Words Hurt.

Growing up, I used to think that one of the most difficult things was being a preteen/teenage girl.

Then, I grew up and became a Mom. Not only just a Mom, but a Mom to a preteen girl. I am not sure that I had really prepared myself for what this would include. I do know that I had a LOT of preconceived notions about how raising my own kids would go. And, a lot of those things have been not at all how it’s gone. I am also pretty sure that I struggle every day to make the right decisions, and require a LOT of grace, and a LOT of Jesus…..and a LOT of consulting with my friends to get through each and every day. Being a Mom is hard. Being a Mom to a tweenage girl is scary, in so many more ways than one.

I guess I will start by giving a little backstory here…most of you know that I have three kids. My oldest is a girl, Kenzi, who is in sixth grade and is 11 going on 26. The poor thing has been my learning curve on this Mom thing. She made me a Mom, and so therefore she has seen the very most of my failures as a Mom. And still, she loves me way more than I deserve, and I am so thankful for her. She is smart, and funny, and wild, and creative, and loyal, and crazy, and fun, and beautiful. Not only is she beautiful on the outside, she has a gorgeous soul, and a heart of gold. (She has inherited her Momma’s attitude and mouth…but, we wont hold that against her right now. Bless it, she comes by it SO honest.) She’s always been small for her age. She’s dealt with a lot of people, adults and kids alike, underestimating her over the years. But, she perseveres. She is talented, hardworking, and one of the most amazing AllStar Cheerleaders I know. I am partial to that, but she never ceases to amaze me with how fast she learns things, and how fearless she really is. Needless to say, she’s pretty much nothing short of amazing.

Let me preface the following with this, I am one of those people who believes that the word “bully” is used entirely too loosely these days. I feel like sometimes just because you don’t like someone, doesn’t automatically mean you are “bullying” them, and I understand that kids are mean and cruel because I WAS a teenage girl once, and I was not nearly as pretty or amazing as Kenzi. I was a chubby, okay looking friend of all the pretty girls and I caught my share of ugliness from boys and girls alike. I was never bullied. So, when all the following sequences of events started happening I was very weary to ever use that word, and went a LONG time before really realizing what was going on. As a parent, this is easy to do, and I hate that it is. But, I am not a jump on the “my kid is being bullied” train just to jump there. I believe in standing up for yourself, and those around you and thought that I had taught my kids the same. But, I figured out really quickly that I wasn’t as on top of it as I thought I was.

Last year, Kenzi had a hard year. It started early on, and she never really came to me freaking out, but it started as comments that she would make about things that people said to her, and about her to other people. I told her to shrug it off, stiffen up that upper lip, chin up, and to ignore them. It was a group of girls who were not even in her small circle of friends. It was a group of girls who decided that they “liked” her “boyfriend” (I use that word loosely because we all know it’s not a real boyfriend in 5th grade, but whatever…). It started as comments to her like “you’re ugly”, “no one likes you” “so and so doesn’t really want to be your boyfriend because he likes me” and so on. A separate boy, told her on a daily basis that she was ugly, and looked like an alien. Again, kids are ugly, but you have to let your kids fight some of their own battles and let them learn on their own to be able to stand up for themselves and that Mom won’t always be there to save them. This continued all year. The comments became more frequent. It kept happening until I came home one day to find her sitting in her floor alone. I got home and went to tell her that I was home, she was folding laundry and as soon as she saw me, she broke down and completely lost it. She let out all those tears that she had been holding on to for I don’t even know how long. She couldn’t hardly get it out. I finally got her to calm down, and she told me that she had been at school and this same group of girls who had been ugly to her pretty much all year had been calling her names out loud in front of the whole 5th grade in the gym. Not to her face. But, talking ABOUT her loud enough that other people overheard and came to tell her. When I asked her what type of things they had called her, my breath was taken completely away. ….bitch….slut….hoe…..These were the words that some girls who didn’t even know my beautiful girl were calling her for anyone to hear. My amazing and smart daughter who had been instructed to stay away from them, and they kept on. I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest. Then stomped on. I will never in my life forget the look on her face, and how that made me feel. And, I realized it was bigger than what I thought it was. And, I had to do something.

I did the right things, I contacted the school. They handled it as best as they could, by pulling the girls into the office and telling them that there would be severe consequences if it continued. So, the taunting stopped for a time. Then, that same group of girls suddenly wanted to be her friend, and I had to tell her that it was okay to NOT to want to be friends with people who had tormented you…but, that you had to be nice. That is hard.

Fast forward to this year. It has been different. It was better. Things were moving along smoothly.

Then, something seemed to change. I noticed that Kenzi and her friends were doing this thing called “pranking”. She was on both ends of it…sometimes she was the person doing the pranking, and sometimes she was the one being pranked. And by pranked, I mean that several of the girls would get together and gang up on one of the other girls in their friend group to make them feel left out. To try to pit her against someone else to get her to slip up and say something bad about someone, so that they could be mad. Think three way calling attacks, on steroids. I witnessed her both “pranking” someone (which I stopped as soon as I figured out what was going on) and watched her be “pranked”. The night she was pranked she couldn’t even sit and watch a movie at the movie theater with me and her brother and sister because her phone was blowing up. She ended the night in tears, which caused me to jump all over an unsuspecting 11 year old girl and send out a text to several Moms. I had turned into THAT Mom. I wasn’t really proud of it, but I couldn’t watch her anxiety continue to rise and watch her continue to cry. So, I put a stop to it. The girls got in trouble, and they apologized, and we moved on.

But, it left a rift in their friend group that I can’t help but feel like I caused. I asked myself a hundred times if I should have just stayed out of it and let her work it out or figure it out on her own. Had I crossed a line? Had I done more harm than good to her? I had so many questions. I had so much self doubt.

And, for the most part life went back to normal. I ask her every single day, “What is going on at school?”, “Is everyone getting along?”, “Did anything happen today?” “Who is mad at who, and why?” Because I don’t want to be the Mom that isn’t involved, and I don’t want to be the one who has to look at myself and say that I didn’t ask. That I didn’t try to figure out it out. That I didn’t know. There are so many scary stories and they all start with parents having no idea what was going on. I didn’t want to be that Mom.

Then, when I thought things were okay….another thing hit me. One day, quietly this time, she said “Sometimes I have never felt so alone.” With silent tears rolling down her cheeks. Now, I know most of you will say that she is dramatic. I know she is. But, this was different. Matter of fact. And so incredibly sad. I don’t know how someone who is so loved, and so bright, could feel alone. But, then again, I did understand. I’ve felt that way before. And, knowing that she felt that way, even for a minute broke my heart.

I know she isn’t perfect. She’s not. She’s flawed just like the rest of us. But, at that moment she was broken. And raw. And I really didn’t know what to say. So, I sat for a minute and then addressed it as best as I could. I told her that she couldn’t force people to be her friend. That she couldn’t control who didn’t want to sit with her at lunch. That she couldn’t control what other people said about her, especially behind her back. That she couldn’t control the mean things she had heard about herself. That she couldn’t control anyone’s attitude or reaction but her own. That she couldn’t make people love her like I did. And, most importantly, I told her that all of this was OKAY. You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the orchard….but, there would always be people that didn’t like peaches. And, it was okay. And that she didn’t have to be friends with people who treated her like she was less than. And that she had to take care of herself first, and stop worrying about other people around her. I wish I could take away the crippling anxiety that I see too often. I wish I could quiet her mind at night when she can’t sleep because she is having a panic attack. I wish I could make her see that the way people see her has nothing to do with her and most of the time everything to do with them. I know its a hard lesson. It’s one I still struggle with as an adult. And, I wish that I could fight all of her battles for her.

But…..I can’t.

And, it’s hard on a Momma’s heart. I just want everyone to see her through my eyes. To see the sweet, beautiful, loving, and sensitive girl I see. I honestly wish I could take all the girl drama away. All of it. Because all the girls I know are beautiful and unique in their own way, and everyone brings something amazing to the table. And just because someone is different than you, does things differently than you, does something that you wish you could do, has something that you wish you could have, dates a boy that you like, gets the outfit that you wanted, etc etc etc etc etc etc etc…….it doesn’t make you any less special. You have to learn to bloom where you are planted and be so thankful for the things that you have. I promise, that pretty much every girl I know is fighting some sort of battle that her friends know nothing about.

I know a lot of high school Moms are looking at this saying….”Ohhhh girl you just wait.” And, I know that. I know what is coming….I used to be a teenage girl, remember? And, I am not going to lie, I am terrified. Life in the age of social media scares me. Sometimes, kids have a hard time turning off the things that they her that make them hurt. And, that is scary. But, I refuse to give up. I refuse to leave her to the wolves. And I will continue to tell her how beautiful, and smart, and amazing, and talented she is. And that she’s everything. Because she is. I will tell her every day until she no longer needs me to, until she finally believes me. Because that is what a Mom does.

