Tim + Gina / UofM Botanical Garden Engagement Session

Matthaei Botanical Gardens Engagement Session

When Gina said that she and Tim wanted to do their engagement session at the University of Michigan Botanical Gardens, I was SUPER excited. I’ve never been there but have seen pictures from other Michigan photographer’s and knew it would be awesome. Here’s the thing that those images did not show: A BILLION PEOPLE in the same space. It was the most crowded space I have ever worked in (other than photographing a wedding reception where it’s ok to have people in the background), and I was a little concerned that Tim and Gina might be uncomfortable getting cozy. Turns out, I had nothing to worry about because I’m pretty sure Gina’s confidence is unflappable. She not only got Tim laughing, but me! She is hilarious, and Tim is such a sweetie. Together they are perfectly balanced. He keeps her rooted, and she keeps him laughing. I cannot wait for their wedding in October.

Location: Matthaei Botanical Gardens

Lauren + Joe / Michigan State University Wedding

Michigan State Alumni Memorial Chapel Bride and Groom

So THIS was an Michigan State University wedding if I have ever seen one. We never left campus, and two of the requested picture locations included good ol’ Sparty. One had the wedding party in front of the MSU Stadium, and the other was the Spartan statue with the bride and groom. With portraits next to the Red Cedar and the ceremony in the Alumni Memorial Chapel, Lauren and Joe did an amazing job incorporating their love of MSU into their timeless winter wedding. I’ve seen the Blush, Burgundy and Navy color pallet paired with gold accents a few times, so it was a pleasant surprise to see silver featured so heavily in their reception decor. The day may have been freezing cold, but they created a cozy wonderland for their guests to enjoy and were total troopers during outside pictures.

GO GREEN!

Floral Design- All Grand Events
Ceremony Venue- Michigan State Alumni Memorial Chapel
Reception Venue- University Club
Catering- University Club
Dress shop- The Wedding Shoppe
Rings- Miner's Den Jewelry

Also, a little behind the scenes wedding photography action ;) This under the veil thing is super popular right now, but it looks pretty silly to make happen.

Behind the scenes under veil shot wedding photography

Why I Bite My Nails / The Ups and Downs of Small Business Ownership

I bite my nails. They are ragged stubs. My hands embarrass me. They are the visual representation of a “disgusting habit” born of my anxiety, and God help me, I can’t stop. Every time I lift my camera to my face, I’m on display as much as my subject. If a picture is worth a thousand words, I’m pretty sure my hangnails are worth a million.

I love my job. It gives me freedom and independence. I am my own #bossbitch. I find meaning in my art. I meet new friends every day.

But running my own business, especially as an artist, is like trying to carry a weeks worth of grocery bags from the car to the house in one trip. It’s a lot. There is always more that I could be doing. There’s always a bag that gets left behind or dropped.

Blogging, Instagram, Facebook, Emails, Networking, Editing, Sessions, Client retention, Search Engine Optimization, Styled Shoots, Workshops, Gear Research, Accounting…. The list is endless.

When I feel my mind begin to spiral, I try to ground myself in physical space. I bite my nails. I let the list fade and I focus on two truths.

1. I am enough.

Just because there is more that I COULD be doing doesn’t mean that I SHOULD. I have a family. FFS, I’m a full-time creative entrepreneur with an 8 month old running amok on the floor while I work from the sofa. I’m running a small business and a household. I am a human in need of rest and a social life.

So, I prioritize. I say NO more than I say YES. I limit the number of weddings I take on because if I can’t remember my client’s names, I have forgotten my purpose. I automate what I can (shout out to Honeybook, BlogStomp, Photo Mechanic, and Later). I put reminders in my phone and then forget about them until the alarm goes off. I do my best. I have found that it is enough.

Thank you Brene Brown. If you have a pulse and haven’t read Daring Greatly, I would encourage you to do so. If you don’t have time or mental space to read a book, I feel you, and assure you, you’re enough.

2. People are the priority.

In an industry where awards and features are credibility, it’s easy to get sucked into the lie that people are a commodity to be traded and sold. I can shoot a wedding for the couple, or I can shoot it for myself. I can choose to photograph the things that national blogs care about, or I can photograph the things that matter to the couple. Sometimes, those things align and HOWDY-DOODY is that exciting! However, if awards are the reason behind my work- my work is not art. It’s a stock.

A great sage (Macklemore) once said, “Make the Money. Don’t let the money make you.” Of course, this is my livelihood, and my family depends on my income, but balance is key. On one hand, wedding photography is (frankly) a luxury. On the other hand, I believe that it is also of priceless value. But this post isn’t about why I charge what I charge, it’s about how I do what I do. When I keep people first, I am fulfilled in a way that industry celebrity and wealth can’t satisfy. Photography becomes a gift that I can bestow. My job becomes meaningful and makes the world a lovelier place. My clients see their beauty and I have empowered them.

Why do I share all of this?

Maybe you need to hear that you are enough and that if you put people first, your work will have meaning. If I’m honest, I’m writing this up as a reminder to myself of who I hope to be and a celebration of who I am right now- stubby nails and all.

Photo by  Lost Co  on  Unsplash

Photo by Lost Co on Unsplash

Liz + Pat / A Christmas Wedding

christmas wedding winona lake wedding photographer

Liz and Pat could star in a Lifetime Christmas movie. It would be a romantic comedy- HEAVY on the comedy. I would be in it too as the friend / wedding photographer who does the voice over narration. Over a montage of me taking pictures of Liz wildly dancing at countless wedding receptions as a single lady, I would talk about how she didn’t know it, but she was about to be dancing at her own.

Liz and Pat met at a Campus Life event and have been together pretty much ever since. Pat and Liz balance each other out while also egging each other on. Their life is full of laughter and silliness… Which is why when Liz wore a Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer costume for their first look- Pat laughed hysterically, but was not totally surprised. He figured she would try something like that, because it’s who she is.

Their day was full of Christmas cheer, about a million twinkling lights, and more love than my heart could hold.

Dress Shop: One Fine Day
Caterer: 800 degrees pizza
Florist: Four Seasons DIY Florists
Venue: Winona Lake Heritage Room
Rings: Pat - Manly Bands, Liz - Etsy
DJ: Chase "The Ace" Wagner
Programs: Raquel Kauffman
Invites: Wide Eyes Paper, Co
Suits: Macy's