A letter to Me

Aug 31, 2011

It’s the last day of August. To me, that has always meant that summer is coming to a close and fall is just around the corner (although, us here in Phoenix probably will experience ‘summer’ for another couple months!). As I sit here back in my home office after a summer full of weddings in Wisconsin, I got to thinking about my photography journey over the past 2 years.

It was June 2009 when I got my first DSLR camera. I remember how I felt when it came in the mail; the feeling of “this is better than Christmas” mixed with “ok…now what?”. I opened the box while sitting on the couch in our front room (my now office) and carefully extracted each piece from the box like a child who had just found a trunk full of treasure. I quieted the butterflies in my stomach that distracted me from giving my full attention to my new found gem. My enthusiasm quickly turned to “what the heck did I get myself into?”. As I flipped through the manual, I got about as far as “set power switch to on” before feeling like I had entered a foreign language 300 level class by accident. It’s amazing how quickly we can become defeated. It takes very little to convince ourselves that we don’t have what it takes. But I was determined to prove myself wrong…

I came to the conclusion that my camera wasn’t going to take pictures for me, I had to do the work. So I got to it! I read blogs that broke down the “techy” stuff into something I could understand and then I practiced what I had learned. I started with inanimate objects like flowers, nicknacks and anything else I could find around the house. Not the most fun things to photograph by any means, but at least they were willing participants! I practiced on Joe whenever I could convince him and eventually was ready to reach out to my friends. In those first 2 months of owning my camera, I was shooting non-stop and taking in as much information as I could.

It was July 2009 (just a month after getting my camera) when I was presented with an opportunity that gave me the extra push I needed. My childhood best friend, who currently lives in Mexico, was going to be coming back to Wisconsin in August. We had not seen each other since the previous summer at my wedding and I was dying to see her. The problem was….we had no money for a flight. We had just paid for a new camera and bought a mac computer and with me only working part-time, funds were tight. Then I came up with an idea: “What if I can book one paid shoot back in Wisconsin? Then that would cover my flight!”. Joe, being the business-minded man that he is, couldn’t argue with that and wished me luck. With nothing but a wish and a prayer, I put myself out there on FB and announced that I was now booking shoots for August 2009 in Wisconsin. Gulp...now all I could do was wait. To my surprise, people started responding. One shoot. Two shoots. Three shoots……when it was all said and done SEVEN PAID SHOOTS. This was about the time that those feelings of “this is better than Christmas” mixed with “ok…now what?” came streaming back in. All at once I had to learn about my camera, how to build a website, proper posing, naming my business, designing a logo, photoshop, blogging, customer service, ahhhhhh! I’ll be totally honest when I say I didn’t know which way was up at that point. I was doingthe best that a 2 months-in photographer could. And while I was making a TON of mistakes along the way, I knew after that summer that this is what I was supposed to be doing.

In a way, the ‘current me’ feels inspired by the ‘2 years ago me’. The ‘2 years ago me’ didn’t have it all figured out (nor does the current me by any means) but her passion outweighed her fear of failure. ‘2 years ago me’ knew so much less about photography than ‘current me’ knows now, but she put herself out there anyway. ‘2 years ago me’ sat on a couch with a product in her hands that she had no clue about and said “I’m going to do something great with this someday“. ‘2 years ago me’ learned that the failures will outnumber the successes but that they can be even more influential. ‘Current me’ doesn’t ever want to forget where I started from. I don’t want to forget that I’ve made it through really tough months and times when I thought I should give up. Sometimes all we can see is where we’re not and we forget to recognize where we are in comparison to where we’ve been. Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves…