I am not sure I knew what I was getting into when I had kids. No one prepares you that is is literally like sending your heart out into the world unprotected and hoping that people don’t come along and damage it. Trying to protect it from afar without getting to involved. Thinking it might just be a better not to get involved and just homeschool your kids to protect them. And, not just with Kenzi…..with all of my babies. She just happens to be the first that I have had to learn with. But, you can’t do that. You can’t fight every battle for them. Boys, Friends, Mean People, Bullies…..they have to learn.

I pray every night that I am not letting them down miserably and know that I am doing everything I can to be the best Mom I can be for them. I will let you know in a few years how I did….

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Learning to Check My Ego...

I have always been a confident person. Some have even, at one point or another, have called me arrogant. I will own that, but will say that it comes from my earlier years before I realized just how quickly life can knock you right off the high horse that you put yourself on. I’ve learned that in the hardest ways possible. But, sometimes life really needs to knock you on your ass to make you not only appreciate what you have, but to make you understand that you need to grow. And, that the moment you stop growing and learning, is the moment you become irrelevant.

When I was younger, I was fearless. I was this larger than life person who really just did whatever tickled my fancy and mastered one thing after another. Things have always had a tendency of coming easy to me, school, friends, photography…I never really had a serious struggle with anything. Until I became an adult.

Insert ANXIETY here.

I touched on social media before, but I am going to revisit here. I am the first generation to have continual access to the internet. Limited at first, yes, but still access, AOL was the gateway social media drug. But then came the first of actual social media, MySpace, when I was in college. Then Facebook, right behind it. (Although when I was in college, you had to have a college associated email address to be able to access Facebook….yep, I really am THAT old…) And boom, the age of oversharing was born. People LOVED to show you themselves all dressed up going out, their new car, the exciting trip they went on, the parties they attended…etc, etc, etc. The Look at Me generation was born, and personal expectations went up.

I recently was talking with my husband and we were just saying how much harder it is to grow up in this day and age. With literally everything at your finger tips, the instant gratification expectations have grown to ridiculous numbers. Expectations of a perfect life as depicted on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram has become complete insanity. I have seen so many people obsessed with the ‘‘perfect’’ Instagram feed….and the fact that their images have to flow perfectly together and meet the criteria for the ‘‘aesthetic’’ that they are trying to portray. Not to mention, you need to maintain perfect hair, nails, social lives, kids, etc…and please make it look effortless. Y’all, its insanity. I cannot possibly keep up with the expectations that I feel like stare me in the face every day.

Let’s get real and honest here….on most days, I am doing REAL good, to get to work on time, get my kids to all the assigned practices on time, make sure they are fed and bathed, try to eat myself, take time to think about how I SHOULD be cleaning my kitchen, and get home in just enough time to scarf down some dinner of my own and pass out. I have a whole LOT of good intentions every morning when I hit the ground running, and half of the time I am lucky to get to check off a couple of things a day. I used to try to keep up. I used to try to make everything look perfect. And, I. Just. Can’t. I cannot pretend to be this person that I am not anymore. I cannot pretend to be this perfect supermom that people tell me I am all the time. Most days, I am crying at least once a day because I am overwhelmed. Anxiety is a monster, y’all.

Anxiety sits in the back of my head and tells me how inadequate I am. That I am too fat. That I don’t try enough. That people wonder why my husband is with me, cause lets be honest he’s super hot, and I am chubby at best. It tells me that I am annoying and that my friends are tired of me. It tells me that I am too extra and that I need to tone it down. It tells me that my friends plan things without me and leave me out on purpose. It tells me that people don’t love my work, that they don’t want to be my client’s and would rather have someone else that is so much better than me. It tells me that I don’t spend enough time with my kids. It tells me that I let them down daily. It tells me that I don’t work enough, or that I work too much. It tells me that I am becoming irrelevant if I don’t post every single day on my Facebook. It tells me that I am not enough. And some days, anxiety wins. Some days I lose it. Some days I yell at my kids. Some days I recluse into myself and don’t want to talk to anyone. Some days I think about quitting photography. Some days I wish that I was better. Some days I let the demons win. Some days I let people get to me, even when I tell people I don’t care what anyone thinks. Because when you really boil it down, words can hurt much worse than other things in life. They can cut like razors. And some days, anxiety just wins.

But, some days it doesn’t. Most days it doesn’t. Because I have made a conscious effort to tell myself that I will NOT let it win. That I will NOT give in to those feelings.

I touched briefly in my last blog about being in a dark place at the end of 2017. Anxiety was winning. I was stuck. John was worried about me, I could tell my kids were worried about me. I was short with everyone, I took my pent up anxiety and anger out on those that I loved the very most. I felt like i was in this place of no return with no exit in sight. And then, I finally found it. I finally realized that I would never be perfect, I would never be the Super Mom everyone said I was, but that I could be the best that I could be for me. For my kids. For my husband. And, let me tell you something….when I changed my mindset, my life changed. I figured out that those perfect portrayals on social media weren’t really representative of every day real life. It is like comparing your life to someone’s highlight reel. I had to learn that life was SO much more than what I saw and posted in my newsfeed. It was so much more than trying to impress my followers. There was so much more to life than what I was doing. So, that is when I decided it was time for a change. It was also when I decided that I needed to check my ego. I needed to start letting people in, little by little, to see the real me. My real life. My real struggles. Because for me, if you have seen my struggles, you can join me in my celebrations and you see how much they really mean to me. Writing this blog is a personal win of mine. It is really, REALLY hard for me to write all these things out and feel like I am showing off my exposed nerves to the world. Being raw is a lot harder than I really realized. Trying to be authentic is even harder than that. Finding a balance is hardest.

I started to take a look internally last year. I needed to figure out what my goals really were. I had to get my mental health in order. And I had to take along, hard look at my photography work. I had to realize that I was no where near the best, and had to start learning from people better than me to make myself move. I had to start shooting for myself and putting together shoots that sparked my creativity. I had to start pushing myself.

So, I did. Finally.

I was met with so much support and encouragement. So much love. I have people who STILL to this day comment on my new stuff and make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. You guys really have made such an impact in my life, and have no idea how much just a few words of encouragement mean to me. There really are no words to help me describe the love I have for you. Awesome, it’s what you are. And, I love you all.

I also came across some hardships. Anxiety still being one of my main adversaries. Then I encountered some people who were less than nice. Passive, aggressive bullies who project their lack of confidence in a way that is ugly, to people that they don’t even know. That was tough. Because, never in my life had I experienced someone being so mean and hateful, who had never met me in person, had a conversation with me, or probably could even pick me out in a lineup to he honest. It still to this day blows my mind how someone can be a jerk like that. It was something that I dealt with for months. Until I told myself I was done. And, that no amount of talking it to death with my friends would change who a person is, and that someone else’s opinion of me really is NONE of my business. However, I never claimed to be everyone’s cup of tea. So, there’s that. However, projecting your own self hate on someone else because you aren’t confident in yourself is NOT the way to go, in case you were wondering. What you put out into the world, will always come back. And holding on to hate is so toxic for you, that you have to just let it go.

So, here I am. With all my imperfections. I am almost always late. I really suck at being a girl. My hair is always in a knot on my head. I talk too much. I like food too much. I am really quite annoying when I think about it. I stress out over the stupidest things. I daydream a lot. I get off track all the time. I am a procrastinator. I am a homebody. I would rather be in PJs than going out clothes. I am a nerd. Sometimes, I would rather just be alone. I ramble. I revisit stupid dramatic stories over and over. I overthink EVERYTHING. I overreact a lot. I have a terrible attitude most of the time. I whine a lot. I would rather read than watch the movie. I eat my feelings. I second guess myself. I talk down to myself. I let people down. I make mistakes. I. Am. Human. My Instagram feed will never match, I will always run my mouth, I will always be late, but I will be unapologetically myself.

And, I am still here. I came through a really hard year, a year of hard growth and pushing myself outside of my box that I love to stay in so much. I pushed myself to learn. A Lot. I have started to be more gentle with myself. I have loved really hard. I’ve tried. And I’ve grown. As a photographer, a person, a sister, a daughter, a granddaughter, a nurse, a friend, a Mom….it’s been painful, but I’ve grown.

And it all began with checking my ego at the door…..<3

Photo that makes me happy, and shows that learning new things is great, this time last year I was just beginning to learn studio lighting….this year, it is my favorite place to shoot….😍

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Why I Left the Wedding World...

Well, week one is off to a great start….I am on blog number two! But, I tend to get realllllly excited about things at first and over do it, so y’all might get tired of hearing from me-but for a while, here I am. I have so many things that I want to write on. A lot of them are really personal and deep to me, but until I formulate exactly how I want those to go down, I am going to continue writing about things that I feel like need to be said. With the world of Facebook and social media that we live in, there are always a lot of “Well, I heard…” and “Oh, did you hear….”, and ‘‘YALL LISTEN TO WHAT I JUST HEARD.’’ Rumors and news have always traveled like wildfire in a small town, but now with all the social media, it seems like sometimes people know things about me before I do. And, don’t get me wrong, I tend to take part in these conversations as well, and have discussions with my people in our group texts about what we read or heart or saw that day. I think people in general are nosy, and tend to want to be in the know. Honestly, I am one of the nosiest people I know. No shame, I will own it all day long. * shrug* It is what it is. LOL!

