This, too, shall pass.

We are taught that to be accepted in this world, we must be perfect. Complete. Put together. We are told that our wholeness is what makes us intrinsically good. To be anything else is to be cast aside like a flower that's finished blooming. There is no room in our technicolored dreamworld for imperfections.

We aren't always taught to pause and appreciate the beauty in the falling apart. There are no books written on existing inside that space. You get no medal for getting out of bed or putting on pants. We are taught to run from brokenness. Fear it. Get as far away from it as you humanly and possibly can because it's painful, hard and terrifying. We aren't shown that despite our fragility during this time, being broken is truly a privilege. And we aren't shown that sometimes, being in that space is hard to get out of. Buck up. Chin up. Onward and upward. It's like the world doesn't want being broken to exist.

My words to you are this: If you are in the broken place, take your time. Feel around a little. Hold the space. Look for the beauty within it (For example - I know if the lights are off, I look much better in the mirror). Surround yourself with people who can do the same thing. It takes patience, courage, love and - above all else - empathy. Sit. Be still. And love yourself. 

Because this, too, shall pass.

Up to the Top.

From our time in Texas last summer.

From our time in Texas last summer.

Some days, I feel like I am on top of the world, climbing towards infinite possibilty. The only thing between me and upward mobility is a little bit of air that I can effortlessly float on.

And then the other days come....the days when I feel like all I do is climb over treacherous obstacles and stumble over rocks and boulders. There are the days that feel like I am on a narrow pass on the edge of a 2000 foot drop with jagged edges underneath. And there are days where my feet feel stick in pluff mud that's thick and heavy and pulling me under the more I try to wiggle my way out. 

Those are the days it's hard to say to yourself "You've got this. You can make it!" Those days you stay frozen, laying on the ground and hoping you can figure a way out without getting sucked in again.

The key, I have found, is to tell yourself these words:

You have seen this cliff before.
You have been stuck in this mud already.
You have climbed these boulders time and time again.
You and you alone have freed yourself from this...You have got this.
Just keep going...inch by inch. You will make it.

And every time, just like that, I move slowly to the top of the mountain once again.

 

Forge Ahead

sky

When we are caught in a sea of uncertainty, the best thing to do is to find a spot on the horizon line to focus on and paddle towards it with all your might. The seas may get rough. The winds and currents may be unforgiving. But you will always end up at your destination if you keep focusing on where you are headed. 

So eyes forward. And forge ahead.

 

Cultivating faith

A shot from the newly cultivated crops out at Compost In My Shoe.

A shot from the newly cultivated crops out at Compost In My Shoe.

Cultivating a crop takes patience. It takes time and repetition. It takes weeding, observing, watering, and watching. And sometimes it doesn't go as your careful plan. Pests get in. Frosts hit. Rain washes away your hard work. It's a precarious game making you anticipate Mother Nature's next move.

This can be said for a lot of things, too. Raising children, starting a new job, or even creating something new... like art. It's a balance of patience and grit, of testing and trials. You await for the outside influences to come and hope that you have some semblance of a plan when it all hits. 

But after the battles and the hardships, you are left with new soil and a fresh, new place for seeds take root. New growth come. And the crops that were taken out during the heavy rains, pest invasion and frigid temperatures have made way for fertile ground to sprout new ideas. 

And along the way, you realize that ultimately it is all a test to cultivate a crop of faith in yourself to handle it all.

 

PORTRAIT SPECIAL

Hey friends...

So it's January and I can't think of a better time to freshen up things for yourself. There really is no better time than now to get some new, fresh portraits done for the new year - whether you are looking for professional shots to update your LinkedIn profile or you are looking to get some fresh shots for your social media accounts. Now is a great time for new photos for yourself!

 

ONE OUTFIT/LOCATION - $150*
Additional locations and outfits for an added fee of $50/change.
 

Let's get you on the books and give you a fresh look for 2017!

 

*Price includesa minimum of 5 final images in color or BW. Images are sized for online use only. Additional sizes can be purchased for a small fee. Price does not include travel outside the greater Charleston Area.

Lessons in the Blooms

These lovely Camellia's are happily blooming all around my yard right now, simply oblivious to the fact that it's the dead of winter in most areas. These plants enjoy coming to life in the cooler months and showing the world their magnificent colors and textures. They use the warmer months to go dormant, saving their energies for now when they really need it. It seems counter intuitive to what we understand plants to be, but this is how they are most comfortable. And we nurture them where they are planted and how they best thrive.

