Change is good. Or at least, that's what they say. Personally, I have always had a love hate relationship with change. As a creative person, whose mind is going a mile a minute with new ideas, I love change! I seek it out, thinking what will be my next new project; or how can I expand upon a current idea, and make it new and fresh to me again.
If you've visited our website before, you will see that everything here is new. New galleries, new layout, new navigation. New blog. I will admit, I have slacked on my blog in the past, even giving up on it all together for newer pastures like Facebook. But in a year of more transitions than I'd like to count, suddenly jotting down my thoughts seems important to me again.
This brings me to the part of change that I don’t like. As an emotional person, I hate when sudden change is forced upon me before I can wrap my head around it, and make my peace with it. Some that know me on a more intimate level might even go as far as to call me stubborn in this regard, and I might have to stubbornly admit that it's probably true. But it's only because I feel my emotions very, very deeply, and then I have a hard time releasing them when it's time to let them go and say goodbye. Having to let go is the part of change that I hate (and no Disney song by Adele Dazeem is going to convince me otherwise!)
This, when you think about it, makes photography the perfect career for me. It was enviable that my artistic expression, combined with my resistance to letting time quietly slip by unnoticed (and fully accepting the changes that come with it), would manifest itself into the creation of portraits. At the top of this page, you will see images I have created of my children (even canine children) through the years. As my kids grow into adulthood, these portraits take on greater importance to me with every passing year. These are moments that I can never recreate, never get back again if I didn't catch them at the time. What could possibly be more valuable to a parent? And what can be more rewarding than to have a vision of what stopping time can look like, and then seeing that come to fruition in a finished portrait. Even at the young age of five years old, I was very taken by the song Time In A Bottle by Jim Croce. In my innocent mind, I would envision the lyrics like someone reading me a storybook, imagining what an amazing bottle like that might look like......my portrait studio, my camera, my computer, that has become my personal time capsule.
I received an early Christmas present this year. I was honored to be featured in the December 2014 edition of Professional Photographer magazine. When I was approached in August, the author of the article first asked me to upload 30-40 of my children's portraits, and then I would be interviewed for the article. I didn't know which of my portraits they would use, or how many, until I saw a proof of the article a few weeks before it went for print. For a girl that looks for signs and meaning in every day coincidences, I was pleasantly surprised to see they chose to spotlight a portrait that has been on the front of my current brochure for the last two years!
"Golden Girl" is one of my favorite captures, because it's the result of perfect symmetry between her Mom and me. From the first moment Mom unzipped the garment bag to show me the dress she purchased, I knew exactly how I wanted the final portrait to look. The most wonderful part of all, the client completely trusted my vision for her portraits, which made the session so less stressful - even if my little muse cried for 98% of the sitting and didn't want her picture taken.
Mostly every portrait the editors chose for the article happened to be among my personal favorites, either hanging in my studio, or have previously merited in print competition. This was sweet satisfaction that trusting my vision was the right choice and that if I lead with my heart that emotion would come through in the portraits I've created.
Ironically, having such a career high as being published in the magazine of Professional Photographers of America couldn't come at a stranger time for me personally. Even though I've been managing my autoimmune disorder since I was diagnosed in 2008, never letting it stop me from what I wanted to achieve as an artist.....my disorder caught up with me sometime in 2013, and I've been having one complication after another in the last two years. Where the "push through" method has always worked for me in the past, I finally realized last summer that ignoring the pain and trying to keep life "business as usual" was only making the situation worse. When you really LOVE what you do for a living, it becomes very hard to admit to yourself that you might not be healthy enough to do it. Especially when you're only in your 40's, this thought doesn't cross your mind, even knowing you have an autoimmune disorder. It's not until you admit to your doctors that you're having a very hard time keeping up, treatments are not working like they should, blood tests and MRI results come back troubling - so the doctors then order you to stop working and put disability on the table.
Not only have I've been approached with interest from our trade publication, I've also been approached by some of the PPA state affiliates to speak to their members. I'm a giver by nature, so if someone can learn from me and in the process I can learn from them as well - I'm very suited for teaching. And in 2012 (before my health took a nose dive), after 8 years of competing in print competition, I also started the process of becoming a print judge myself. While I never fully realized how hard print judging could really be until I took a seat in one of those judges’ chairs, it's been a tremendous learning process that I would never trade! So if filing for disability puts all of these opportunities to an end, accomplishments I have worked very hard for while growing my studio, then disability is a no go for me. Not at this time.
So I have to REALLY learn to listen to my body and respond to its cues, something that I can admit is NOT a natural skill for me. I like to override the pain and set my mind to believe anything is possible, no task is too monumental, I can do it all. I can be a great Mom, an attentive business owner whose focus is to please my clients, a student, a teacher, a print judge, even the best Mommy to my fur babies too. Except, that means I have to lie to myself. It took the threat of losing everything for me to admit the truth to myself! Those days of doing 250 sittings a year are very long gone, and even pulling back and booking less the last two years is not pulling back enough. It's hard to accept that I can't take every family that would like a sitting with me, because my goal was always to have a studio accessible to everyone. If someone trusted me to be part of their family memories, that was a huge honor to me, it's hard to say no. I hope my clients recognized that passion in me, to give every family the absolutely best portraits I could create - no matter what it took. Reschedules, reshoots, waiting for naps to be over, multiple feedings and diaper changes, waiting for gripe water to settle a tummy, waiting for the tears to dry - these were all part of the process.
Rest assured, if someone is trusting me to capture an important milestone for their family, I will continue to go above and beyond to make sure the end product is impeccable and of heirloom quality, with the understanding that the process might take a little longer. But the ability to take on every client that requests a sitting.....unfortunately, having to turn some families away is a change I will have to learn to accept, if I'm going to continue. I'm still trying to figure out my limitations. This was a change that I never expected to have to make, but I’m learning to make peace with it. I have no choice. The thought of never creating another portrait brings more pain to my heart than any illness could ever inflict.