Most of the time I enjoy looking back on my year. However, this year I slacked, a lot, and I have to make some changes. I just didn’t get out as much as I normally do. Even during camping season it seemed it was always interrupted with something I “had” to do. I wasn’t as intentional as I had been the past few years. I didn’t create good content for my Facebook page and actually neglected it. I had something happen that set me off into the “not good enough” thought process, which in turn caused me to purge a lot of unneeded stress in my social media life. But I would go out and take photos and think, “these are not good, what am I doing trying to create good photos when I can’t do it?” I really had to shake that mindset; I am my own worst critic.
Life was disrupted with a move in the middle part of the year and it was during a very stressful time. I’m still trying to adjust. Then, in September we were hit by one of the largest hurricane’s in recent history. Irma totally upset my world, but I came out a whole lot better than many of my friends did and I can tell you I am most grateful for that blessing. Yet, the stress was still there and even guilt that so many lost so much and I didn’t. I can’t explain why it was that way, but it was; again I am so grateful to not have had any damage.
Sometimes life gives you those old lemons and it’s not always easy to make the lemonade. In fact, I have thrown a lot of lemons away because I just could not bring myself to make them work. Ever feel like that?
I’m looking forward to a clean start with 2018, I won’t make promises I can’t keep, but I will put a lot more effort into making it an incredible year personally and professionally.
Here’s a look back on what I did accomplish photographically:
A cute Super Hero
Four homes down from me.
Rod Stewart & Cyndi Lauper
Stars on Ice
The Late Chris Cornell, two weeks prior to his death
A wedding profile
I belong to a local Meetup group called the South West Florida Shutterbugs and in two weeks we will be six months old as a group. In that six months we have offered learning opportunities, trips both local and out of area and have met some really cool people. Recently, we have initiated a mentor/mentee program and I have decided it’s time to take my skills to another level by working with an incredible portrait photographer. This will stretch my knowledge and also take me out of my comfort zone. I’ve already worked with him on a few shoots and he makes what he does look so effortless. I know this will make me better, especially when it comes to using off camera flash.
Now, for the next part, I will be mentoring a more beginner photographer. I really appreciate what has been taught to me and I want to give back. When I started shooting I had no one to guide me and I learned on my own. I learned that concerts and events were sometimes a crap shoot depending on the lighting, but now I go into them full of confidence in my own skills. This mentoring will hopefully allow another beginner to feel more confident with their camera without having to learn it all on their own.
If you are in the South West Florida area and want to join a top-notch photography group, feel free to check out Meetup.com. Happy shooting.
This past couple of weeks I’ve come to the realization once again that loss is a part of life. As I was doing my thing with taking concert photos a long time friend was coming to terms with the passing of her husband. I’ve known this couple since the early to mid 70s, they were beautiful together, and a huge part of my teen/early adult life. Unfortunately his life was taken by the evil affliction of cancer. I’ve not seen them in years, but I was praying for him daily during his extensive battle, he has now received complete healing of his body; for that we are thankful, but my heart aches for his beautiful wife, children, family and friends who were closest to him; I know he will be missed. Along with death there is always life, and sometimes something incredibly beautiful, unplanned and definitely unexpected happens. It’s taken me this entire week to wrap my mind around the circumstances and express in words what I have been experiencing, but because of this friends passing, a lovely friendship which started over forty years ago was rekindled. I can’t begin to express what I feel about this, except it’s an extraordinary event; what a true blessing. Rest in the arms of Jesus Jimmy Steen, and thank you.
Recently I reconnected with an old friend through Facebook. We had been friends back in our late Junior High early High School days. He moved away and we kept in touch for a short time after; well before Facebook when letter writing was envogue. He had moved back to the same area as an adult and joined the local Sheriff’s Department as a K9 handler. He is currently retired and breeds/trains Malinois & German Shepherds. He contacted me about photographing his dogs working so I took a trip up mid June to a training facility. It was a huge field set up with obstacles and many different working dog owners. I was allowed to be on the field with the dogs working and even though the field was full of water and mud it was a great time. I met some incredible people and took some awesome photos. Out of the photos I took THIS is why I was there!