Wouldn't it be great if we gave our fellow humans that functioned like this a little more understanding? Wouldn't it be great if we just accepted that some of don't learn the same way the rest do and flourish under different circumstance? Wouldn't it be awesome if we accepted people as they are and understood that that mostly, everyone is doing the best they can?

If it weren't for the camellias blooming now, the landscape would be bleak with dormant trees and brown turf everywhere. But these happily blooming plants are there adding color to our lives when we least expect it.

Wouldn't it be great if we could see this same lesson in our partner, neighbor, or child? How can you accept their blooms where they have left them for you to see and not just where you expect them to be?

 

A little work with Garden & Gun

Brays Island

About a month ago, I went on my first shoot for Garden & Gun - a publication based out of Charleston. If you aren't familiar with them, you need to check them out. They do a great job at celebrating Southern culture by showcasing all the best parts of what we have cultivated here and telling out dynamic, beautiful cultural Southern story.

I got to be a part of one of their highlight events during Jubilee Weekend and traveled to Bray's Island Plantation for the Women in the Field series. I don't usually share loads of photos, but I was so excited and inspired by this gorgeous place, I wanted to show you more than my usual one and only one style. Enjoy!

 

camelias
mural
jub-114.jpg

Your Path.

I talk a lot about paths and roadways. I think perhaps because often mine hasn't been clearly marked and traveled (and also because I love a good hike or roadtrip). I always was attracted to the unclear path...the one with adventure and uncertainty along the way. I don't know why this appeals to me except that it seems like I just never felt that I wanted to march to the safe beat of a predictable drum. I wanted a path of the explorer and the adventurer. I wanted to be anything but ordinary.

But aren't we all that way? We are all looking to forge our own unique, individual path? Even if we take the predictable route, there is still individuality on the path - because it's ours. Nobody has the same experiences - even on that well worn path. There are always twists and turns, branches in our way. or fallen trees that trip us up. It's still our path. Even if it looks as recognizable as the next guy's...school, job, marriage, kids, soccer games, holidays, etc.

The important part is that you are forging ahead. The essential part is that you are experiencing it for all it's worth - the good and the bad. The ups and the downs. The hurdles and the turns. Take them in. Drink them up. They are life. This is your life.

This is your path. Define it. Own it. Walk it proudly.

 

My Christmas Gift to me.

Christmas

There have always been so many lessons tucked in between the branches of this season of light and love. So much gets magnified during the holidays. The best and worst comes out in all of us - showing us exactly who we are and precisely what we need to spend more time learning.

This year, I had many lessons shown to me. Some more clearly than others. I begged the universe to take it easy on me, but to no avail, it decided this was precisely the time I needed to hear the messages it was sending me...apparently, when you are vulnerable, tired and spent is when the universe teaches us it's strongest and most important things.

This year, I am tucking these messages away. Just like an advent calendar for my every day. Lessons I learned of letting go, receiving, gratitude and humility. Lessons of giving, forgiveness and love. Lessons of faith and trust.

Lessons, tied up with ribbons and bows and wrapped up better than any gift any lovely soul could ever give me.

Floating with faith

“Faith is not a club to belong to, but a current to surrender to.” 
Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior: A Memoir

Faith is elusive. It's slippery and sneaky. It changes on a dime and curves in ways you would never expect. It looks calm and peaceful as a still river on top, but underneath is a roller coaster of twists, turns, dips and loop-dee-loops that you could never calculate looking at it all from your perched perspective. And just when you think you have caught up with Her... there she goes, slipping gently away again, just out of reach.

But maybe...just maybe...we are fighting too much against this current of faith. Maybe we are so used to fighting for a breath of air or struggling for our very own survival that this becomes our focus. We put our energy into staying above for air rather than floating with it - even if that means having to go under for a while. To surrender feels a lot like giving up or giving in to some of us.  We want a guaranteed outcome...a perpetual happy ending. 

I don't think faith is about the ending, though. It's not about surviving. It's not about gasping for air. It's about surrendering to a place you are destined to be. It's about flowing with the current rather than swimming against it's power. It's really just about trust.

So take a deep breath and jump in. Surrender some of that power you fight for.

Just give in...float... surrender.

Your Landmark

sheldon church

A few weeks ago now, I was on a shoot out of town and decided I was going to make a stop on my way home at these old church ruins that are a historic landmark here in South Carolina. It's something I have always wanted to see for many reason. The Old Sheldon Church ruins still stand today after getting torched/gutted twice over the course of history. What remains is a historic landmark - a time marker for us to only imagine what things were like then.