BUT, a lot of times I run into people that I haven’t seen in a while and I hear things about myself that I didn’t know…like, I am not doing photography anymore, or I am way too busy to take any sessions. So, I figured this would be a good platform to let everyone know the real reason why I have made some of the decisions that I have over the past several months to a year.

I touched on this a little bit in my first blog, but as I said, it deserved it’s own post. Because to me, it was a very big decision. Or a series of small decisions that gave me the courage to make a few really, really big decisions. They were hard to make. Because, I am a creature of habit, and to step out of what I had known for a long time and do something new was extremely difficult for me. So, I will start from the beginning to make it as clear as I can…which is probably about as clear as mud, but hang with me here..

At the end of 2017 I found myself in a really dark place. It was not only due to Photography, but, my photography was in a place that I wasn’t really that happy with. I was burnt out, overworked, and I felt like a robot. I was stagnant where I was and I was at the point that I was really, REALLY close to just quitting. And I am talking QUITTING, taking down my business page, my website, and not taking another client. Because I was that unhappy. Something that had given me so much joy at one time in my life was literally one of the things sucking the life out of me.

When I started photography, I literally had no idea what I was doing. Like, at all. I had a borrowed, nice camera that my Mom let me use to take pictures of my kids and a dream to be really great at something that I loved so much. I watched so many photographers that I looked up to, and wished I was them. I started practicing with my kids, and then other people wanted me to take pictures of their kids, and so on and so forth until I decided that I could maybe make a business out of it. So, I did. But, back then, I had no direction. I had no idea what I wanted to shoot and didn’t want to shoot …so, I just shot everything. I wasn’t very good, but I learned a lot. And I grew.

I found some local friends who were also blossoming photographers and became friends. Those friendships are still some I cherish to this day, and still call when I feel like I need a second set of eyes or someone to listen to me rant because they are the only people that “GET” it because nine times out of ten, they have been there too. And, they always answer, they always listen, and they always give me advice. I also learned during that early period that there are people in the photography world who don’t have your best at heart. Who will tear you apart whenever they get the chance. I had a LOT of photographers “slam the virtual door” in my face when I tried to reach out to them. And, I realized that I really was going to have to learn everything the hard way. Blood, sweat and tears. So, I started learning. I watched tutorial after tutorial. I joined online communities. I asked for criticism. I learned my camera inside and out, until it was just an electronic extension of my arm. And, sometimes, I still wasn’t good. But, I was better. And I grew.

So many of my friends figured out the specialty that they wanted to be in. Their niche, if you will. I still was shooting everything under the sun, and had at some point ventured into weddings with virtually no experience. THAT is something I don’t recommend to ANYONE. You can think that you know your stuff, and you can actually know your stuff, and STILL not be ready to take on weddings. They are a whole different beast. The light isn’t under your control. The decorations aren’t in your control. The location isn’t under your control. The drunkenness of the bridal party isn’t under your control. You starting to see where I am going? Nothing about weddings is in control of the photographer, except the photographer. There were always unexpected hiccups that sometimes I wasn’t prepared for, and sometimes the lighting I wasn’t prepared for either. I told myself that I loved weddings. Which, I do….parts anyway. I love being a part of people’s love story. I love watching the Father Daughter dances, the mother son dances, and the love that is in the room. I do. And honestly, that emotion is what kept me in them so long I think. Because I do love that raw and real emotion that you get at some weddings. However, my heart wasn’t ever in it. I watched my friends, the ones who REALLY loved it, put so much time and effort into their brand. Wedding shows, customized magazines to hand out with information, cute little delivery boxes….and I thought I wanted to do all that. So, I kept telling myself I would just get through ‘this season’ whatever season that was, and then I would get organized and get my life together. i would start working bridal shows. I would start networking with Venues. I would start doing styled wedding shoots. And……none of it ever happened and I got frustrated with myself. Wedding photography isn’t something that you can be lukewarm to, in my opinion. It’s just too important. There are no do overs. You get one chance. Nevertheless, all through 2017 I think I had a record number of weddings for me. A. LOT. OF. WEDDINGS. For the better part of the year, i also had a nursing job that was very taxing to my anxiety, which made everything a million times worse. I remember October being particularly overwhelming, even though October is always busy for photographers, it was worse than normal. Horrendous. I was spent. I cried. A lot. I prayed. A lot. I longed for December, because I always take December off to be with my family and to recover from the fall frenzy. Somehow I made it through October and November in this haze of a fog and December finally came. I don’t think I picked up my camera at all for like three whole weeks. I put it in the bag and I didn’t even look at it.

And then, a beautiful series of events happened.

It all started when I took my kids to see The Greatest Showman. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. Since I was a little, I have found myself drawn to certain movies simply because of the look, the feel, the light, and the design of them. Hook, for example, is probably my all time favorite movie…and even though I always like Peter Pan, the look of the movie Hook pulled me in. I still watch it literally every night when I go to bed. I could recite it by heart. So, when we went to see The Greatest Showman when it came out I found myself drawn into it like I was when I first watched Hook. I cried about 6 times during the movie because it was so beautiful. I love the story, but the movie itself was what I loved. The colors, the lights, the magic. And, that magic settled itself right into me and started a fire that would end up into a forest fire within just a few weeks.

I always have ideas for magical shoots in my mind. Always have. I hardly ever brought them to life, because I either a) didn’t have time to get everything together, b)put it off and then decided it wasn’t worth it, or c) didn’t think I could properly do it justice so I just pushed it to the back of my mind. The Greatest Showman gave me one of these feelings. and I had an exact image I wanted to make happen inspired by the rooftop sheets with the little handmade projector that shined light and stars on everything. So, I bought a star night light, I hung up a old bed canopy, and I put Kenzi into a dress that we had shoved back in the closet…….and do you know what happened? Magic. When I got the image into my computer, and edited, I cried. For the first time in SUCH a long time, I had made the magic that I had always wanted to. It was everything. And it was right then and there that I knew I had to make a change. So I started scheming…

I started looking into education for myself, I knew I had always wanted a studio, and had never had the courage to learn so I told myself that in 2018 I was going to learn. And I did, and I grew.

Soon, I was branching out and shooting all kinds of things that I had always wanted to. Mostly with Kenzi, but some with other people too. I started planning mass sessions that I didn’t know if anyone would want or love, but I knew that I needed to offer them to see. I did so much education in the first few months of 2018 that my head was spinning, but in a good way. I swore off of actions and presets (tools made by photographers to achieve certain looks…similar to instagram filters) and made myself learn how to do all the things I wanted to do to my images all by hand. I never looked back. They weren’t always good at first, and I still have loads of things to learn, but I grew.

I sat down one day and REALLY thought about my business and where I wanted it to go. I felt like I was at this crossroads personally and professionally that was pretty big. Set myself a part and potentially fall flat on my face because everyone hates it, or stay safe keep doing what I am doing and be completely miserable with where I am? I am not even about to lie to you that I was scared. I know reading it now, the answer seems obvious, but at the time to me, it wasn’t. And although I have a RN job and John has a good job, at the time we still relied on my income to supplement what we needed. If I fell and no one booked, then I would be doing my family a disservice, but if I didn’t try I would be making myself miserable. So, I decided after so much contemplation to just leap and hope that people saw what I was doing and appreciated it. Because I wasn’t really sure in a world full of film looking photographers, I was the colorful and rich black sheep. Standing out was about to be either a good, or a really bad thing. And I had no idea which. But, I jumped nonetheless. And I grew.

That jump, lead to me thinking about other aspects. About the fact that when I actually asked myself WHAT I loved to photograph and WHAT made me happy……it was easy. Kids and Tweens. I have always loved chasing kids, and capturing the “themness” that they have. I love tweens because they are old enough to take direction, but still have that childlike wonder about them. It was easy to see where my arrow needed to be pointing.

And…..not surprisingly, weddings was NOT what made me happy. Because I do work a week day job, being gone all day on one of my days off, and having a wedding work hangover the next day makes me feel like I wasn’t ever getting a day off. Missing out on things with my kids on the weekends because I was working was making me anxious and jaded. I dreaded every single one. I loved my brides, and I loved being there for them, but in my heart of hearts I wanted to be home with my kids. Or at their baseball tournament, or shopping, or at the movies, or whatever they may be involved in at the time. Wedding photographers a lot of times don’t get a lot of appreciation. it is a LOT of long hours on the day of, but then almost an entire 40 hour work week to get it edited. That task itself makes me shudder and used to make me feel like I was never caught up. It’s hard. And, not everyone is cut out for it…ME being one of those people. I will take this time right here to tell you to THANK your wedding photographers. Praise them if you love their pictures. Refer them to your friends if you find a good one. They. Are. Rockstars. And I am thankful to know quite a few really really good ones that continually blow my mind with every wedding they post. Thank them, hug them, make them feel appreciated-because they are WORTH IT.

