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May 21, 2014

A Promise to My Clients

We grow up in a world full of other people.  And because of nature and society and of course our culture, we are compared to others.  Our talents get put next to someone else’s and ranked.  Our work gets listed amongst other’s and we get placed in order.  Our creative juices flow and what’s produced still gets compared to someone else’s. And as negative as all of this sounds, feels, and seems, some of it’s actually necessary.  Now, before you tune me out and go to another website, hear me out…

There are stages to learning things as we grow up or even as we learn a new craft.  For instance, I strongly believe that when kids are young and first learning to play a sport, it’s not the score of the game that matters, but HOW they are playing that sport that really counts.  Because those fundamentals – everything from how they handle the ball to how they treat the players on the other team – are building blocks for what kind of athlete (or person, if they find they don’t have much athletic ability, like me!) they’ll become.  But, as kids get older, they also need to learn how to win well and how to lose well.

As y’all know, I grew up playing the violin.  I’ll never forget the first “big” audition I had in 6th grade for the Elementary Honors Orchestra.  It was comprised of all the 6th graders in my school district and not only did you have to audition to get in, but the audition also told you what chair you’d be sitting in.  When the results came back and we all rushed to the orchestra room to look at the list, I didn’t have to look far because my name was the first on the list.  I was first chair… of the first violin section.  Which also meant I was the concert mistress.  And to this day, I still remember being dumb founded.  Auditions for me were some of the worst days of my school career!  Nerves would overtake me and there was more than once that I left an audition room in tears (I may have been a little dramatic back then…).  And I don’t tell you about getting first chair to brag (because let’s be honest, I reached the peak of my talent in 7th grade and then continued to work my way down in the violin section!).  I tell you this because if there had not been auditions, if there had not been a seat order, if there had not been a first chair for any section, it would have been chaos on the stage at our concerts!

And so I learned to win well back in 6th grade.  And in subsequent years, I (slowly) learned how to lose well.  And in some sense, I’m learning how to win and lose again with my business as it grows.  And I don’t mean that in ANY negative way at all.  Some clients that I meet with are a perfect fit!  My work matches up with what they’re looking for and we get along great and have a blast!  Other brides that I meet with have a different vision for their day than what I can provide and so I help them find someone that WOULD be a good fit for them.  But some clients I meet with, I fall in love with who they are and about the details of their wedding only to find out they’ve booked someone else.  It can be crushing!  But I’ve learned am learning that it just means they weren’t the best fit for us.

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I read this essay the other day (I Hate Wedding Photography) and realized in the midst of reading it that this girl was putting words to thoughts I didn’t even realize I was having.  It’s so tiring comparing myself to others.  And I would get frustrated and down on myself and this job that I loved because I wasn’t doing as well as so-and-so.  But what Anne helped me realize through her essay was that this year, I had in fact (mostly) stopped doing that.  Yes, my work has gotten better… but the only person I’m trying to compare those photos to are my own!  I love looking at images I took several years ago and looking at ones I’m taking this year.  And while I won’t sit most people down to explain the differences, I can see improvement.  But the fun part of it all is that I will still get excited over BOTH sets of photos because both weddings were full of joy.  Both weddings were the beginning of a marriage.  Both sets of photos hold love and excitement that I had the honor of capturing!

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Have I given up looking at other photographers’ work like Anne said she did in her essay?  For her, that was what she needed to do.  But for me, my answer is no.  I still look at other photographers’ work almost on a daily basis because I have SO many friends in this industry across the country and I love to see what they are capturing!!  But instead of immediately thinking, “Why don’t my images look like that?”  Or “What kind of lens is she using to get her images so crisp?”  Or even “Why aren’t we booking weddings in that part of the country or that part of the world??”  I told Ben the other night that I’ve found myself looking at other photographers’ photos and just enjoying the BEAUTY that they captured!  The joy in the bride’s smile, the love in the groom’s eyes, the excitement in their family and friends who celebrated with them that day.  And the peace that comes with that and each photo I see is overwhelming in the best way possible!

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In no way shape or form does this post mean that “I’ve arrived” or that I’ve stopped learning.  I hope and pray that each year I learn something new, get a little more creative with my photos, and get excited about how I can get better.  And I hope and pray that instead of holding all of this close to myself, that I share what I’m learning without hesitation.  I have THE. BEST. JOB.  In the world.  And I don’t want to keep that or the things that I learn a secret!

So… I say all of this because I want to publicly make a promise to my clients as they pledge to love and support their new husband or wife for the rest of their lives…

– I promise to capture the way you love each other as I see your love through my lens.
– I promise to capture your wedding day as it unfolds and give you tangible memories to hang onto for a lifetime.
– I promise to love and serve you the in the best ways that I can.
– I promise to photograph your day using all of the knowledge, experience, and ability I possess when my camera is in my hand.
– I promise to laugh with you, to make you laugh with my lame jokes, to cry tears of joy as you marry your best friend (because I can’t always hold those back!), and to even cry tears of sadness with you when those times come too.

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I’m a wedding photographer not because I love weddings, but because I love people.  And the best way I can love these amazing people that God brings to us, is to love what I do.  So I promise to give up comparing myself to others and to simply revel in the joy of your wedding day with you.  And if you DON’T see me smiling behind my camera, throw one of my lame jokes right back at me and tell me to loosen up ;-)

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