I mentioned to a friend that I was going to stop here and his prompt response was "good luck...that's the most over photographed place in the area. And I have never really seen a photo that does it justice." No pressure. Just a reminder that there would be no way I could do the place justice photographically. It's not my job or anything....

As I approached the grounds with minor photographic trepidation , I sized up this spot to see if I could, in fact, do it any justice. History buffs reading placards, families photographing their holiday cards, couples on engagement shoots, and art school girls working on a project were all scattered around the historic grounds trying to get in their shot, making it difficult for all of us to get in anything decent without existing in their photograph forever. I shuffled behind columns and into corners to avoid being a photobomber in someone's Christmas card this year. I certainly didn't want to be commemorated in an engagement shoot of someone I didn't know.

When I finally stopped worrying about how I was going to actually get the shot, I stepped into the space and really started letting myself think about the place. I immersed myself in the experience (which, by the way, is what any good photographer tries to do). I wondered what it was like in the 1700s sitting in a service there in the middle of August, sweat dripping from the minister's chin as he preached about hellfire and damnation. I thought about families draped in their holiday best coming to remember their Lord and Savior for Christmas service on a chilly winter day. I thought about the pews and the people and how they must have even gotten there. What was the Lowcountry like back then? Especially so far out of the way of everything? How did they dress? Was it hot inside? Did the windows open? Was there somewhere for a fire on chilly days?

When I found myself immersing myself in this story is when I realized something: it really didn't matter what my picture looked like. I was here, thinking...wondering...filling in gaps. I wasn't taking this photo for anyone but me. I wasn't going to sell it or get it published or have it lauded in any way. What it was, for me, as most photographs really are, was a record of a moment I was spending there. It was a memory...and just like this landmark served as a historic spot for people to commemorate something, so would this photo.

Photos are just that. They are visual landmarks of time. Go through the Facebook albums of any close friend and that's what they are. Are they always great? Probably not to you. But maybe to the person who took them. They are special memories created for you, by you to remember life. That's all a photograph is in it's raw essence.

Each one of us were there to capture our own memories - or those of someone who wanted the moment captured for them (the reason you hire a photographer is you need something done that you can't do on your own.). Each one of us were clicking away on our phones and mirrorless cameras and DSLRs for our own purposes – just like every photo we take. They are ultimately for the person who takes them.

So stop worrying if your photo is okay. It's okay. It's just what it was meant to be: Your memory. Your milestone. Your landmark.

On Unbecoming

From my shoot at Bray's Island, SC with Garden & Gun this month.

From my shoot at Bray's Island, SC with Garden & Gun this month.

Today, I embark on my last scheduled shoot of the year. Now, normally I don't think much about this sort of stuff. But, you see, this year has been a little different for me.

This year, I took chances. I tried new things. I showed up when I didn't want to and exploded through boundaries I didn't know I even had. In this, a gentle but noticable transformation has taken place. Each small thing that has pushed me out of my comfort zone helped me to grow more. Each task helped me achieve something I didn't know was even possible. Each milestone and marker in the grass meant I had overcome something a little bigger and better than the last time.

Even when the chances I took were small and unassuming, the change was still happening inside. Little by little as I pushed through hurdles and boundaries I set for myself, an unfolding started to happen. I was unbecoming. This process has been a gentle teacher. This journey has been a peeling away of label after label, costume after costume, until I showed up stripped down to my real identity. I was unbecoming someone I thought I was. I was becoming the real me.

The unbecoming of the old me into the new me has been the best part of this journey. I am not saying it was easy. The good stuff never is. But each time I did something I never thought was possible for myself, labels started to fall away from me like water off a ducks back...rolling delicately one by one onto the ground below me and splashing into a puddle at my feet until I was ready to fly away from them all.

So each shoot became a milestone - a virtual marker in my journey back to me. Each phone call I received became an affirmation that I was, in fact, on the right path. Each compliment I heard made me sink into the new labels I was creating for myself – capable, strong, brave, worthy, talented.

Photography is a hard business to be in. It's competitive and cut throat. It's not for the faint of heart. Someone is always out there with better work, a bigger portfolio, top clients and fancier shoes. But honestly, it doesn't matter. None of it matters. Because ultimately, the competition you are holding yourself up against is you. The person you need to show up for each day and do better for is you. Competing with other photographers isn't worth it. Compete with yourself and your vision.

So today, as I look back at this past year and realize I have ultimately accomplished everything I set out to do, I will let this job be a swan song that will lead me into next year and propel me even further to my goals and farther from that person I never really was to begin with.

