Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A PSA from a Wedding Photographer

A Friendly Public Service Announcement for Fancy Camera Yielding Wedding Guests:

Since starting my journey into photography I have shot a number of weddings, I have also attended or was in my fair since beginning to shoot as well. Since DSLR's (fancy cameras) have become all the rage among amateurs and pro's alike, it's only reasonable that etiquette may need to be explained to those interested in and excited about photography. 

This post is made in good jest and hopefully you can read it with a sense of humor! If you are guilty of any of these, that's OK, in fact you should tell me about it in the comments! We are all human and we all make mistakes, its even better when we can look back on them and laugh at our silliness. (Like the time I told a pregnant woman she looked far farther along than she was, DOH! See, I started us off!)

1. Thou shalt not have more/equal equipment to the main photographer

When attending a wedding I rarely, if ever, will take along my DSLR. Now, there is no issue with you bringing yours, but it is important to realize that the bride and groom have shelled out a pretty penny for someone to come and make them smile and pose and do all sorts of awkward things, they don't need Aunt Berta asking them to do the same. If you do bring your fancy camera, leave the extra lenses and external flash at home. How many pictures of someone else's wedding will you be hanging on your walls anyways?

At one wedding I had to actually ask someone to put away their equipment in fear of them trying to do the same as me during some vital shots. It's always an awkward conversation. Nobody likes awkward, so leave your extras at home!

2. Thou shalt not plagiarize the photographer. 

Wait, plagiarism, isn't that when people copy and paste cliff notes instead of actually writing their term paper? Well, yes, but it is very possible to plagiarize a photographers work. I never thought of this one until I was working on my wedding contract and reading through various others I found on the internet. Many, including mine, ask that family and friends refrain from taking pictures while the photographer is doing the posed shots (think family, couple, bridal party). And then I began shooting more weddings and this became all the more real to me. 

Example 1: At one wedding as I was focused on posing my bride and groom along with some family members, I began to walk backward down the aisle to get a better view. In the process I ran over the man behind me with his fancy DSLR and external flash who was quite literally shooting over my shoulder. This is plagiarism. I did all the work to pose and set up the shot, he now gets to claim the picture he took as his work and doing. 

Example 2: I was once in a wedding where the photographer had to ask a guest with a fancy camera to stop taking pictures while she took bridal party pictures. The guest was not pleased and threw quite the death stare the photographers way. Don't be them, if the photographer asks you to stop be polite and move on. 

Now, there is a caveat to this. If Grandma Jane is snapping away with her point and shoot, or maybe even a DSLR, I will rarely ask them to stop. It doesn't bother me if family is just taking some candid shots while I do the main deal, but as soon as you turn on your flash or get in my way during the posed shots, I will probably say something. Which brings us to number 3

3. Thou shalt not use flash

Please please please don't use flash at a wedding unless you absolutely have to. I know everyone does it. Try not to, at least while you see the photographer actively shooting. The flash from someone else's camera can completely ruin a shot for a photographer. If you need to use it, just be aware of whether or not the photographer is in the middle of shooting and try to take it in between their shots. 

4. Thou shalt not try to direct the photographer

Unless you are the bride, groom, wedding planner, DJ, or venue professional you should probably avoid telling the photographer what to do. Most of us have done this before and should have done our research on how to best manage our shots. Trust us, we have a plan. If we ask you a question, answer us then, otherwise just sit back, relax and enjoy the wedding!

5. Thou shalt have fun

I am not sure if you realize this but most weddings I shoot are 9-12 hour work days with much standing, bending, laying on the ground, kneeling, sweating, and all together running around. A photographer's job is not easy, it is entirely fun, but not easy. If you are a wedding guest you have the distinct pleasure of sitting back and enjoying a beautiful day, and you get to eat cake!  (I do too, but you get to enjoy yours) Enjoy the wedding, be present. Take candid pictures, take pictures with your friends (seriously, I love taking pictures of people taking pictures), dance, have fun. You have the easy job, bask in the glory that is being able to actually be present and focused on making memories! 

Those are my five commandments, now go with your knew knowledge and use those fancy cameras wisely! If you have a fancy camera you should be using it, but don't forget to enjoy what's around you first before you focus on the perfect shot. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Oh the Humility!

I feel like this blog has been pretty heavy lately. So let's lighten this up a little with some real talk on motherhood.

I have never felt so ill equipped to do anything in my life. Never. I am one of those people who is pretty good at the whole fake it til you make it phenomena. In college, I managed to write a ten page paper on a book that I read the same amount of pages of. I got an A. (It was for extra credit and I don't think the prof even read it)

In grad school I managed my way through grueling internships by feigning confidence in the midst of sheer terror at the impact I may or may not have on the lives of those I came into contact with.

Motherhood, is a totally different ballgame. I always knew I wanted to be a mom. Always. I wanted lots and lots of babies. Now that I am in the throws of motherhood, expecting number two within the next 3 months, I am not far from crawling into bed, assuming the fetal position, and waiting out the storm. My child has been incredibly easy, until recently. She figured out that she can willfully disobey Mommy and honestly I think she thinks it's hilarious. She often stands up in a chair we have in our play room and looks at me like "yep, I just did that, what are you going to do about it? Oh pull me out, nice try mom, I'll just go ahead and climb back in and do it again." Funny, sinful, little child.

This child, at only 15 months, knows how to push my buttons at just the right times. And I get angry and then think, how am I going to do this as she gets older? How will I do this with two? HOW? Oh and there is no way short of a miracle that this little boy will be as easy and laid back as his sister was as a baby. No way.

Then I think of my bed, and again I'm tempted to crawl in and never come out.

