When I first began being recognized as a photographer I was hesitant to ever let on that I had a previous occupation, even a successful one. As time has gone on however I've come to believe that authenticity and professionalism can coexist in the same sentence just fine.
So with that in mind: I used to be an interior designer. It's what my bachelors degree is in and I owned a busy pretty business for 11 years before switching to photography. The people that knew me then often ask, "why did you give up design? Do you just like photography better?" And the answer I've been giving for years now was that design was 20% design and relationships and 80% paperwork, while photography is 80% photography and relationships and 20% paperwork- so since I love art and relationships it was an easy decision. The thing is, that answer is true, it's 100% true in fact – but it's not the whole answer.
I hit upon the rest of the answer at an engagement shoot a few months back when a soon to be groom asked me why I did photography. I started talking about art and beauty and helping people see how beautifully God made them- it was like a light went on. When I was designing spaces I loved it because a person in a beautiful space is so much happier than a person in a disorganized ugly space; how much more that holds true for photography! A person who feels beautiful in their own skin is so much more confident and happy than someone who wears their skin heavily with the burden of insecurities. We all have insecurities, myself as much as the next one, but the longer I do this the more I find that there is beauty in each of us and as a photographer I get to take that cliché and make it a reality that lifts my clients confidence. What else would I possibly want to do with my life? (Other than raise babies to love God and loves others which I get to do at the same time, lucky me).
I recently went to a conference with a small group of women creatives. As the date for the retreat/conference grew closer all of these women kept talking about how excited they were to dive into relationships with each other and as much as I love me a good snuggling sleep over I just kept thinking "well I have my friends, and I have my people, can we just do business please? I don't need any heart wrenching, gut spilling sessions, I just need some networking and some great ideas on how to do business better." Ha! You will be not surprised to know that I didn't get my way.
I went into this retreat with only one or two people that I actually connected with or felt any resemblance to in the group and I am emerged from it with my jaw on the floor over how strong, courageous, broken, and beautiful all eight of those women are. Over three days we learned from each other, got some great ideas on business practices, and found beauty in each other's brokenness. What I would have thought was a group of women who could not be more dissimilar ended up being a gathering of people whose hearts were all so very alike that it was easy to see the grace in each other and to take what had been perceived as annoying habits and suddenly call them adorable quirks.
You see those freckles above? She's a busy, loving, tired mom; and a kind and funny friend; and I bet her husband counts those freckles with love. See that smudge of a tattoo below? It reminds her of the love between her and her mother, and even though it's not quite how she wanted it, it's perfect in who it says she is- a daughter that finds comfort and safely and peace in her family...
Oh what an incredible reminder of the joy I find in my job and in the ability to reveal to people their own loveliness and how they are perceived by the world around them. Hearts and souls are all so very similar; weighed down, dented, and sometimes a bit ripped: but so useful and beautiful and valuable- a five dollar bill found in the gutter will buy you the same amount of tacos as one fresh off the press- in fact it's way less obnoxious because it won't stick to the other bills in your pocket.
How incredibly grateful I am to have the opportunity to make an occupation out of showing people their intrinsic worth. And these photos? Well we did get around to doing some business and these head shots are proof that these lovely ladies are as gorgeous on the outside as they are on the inside.
Thanks to the amazing friends I found in these women creatives: Janae Hoffman (another interior designer and photographer- except she still does ID), Traci Patterson of Traci True Photography, Janelle Baty (MUA), Katherine Beth Evans of Katherine Beth Photography, Tracy Van Dam of Tracy VanDam Fotografie, Wendy of Chris and Wendy Weddings, and Larissa Lillis Annen of Daisy Portraits.