Cracked wide open

There are a few times in my life when I have been broken apart. It's the kind of cracking open where you never quite put yourself back together the same way - in the way a seashell gets broken open after housing something so delicate and tender for so very long. You feel permanently broken in some way. And while these breaks can be repaired, the fracture leaves you vulnerable and wounded - fleshy soft innards now exposed. 

As it turns out, while being cracked wide open can be painful, it is also somehow beautiful as well. It leaves you changed, but somehow ready for something new. There is more space to fill up with less of what you don't need there anymore. There is more room for all the important things - growth, expansion, love, freedom. There is now room for learning and becoming something new. There is space in the vulnerability.

The thing I have learned is this: the beauty often comes from the breaking. The best part comes after all the smoke dissipates and the clean up begins, because what you are left with is often precisely what you needed to begin with.

Broken. Beautiful. Wounded. And ready for change.

Giving Thanks

thanksgiving

Yesterday was another Thanksgiving. Another reason to pause and show gratitude for the things we have which isn't a tall order for most of us in this country. Our forefathers took over one of the prettiest frontiers of the planet filled with lush forests, dry deserts and vast fields to live a life most people only dream of in their lifetime. We owe grace to that.

Yet still, for some, there are days it's hard to find grace in the mix. Things go wrong. Family gets sick. Relationships crumble out from underneath us. And money can be hard to come by in our society which is focused today on more abundance than I think yesterday was built on. It's hard to find a balance in that. It's hard to say "I'm lucky" when we are feeling less than so.

But pause for a moment. Look around you. Remember the things that matter most. Find something you have that fills you up. Sometimes it's family or a friend. Sometimes it's the place you live or a pet you couldn't get by without every day. Some days it's merely that you have a roof over your head, food in your refrigerator and a soft place to lay your head each night.  Whatever it is, find the gratitude within it and give it the honor it deserves.

Today - on the day after Thanksgiving - I am grateful that I have people I love, a roof over my head, clean water to drink, freedom, the best bed in the south, and some seriously good deep fried Turkey. I have it all, even when I don't.

Everything I need is there...right in front of me, just waiting to be appreciated.

 

Little chicken

My dad used to call me little chicken growing up (one of the more endearing nicknames he had for all of us.) Every time he said it, this is exactly what I pictured in my head: strong hands protecting his little fluffy, vulnerable babies. Some days, this is all I want...strong hands gently holding me until I am ready to fly away, but always open and waiting for me as a safe place to land once again.

 

 

In plain sight...

little treasures

If you spend anytime on the beach, you spend time combing the shores for little treasures. Conch shells, sand dollars, and still in tact bi-valves are always fun to come across. But the real treasure lies in finding the sharks teeth along the shores. They are like tiny little treasures from the sea just waiting for your magical eyes to find them.

Shark teeth seekers are easy to spot on any beach - a slow meander while hunched over looking at the ground, occasionally flicking things around and letting the rubble fall away.  There is an apparent gift in combing for shark teeth that I have yet to master. I have tried all summer to find one and have yet to be successful. But there are some that come by this gift naturally, as if the Universe donned this gift only to them - the special ones.

Each morning I stop off at a little cove in Charleston called Sunrise Park. It's got gorgeous views and is a great place to start my busy day. As I was combing the beach this morning, I kept discarding piles and piles of shells. I sat, hunched over, sifting through the sand handful by handful, looking for the tiniest teeth out there. It was a hugely unsuccessful effort. Discouraged, I gave up.

As I sat there watching the sun come up, I got ready to gather my things. I looked down at the discarded pile of rubble when I noticed something. No...not shark teeth. But in the rubble were a million little shells - broken, crumbled, and beautiful. Shells I had never noticed here before. Little lettered olives. Tiny bi-valves. Itty bitty channeled whelks. And tiny banded tulip shells. All there right in front of me. All discarded because I was so fixated on finding something I thought I wanted...I thought I needed.

I got to thinking, maybe this is true for life. Maybe we are so fixated on the thing we are looking for that more often than not, we are discarding other beautiful opportunities that are right in front of us just waiting to be seen. We walk through our days so concerned with the one thing we don't have that we don't see all the other small things right there in plain sight.

Photography is all about seeing things. It's about waiting for the right moment, the right light, the right angle and they right timing to see what you came looking for. And sometimes in the course of this, you end up getting something totally different but equally as amazing. Like an unexpected gift in the sand, you always get something great. You just have to be open to all the possibilities.

I may not have the gift of the Shark Teeth Seekers. But that's okay. For now, I will sit back on the shore and admire them from afar. I have other gifts. I can see things they don't even know are there.

Gifts that are right there...in plain sight.