I figured out that my very best work is when I am shooting something I am passionate about. So, now, that is what I do. I shoot things that I love all the time so that people can get the very best of me. I set boundaries so that I can keep myself sane. I standardized my pricing and finally told myself that even though YES I am expensive that custom photography is a Investment, a Luxury, and ultimately an Heirloom and I am worth it. I no longer apologize for being exactly who I am, charging exactly what I am worth, and shooting only the things that I am passionate about. I will make no apologies for that. I am proud of who I have fought to become over the last year, it took a lot to get me here. I’ve learned so much. I have learned that I am good enough. I am worthy. I have learned that not everyone wants to see you succeed. Some people will put you down to make themselves look better and although it sucks to go through, it is not a reflection of you, but of the person who must bring others down to make themselves feel better or important or relevant, or whatever. I have learned that I am my own competition. That the person I have to impress is the person I was yesterday, last month, last year, ten years ago. Would my high school self be proud of the person I am today? I sure hope so. Do I make my Mom and Dad proud? My husband? My friends? My colleagues? I sure hope so. But, what is most important? I grew.

So, that’s my story. And that is why and how I ended up where I am today. Was it hard? Of course it was. But, more importantly, was it worth it? Absolutely. I would do it all over again to find myself like I have.

And, now that I have thoroughly bored all 4 of my readers…maybe three now because I rambled REALLY long this time, I think I have said what I need to say. If there is ever anything that you want to see appear on my blog, always feel free to comment it here. If you made it this far, double gold star for you today. You guys are the best, thanks for listening to my words, I love yall.

Love, B.

Below….the photo that started it all. <3

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Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the moment you've waited for...

…or maybe not. But, you are here now none the less so why don’t you stay a while? I have figured out recently that writing really helps me decompress and work through some feelings that are hard to process for me. I also think that I like being open and real with my clients. I feel like if you can know me on a personal level, it helps me connect more. There are people in the “Photography World” that would clutch their pearls at this post, and honestly, I am tired of following the rules that everyone feels like I need to follow. There is no magic answer to getting clients, there are 57 thousand photographers to choose from, and I feel like I would rather be my real self than put on some mask of fake positivity all the time and have to keep that up. I am a real person, and to me, being a real person is more important than being an internet famous photographer. (Although, I would love to be internet famous….😂)

So, I decided to an Introduction Post. So you can get to know me, and I can break the ice. Over the course of the year, I am going to try to write at least once a week. Some things will be photography related and some won’t. Some will be Mom related. Some will be emotional. Some will be just about how I suck at being a girl, or a friend, or at adulting in general. Y’all ready? Buckle up, the hot mess express is about to roll into the station!

So first, a little about me personally….if you haven’t ever met me in real life, my name is Brynne Owen. I am from East Texas, and currently live in the tiny town of Brownsboro. Which I love. I have been married to my husband, John David, for almost 12 years. I met him right after high school 15 years ago, and I have been annoying him ever since. He is my best friend, the roots to my wings, my biggest supporter, the Type A to my Type B, my travel partner, and we have such a great time that everyone around us thinks we talk in code. We fight probably as much as we laugh, but that is just who we are as people and we have both come to terms with it! 😂😂 I have three amazing kids- Kenzi who is 11 and in 6th grade, Beckett who is 9 and in 4th grade, and our baby Jensen who is almost 5. I am a extremely proud Allstar Cheer Mom, Baseball Mom, and Dance Mom. They keep me hopping, on my toes, and running the roads. I love it. I am one of 4 kids myself, and I am so close to my family. We have a wild crazy crew and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I have been a RN for 5 years, and I work in Clinical Documentation specialist at a local hospital and I am obsessed with my job. I love it literally just as much as photography-so I am lucky to have two dream jobs that I enjoy.

Some things that I love. I love Jesus…he died for you and me. I love my kids, obviously. I love baseball…but, mostly I love the Red Sox. I love Boston, if I wasn’t so rooted in Texas I would pick up and move there right now. The city, the people, the atmosphere….I love everything about it and we go every year.. I love traveling with my husband. I love the beach….especially the beaches of 30A in Florida. Being by the sea speaks to my soul and calms my spirit. I could sit for hours in the sand and watch the waves roll in. It is one of my many happy places. I love raising my favorite baseball player too. Being at the baseball field in the summer, even when it is hot, even when it is raining, I love to watch Beckett play. Late nights and ballpark lights are one of the great things in life. I love being a cheer Mom. Allstar cheer is such a physically and mentally demanding sport, and Kenzi is all in. She spends more hours at the gym during season, she works so hard, and I love watching her. I have made some pretty great cheer Mom friends along the way and we love going out of town for Competitions and spending the weekend with out girls, the makeup, the hair, the amazing stunts, the dance, the tumbling….I love it ALL.I love fairy tales. I love fantasy stories. I love pancakes. I love my friends. I love going to the movies. I love sitting on my couch alone and binging on Netflix. I love bonfires. I love to read. I am a huge Potterhead and I have read the whole series probably over a hundred times in my life. It never gets old. I love staying up late, I am nocturnal by nature. I love a fire in my fireplace. And, I love my life. I have worked hard to get where I am, and I remember vividly a time when I prayed for what I have now.

I love photography…like, really love it. It has been something that I have loved from a really young age. There was hardly a time from about 7th grade on that you never caught me without a disposable camera in my hand. I took SO MANY PICTURES. I love looking back at them now. In high school, I took photography from an amazing teacher who helped me learn how to develop my own film and how to work in a dark room. It was amazing. I shot everything with a 1970s Minolta and it was the best. I started doing photography as an adult when I was a poor young married Mom who couldn’t afford to go have pictures taken as much as I wanted. I started with my Mom’s Canon Rebel and I sucked. 😂 BUT, it was a start. And from there, people started to ask me to take photos for them, and sent their friends to me. I kept taking photos of my own kids. My business was born and I hit the ground running. I had to learn a lot, I changed a lot, I made a lot of mistakes, and I shot a LOT of sessions. I grew, my business grew, and then……….I got stuck. Stuck in a place feeling like I had a job. Stuck in a place feeling like I was taking jobs that I didn’t love because I needed to make money. Stuck in a rut creatively. Stuck where I never shot my kids any more. Stuck where my editing list was so overwhelming that I put everything off until the last minute. Stuck in a place where I wasn’t happy. Stuck. Stuck. Stuck. I wasn’t happy. I was short with my kids. I was short with my husband. I was never home. I constantly had messages and texts and calls. I was miserable and I came VERY close to throwing the towel in and being done. I cried. A lot. I prayed. I talked it to death with my husband. And then……I changed. I started shooting things that made me happy. I started shooting my kids again. I started bringing all the magic things I see in my head to life. And all at once, I was happy again. I am so proud of my growth over the last year. And that whole story will for SURE be a blog post soon. Because, it deserves it’s own post. It’s a good one, I promise. :)

But, along with doing this blog once a week, I am going to incorporate my 52 week project, so I will be posting it along with it-whether it’s related or not! <3 So below, is a photo that I took last week that I am super proud of. Honestly, even if no one likes it, it speaks to me so much. <3

Again, welcome to my circus. I am excited to start this project-and thank you to all 4 of you for supporting and reading my blog! 😂

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All the Things Your Photographer Wishes You Knew💖

Let me start by saying by how much Photographers love being your photographer. We chose this profession to capture the precious memories, the snuggles, the kisses, the families, the growth, the chaos, and LIFE. It is one of the most rewarding jobs there is…and that is straight from my heart. But with that said, there are so many things that we, as Photographers, wish you knew. It’s easy from our side to get frustrated, irritated, hurt, and worried…..this is also a hard job. The world we live in is so very different from the one that most of us grew up in. Since the onset of social media, the world has become an instant gratification driven, sometimes selfish, and stressful place to live. Also, with the price of entry level cameras coming down, and the market being so saturated with photographers pretty much everywhere…..that just makes it that much more difficult for us. BUT, we persevere. :) I am a member of several photographer groups on Facebook, we share our images, we give each other critique, we answer questions, we help with problems, and we use it as a safe place to vent. So, I polled my friends to figure out what would be some things that they wished their clients knew….both about photography as a whole, and also about sessions/what to expect during them and after them. These are some of the things. Not all of these have happened to me, but a lot of them have, and some of my personal experiences. SO, please hear me out, take my words with a grain of salt, know that I am NOT trying to step on any toes, but I AM trying to educate people who may just not know the ins and outs. Buckle up kids….it might get a little bumpy…..

  1. First and foremost, I want to express just exactly how expensive it is to be a Photography Business Owner. Notice I said Business….not hobby. When you are a legal business, you must be registered. You must pay your taxes. You must pay for your business licenses. Photography equipment is borderline outrageous. I am not talking about a entry level dSLR. I am talking about professional level equipment. And, it always needs to be upgraded. Serviced. Cleaned. Calibrated. Then, there are computers that are powerful enough to run the programs that we need to run, the programs themselves, backup hard drives, off camera flashes, modifiers, wardrobes if you keep them, gas to and from sessions, I could go on and on. That doesn’t even begin to start to cover the cost of education. There is a very, very big difference from your friend down the street who is “getting into photography” and a professional photographer. It is so much more than just “pushing a button.” We spend so much time learning and evolving our craft constantly. So when you say, “Oh man, your camera is SO NICE and it takes SUCH NICE pictures!” That is like me coming to your house and eating your food and saying, “This is SO good, you must have SUCH a good oven!” Tools sure can help, but they aren’t everything.

