spring portraits // Emily

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Spring:
A lovely reminder of how beautiful change can truly be

Spring was really slow to arrive in the Midwest this year, but when it did, it did not disappoint! These portraits were taking a couple weeks ago when the flowering trees and lilacs were at their peak. They were so gorgeous! I couldn't believe how pretty everything was! I hope you love these images as much as I do. 

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Celebrate Your Growth

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" Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you will go, just remember how far you have come. Remember everything you've faced. All the battles you have won. All the fears you've overcome. All the chapters you have written. Remember the moments that came before when you had this same doubt and overcame it. You can go as far as you let yourself go. Let go and you will soar farther then you've ever imagined." - unknown

Why is it so easy to let fear take hold in our lives? I feel like I default to fear and doubt so often. I feel like I'm not doing enough with my business and just my life in general. I set goals for myself and have expectations, but then I lose interest or steam and give up. I have days when I absolutely love my work and the creative process, and other days when I'm sure I'll never make it and no one even cares or notices. Discouragement can be so real, guys. It can catch you off guard when you least expect it and can be set off by the littlest things.

It's not wrong to fear sometimes, or have doubts. The wrong comes when I stay there. When I let my struggles overcome me instead of speaking truth to myself. Telling myself that there is beauty in the process and that I don't have to "arrive" to make something of myself. Life isn't about success. It's about living - really living. The world's definition of success is always changing, and, to be honest, I'll probably never be successful from the world's point of view. You know what, though? That's okay. I don't want to be rich just for the sake of being rich. I don't care about status, or having the latest model of phone or car. What I care about is living a full life, one that is focused on other people and pursuing my passions. I'm slowly learning that the secret to crushing my fear and doubt is to just stop overthinking and go for it. Stop worrying about what this or that person is going to think about me. Learning to not fear failure. The thing about failure is that it shows that I actually tried. It is far, far better to fail then never try. Remembering that failure is not the end, but a beginning. One option closing so I can pursue another course of action.

There are days that I'm really discouraged about where I am in life right now, not going to lie. But I have also seen myself grow by leaps and bounds in confidence, skill, and my outlook on life. I am so, so thankful for the growth, and I hope you can be thankful for the growth in your own life, too.

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3.4.18

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When I started this blog, I knew I wouldn't be able to only write about photography. I struggled with this decision because so many people said that the only way to have a successful blog was to only write about two, maybe three topics, but no more. I agree, to a point. As much as I want to have a successful blog/business, I also want to share about my life, my mistakes and my victories, in an attempt to encourage + bless those who come across my blog. I feel burdened to share what I'm learning, to share my heart, not just technical terms and tutorials.

so here I am

today is my birthday, so I thought I'd share are a few things I have learned, plus things I wish someone had told me when I was in the vulnerable early to late teen years. I struggled a lot, but I am stronger because of the trials, and my hope is that this post will bless and encourage you to always keep growing stronger + bolder + learning who YOU are. 

1. People don't notice as much as you think.  I am a very observant person. Very little escapes my notice, which leads me to think that every other living soul is just like me and is noticing every little mistake and bad hair day. I'm sure there are a handful of people just as observant, if not more, than me, but the majority of people are so absorbed in their own life they hardly notice. I have struggled with the fear of man's opinion for far too long. I want to focus less on what others are thinking of me (probably nothing) and focus on them - how can I make their day better + brighter. Less inward focused and more out-ward/people focused.

2. You will be happiest being yourself.  Not much to say here, other than it's true. I'm still learning every day who I am, but I'm pretty sure I'm happiest when I'm not worried about others and am just being myself.

