charleston

First the rain...

Sunset.jpg

 

I shot a wedding this weekend. It was on a boat that puttered slowly and gently around the lowcountry waters, shifting ever so gently back and forth with the sway of the boat and the shifting tide.

The skies were clear when we started our day - even with some hot sun piercing down on us. And then suddenly, the rain came in. It was a steady rain with no signs of letting up at all. Grey skies all around and a constant, gentle drizzle as we coasted the waterways.

Then as suddenly as the rain came, the clouds began to part just in time for us to see this remarkable sunset, color-filled and awe inspiring. I hustled the bride and groom to the back of the boat where I could get a good photo of them. It was all she wanted - a beautiful sunset photos of her and her husband, ready to start their lives together.

As I was snapping away at the photos, I heard one of her friends holler to them over my shoulder. "First the rain, then the sun..." It stopped my in my tracks. 

Of course.

Of course the rain has to come first. Of course you have to weather the storm first to appreciate the sunshine and the sunset. The thunder is there to shake us and move us. The water is there to nourish and refresh us. And then...the sunshine. To help us grow and bloom.

I have been here. Standing on stormy ground. Always hoping to find a way out. Maybe you are there now. Maybe you are stuck in a storm.  Just know in your heart that the sun will shine soon. It has to. There is no room for only rain. We need both to survive. So settle in and cover up, because this, too, shall pass.

Getting Balance

My awesome spring break view.

My awesome spring break view.

I had a shitty "spring break."

Let me explain...

Like many of you, I have a school-aged son that was on spring break last week. We don't have a lot of spare cash these days, so a trip was not happening. Instead, I thought of the bright idea of camping for a few days in the mountains (something I have actually only done once in my life...smart thinking.). We set our plans and started the wheels of our camping trip in motion.

Of course, life being what it is, the universe had some other plans for me. Or maybe I wasn't fully committed in the first place. But my plans changed course somewhere the week before. Some great, unexpected work came up. My teenager had some specific ideas about his social plans. And then I slipped into saying yes to far too many things I didn't want to do. So our camping trip got cancelled, I worked a lot, and then became an unpaid Uber driver for my son in my spare time.

As the week progressed, I started to get increasingly more frustrated. I was mad at life...mad at myself. I felt trapped and owned by some imaginary rules I had set up for a life that I was supposed to live. And it only got worse as I scrolled through social media to see friends enjoying Caribbean vacations, European adventures, and good old US road trips. What's worse was that I knew in the truest part of myself that I was the one responsible for the way this week was panning out.

When I started to reconcile what was happening and got real with myself, I realized a few things.
1. I was in desperate need of a break.  I work weekends a lot. And when the typical work week rolls around, I am usually still working. While I do set my own schedule and have lots of freedom to make appointments and go grocery shopping at odd times, I tend to still feel like I need to be getting work done during the Monday-Friday, 9-5 hours as well. To top it off, I was going on weeks of constant work without a break. I needed a change. 
2. I was telling myself a story that wasn't real. Not everyone I knew was on a spring break vacation. In fact, I knew more people that had to work than those that did not. Spring break trips are a luxury, not a right. And I needed to hip check myself on that.
3. I was feeling sorry for myself. And that wasn't allowing me to live on a higher "vibe" - if you will. I was sulking and wallowing in self pity instead of changing my reality. Once you change that, everything changes. Literally...everything.
4. I wasn't seeing the amazing opportunity around me. I live in a place with abundant beauty. I am 15 minutes from the beach on a good day (5 minutes from one of the most gorgeous parks in the world). I have gift certificates to 5 local restaurants. I have a sister with a pool in her very own backyard. Enough said.
5. I wasn't saying "NO" enough. Not to my son. Not to his dad. Not to friends or neighbors. I was doing things I didn't want to be doing. I was creating my own misery and my own sense of disappointment.

Once I started seeing all these things, I began changing my story. I planned an Easter Brunch to see family I hadn't seen in months. I went to the beach. I watched the sunset. I played with the dogs. I went for a walk with a friend and talked about some amazing topics like meditation, family, and life changes that we are both on the precipice of making. Once I took the wheel back, I lived in the presence of joy and gratitude instead of wallowing around in my own self pity.