  2. We can’t control the weather. We know that you have been looking forward to your day for pictures for a long time. We know that you took off for this. We know that your husband leaves back out for work in two days. We know that it throws a kink in your plans. We really do. But, the weather, especially in Texas, isn’t predictable. Sometimes, it rains. And as much as we would love to be able to have a quick conversation with God about turning it off and bringing back the sun….he doesn’t normally care about our plans. Also, please understand that we cannot shoot in the rain. Our very expensive camera equipment isn’t water proof. Mist/rain/water no matter how hard can ruin our gear. Not to mention, rain does NOTHING for your hair. Please don’t ask us to shoot in it anyway, and please don’t get angry AT us when we have to reschedule. There is really nothing we can do about it, and even if we were to shoot in it, it would not be our best work. So it’s a rock and a hard place for us….if we make the decision to call it, KNOW that we have talked and talked and talked to ourselves about it. We have checked the weather 4738978937492 times hoping it will change. And, we might have pulled out all our hair in the process. We don’t cancel lightly.

  3. Pinterest. How we have a love/hate relationship with it. We love to pin and get inspiration as much as the next girl. But, here’s the thing. Photography on Pinterest is a collection. A collection of a whole bunch of amazing photographer’s very BEST shots. It may be that particular photographer’s best shot of their entire career. You will hardly find two shots from the same session on there. Photographers are artists. Each one is different from the next. Copying is not something to be proud of in our world. But, more than that, when you bring us printed out shots from Pinterest that you want to try to replicate, you take all the artistic liberty out of it. Also, if you really look at most of those images, the locations are things that might be impossible to find in your area. Not the style of your photographer, the light might not be the exact same…etc. When you are picking a photographer, look through their work, their Facebook, their website…..then, pick someone who blows you away with THEIR work. Their style. And leave the Pinterest for recipes and wedding planning. Bringing 54 Pinterest shots to a session is really, really setting yourself up for disappointment. Pick a photographer that you trust to make amazing images. Photography is art.

  4. Be on Time. Please, please, please be on time to your session. While we understand that things happen and they might be out of control, please try your best to arrive at the time arranged. We schedule sessions according to light, and the later you are, the less we have to work with light wise. This is even more important if you are attending a Mini day. Minis are usually around 15 minutes long, and are back to back. So, when you are late, you cut your time short, and also possibly cut into someone else’s time that was on time. If you ARE going to be late, let us know as soon as you realize, so we can plan accordingly. It’s a good idea to try to be a tad early, to give yourself some extra time.

  5. Come with and Open Mind and Realistic Expectations. You know your kids better than we do. No matter if they are a camera show off, a runner, a crier, what have you….more often than not, you will know how they will be before we get started. Don’t get me wrong, my very favorite kids are the wild ones. Anyone will tell you that! But, if you know your kiddo is iffy with new people, they don’t like strangers, or they take a while to warm up-know what type of session to book. More than likely if you book a Mini Session with a kiddo who hates new people, they will cry the whole time, you will be frustrated, and the photographer will be left feeling like they failed you even though there is nothing that we can do if a baby doesn’t like like them. 15 minutes is a really short time. And sometimes, they cry anyway. It just happens. To be honest, I love crying pictures. Because one day, they will be big, and you will be left loving to look at those crying pictures and remembering how small your baby was. But, make sure to let you photographer know ahead of time that you little one isn’t sure of new people, so we can prepare ourselves.

  6. Wardrobe Matters. And it really can make or break a session. If you are having trouble, reach out to us, we LOVE to help you style the perfect outfits for your session! As a rule, try to stay away from busy patterns, matchy-matchy colors, and neon. Try to coordinate your colors as best as you can. Try to stay away from wrinkly clothes and clothes with stains on them when possible.

  7. Which brings me right into my next point….don’t come into a session with something that you KNOW you will be expecting to be photoshopped out. The phrase that probably makes me cringe the most ever is, “You can just photoshop that right??” or “Okay, now make me 30 pounds lighter!”. Literally, cringe. Because right there I already feel like I am not going to be able to meet your expectations if you don’t like the way you look. Believe it or not, I am not a photoshop wiz. I know some things, and I have learned a lot over the last year-but as far as REALLY manipulating the way something looks- I can’t really make it work. Or, it takes me a really long time. Basically, everything is not a super easy fix in photoshop believe it or not. Some things are, but some things just aren’t. Me personally, I try to fix anything in the shot I need to to prevent me from having to fix it in photoshop, most of my images come out of my camera pretty much looking like I want them to. Photoshop is for enhancement, not to fix things, as a rule. So, just keep that in mind.

  8. Guys, this one is right at you. We know you don’t want to be there. Your wife knows you don’t want to be there. I am pretty sure everyone in three counties can hear you griping about being there. But, a little secret? The quicker you cooperate and do what we are asking, the quicker the session is over and the happier your wife is. Follow instructions with no griping and I promise I will treat you like a King and get you home in front of the ballgame on TV before you can say, “I don’t wanna be here.”

  9. Under no circumstances is any real professional photographer going to give you “All the Unedited Files”. The RAW files. It’s not gonna happen. Each image that we make is a work of art. Would you go to a restaurant and tell them to just give you the raw ingredients and you would just go home and cook a gourmet meal for yourself? NO! You are paying for the final product. The same goes here. We market ourselves as a finished product. An experience. A piece of art where you are the star. So, please don’t ask us. It’s hurtful, and makes us feel like you don’t trust us as your photographer. And if you don’t trust us, you need to find and hire someone that you DO trust to capture your memories. That person is out there, even if it isn’t me. Or whoever you go to. On the same note, no, you can’t go through all the unedited photos and pick which ones you want us to edit. I know some people work this way, HOWEVER, this is not the norm. So, please don’t expect it. Trust me, we are not hoarding beautiful images from you to keep for ourselves. We aren’t keeping anything. I hear it all the time, “But there might be one that you think is trash, that I will love!” Not true. If I even remotely think you might like it, it’s going in the gallery. The only ones that aren’t included are not properly exposed, they are blurry, eyes are closed, etc. There are no secret hoard of images. I promise. Pinky swear.

  10. Don’t compare us with other photographers. But, also don’t badmouth other photographers to us either. Surprisingly, not a lot of people realize that most of the photographers in an area know each other. Most of them are friends. They all talk. So, more than likely, you are talking about their friend to them. Each photographer is different, has a different way of doing things, has a different price point, and so on and so forth. There is so much variety you can pick from. But, don’t go to one photographer and expect them to do things exactly like your last photographer. I promise they don’t do the same thing. It’s a tough business to be in without all of that. There is enough cut throat-ness, cattiness, and ugliness without pitting us against each other. We all try to band together as best as we can, so its a weird place for us.

  11. For a LOT of us, this is our second job. Some of us do it full time, or get to be stay at home Moms…but a big majority of us, we still work Monday-Friday. Just because we are a business doesn’t mean that we are available 24 hours a day. Not even 7 days a week. We are one person shows. Be patient with us, because we have work and kids and activities and places we have to be just like you do. We wear a lot of hats, and juggle a lot of things. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. And just because you see us posting on Facebook doesn’t mean we are available. Especially, really late at night. There is nothing worse about getting a message about pictures when you already can’t sleep because you’re stressed out and are mindlessly scrolling at 3 am.

  12. Respect our Editing timeline. Most of us will give you a round about time that it will take to get your images back. If your photographer doesn’t, ask them. They know what their turnaround time is running then. Don’t start messaging before that time is up asking about them. I promise, if they were done, you would have them, Me, for one, I love to get if sent off as soon as I finish it. I like checking it off of my to do list. So, if they aren’t in your inbox, they aren’t done yet. As soon as they are, you will have them. Editing is a process, it’s not the same as slapping an Instagram filter on it. And speaking of filters, DONT ADD THEM OVER OUR IMAGES. We spend hours getting them just right, and when we see a Instagram filter thrown on there, it’s like a slap in the face. It feels like a lot of work for nothing. I wish I had a good example to make you understand, but I can’t off the top of my head. It just hurts our feelings, so just don’t do it.

  13. Don’t just NOT show up for your session. If you need to cancel, please let us know as soon as you know you won’t be able to make it. If you wait too late, we won’t have time to fill that spot, and that is literally the worst. For some, that is taking money directly off of their table. We understand that things happen, because they happen to us as well, but it doesn’t take very long to shoot us an email or a text to let us know. And even more, PLEASE don’t sign up for a Mini Session spot unless you are 10000% you want to go, and are able to. Having a day of Minis planned and then having 5 people drop out 2 days before is a super bummer and there is no time to fill those spots in two days. We want you to be there, but just make sure you can before you commit and take that time spot from someone who might really want it.

