see the beautiful things in other people, the beautiful things in my own life, and to capture them with the filter of gratitude (which of course is a magical recipe all in itself!)

My driving force used to be photographing those things in other people that I wanted documented for myself. I would take a photo and think ughh! I wish I had a photo like this of my own family. But that lack of gratitude and coveting left me hungry, and the searching for meaning and creative fulfillment (along with lifelong fulfillment) was unsuccessful.

Now I feel thankful to be able to witness. To be able to have the opportunity to document. It’s part of my life, too. Your story now becomes part of mine, and I am so, so thankful.

I can only experience this transcendent goodness when I am actually HERE. Living this life. Sitting with myself, my thoughts, my heart. Aware.

I am not about the hustle. There are things that need to be done, sure, but it’s a quick way to get burned out and lose all the magic and feeling and meaning that was so strongly lighting that fire within yourself to do anything useful in the first place.

If I want to feel gratitude, feel like what I have is enough, I have to sit with myself. This is why you can find me at the beach at least once a week! I sit with the waves and my thoughts and my heart and watch the sky turn colors and I leave completely renewed. You might not live by a beach, but I’m willing you can find a forest! Or mountains! Or a quiet room, porch, windowsill, field, area with open sky, etc. What feels like church to you? What feels holy and evokes the absolute best out of you?

Whatever it is, find it. And sit with it.

Be. Receive. Give thanks.

then and now

In my last post, I discussed progress and the difference between then and now. Since my switch to film, I’ve had a lot of people reach out and ask me how I get consistency in my Instagram feed and say that it seems like I have a strong visual voice. (I’m flattered by any and all positive comments by the way, so keep em coming ;) )

Here’s a few things that worked for me to get closer to a visual voice that is true to my art and what I’m trying to create that brings ME joy (WARNING: not for everyone! These tips may apply to you but you’ll still have to put in the work of figuring out what speaks to YOU individually!)

  1. Figure yourself out. This is probably the hardest work to be done, but once you do it, the rest is fairly fun and easy. You’re going to need to look inside yourself and figure out what makes you truly happy. You’re going to have to observe your life, look it in the face (the good, bad & ugly) and see what gets you out of bed in the morning. What have you always enjoyed? Which subjects in school were your strong suit, and what about them did you excel at? These may not be huge money-makers, but nobody said this was a get rich quick scheme! This is all about finding satisfaction in your art (and in your life!) Yan Palmer’s Teethkiss workshop (more about that below) is an amazing helpful resource for this.

  2. Learn. I recommend you look a little more intentionally when scrolling through your Instagram feed. Who are the artists whose work stops you in your tracks? Do they offer classes? Mentorships? eWorkshops? You may consider checking out the Clickin Moms store to see if your favorite photographer has a class offered there, or even discover a new photographer with a class topic that you’re drawn to. I’ve done classes by Ben Sasso which are short and sweet and full of good info. I also love Wendy Laurel’s Seeing Double PDF for any digital or film photographers interested in mastering double exposures. But HONESTLY, if you want to take your creative life to the next level (for EVERYONE, not just photographers), I canNOT say enough good things about Yan Palmer’s Teethkiss Workshop. It includes a huge, in-depth PDF with videos, and I opted to buy the hard copy too and have taken extensive notes and done a LOT of beneficial work. Yan is magical. If you’re looking for an all-in, in-person photo conference experience, I attended Yeah Field Trip last year and was forever changed. My next conference on my wishlist is Photo Native! I’m hoping to make it in 2020. Put in the work, fork out the cash, and INVEST yourself! If your budget is tight, check out some helpful photography podcasts. My current fave is Brooke Schultz’s Heartful Podcast.

  3. Experiment. Shoot at all times of the day, inside and outside, of people or mountains or weddings or births or architecture. Shoot upside down, laying down, from up high, underwater (use proper underwater housing, of course!), spinning, double exposures, long exposures, the sky is literally the limit. Shoot into the sun, or play with shadows, but (if I may) ALWAYS DO IT IN MANUAL. Master your camera. Know what it can do, and know how to do it.