3. Don't neglect taking care of yourself.  What we do in our teens and early twenties has a huge impact on how we age. While there are some diseases, and just age itself, that can't be avoided no matter how well you take care of yourself, so many adverse conditions can be avoided by taking care of yourself. Make exercise a priority. Drink more water, less soda. Get enough sleep. Learn to manage stress. Switch out your toxic makeup and skincare for natural alternatives. Wear sunscreen. Clean up your diet. Over the past two years I have been able to become about 95% natural in my makeup & skincare, just signed up for a gym membership so I can start lifting and strengthening my body + bones, and am working on limiting my gluten, sugar & dairy. It takes work but knowing that I am building a healthy foundation helps me to stay focused

4. Live every day like it's an adventure. Growing up, (specifically ages 19-22), it was really hard for me to not wish I could have a life like the handful of adventurous people I knew. People who somehow had the money (or had a parent paying) to travel wherever they wanted, to live wherever they wanted, to hop on a plane and go on yet another adventure. " Your single years are the best ever! When else are you going to have the time to travel and not have to answer to anyone?". Those words were spoken over and over again. I agree with the truth of the statement, but it was never really a reality until recently. I didn't feel comfortable traveling alone to places where I knew no one, I had jobs that I couldn't just leave at a moments notice, and honestly, I couldn't really justify spending the money at certain times. I am freer now, but having that pressure back then was really, really hard. One thing I wish someone had said to me was that it was okay to not be the single person who had traveled the country or world by the time they're 21. The most important thing you can do is say yes to adventures when you have the opportunity, and in the meantime live every day like the beautiful, wild adventure it is. Every day you have life and breath in your body means you have another chance to love well, be grateful, and take care of yourself and others. By all means, travel and have fun, but don't think travel (or whatever it is that you're striving for) equals happiness or a full life.

5. Learning how to think is super important. We live in a world where every question can be answered in a matter of seconds. This can be very helpful in certain situations, but I have noticed that the more access I have to the internet, the less likely I am to use my brain. Not sure how to decorate a space? Check Pinterest. Feeling bored? Scroll through Instagram or watch Netflix. While these things are okay once in awhile, I am borderline alarmed at how much I rely on them and really want to change that this year. I want to put my phone down more and actually think through a problem. I want to keep my brain in shape by actually using it. I want Google to be the last resort, instead of the first thing I turn to.

6. Accept help and wisdom, but think for yourself. For many years I was afraid of making a bad choice, for instance, in taking a job or finding a church, so I just let other people influence my decision. But here's the thing. When faced with a decision that only I could make, I was so afraid of making a mistake. Here's what I'm realizing, though: very rarely is a mistake life-changing. A few things, like who you marry, for instance, hold life-altering consequences. But probably 95% or more of decisions aren't going to wreck your life. You can quit a job, grow your hair out, change majors, and find another church. One of the biggest things I have been learning is that mistakes are OKAY, and I need to quit putting life-changing significance on every freakin' thing.

7. Jesus must be everything. I realize not everyone who comes across and reads my blog is a Christian, so let me first say that choosing to have a relationship with Jesus is literally the most life-altering, yet best thing you could ever choose to do with your life. The hope He gives even in the middle of confusing life challenges is incredible. If you have questions, please never hesitate to shoot me a message.

For those of you who do have a personal relationship with Jesus, whether it's been going on for a few months or many years, the sooner you realize that He is everything the sooner you will have peace in your life. Right now I'm realizing that I haven't been putting Him first, that I've been distracted, and I'm really feeling it emotionally and spiritually. Deep down I know how important it is, and yet it's so easy to push off consistent, meaningful time with Jesus when life gets busy. But Jesus literally is life - if it wasn't for His sustaining love and mercy I would be, quite literally, dead, because He alone is the giver of life. So why wouldn't I want to soak up and bask in His love for hours on end every day? Because I have sin that rears its ugly head, and that little voice in my head that tells me that "x" is important than that time with Jesus. The more time goes on, though, the more I am realizing how important this truly is. I want this year to be full of Jesus + being intentional when it comes to spending time with Him.

To sum it all up....