  14. Don’t try to talk us down on pricing. I know that there are a lot of photographers that advertise 100 pictures for $25. I know. I see them too. I also see the quality of work they are putting out. Which is fine. Everyone starts somewhere. I get it. But, real businesses(you know, those legal ones we talked about at the beginning?), cannot make a profit off of that type of session. Photography is a business. And to be a successful business, you must be making money off your sessions. You can do all the free sessions you want, and be an artist. That’s fine. But, this is a business for me as well. I also feel very strongly that those said photographers have made people as a whole expect photography to be “cheap”. It’s not cheap. Good photography isn’t. You 100% get what you pay for. That all aside, don’t go to a photographer and ask for their pricing then tell them they are too expensive. Just because they are for you, doesn’t mean they are for the next person. Its okay for you to not want to pay what they are charging, but just tell them Thank You and move on. Don’t try to tell them “Well, so and so down the street will do it for $xyz…” If that is the price you want to pay, you answered your own question. So and so is the photographer for you….. You have to decide quality over quantity. And trust me, there are umpteen photographers around of all price points and all skill levels. You can always find someone for you. But, don’t ask someone to lower their prices. They are priced the way they are for a reason, based on their cost of doing business. Don’t expect your friends to give you a discount just because you are friends. Please. We love you, but if we gave all of our friends a discount, we would be back to making no money.

  15. We are human. Just like you. We get sick. Our kids get sick. Our cars break down. We have deaths in our family. Please don’t take it as a personal attack if we have to reschedule for things that happen to everyone. I know it’s not convenient. Trust me, It’s not convenient for us either. But, stuff happens. And it’s out of our control. Sometimes we go over our timeline for editing by a couple of days. Sometimes we forget to message or text or email you back. Sometimes we don’t post your sneak peek quick enough. Sometimes we fall short. But, I do ask that you extend some grace our way. Because I promise that Photographers put every bit of their heart and their soul into their job. This is why it is so hard. This is why we get hurt so easily. This is why we are so defensive about certain things. This is why we get frustrated. Sometimes, all we ask is a little (or a lot) of Grace. We are doing the best we can.

  16. Give us feedback! I can’t count how many times I send a gallery off and never hear a word back. Then I see them 6 months later and they tell me how much they love them. It is agony as a photographer to not know if you like your images or not. Even if it’s just a quick note back, give us feedback!

  17. WE LOVE OUR CLIENTS. So much. Literally, without you, photography wouldn’t be possible for any of us. We are thankful for you. We love being with your family. We love loving on your kids. We love embarrassing your teenagers when we ask you to kiss their cheek, knowing they really secretly love it. We love capturing all the most special moments in your life. We really do. You mean the world to us.

So, if you have made it this far…..gold star for you.⭐️ I know it probably wasn’t easy to read. But, I have figured out over the last year that communication, transparency, and education are SO IMPORTANT. Some people do things and don’t even realize that they have done the “taboo” because they just don’t know. So, I decided that I was tired of seeing people just gripe about these things in Photographer groups, behind closed doors. So, per my norm, I am throwing it all out there. If you have questions, feel free to contact me directly, I would love to explain anything or talk with you.

I love y’all. You are the best. You are loved. You are magic.

Love, Brynne✨

Branching Out⭐️

So, when I logged into my blog it took me a minute to realize that it HAD actually been since April that I have blogged. The summer time is crazy, y'all. I feel like school just got out and I have turned around twice and summer is half OVER. It's insanity. But, here I am. Blogging again. :) 

I have decided to branch out a little, and offer some other cool things that I am pretty excited out. Let's talk....

WORKSHOPS.

I have been toying around with the idea of offering workshops for some time, but I have always been apprehensive. Photography is a very difficult profession. There are so many photographers in this area. So many really great photographers, and sometimes it is very easy for myself to feel inadequate. Not good enough. Not creative enough. Not this enough, not that enough. And, has also made me want to keep everything I do under wraps. Themes, ideas, locations...sometimes you feel like you work so hard to be original for someone to come right along and do exactly the same thing. And maybe they even cost less than you. And some people will sacrifice quality for price, and it really just is what it is. It's hard to feel like you stay relevant, and honestly, just adequate. Worth it. Whatever.

So, first and foremost I had to find my worth. What I felt like my time was worth. What it cost for me to do business and have a profitable business at that. And, I will be the first to tell you....I am absolutely not a cheap photographer. But, I am also not the most expensive photographer either. I had to find my worth, and realize that my time, my work, my experience is worth it. I have said it before and I will 100% say it again, I don't want people to come to me for photos of their kids....I want them come to me for BRYNNE OWEN photos of their kids. That is a huge goal for me. However...here I am getting off track again. Back to the topic at hand....

I myself have spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars over just the last 6 months or so on education. It is so important to further myself, and continue to push my boundaries as a photographer and an artist. And as a result of those workshops I have finally reached a place in my business that I had decided around the end of last year was completely unattainable....but here I am, living it and loving every single minute. And after a long time of contemplation, I have decided to offer some workshops of my own. Simple and easy at first, just to test the waters. So, ready or not here they come. 

Momtography. This will be a great course for Mom's who've bought a shiny new DSLR, and it has ended up collecting dust because they can't figure out how to work it. We will be going though settings, light, composition, and capturing the magic of your kids childhood. We will spend the first part of the day in instruction and then will end the day with a fun shoot so you can practice what you have learned! Professional photographers, or anyone wanting to make it a business won't be accepted for this one, just for the Moms! 

The Photographer's Workshop. This will be a much more in depth workshop for profressional, or want to be professional, photographers that want to really learn to fine tune their craft. We will talk about cameras, equipment, lenses, VISION, marketing, Facebook, just about anything and everything you can think of. You will get a whole day to pick my brain and learn the ins and outs of how I run my business. I will also have a whole editing portion for this workshop, as well as a fun shoot at the end of the day to show off your skills and see how you have improved. 

I am so very excited about these workshops, and getting to spread the love of what I have learned over the years with new and learning Momtogs and Photographers. If you are interested, email me at brynneowenphotography@gmail.com or visit my Facebook page and read the pinned post for more details. 

I can't wait to show you that you don't need fancy locations OR equipment to create magic...all you need is a little vision. Below are pictures taken at the same spot, at the same time, one with my iPhone and one with my camera. Magic is where you make it guys, Let me teach you. 😘

 

Why I took the word "Cheese" out of my vocabulary...

Good afternoon you guys! It's been a couple of weeks since I dropped the Price lecture on you, so I took a little break. Actually, let's be honest, I am not sure if anyone even reads my blogs...however, I love being able to use this as an outlet and a way for you to get to know me better. It also helps you understand some of the business practices I have, why I do them a certain way, and maybe why I have changed things recently. My shift in branding threw everyone off a little, including myself, and I am finally finding my feet again on solid ground. Going from trying to be an exclusive wedding photographer to exclusively a children's photographer is a HUGE leap. It's a big difference in money, it's a huge difference in shooting....it's just different. But kids are my happy place, and capturing a magical childhood feeds my soul, and makes all of the time and effort worth it to me. That passion that I have truly shines through when I am shooting things I love.

So, what does the title of this blog have to do with all of this you ask? I am about to tell you! <3

As long as I can remember, I have said, whispered, screamed, and chanted the word "Cheese" during my sessions. "Say Cheese baby!" "Cheeeeese" "Cheeseburgerrrrr".....because everyone wants that perfect smiling picture of their kiddo looking at the camera and sitting just right, RIGHT? Maybe. Or maybe they just think they do. But, let me tell you what they really need, and they don't even really know it. They need pictures of their kiddo being THEIR kiddo. Playing, rolling around in the grass, exploring, doing that precious little face that they make when they are thinking too hard, crying, and yes, laughing. But, saying cheese, or trying to force a smile out of a kid definitely doesn't accomplish that. I cannot believe that it took me 9 long years to really realize it. Kids are kids. They are really gonna do what they want to do, and if you try to force them to do what YOU want them to do, all while forcing a camera in their face and screaming at them.....inevitably they are going to cry. And then it starts all over, with a red blotchy face, and tear stained cheeks, and tear filled eyes. And that causes frustration in parents, and anxiety in babies. They don't understand, and they are SO overstimulated and they have NO idea who to look at or what to do. So, they cry. And understandably. 

So I decided it was time to try a new approach. Let them be little. Talk to them, interact with them, play with them....and magic happened. Since I have started that, I try to start every session by telling Mom, Dad and kiddo..."I am NOT going to ask you to smile." Sure, I get some weird looks, but I tell them to trust me. If I get smiles, I want them to be genuine. I want them to be real. I want them to emulate childhood joy and laughter. Because when you tell a kid to smile, that is NOT what you get. When they are older, grown, in college and you look back at the pictures on the wall of them looking curious, or running, or rolling around, or even CRYING...you are going to feel your heart clench up a little bit. And I promise you won't be upset that they weren't sitting perfectly, with the perfect outfit, in the perfect position, with the perfect smile. Because childhood is anything but perfect. It's messy, and crazy , and chaotic, and happy, and perfectly IMPERFECT. And those memories that I get for you, will be the ones that you look back on and smile and say...."Do you remember that time...?" Parents, relax and enjoy the ride. Childhood is gone in an instant, and the next thing they are grown with children of their own. Enjoy each season of their lives. Because you only have so many days with them. 