  4. Connect. Meet up with creatives with a variety of interests, backgrounds, specialties, and passions. DO NOT limit yourself to only connecting with like-minded individuals! I started a little once a month meetup with some fellow photographers in Southern California, and it amazes me how different we all are! We have common ties too, of course, but we grow as we learn from one another (and anyone in SoCal is more than welcome to join!) I did a group 10+10 online mentorship with Cathlin McCullough which I also really loved! It was helpful to get three other people’s perspective on similarities and differences in my work compared to work I admired.

  5. Don’t give up. Like any good love story, the flame sometimes turns into embers and we have to reignite the spark that once carried us through creating our best yet work. If you’re feeling the burnout, start at step one and try it all over again! As changing humans, we have to continue to learn what we love and what inspires joy as we grow. What used to call you to life may no longer, and that’s okay! Find what does now. And DO IT. Find new classes for this new passion, dive in head first and feel the fire again. And when that fire extinguishes, don’t give up! Keep that cycle going

    .

on progress

I have arrived.

Sometimes that egotistical little thought pops in my head. It’s far from the truth, but I’m also really proud of the work that I’m putting out there that’s so different from the work I was putting out there not long ago. I had a 10+10 board (10 of my favorite images that I’ve procured, next to 10 images that inspire me. Again, if you haven’t purchased the goodness that is Yan Palmer’s Teethkiss Workshop, you really should!) that was so completely far from what I wanted my work to look like, it felt hopeless. I’ve been in business for 7 years now, and for some reason I could never catch up. What I wanted my work to look like didn’t match what I was creating.

I switched to film last year, and as soon as I dove in, there was no going back! I’m procuring art that makes me feel, photographs that I love. My work is where I want it to be!

For now.

You know that old over-used saying that it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey? I cringe at cliches as much as the next girl, but this one happens to be true. Our whole lives are about growth, learning, bettering. What’s good to me now may not resonate with me in the future. The art we create speaks differently to each of us at different points in our lives.

It’s frustrating sometimes. The evolution. Sometimes I just wish I could stay content, always be satisfied. And yet, once I outgrow this cocoon, what lies ahead is sure to be beautiful! I never want my work to grow stagnant. I always want to be true to what makes me feel, even if it requires a lot of work and learning and sometimes uncomfortable growth.

creativity/spirituality

Before moving to Long Beach, I had PRAYED that Heavenly Father would prepare a friend for me.

After all, I was leaving a tight-knit community in Tehachapi and surely lightning wouldn’t hit this lightning rod twice.

BUT HE DID.

A dear friend that I had met at Yeah Field Trip earlier this year was the welcome wagon for me in the first week of being the new kid in town. While we were together, she asked if I had seen a post on Yan Palmer’s private Teethkiss group that we’re both part of (as fellow Yan-Fans) by a girl with kids who had just moved into OC and was looking to make friends.

I contacted her immediately, after seeing we BOTH love Yan and BOTH belong to the same church and BOTH have little girls. Basically a recipe for instant friends.

I showed up at her house and it felt like I had paraded in on a friend whom I had known for years. Christina is kind, she is light, she is good, she is talented, she is MOVING AWAY (cue all the sad face emojis).

I feel like Heavenly Father dealt me a hand that was TOO GOOD and He was like, let me adjust that a little bit, and swapped some cards around and is seeing how I handle it now.

I’ve always had a love of film. I’ve been toting around a camera since I was a kid, burning through film my parents would send to a cheap lab and have made into 4x6s. I relearned that love when I met my best friend who had gone to school for photography, and I relearned to love it again when my dad bought me a used Canon EOS 3 off of ebay for Christmas last year. And it sat collecting dust in a cupboard, because I was too scared to use it and fail. Too scared to burn too much money and put my family in financial ruin too, but that’s another story for another day (ha!)