I hope that this is the best year of my life yet. Not because of all the trips I have planned, or the money I hope to make, or the success I hope come my way this year, but because of my mindset. I feel like the past 24 years have been building blocks that have built a foundation for the year to come. Somehow I know that the struggles I've had are not in vain, and while I wish I hadn't had to experience some of the difficulties I have, it has shaped me in so many ways. I hope this year I can sift out and permanently throw away some of those not-so-great habits that are clinging on and fully embrace a life of mental, physical and spiritual strength and excellence.  

 

 

 

Opera House Shoot

I love old buildings. One of my favorite magazines growing up was This Old House, but not because I liked building or fixing things. In fact, the only page I really looked at was the last one that always featured some crumbling, dilapidated old house that was for sale.

I'm not sure what I exactly love about old buildings, other than the fact that they are unique and full of beauty, with little hidden corners and huge windows, stained glass and winding staircases. If I could, I'd probably explore every old building in my city. 

The inspiration for this shoot came about when I saw this building for sale. It used to be an opera house, but now it sits abandoned (but for sale, in case you were wondering!), full of exposed brick walls and sunlit rooms. I had been envisioning a romantic shoot for Valentines Day and wanted to shoot in a historic building. While an abandoned building wasn't exactly what I had in mind, when the opportunity came to shoot here I immediately jumped on it! I am so glad I did. With help from a couple vendors I was able to create one of my favorite shoots to date. I hope you'll enjoy browsing through the photos. 

Flower crown + Boutonniere // Kira's Flowers

Couch // Spruce Wedding Rental

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Want to work with me, have an idea for a shoot & want to collaborate, or just want to say Hi? Drop me a message through my Contact page

/ there's more important things than algorithms /

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I've seen a lot of posts going around on Instagram lately about the new algorithm that Instagram has started using. To be honest, I pretty much ignore it all. Not because I don't want to be informed - I do! I want to know what's going on so I don't get buried, ignored, & forgotten. As a creative trying to sell something it's important that my service gets in front of the eyes of the people who will want it, and the only way to do this is to strategize and plan. The real reason I ignore (most) of this new algorithm information is because, more than likely, it will just change again. I'll spend time trying to beat this algorithm just to have everything switched up again. So, while I'll keep some things in mind to hopefully make this change a little less "painful", there are some things I want to implement that, in the long run, will hopefully be timeless and impactful to all who come across my page, whether or not algorithms keep changing.

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I want people to come away from my feed encouraged + inspired.

Our world is so negative; barely a day goes by without hearing of something bad happening. Instead of using my feed to complain about something, someone, or my own problems, I want people to know they won't find that on my feed. Authenticity, yes. But not negativity.

I want people to come away from my feed feeling like they made a new friend.

I'm sure we can all talk about feeds where we come away feeling like we know the person even if we've never met. I'm sure we can also talk about feeds where we got a bad vibe from the person, whether it was through complaining, trash talk, or negativity. I want people who visit my feed to come away feeling welcome and able to ask questions or start a conversation with me and actually get a response. I want to be warm and inviting, or as much as I can be through a iPhone screen! 

I want people to come away from my feed excited about their own life.

I know what it feels like to be discouraged and discontent with life. I want people who visit my feed (and my blog, for that matter), to realize that life is so worth living, even in those quiet, small, mundane moments. It's easy to see other Instagrammers, Youtubers, and bloggers who are traveling the world and "living the dream" and become discontent with your own daily grind. In reality, while some people may be living amazing dream-lives, most of us are just like the rest of you - working a part-time or 9-to-5 job to fund our dreams, having sick days, grocery days, and days of totally loosing all productivity. I want people to not look at my feed and envy me for what I do, but look at my feed and get excited about finding joy in all areas of life - the exciting and the ordinary. To not live vicariously through me, but to let my adventures spur them on to their own adventures.

I want people to come away from my feed challenged to live more fully.

