Am I A Photographer?

I guess I want to get it all out there regarding photography and me. I've mentioned it before, how I'm so up and down about saying "yes, I'm a photographer". I've always hated labels and titles - sometimes I just want to be. I know we have interests and talents for a reason and since I sometimes feel like the person with the one talent, I definitely don't want to be caught burying it, whatever it might be. Some people say it's photography. I guess people could see how much I loved it and even back to my freshman year of college, people asked me why I didn't major in it and I had a really good practical and logical response for them. A college boyfriend was convinced I was hiding and scared, and there may have been truth to that (but he was also a jerk). The photo major card just didn't line up for me, yes I could have made it happen, but I didn't want to knock down marble to get to it. I was comforted in the path I chose.

College was a perfect time for me to grow my photography interest, even if I couldn't take classes in it or learn the art of the darkroom. I had friends who wanted to be models and nature was right outside my doorstep. Utah was beautiful and the people were beautiful and I was inspired every day.

My first "gig" was when a friend basically forced me to accept money for my service. I didn't like the idea of charging; did I really know what I was doing? (looking back I grimace sometimes). So due to insecurities, expectations and awkwardness, paid gigs scared me. Eventually, I needed money for my time and the gear, because accomplishing expectations isn't cheap. I found I would get burned out and lazy if I wasn't paid, let alone I wasn't willing to invest in an expensive hobby that didn't refund costs in some way. And even today, my husband is not a cash cow. He still doesn't think I actually make any money, and relatively, I don't. But I still consider this an investment year, and it wasn't practical to invest much until now.

Photography is really expensive if you don't know. My starter camera was $500 and my new camera cost me $1400 used, and there is a life expectancy on gear too, even if there is a resale value. Those are just bodies. Lenses are the real investment and the quality lenses, new are a few grand. Then there are batteries, memory cards, studio gear like backdrops and fabrics, props, light equipment ($500+), editing equipment... I mean it adds up quickly. And lets not forget the general stress that comes in hoping "clients" are 110% happy with the results. There is a lot of prep work and post work no one but your husband sees. 

Then if you decide to make a business out of it there are taxes & website costs. Which is where I currently stand. Do I want to make this a real business? Yes, I get paid for the gigs I do, which really only end up being 2-3 a month. To me that's not worth an expensive website and legal technicalities. And it also means prices would go up when I'm not comfortable charging more, yet at the same time competitors want to bite off my head for undercutting them as it is. Although still feeling new to the area, I'm not much competition. I'd love to do my own prints, but that definitely seems like light years away. So how do you balance it all? 

I want to be the affordable, "friend" photographer who doesn't hold a sitting fee, or charge by the minute or photo, especially when everyone is in tears and need moments to relax and have fun. I want to do what I love, reasonably. And I still do general photography and don't specialize in just wedding or newborn like some do, but that's because I can't afford to be picky at this point. There are pros and cons for clients when it comes to that.

But sometimes, I don't want all the expectations nor do I want to spend all my spare time editing photos. I end up editing at least 50 per session! I should take less, but with children, that's hard to do. And who am I to keep an entire album of your family but give you 15 photos? But do you only want 15? How do I choose what you want without doing a sitting and I don't like showing RAW images any way. Over time, I stopped doing photography for myself, but maybe that's only half the reason we have talents in the first place? Yes, I still enjoy a portrait session (I love capturing life), but I understand how it quickly becomes a business deal. I take my camera less places when it's just my family. I'm too tired to give my daughter the shoot I give other families. My family portraits are pathetic. (But again, I have the husband who hates portraits and I'm way too cheap to hire a photographer, catch 22)

So tell me, what should I do?


More Than Words

She is hit or miss when we ask her to say something. She is not to the point where she always repeats what we say, but at least she knows how to use the words below:

hey, hi
book "bu"
ball "baah"
food "foof"
water "wa"
uh oh "oh"
mouth "mow"
hot "haw"
no "na"
bird "ba"
daddy "dah"

And she knows what we're saying when we ask her to pick something up, go find her cup, her shoes, her paci, are you hungry, close the door, where are your toys, go get a book, daddy is home, it's time to pray (she folds her arms for two seconds), where is the ice-cream cone (she points to it in the book and says mmmm), name parts of the face + belly, what animal we're referring to, etc...

signing: food, water & sleep (and points to her crib if she is that tired)

animal sounds: dog, horse, monkey, duck & cow

She says wee when she sits in anything that goes back and forth. She still hums when she eats and twirls her hair when she is tired. She motions with the itsy-bitsy & twinkle twinkle songs. She still doesn't let me put hair ties in her hair, but every now and then a clip will stay. She loves to carry things on her arm, or carry things period. She likes wearing shoes, but unfortunately, most are too narrow so we flintstone it.

She has cute moments every day that I just mentally capture
Although I'm so afraid of forgetting.