Christina rekindled a fire that is burning through me (and all of my film!) and I am forever grateful. She helped me, she inspired me, she provided me with a sounding board, and yummy food.

She taught me that for her, creativity goes hand in hand with spirituality. It is the same. I don’t think I will EVER forget this, because it’s one of those powerful truths that gets etched on your heart forever and resounds in my head every time I pick up my scriptures or pick up my camera.

I’m really sad she’s leaving.

But my loss is your gain (Sacramento and surrounding areas!). If you haven’t checked out her website, PLEASE do. She really is such a trailblazing talent.

only one

This post has been a looooong time coming. I’ve hesitated.

No. Don’t put your heart out there like that.

No, do it! You should say something.

But what about the repercussions?

So on and so forth. You get the idea. But if you’re reading this, then you can probably guess that the angel (or devil) on my shoulder spoke loudest.

I have an only child.

I get a LOT of feedback on that, almost daily. It’s gotten better in the past year or so, but it used to be that I couldn’t go to my mailbox without my neighbor asking me, “So when are you gonna give her a baby brother?”

Or hearing people chime in and say “But she needs a sibling!” or “Well you’ll want to hurry before there’s too big of an age gap” or my personal favorite, that “Only children end up dysfunctional”.

My life story is far from being fully written, but to anyone who might be concerned: I absolutely CAN have an only child! And so can you.

Who wrote the rulebook anyway? One is too few. Three, (definitely more) is too many. So two children is apparently the socially acceptable, normal number of children allowed to be had or else the world will cease to turn on its axis the way it’s supposed to.

Aside from the fact that this is absurd, and coming from a well-functioning person who was raised as an only child myself (with the exception of my half sister who is 18 years older than me), it’s extremely hurtful.

I know some people only truly care. I know they ask, comment, suggest out of love. But at the end of the day, it STILL hurts. What if I were someone who was struggling with infertility? What if I were someone who had other causes, stories happening behind the scenes that you weren’t aware of that did not allow me to have any more children? What if all I could think about all day, every day, all my heart yearned for was to have another child? To give my only a sibling? I have been all of these things at some point or another, but whenever I heard a tip from an unknowing passersby (or family member. or friend. or church member. etc etc) it felt like salt pouring into a wound.

Aside from that, what if I were someone who only CHOSE to have one child? What if I did something so crazy as to ask to not be fit in a box? I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I am married. I do not have a big family. Those things can all coexist peacefully. I don’t fit into a box, and nobody else should feel they have to, either!

This post is also out of love, a call to awareness, a voice reaching out into the abyss hoping to reach an ear who may need to hear it. I am with you. You are not alone. It really, truly is okay to have only one child. It’s also okay to have many children. Or none. So long as you take care of those God-given babies, who am I to judge?

Below is my best friend (muse) and her family, who have chosen to have more than one child and I love them in spite of it ;)

long beach

My first ever blog post on my grown-up, real website is about Long Beach, which should tell you that this city means a great deal to me. But I’m kind of embarrassed to say it wasn’t my first choice.

Not even close.

Our family made the big trek from Michigan out to California four and a half years ago, unwillingly. We always said we would move ANYWHERE except California.

Then I thought I was going to have to leave California, and I realized then just how much I love it. (Why is it that with most things in life we only realize how much we love it if we’re going to have to lose it?)

We had some choices to make about school and work and what our next move was going to be. Long Beach has always been a contender, hypothetically, but it was never my choice. Then it was my only choice.

My heart has changed SO much in the handful of months since that decision was made, but everything fell into place for us in such a way that I know we are meant to be here. We came down to house hunt with only 3 weeks until we needed to find a place, and we only had two prospective homes available to see. We expected that the Los Angeles housing market would be pretty competitive, and I went into it feeling a little hopeless.

We were instantly accepted at the first place. Then the second. The decision was easy once we met our landlords, who are like surrogate parents/grandparents to us (we went with the second home).

I have adopted this city as my own instantly. It’s diverse, colorful, green, sunny, friendly, and close to the beach. Why would we ever leave?