The best part of this shift is that it only takes a moment to change your mindset. For me, it finally happened when I got real with myself and realized I wasn't listening to my inner voice saying - SAY NO...YOU NEED A BREAK! I was trying to please too many people - clients, family, friends, neighbors. I wasn't voicing what I wanted to do. But once I finally followed through for myself (albeit with begrudging sighs and protesting from my teenager), everything shifted. In that simple moment of saying "This is what I want," I stopped being a victim of my circumstances and started taking care of myself. I started enjoying where I was in the moment.

Squad. Goals.

Squad. Goals.

My heart and soul got some much needed beach time too!

My heart and soul got some much needed beach time too!

Beach time with friends where I mixed in a little work with a little pleasure.

Beach time with friends where I mixed in a little work with a little pleasure.

Looks like they #brunchedtoohard.

Looks like they #brunchedtoohard.

 

Sometimes saying what you want isn't about being selfish or narcissistic...it's just about taking care of yourself. Simple, kind gestures that say "Hey wait...I'm important too!" Make yourself answer the call to do more for you. You know when the teeter totter of balance of your life looks like a chunky kid from gym class is sitting on one end with sandwich and a Snickers bar laughing at you for being trapped way up there. Take control back. He's not in charge.

Just get some balance.

Recent muse-ings

A sneak peek at a collaboration with Andrea from Charleston Shop Curator and Scout Magazine in Charleston - 2 of my most favorite things . 

A sneak peek at a collaboration with Andrea from Charleston Shop Curator and Scout Magazine in Charleston - 2 of my most favorite things . 

We have a great and rapidly growing fashion scene here in Charleston. Having spent the better part of my life surrounded by the cobblestone streets, quaintly colored buildings, and sandy beaches of the area, it's refreshing to see fashion has evolved right alongside this beautiful and rapidly growing city.  I attribute this to nothing less than people like Andrea who are at the forefront of the Charleston fashion scene. determined to make our liveable and loveable city more than the bow ties and seersucker it seems to be known for. Andrea spends her time painting this place with a palette of color and style that matches the scene here - progressive, beautiful and timeless. It's a refreshing change and modern view of everything good about our city.

Check out Andrea and her site when you get the chance. You won't be disappointed! And keep your eyes peeled for our collaboration with The Scout Guide! Coming soon!

Cheers!

Window Dressing

window box

Charleston is full of gorgeous, well-maintained, overflowing, colorful window boxes. They dress the city in picture perfect color and texture, leaving the viewer to only imagine what's on the inside - a plentiful life filled with joy, warm meals, and loving hearts.

But as we all know, sometimes what's on the outside does not always reflect what is on the inside. We package ourselves neatly up to the world because the world doesn't always want to hear the ugly truth. We dress up all fancy - jewels and all - showing the world that the outside is what really counts. That way, meandering passers-by can feel good as they fantasize about our imaginary, perfectly curated lives that we present.

I have found that people don't always want to hear the big stuff. "How are you?" usually means "Tell me you are fine and we can both get on with our lives." But sometimes we want to show our real selves to the world - the scars and the pain we lug around every day are real and big. The battle we are fighting is huge. It's okay to need help with that. It's okay to look for solidarity in the eyes of a neighbor, a friend or a passer-by. Chances are they are just waiting to share their struggles too.

While I think some occasions call for keeping your cards close to you (the whole world doesn't always have to know your dirty laundry), I also think it's okay to share your pain on some levels. Because in that vulnerable, confusing space, we may just find the comfort of accepting ourselves just as we are - with or without that window dressing. 

Flexing my wedding muscles

first_kiss

It's admittedly been a few months since I have flexed my wedding photography muscles. I have been busy with loads of families and commercial work - as well as some design that I also do. But yesterday, I dove headfirst into the wedding waters again. And what luck! A beautiful day with an adorable couple and the most simple wedding I have ever had the pleasure of shooting.

Congratulations to Ben and Janea! I am so happy I got to be a part of this day with you! I wish you many many years of a happy marriage and a long life filled with love and joy and - most of all - peace.

Clarity

cooper-river-bridge

I have taken this photo before. I have taken it at sunrise and at sunset. I have photographed it in rain and fog and clear and crisp sunny days - just like today.

But today felt different. I saw it. Clearly. Nothing distracting from the view. Just simple lines against a lovely blue & green backdrop.

Today, it was like I saw it for the first time all over again. Grand. Clear. Perfect. Just like it is. But most importantly, just like I saw it today. Nothing in the way. Nothing changing the view.

Clear as it ever was.