Here is the video of Lexi (playing and sharing some words) because home videos are important too



What Really Matters

Before I forget this amazing quote (that if Gordon B Hinkley did say it, makes it even better) here it is:

"What really matters is that he will love you, that he will respect you, that he will honor you, that he will be absolutely true to you, that he will give you freedom of expression and let you fly in the development of your own talents. He is not going to be perfect, but if he is kind and thoughtful, if he knows how to work and earn a living, if he is honest and full of faith, the chances are that you will not go wrong, that you will be immensely happy."- President Gordon B. Hinckley

You know what I thought when I first read that? I married that. I married Mr Smith because he did that and does that for me. I mean we may bicker about how we show love and respect, and sometimes we get a little slack when it comes to thoughtful and putting each other first, but at the end of the day, I know he loves me, respects me and thinks of me. 

I also liked this article from a popular blogger Greg Trimble titled How To Become The Man She Always Wanted. You make think "sure she would like an article titled that" but I would also love the one with the roles reversed; the point being that as partners bound by vows and covenants (not just live in roommates) we want to be the best spouse ever because we know we are it. We want our other half to be completely happy with us and with themselves. We want to do all we can to make them happy or so we say, sometimes we get plenty lazy in that effort. Or confused, which is why I liked that article.

Because with women, we are much more about the emotional connections and the little touches. To us, it doesn't seem like much, but to you it is a complete sacrifice of your natural instinct. I get that, but we need it to live. We want to feel special. We want to be the only person you see in the crowd. We want to feel giddy every now and again. I don't want to be put first; I want God first and I know that settles the playing field because He puts all our best interests first. 

Any way, I just loved that quote and I liked that article.


Once We Decide To Be Happy

Sometimes we look out the window and think "the grass is greener" and we wonder what our lives would be like if we were smarter, popular, stylish, loved like that, married, had a child, had more children, less children, traveled, lived in a nicer house, had the career of our dreams, moved cities & had fancier things. I'm not sure it ends.

But maybe we realize smart people, popular people & wealthy people can just as easily be drunk, wasted, insecure and unhappy. Is it happiness we are really seeking? Why do we keep convincing ourselves it is found in whatever it is we feel we are not? No, you don't literally say that, but when we keep collecting fishes as wishes, 
we start to stink.

Life is everything we make it to be. I've heard that and I chalked it up to another life cliche that doesn't mean anything. It didn't mean anything because mentally I didn't care to make it something. But mentally, I can make greatness out of a basic game of patty cake and peekaboo. We could all do a little better at being happy because no matter what our circumstances, that is the only way we will be happy, once we decide to be.

What helps you gain that focus and stay the course is your relationship with Jesus Christ, 
His gospel and your obedience. 

Magazines have a lot of tips and numbered lists. But really, it's you taking a lemon and making lemonade. It's hard to teach someone how to do that, but a life served for others in the footsteps of our Savior allows it to come naturally. "Unless we LOSE OURSELVES in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives." - Thomas S. Monson

I wanted to write a happy list

natural sunlight
hugs from Miss Lexi
snuggling with Mr Smith
something small but perfectly thoughtful
selfless love from people
a candid laugh
an inspiring novel or movie
the Book of Mormon
and Bible stories
pretty paintings
a clean kitchen and folded laundry
a casual photoshoot
home videos
the smell of sea salt
reaching the summit
first experiences
someone playing with your hair
the possibility of happily ever afters
when my spirit conquers my flesh
accomplishing hard things
recognizing miracles
good food
with good company
blissful silence
pianos & hymns
the idea of angels
the knowledge of God
the concept of becoming like Him
of being loved by Him
and enjoying the small moments
while we have the chance to

Locked Keys

I'll have you know we as humans can get ourselves into particular situations where the world combines against us with one "if only" situation after the other.

After deciding to get the rest of the kitchen plates out of the spider infested basement like my husband has been bugging me to do, I locked my keys down there. Or so I thought because it was the last place I could remember having them. Plans were thwarted for the day because my spare house key was with my mother. I did have a spare car key. I looked everywhere and had already cleaned the house the night before without seeing them. So I figured they had to be down there.

Mr Smith tried convincing me that picking a lock was easy. He even sent me a video. I used his fancy lock pick and the tip fell off in the door handle. My efforts were meager. I decided to give up on the rainy day and wait for Mr Smith to come home and save the day. 

He arrived. I prayed. He said he could see that a piece was stuck in there, which meant his key could not open the door. He was so patient. I told him it wasn't all my fault. I was convinced his lock pick was not as sturdy as it should have been. He told me he knows. I loved him very much in that moment. If I didn't have him, I would have called the locksmith and spent way too much money, but because I married a thinker, he got the vacuum hose and sucked out the piece in the door knob. It worked. We opened it. No keys were found.

So now I think Lexi threw them in the trashcan. Where else could they be? 

But due to how Mr Smith is, he brought home an extra key copy and a lock box so that this never happens again. This is how he doesn't get upset. He just makes it so this will never happen again. Love him. But now I need to seriously pray about finding these keys. I didn't go anywhere the day before so I know they are around here somewhere. Trash day is tomorrow.

UPDATE: We Mr Smith found the keys inside my faux fur in the barrel in my studio. Thanks Lexi! Mom and dad already searched there too, so yay for repeated effort.


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