I've sat down to write this about a dozen times, only to realize that there's a challenging side of gratitude that makes me feel completely inadequate. How are the words "thank you" supposed to reveal how I truly feel? When I was first told that Hutchinson voted me as the #1 photographer, two things went through my mind.
1. SERIOUSLY!?!?! (and then called my Mom immediately because whether I'm lost in the grocery store trying to find peanut sauce or winning an award, I always call my Mom first!)
2. How in the world will I ever thank my clients? My clients -- the ones who voted for me. The ones who let me stop and play hide-and-seek with their kids during a session. The ones who tell me they're pregnant before telling their own parents. The ones who bake me Christmas goodies and send me birthday cards.
What I've grown to love about my photography journey is that it has crafted this enormous family of people who trust me to capture some of the most important moments of their lives. I wish I could explain how humbling it is to be invited into a hospital room to document a newborn's first moments. Or, how special it is to capture the talent, confidence, and excitement of a high school senior.
Photography, to me, is so much more than clicking a button on my camera. It is art! It excites me. Most importantly, I believe our passions are gifts from God. My interest and talent in photography is not by chance; therefore, none of the moments I have been a part of are by chance. This is so powerful! When I start to focus on the fact that God designed me, specifically, to photograph the lives of others around me, I physically feel my heart expanding like the Grinch on Christmas Day. It is the most amazing thing! Photography has given me an identity, a purpose.
It has also challenged me in more ways than I can count. The reality of working two practically full-time jobs is not glamourous. Rushing home from a full day of work and selfishly relying on my hardworking husband to have dinner ready, only to cut our dinner conversations short in order to head back out the door to take pictures until sunset is rough. Staying up until 2am editing and setting my alarm for a 6am workout is rough. Missing my niece's spring music program because I'm at a session is rough. BUT, amidst the stress, chaos, and struggles, the following verse has spoken to me through the years:
"For it is God who works in you to will and act in order to fulfill His good purpose."
I feel it is important for my clients to understand the heart behind why I continue to do this. I believe photography is part of my purpose. My talents and gifts are tools from the Lord, given to me to share with others. Isn't that incredible?
Photography has given me confidence, joy, and the gift of growth. Last Fall, photography saved me after losing my Dad to cancer. Less than 24 hours after his funeral service, I was at the hospital capturing the birth of a brand new baby, a complete reminder of the true miracle of life. For months following his death, my clients stepped into my saddened heart and restored my joy. Just two nights ago, I left a senior session hugging a client who was a mere stranger two hours before.
So, to ALL of those who have been a part of my journey: thank you. Being voted #1 is a true honor, but it is important to recognize that my journey would be non-existent without you all. I thank you for trusting me, for choosing me, for encouraging me.
Thank you for letting your memories become such a special part of my life.