I made a decision over two years ago to work toward becoming a full time photographer. Life events changed and I needed to see if it was something I could do on my own. I set some small goals and took a year to see if I really could make it in this world of younger, more beautiful work. Of course that notion is one self-perceived and I have found my work speaks for itself. I went into 2015 with some specific goals in mind and then I was approached about the possibility of opening a studio. That’s a bit scary because I am not sure how I would actually fund that venture, so instead I am scaling back and reassessing my goals. I belong to a women’s group called National Association of Christian Women Leaders, Inc. (NACWL) and the past few months we have been talking about a vision of moving on, moving up, and moving out. I have taken the first step in all this with the moving on. I actually moved on very quickly because I had already made that decision months prior to actually doing it. As difficult as it was I felt it was something I was being led to do. That’s when I decided on the year of rebuilding and finding my footing again. I am now in the process of moving up. I re-evaluated the goals I had set in a five year plan (which has been accelerated) and I’m collecting the information I need to become a business owner, by doing research, talking with other photographers and relying on my mentor and friend who is an extremely successful small business owner and one who gave me stellar advice which I am implementing and I trust him explicitly, he sugar coats nothing and I adore him for that. He’s only a phone call away and if I need to talk something out, he’s there to listen and to help me see things a bit differently and to give me a reality check. I’m currently in phase one of creating an intimate in house studio in a small room in my small odd shaped apartment. During phase two I will be helped by a friend who is incredibly talented when it comes to ideas and construction (so glad I don’t have to rely on my own strengths for this). I know I can rely on him to help me decide the best method for rigging my drops and creating movable V-flats; another gem of a friend who has championed me through some decisions by helping me to look at things differently. I believe I will be in the moving up portion for a longer period of time than I was with the moving on portion. I know God has a hand in my life by the way things are moving, because there is no way I could be doing any of this without his guiding hand. I know that he has placed some incredibly positive people in my life to encourage me and love on me and to help me, and he’s brought me to a group of women leaders of whom I can learn and glean incredible knowledge from and gain a huge network of support. And to think this all came about with a ride on the back of a horse and some tough questions I needed to answer.
You know, I write so often about what I have done and where I’m going and sometimes I have to take a step back and breathe, because there are days or weeks that I feel as if I have no time as I am going from show to show or portrait to portrait. This past week was one of those weeks. I really try to balance out my life with work, photography, friends and family then add to that learning opportunities. For the ordinary person I’m sure my schedule seems to be overwhelming, but for me it’s my life. As a creative I also need to take time to renew myself and spend time alone with the natural world. I also need to spend time with people I care about. I prefer that one on one time as it gives me opportunity to open up (something that only happens with a choice few) and it allows me to get some much needed feedback. These are things I need because living alone I don’t have anyone to come home to where I can bounce off my day/evening so I have to rely on myself, and I am my own worst critic. The other night after a huge concert I came home totally upset with the way I felt the shots turned out and I wasn’t sure I would be able to use any of the images as the lighting was a complete nightmare, I wanted to cry. As I was reminded this weekend I am a painter of light, so surely there was something I could use. Turns out I had a few shots that many would call the “money shot”.
I love concerts; I love the challenge of the lights and the thought process that goes into it, but it’s stressful especially when you know someone is relying on you to do you best work. I really felt it this week and when I looked at the images, I wondered if this is really what I should be doing. However, that thought was fleeting as I brought up the images and I know there is nothing I want more (ok there is, but I’m being patient). I love this and I know I am doing exactly what I should be doing as opportunities are opening up for a future I only dreamt about. Spending time with a few friends this weekend and time out in nature has refreshed me for another busy couple of weeks. So I take a breath and keep going because my passion is being a photographer.
This week has been rough, but not as rough as it’s been for my really good friend Chris. You see she just found out that she is going to be in the battle of her life and she’s not going to fight it alone. Chris is an amazing woman and has some wonderful friends and family who are praying for her and cheering her through her battle. The love of her family and friends is going to feed her life.
I met Chris several years ago as we were taking classes to pass the same test and after nine months of sitting next to her in class we became friends. She was fully there for me as I went through a tough time the end of last year and totally had my back and now as her friend I will have her back too. Seeing her in the hospital tonight, head shaven and tubes everywhere she was in great spirits and as a photographer who has seen her in my lens was just as beautiful without hair as she is with it.
Chris and I are close in age and when one of your close friends is hit with the news of having the big “C” it really makes you stop and think about your life. I have been really fortunate because I have been blessed with wonderful children, wonderful family, and some of the most amazing friends on the planet. Thinking about my own mortality I realize I want to fall in love again and make it forever, I want to live life to the fullest of my ability, follow my passion to create amazing images, and to continue to be completely happy. I will not be content to sit back and watch life pass me by, I plan on making sure those I love know it and to find new love again, and my photographic work will keep improving and showing the passions I possess.
I know I don’t post personal stuff often, but I felt the need tonight, maybe it’s my way of dealing or the fact that I want to be more open in my life which will include not only the good stuff, but sometimes the bad stuff too. All I know is right now I could really use a big hug. God Bless you Chris, I love you and I have your back!