Until I think of all the goofy things that E does, the laughs, the giggles, the obsession with my scarves and anything that can substitute as a bracelet. The silly faces and dances she does.

That's motherhood. The joyous mess. It's beautifully humbling and entirely terrifying, but simply amazing at the same time.

Motherhood makes you into this person you never knew you could be. Someone who is obsessed with bodily functions, especially poop. Is it the right color, consistency? Oh look, she ate some crayon, thats an unexpected surprise! Someone who loves this little being more than they ever thought possible. Someone who willingly gives up fancy clothes, showering at normal times, eating warm meals, and their thought of the perfectly clean and decorated home for their child.

Its humbling, surprising, and often hilariously messy.

Thank God that we don't have to be prepared for everything, that He meets us in every messy chaotic moment and grows us into better mothers with each blowout, each throw of the cup, each whine, hit or bite.

Thank God that we don't need to meet perfection, that He is the perfect one and that we get to share that with our children when we mess up. "See Mommy needs Jesus just as much as you do because she gets mad and sins and has to ask for forgiveness too"

Someday I will look back and miss these days terribly. The days that I could pick up my child and hold her tight. The days that she pooped in the tub, threw her cup 45 times, whined, complained, and then gave mommy the sweetest hug. I will miss each sweet mispronounced word.

Because someday she will be a teenager, and knowing how I was, and knowing how many are during that time, I will look back and beg for her biggest issues to be throwing cups and pooping in unexpected places. Because its much easier to clean up a mess on the floor, than a hurting heart or broken friendship.

So for now, thank God for spilled milk and standing in chairs.

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Life of Gratitude Part 2

I wrote a few weeks ago on how I have struggled recently with joy and gratitude in the midst of suffering and I wanted to give a small update.

I finished the book I was reading, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, and although there were parts I may not fully agree with, the overall message painted a beautiful picture of learning how to practice living in gratitude to a faithful loving God. The great thing was it wasn't a self help book, it was a memoir, a reflection on how noticing God's graces leads Ann to a more grateful life and a greater union with Jesus.

Couldn't we all use more gratitude? More Jesus?

As I began reading I decided to take on the challenge and write down 1000 gifts over the course of the next months or however long it takes me. Each day I try to write down one or two things I am thankful for. Simple things, some recent examples being: walks with friends, the smell of the woods in fall, and driving under the yellow trees on Kossuth Street.

A word of caution, one could fall into worshiping God's creation rather than worship the true God. So we must be careful to recognize that we are giving thanks for the good gifts God gives, no matter how small, not worshiping the gifts themselves.

I have found that being intentional about keeping track of these gifts, these moments, has helped me to be more aware of what God is doing around me. As I said in my earlier post, my vision has been completely obscured by negativity lately and this forces me to find the positives of each day. Slowly shifting how I view the world.

It's a wonderful thing when we can begin to feel God moving in us, making us more like Him. Although small so far, I am hopeful that this shift is just the beginning of beginning to live a more grace filled, grateful life. That joy and gratitude would overcome my tendency towards negative realism. I feel like this is just the starting point, just the beginning of freedom from negativity.

Ok, I love a good quote so I will leave you with a few on thankfulness.

“Those blessings are sweetest that are won with prayer and worn with thanks.” 
― Thomas Goodwin

"Resolve to spend most of your time in thanksgiving and praising God. If you cannot do it with the joy that you should, yet do it as you can. You have not the power of your comforts; but have you no power of your tongues? Say not that you are unfit for thanks and praises unless you have a praising heart and were the children of God; for every man, good and bad, is bound to praise God, and to be thankful for all that he hath received, and to do it as well as he can, rather than leave it undone.... Doing it as you can is the way to be able to do it better. Thanksgiving stirreth up thankfulness in the heart.”  Hence Baxter

"It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness." Charles Spurgeon

“When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows. How can this not be the best thing for the world? For us?” 
― Ann VoskampOne Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

Thursday, October 3, 2013

All Knotted Up

Ok women, please tell me you have had a necklace that became a tangled up, knotted up mess of a thing. Every time you thought you were getting close to untangling the last tangle, a new one appeared, then another, then you were worse off than when you started.

Frustrating. A mess. A beautiful, cherished, mess.

This life.

A beautiful, chaotic, cherished mess of an existence.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV) "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

It's that sin. It entangles us. Ensnares us. It knots us up and when we think we have victory another knot appears. Then we get all tangled up again. How true. How very accurate, we are a sinful mess. Isn't that exactly what sin does to us, makes a knotted up mess of us. 

Jesus calls us to throw that sin off and run with perseverance. Keep going, keep untangling, unwinding the mess we have made of ourselves. Placing our focus on Jesus and knowing what He endured that we might have a hope to overcome and not lose heart. 

That's the hard part, right? Moving forward, running when you feel like you have nothing left to give. I hate running. Hate it, its boring, tiring and I feel like I can't breathe the entire time. That's not fun. That's not enjoyable, that doesn't seem like life. 

That's why we focus on Jesus. Why we put our hope in Him. When you run you are supposed to focus on something other than the excruciating pain and inability to take a normal breath. You are supposed to listen to music, distract yourself from the negative and focus on the positive. Focus on why you are running, for the benefit of it all, not the pain of it all. For the joy set before us.

We will always be knotted up messes until Jesus makes us whole and right. The great untangler of our sin. Until then we keep going, keep running the beautiful chaotic race of life, with our shorts around our ankles and our heads held high. Because a great joy awaits us, even in this life. Every triumph over sin, every good gift that God gives us to keep us going, to keep us moving. Every little glimmer of hope. The smallest things, like a yellow leaf on a dreary day. The biggest things, our child's first words, first steps, first anything. Those joys keep us going. They give us the strength to endure the knotted up mess that sin creates.