I have also tried my best, and WILL continue to enforce a "50 foot rule" for my parents. This simply means, stay back, observe from a little ways back, and let me interact with your baby! Sit back and relax. Take it all in. I promise I have a method to my madness, but when there is 4 people standing at all angles behind me all screaming "SMILE!!!", they really have no idea who to look at, and they get frustrated. I will give you amazing memories. Trust me to do that for you. Let me be the one to give direction, and don't worry if they are running all over God's green creation....it's part of the job description being a baby/kid wrangler. It's my favorite part actually. 😍 

As we move into summer...I find my calendar more full than it has been in a very long time. It makes me humbled and blessed that so many people trust me with their memories. I cannot wait to see what comes of each one. Also, there are LOTS of fun themed sessions coming in the Summertime, so be on the look out. 

I would love to hear from you what you think about this blog, leave a comment to let me know! Maybe I will realize that I am not speaking into the great vast unknown with no one listening! 😂😂😂

As usual, I love you guys! And I will leave you with some pictures that I didn't say Cheese on....

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I am still around...

Hey, y'all! It has been a little bit since my last entry, but things around here have been BUSY. With spring kicking off, baseball has started back up, we finished up cheer competition season just in time for the new year tryouts, added some private lessons in there, Jensen turned four, Spring Break and Easter have come and gone, and just like that....life is chaotic again. And, that is EXACTLY how I like it. Sessions have picked back up with the arrival of spring weather, sunshine and finally some WARM weather. Remind me how ready I was for it when I am griping about being hot this summer, will ya? 😂 I have had some really great sessions over the past few weeks, some with clients, and some with my own kids to push some creative boundaries. This all makes my heart happy! And I am looking forward to later sunsets, fireflies, and summer wind. 😍

But, I have had a blog on my heart for a while now, and I feel like once I put it out there I will feel so much better about it. No one really wants to ever talk about it, and when they do, it can be pretty awkward. 

PRICING.

Y'all, pricing stresses me out. For real. Mainly because I KNOW that my prices are expensive. And I have seen how people react when I tell them what they are. I am also aware that there is a photographer (or 75) within a 20 mile radius of me that charges half (or less) of what I do. But, let me explain just exactly WHY I will never be one of those people. 

Photography is expensive. Like, ridiculously expensive. Like the lenses and camera bodies that I carry around in my little bag cost upwards of $10,000. Or more. Depending on what I have in the bag at the moment. That is NOT counting my studio equipment. My studio stock wardrobe. The props that I make, buy, keep, have. It. Is. So. Expensive. Especially to bring certain sessions to life, like you picture them in your head. Props to make it happen are expensive to buy, and most of the time even MORE expensive to make yourself. Continuing education is expensive. And if you have to rent a location for your session(s), talk about spending some money. Some places are $250 to rent for an HOUR. Let that sink in. I have never known any other profession that doesn't require an education or certification to cost this much. And yes, I am quite aware that you can purchase a DSLR for $500, and YES I know it's not ALWAYS the equipment that makes the photographer, but even I will admit that you will not get the quality from a $100 lens on an entry level DSLR that you will get on my Mark iii with a good L glass. Quality is a thing for sure. 

My time is worth it. Every hour I spend away from my family, my house obligations, every game I miss etc, to capture your memories is WORTH something. I know that EVERYONE thinks that their time is worth something, but sometimes I wonder if people have ever really sat and thought about the photographer. I have missed I don't know HOW many moments to capture other peoples memories. Games, parties, heck even several of our family Christmas functions I have missed to capture other people's things. And while, I know that I have been hired, and that is not what is up for debate.....my TIME is worth the money that I charge. Here is a great example that I use all the time when I get kick back on my wedding pricing....an average wedding takes about 40-50 work hours. Between all the stuff leading up, bridal sessions, engagement sessions, the hours actually spent AT the wedding shooting, but also the behind the scenes stuff. ALL THE EDITING. Y'all, no one sees that and it takes forever. So basically, the whole shebang is a 40-50 work week. What would YOU be expected to get paid from your job for that amount of work? I know what I get paid to do that many hours as a nurse, and a lot of time, photography is harder and more stressful. Although, in a MUCH different way at times. Even sessions take time to edit. They take planning time. They take shooting time. And then editing...which with me having converted to completely custom hand editing every single image is a LOT longer than it used to take for me. But, I feel like the work for me is worth the time. Every image has a legitimate piece of me in it. Blood, sweat, tears. 

Going back to the other photographers....basically, in this day and age, ANYONE can be a photographer. Anyone can go buy a DSLR, make a Facebook page, and start charging. There is no regulation. No education required. No diploma. No certificate. Nothing. Now....is this a bad thing? Absolutely NOT. It is exactly how I started, and now, I am where I have always dreamed of being. But, I mainly say all that to say this...there are photographers in EVERY budget. I am neither the cheapest, nor the most expensive in this area. I am in the middle somewhere. And I am happy here. But, please don't go to any photographer, and make them feel like they aren't WORTH it. If their pricing isn't for you, say "Thank you!", and go to find someone more in your budget, or with pricing that you are willing to pay. I have had people look me dead in my face and scoff at my pricing. And who are they to say what my art is worth? They are no one. And that is not meant to sound harsh, but mainly is a encouragement to other photographers. YOU. ARE. WORTH. IT. You are. Keep pushing. Keep grinding. If you build it, they will come. Someday. But, also, don't talk bad about those who charge more than you. That is also their prerogative. If they want to charge $2000 for a session, they can. And y'all, I know people that DO. And they book sessions like CRAZY. Pricing is relative. Also, don't try to talk someone down. I cringe when the first few lines of an email are "I just need like 2 pictures, nothing big"....it puts me in a weird position. Because I am thankful that they want to use me, but I can tell they don't want to pay my prices. Which leads me to feel that my work isn't WORTH it to them. And, that is not a fun place to be.

My last thing....photography is a LUXURY. Not something that you are entitled to. It is something that is NOT a necessity. Please respect the photographers around you, and support them. Whichever one may be in your price range. There are so many that span every dollar amount. Respect them. Love them. And don't try to get something for free just because you are friends with them. If they want to do it for you for free, let them offer. It will be so much better. Trust me. 

If you made it this far, gold star. I am sorry if I hurt some feelings, but I have always promised to be real, and someone had to say it. All photographers think it, and if they tell you they don't....they are lying to you. 😘

Happy Spring, y'all. Let's make some magic! ✨

 

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Finding Light, even in the Darkest of Places...

Most of you have seen a pretty abrupt change in me in the last few months. And to be completely honest, if you would have asked me back in the fall if this is where I saw myself....I might have told you you were completely off your rocker. I was a wedding photographer. That is all I thought I wanted to do. And then, just like that.....I quit kidding myself, and made a change.

I didn't really tell anyone at first, it was slow, and pretty much testing the waters....but, each day, I got more intense, more excited, more passionate, and more clear about the exact path that I was supposed to be on. Slowly I started telling a few of my photographer friends about it. I have quite a few photographers that I am really close with, they are my biggest supporters, my biggest cheerleaders and some of my best friends. They kick me in the tail when they know I need it. They are my ear to vent to when something photography related has me frustrated and my husband just DOESN'T understand. We all bring something unique to the table. Some of them are super amazing newborn photographers, some are literally the BEST wedding photographers I know, some have been doing this a lot longer, or a lot shorter than me and they blow my stuff out of the water. Some of them have light and airy styles, some are more dark and moody like me. Some things are the same for us business wise. And yet, we are all different. One by one, I talked with them,( or they called me and told me to SPILL IT😂), and I realized that I have SO many people behind me. They have so much supported me while I have been finding myself, developing my style, and trying to find something that is undeniably me in this world of cookie cutter. Helped me start to develop a brand that hopefully at some point in the future will need no introduction, that the work will speak for itself, and that people will be able to point out just by my shooting style as a "Brynne Owen". That would be the coolest thing. This is truly a great community to be a part of. We all have those people that inspire us. All of my friends inspire me, and hopefully I them in some ways. Even if I am just the one they can call when they need to vent (Heyyyyy E!). They have listened to me cry, scream, flip out...but they also have made me laugh, take me on coffee dates, sometimes they just sit with me....not even talking about photography because we all need a mental break.

Most people don't realize all this about photographers. They don't realize that we are all friends, (for the most part...let's face it that I am not everyones cup of tea on a good day*shrug*), and that we all talk to one another. There are few people in this world that truly know what you are going through in life, when you are facing something hard. Something that you really don't wanna face because you know it will just cause unnecessary drama, a situation that won't change pretty much any way you approach it because people are people, somethings that are tough as a business owner, separating friendship and business (Man, that one is a HARD one.).....these are my sisters that support me through all these things. They keep me off the ledge. They read through RANT posts and tell me how great it is, but that I should just delete it and go on. They keep me sane. They make me laugh when I really need it. They take me to lunch and let me blow off steam when I am so frustrated that all I want to do is scream. They text me to check on me when they can tell I am in my own head. They message me to make sure I am good. And quite frankly, they help me resist the urge I always have to get a little tacky on Facebook from time to time....(don't act like you've never wanted to get tacky😂). And I am so thankful for them. So thankful for them. My friends. My sisters. My tribe. Trust me, you know who you are....especially over the last few weeks with my extra vent calls and text sessions. 

