Gratitude is when a memory is stored in your heart

A grateful heart is a magnet to miracles. As I write this blog post, I want you to realize that you are the hero. Through this journey with all of you who have believed in me, supported me and encouraged me, you have unlocked within me parts of my heart that had yet been untouched. Just seven short years ago I was a woman with a camera that wanted to take pictures. After being in the car industry for almost two decades, I was ready to step from the punchclock into my passion.

The decision to become a professional photographer came with many sleepless nights

I had incredible self doubt as to whether I would be able to succeed when I had to write my own paychecks. At first glance it seems like “holy smokes I just made $100 for taking pictures! This is awesome!” until you realize the security that is included in a paycheck. Things like social security, vacation time, medical benefits, guaranteed wage, sick pay, unemployment benefits, L&I coverage, paid holidays, set hours, dental insurance – not to mention the overhead of running a studio. It’s not just rent – there is equipment, props, insurance, electricity, gas, prints, albums, postage, frames – you get the picture 😉 … sorry that was a camera joke just for me 😉 Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking it – my point is that I am so grateful that I had the strength to overcome my fears and make it happen.

In the professional photography industry there is no barrier to entry

There’s no standard set as to what a photograph is worth, no set hours, no requirements to start a photography business (aside from the standard business license). Professional photographer is literally one of the few professions where you can just become one. It is subjective rather than objective. There is no standardized barometer that tells you what to charge or what you are worth. The first thing I did was to enroll with the New York Institute of Photography and graduated from there within 18 months. That started the beginning of my skillset. Since then I have taken courses and learned from the best of the best. And I am grateful for all that they taught me but… without you, my clients, seeing value in me and ultimately what I had to offer, this wouldn’t have launched. Today I’m setting goals to grow my business that month by month you are helping me to exceed. But it’s not just about the money. As examples I am going to tell you about the two sessions I had on Sunday. Mind you, this is one day in the 365 of 2021 – with these two stories, you’ll see where my gratitude comes from.

There’s magic in this work

A young woman at that stage where she hasn’t discovered her own beauty and confidence walked in for a high school senior photoshoot and walked out feeling like a supermodel. Her mom was in awe at the synergy that her daughter and I instantly developed. This is a young woman who described herself as “not photogenic” and “awkward” and because of covid the opportunities to go through the natural events that most high school seniors experience were robbed from her. She didn’t get to find the perfect prom dress, and flex her edgy wardrobe choices (by the way her style was unique and told who she was). No senior trip, no class camps, all of those things that let you know you’re transitioning into adulthood – disappeared and drifted out of reach. She came in apprehensive, but her mother had the wisdom to know that she needed this. That this alone could make her daughter feel celebrated, seen, and have the sense of accomplishment of twelve years of hard work. Usually when I look through the pictures and cull them, there are always some that hit the editing room floor. She was the exception, every single frame was a banger. Not a bad one in the bunch. The girl who walked in and the girl who walked out were two different people. For that I am grateful. I am grateful for the mother who believed in her daughter and knew she had these qualities. Grateful that she got to watch this unfold. How could I not feel honored to be standing behind that lens?

I had just reset the studio for my next client and got to watch an incredible birthday surprise unfold. A girlfriend decided that this single dad needed this experience with his 11 and 13 year old daughters, and hired me to create a moment in time for them. The girls came in first and my makeup artist did lashes and lip gloss, and they adorned themselves with one of the three outfits the girlfriend had purchased for them and anxiously awaited their dad. He didn’t know until he pulled up what his gift was. And to say he was overwhelmed with gratitude doesn’t begin to cover it. Having been a single parent earlier in life, I know it’s not easy. There isn’t a lot of room for the luxuries that can make you feel special. As I was posing this little family, I told the girls to squeeze daddy so tight that his head might pop off, and the giggles that were unleashed delighted everyone in the room. From the girlfriend, to the dad, to my makeup artist, to me… we all felt it. This was love made visible. It was a sacred moment for every single one of us. The tug on our heartstrings that nearly unraveled us all was when the 13 year old turned to her dad and said “Dad! Now we have something hang on the wall!”

As a business owner, you can spend years searching for your “why”

It can seem elusive and kitchy. I can confidently say I have found mine. These moments of trust that are put in me are something I honor more than I can articulate. I have two rituals I do without fail. First, every single time a client gives me a payment, I say internally “I accept this with gratitude”. I want to make sure I have this as my plumb line of what I feel with each and every client. Secondly, when I leave my studio I turn around and say “I am so proud of myself for building this on my own”.

The month of November is known as the month of Thanksgiving, so just as the seeds are planted and the crops grow, I am raising my glass to you with great thanks in my heart.

I would be honored to photograph you

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