In a "let's binge Netflix and lounge around all day" society I want to encourage people to live more fully, where they are, with what they have right now. Don't wait for your "big break" - take small steps today to get you where you want to be. Don't get discourage and don't give up. Life is rarely one big break into success. It's hundreds of tiny steps forward (and many steps back) that get you where you want to go. Make a (doable) plan and start making steps in the right direction. I want people to come away from my feed challenged to not just sit around, but to actually do. To get excited about doing and learning. To realize they have one life and to live it well and fully.

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In closing, I wanted to share something I read today on Facebook. It was a thread in a Facebook group where the moderator of the group asked the young women to share about some of the photographers that they admire and who influence them. It was so inspiring to see these young women name other women who they look up to and admire. No competition, just community. One comment stood out the most to me, and that was a comment written by a young woman about another young woman photographer. She said that this photographer inspires her because she really loves Jesus and that shines through in such a powerful way through her brand. I knew exactly who this woman was talking about, and couldn't agree more. This beautiful, Jesus-loving young woman blends her love for her Savior and her love for photography together so seamlessly and it truly is inspirational. As a follower of Jesus, ultimately that's what I want my feed to be about - Him and making Him known. Only what I create here on earth for HIS glory will matter in eternity. He could care less about how many followers I have or if I nailed the perfect shot. He wants me to be living for Him, and then letting Him spill out of me in a way that draws people not to me and my accomplishments, but to Him.

I feel so far from these goals at the moment. All too often I find myself sifting through photos, trying to find one to put up just because I haven't posted in a few days and I'm losing followers. But my aim and goal for 2018 is to intentional with my feed and my influence as a creative. I hope I can look back on this year and not only see beautiful images, but see friendships formed and lives changed through the gifts God has give me. 

How are you dealing with the new algorithm? What is a way you've learned to still be relevant and "show up" in everyone's feed without sacrificing quality?

looking ahead // 2018

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....page 1 of 365....

I'm sitting with a hot cup of tea in hand, anticipation welling up inside of me. 

Goodbye, 2017. Hello 2018.

2017 was full of so much growth. I grew creatively, I did things that scared me, and I learned to give myself grace. I met new people and strengthened old friendships. I revived my blog, got a new logo I absolutely love, and added an 85mm lens to my camera bag. I second-shot several weddings, started working for a local coffee shop doing photography for their social media page, and had some awesome adventures with new creative friends. I had the opportunity to travel to New Mexico for eight days and absolutely fell in love with the mountains and breath-taking views. Yes, I totally plan on going back.

I felt my confidence grow, and I became less afraid of the unknown. Growing up, I struggled with feeling shy and timid, afraid to speak up, partially because of my more reserved personality and partially because of some bad relationships with people who were over bearing and questioned me about everything I did, to the point where I was afraid to speak my mind. Through a new church, loving friends, and digging deeper into God's word I have found freedom. I still struggle at times, but I am so thankful for the newfound confidence and strength I've found and I'm excited to continue growing in this new year. 

So. What does 2018 look like for me? Here's some of my creative/photography goals  for the new year:

// Go on a photography trip(s) to Chicago (okay, who am I kidding, I'm also totally going for the coffee and food). 

// Go out west again! Colorado and California are both on my list of possibilities. My dream is to not only go to experience somewhere new, but actually book shoots while I'm there.

// Continue growing in my understanding of the technical aspect/business aspect of photography & running a business

// Do a creative/styled shoot quarterly

// Become better at networking/meeting other creatives in my area or in places I travel to

// Start offering mentorships/photography classes for beginners

That's a lot, but I am so excited to see what I can accomplish this coming year. 

Out with the old, in with the new. Hello 2018. 

 

 

Mini Session // M. Family

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I'm so excited to share these adorable photos from my latest mini session! The day of the session was pretty chilly, but this family braved the cold so well and I'm really happy with the photos I was able to capture for them. I hope their smiles will brighten your day just like they brightened mine!

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