Dear Current Me,

You’ve come a long way! Remember when you took that photo of Joe holding a mirror and edited it black and white with his reflection in color? That’s kinda embarrassing! How about your first paid shoot? You were so bummed because you had to deal with spotty light and kids who didn’t want to be photographed and overall, you thought that you failed. They loved the photos though, didn’t they? You’ve come a long way from editing every image in photoshop, using 3-5 actions per image and overusing eye-sharpen! One thing I want you to remember: it’s okay to fail. You’re not above failure. No one is. Don’t forget how blessed you are to be doing what you love and never stop giving glory to the One who gave you the skills and desire to do so. Photography is such a beautiful gift, but your business does not define who you are. Whether the phone is ringing off the hook or not at all, your worth does not change. Your business has been blessed because the Lord has allowed it, so continue to trust Him to do with it what He wills. Keep loving what you do and the people that you meet through photography. Let your motivation always be: to capture beautiful moments that point back to the One who gave us love, laughter, beauty and every good thing. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings!

Love,

2 years ago Me

 

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  1. KrisD Mauga

    August 31st, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Stacy I luv this- what a great letter to thyself! Your rewards are much deserved! Keep it up girl!

  2. Sara

    August 31st, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Loved this!! Thank you for sharing! I really liked this line “Sometimes all we can see is where we’re not and we forget to recognize where we are in comparison to where we’ve been.” So, so true! Thank you for reminding us :)

  3. Lindsi

    August 31st, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Stacy,

    Thank you so much for posting this. I’ve been sitting in this exact rut for a few months now. I’ve had 1 paid shoot in the last year and I thought it was a train wreck, but they loved the photos. I live in an area where no one will hire me and have clients on the other side of the country that want to hire me, but can’t pay to fly me out. I’ve felt like giving up on a daily bases the last month or so. This post is so encouraging to me!

    Thank you again. :)

  4. Melissa

    August 31st, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Stacy – what an awesome and amazing post. I can totally relate to those feelings – I started on a whim and a prayer also and am still praying.. :)

    xoxo

  5. Laurie

    August 31st, 2011 at 11:35 am

    This is just what I needed to hear. Sometimes it is easy to forget how far we have come. Love your work!

  6. Nicole Rimsza

    August 31st, 2011 at 11:38 am

    This is so inspiring Stacy!!! Im just getting started, going on about 8 months and I can’t even tell you how uplifting this was! Thanks for the great inspiration!!!

  7. Sara

    August 31st, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Love this Stacy! I’m glad to know that other photographers out there have embarrassing stories to share like over using eye sharpening in photoshop, hahaha. And I love seeing that you started with a 50d. That’s what I have right now! :)

  8. Denise Nicole

    August 31st, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    I love you girl!!! You are just as precious as they come. Your work is gorgeous. A piece of art and the best part is the beauty you have inside of you. Makes me want to put you in my pocket and take you with me everywhere just so I know that I have a little ray of sunshine in my day whenever I need it. xoxo

  9. Jillian Tree

    August 31st, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Loved reading this Stacy…def so inspiring!! I can relate to a lot of it :)

  10. Kaitlyn

    August 31st, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Wow Stacy. That was really inspiring to read. I’m saving up money as we speak (or type) for my first DSLR camera to start a journey into photography as well. It gives me a lot of hope that I’m starting something great and I can’t wait to have that feeling of better than Christmas and now what :) :)

  11. reece

    August 31st, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    stacy, you are so awesome! loved reading this and loved hearing your growth. can’t wait to see you and joe again!

  12. Candice LaCanne

    August 31st, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    Stacy, you are so inspiring! I love that you are so down to earth<3 Your words are helping so many people. Not everyone is brave enough to say things that they want to like this. With your talent, personality, kindness, energy… your going to go so far in life. I'm so happy for you! (and 2yrs ago you ;p )

  13. candee

    September 1st, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    stacy, you’re amazing. dont ever forget that! =] so glad you posted this..its such a great reminder for so many of us.

  14. Shannon K.

    September 13th, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    This is coming at the right time for me. Really. I have to hope and pray that He allows it for me too. Because currently, I feel like it is FAR from happening. Seeing it go so fast for some, I can’t help but leave me feeling like I am doing something wrong. Boo!

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