Don't get me wrong, I have friends basically in every aspects of my life, but these girls get me....and I say all that to say this.....

I am so happy that Kenzi has found her tribe in her Cheer Sisters. Her girls. Her people. I am so glad I got to use all of them to do a little fun project for myself to further my practicing on both shooting, and editing, as well as get to do something fun with them that we will have forever for them. They helped me bring something that I had been picturing in my mind for a very long time, to life. They are her listening ears, her support system, her sounding board....and I love listening to them talk. I love watching them laugh and joke and dance, and do muiscallys. I love watching them grow up together. Don't get me wrong, they fight like sisters sometimes...because, let's face it, there is SO MUCH SASS that I cannot even. And they all get it from their Momma's.  And I know the next thing I know they will be grown, and leaving for college...and I will be crying. But for now, I will enjoy this moment of chaos. And take it all in. Because, babies don't keep y'all.

Also, if you're in the Tyler area and are looking for a great home Cheer gym. Spirit of Tyler is our second home. We love our Hive, and SOT is the place to be! 

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Writing from Neverland...

Y'all. For the last several weeks I have wondered if this is my real life. Have I really been having as much fun shooting as I have? Or was I going to wake up and it was all a dream?

Words cannot really express how I feel these days. Joyous. Excited. Passionate. Enthralled. They all seem to fall short of how I feel. Since the beginning of the year, and the time that I decided to start making my own destiny again....life has been so much brighter. 

"Stop doing things that don't make you happy."

Seriously. It really is that easy. And it is also really that hard. It's hard to turn down money when you know you are trying to pay for your big shiny new house, and your kids extracurricular activities, and all that extra mess. But, at the same time it is absolutely LIBERATING. There is so much power in the word "No." Not a malicious no...a no which really means yes. Yes to spending more time at home. Yes to being able to make ALL practices and games for my kids. Yes to going out of town for a competition and not having to worry about having to miss for a wedding. Yes to being present in my kids lives. My husband's life. Heck, even my dog's life. It's saying YES to being able to go to Sunday lunch at my Grandmother's to spend time with my family and not having to rush off. Sometimes these yes's are so much more important than the one that would be agreeing to do something that I didn't really want to. And, for once in about 5 years...I am finally in such a happy place. I am ridiculously enamored. 

It has and IS somewhat scary making a leap of faith. Taking your business into a whole new realm...deciding to do something that really isn't offered in this neck of the woods. Something different, and out of the box of the photographers in the area. Not better, or worse, just different. The photography community here in East Texas is strong, lots of amazing photographers, lots of beautiful artists. And every single one of them is different in one way or another. But, when you kinda lean in a whole new way....ie darker more moody edits, more colorful and rich than your peers....you worry people will not like what you have to offer. Worried that they will not book, and they will not like your work. Because, as much as we all preach that we don't care what people think about it, we still do...somewhere deep down. I love making art that speaks to me and makes me happy, but there's also an air of worry that people will not understand, or think it's terrible. All my photog friends know what I am talking about when we don't get validation through comments on our stuff! Don't lie, you know you feel the same way! 😂

I used to be a "prop snob". And I hid behind the "I think they cheapen the photograph" and "I think they take away from my subject" excuses for a long time. Well, those excuses are both valid...and they can both happen...however, props done RIGHT can make magic. In the best way. Don't get me wrong, I do still love a simple portrait. I love capturing those. But, I am glad I decided that because some photographers in the world think it's stupid to do themed minis, or use props, or edit like I have been, that I don't HAVE to follow their rules. They are meant to be broken, and sometimes they completely hold you back. Sometimes being crazy is way more fun.

So, I have spent a lot of time photographing my girls, my friends kids, and some people willing to take a chance lately. This time of year is kinda slow, and I am hoping that is the reason people don't want to do my fun Minis 😂 But, I have even ventured out into trying a lens that I said I would NEVER use for portrait photography, and called anyone who did CRAZY. And, I am literally obsessed. It has taken my shooting to the next level. And I am so glad I decided to do something that might not work, and let it work it's magic on me. Cheers to growing and learning as a photographer and an artist for the rest of 2018....I can't wait to see where I am in a year. 

And for making it that far....here are a few of my recent faves with my new fave lens....😍😍👍🏻

 

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Sometimes, these posts aren't always easy....

Okay, I have been wanting to blog about this subject for years now but have always refrained because I was always afraid to ruffle feathers. I have written, and erased, and rewritten it because I don't want to come off petty, or irritated, or mad. Because, when it all boils down to it, it just needs to be said. So, to start this is an informative post This has happened to me countless times over my years of business and it is definitely not aimed at any one person. I have just decided to address it now, because this year is the year I keep my business the way I want it, and I value myself, my time and my work.

Cancellations.

They happen all the time. Things come up, kids get sick, people in our families die, money needs to get spent on car repairs or dance recitals or other obligations. And that is totally FINE. I am a Mom of three extremely active kids. Things come up ALL THE TIME in this household. I have had to reschedule things, move things, juggle things.....it happens. But, giving proper notice is so super important. It allows us, as photographers, to allow someone to step in and take your date, or to properly plan otherwise. When you cancel right before, or even, don't show up at all it, it puts a strain on us.

When I schedule sessions, I work it around our busy household schedule, around my wedding schedule, around other people's pictures....it is all very well thought out. I spend a lot of time losing sleep over how to make it all work and how to keep everyone happy. So, when I reserve a day for a client, it's their day. 

Being a photographer is a business. Yes, it's super fun. I get to shoot awesome things. I get to make my own schedule. And I still have a week day job. But, it's STILL A BUSINESS. It's not a
"side business". It's a secondary full time job. On top of being an RN during the week. On top of being a full time Mom. On top of running a household. I am a one woman show and it's still a business. I am the only one to market, to keep up with emails, to keep up with finances, to make props, to pick out themes and to design sets. To shoot sessions. To edit those sessions. It is literally just me, So, when I spend a ton of time mentally preparing for a session, whether it be a Mini Session, a Regular session or whatever, for someone to cancel very last minute is very disheartening. Let's just call it like it is....its extremely irritating. When I send another customer away because I am booked to have the person that booked that date originally cancel, or not show up all together literally takes food off of my table. In this world, time is money. If you book a session and don't show up, and don't give me adequate time to rebook that spot I am stuck with a day that I cannot rebook. Which hurts my business. And makes me jaded, which I really do not want to be.

I decided that 2018 was going to be the year I ran my business by my rules. And the year that I quit letting other people dictate my happiness. So, now, I will have to put a cancellation policy in place, and will now require half of the session fee up front that will be nonrefundable if not cancelled at least 48 hours beforehand. It will only be transferrable to another date if the client is sick, or if I have to cancel because of weather. 

The bottom line is, please, please, please do not book a session if you aren't really wanting to be there. Especially my themed Minis. If you do and back out just because you don't want to come, it keeps someone else that might have really wanted that spot from being able to take advantage. Just don't book until you are sure you want to do them. It wastes my time, your time, and it really just hurts my feelings. Which may sound like me being petty or a crybaby, but it's true. Business owners are allowed to be upset too...even in this "customer is always right" world.

This is not just photographers. This is hairdressers. Make up artists. Crafters. Small business owners in general. Our time is worth just as much as yours is. Please treat us like it is. Think about how you would feel if someone often treated you like your time, was much less important than theirs. Because that is the world I have lived in as a photographer for the last 9 years.

Now, don't get me wrong. I have some of the most AMAZING clients in the world. Most of them would pay me a year in advance, pay double, bend over backwards, give me the shirt off their back, and would literally do anything for me. I am so blessed. But, realistically, I think sometimes people just don't think about cancelling as a big deal, and maybe just don't KNOW that it really is such a big deal. So, I needed to educate a little bit. I love y'all. Without y'all this all wouldn't be possible. Just remember that photographers are people too. We are human. And we need grace, just like the next person. 

Now, back to our regularly scheduled princesses....

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Well, here goes nothing....

I have never been one of those photographers to have a blog. But, I figured, since I am changing things up rather significantly I might as well start somewhere. Odds are, it will not be the most eloquently worded blog you have ever seen, and more than likely there will be a spelling error or two. Also, I can almost promise you that I will over use the comma. :) 

I am so excited about where 2018 is taking me, and we aren't even into February yet! Big changes needed to happen so that I could grow as a photographer, and so that I could be happier as a person. I am not sure when I had become the person trying to fit in with the crowd, but I do know that it made my life a lot more boring. So, get ready for the Hot Mess Express people....ready or not, here I come! 

I will be blogging some sessions here, and possibly having some vent sessions here, so feel free to check back to read in on my life, and see what shennanignans I can get myself into!