How to be Amazing

Rowan has always been incredibly strong and flexible. She learned to do headstands against the wall when she was two and can easily do splits, straddles, and backbends. It isn’t something she’s ever had to practice. It’s always been a skill set she’s naturally had.

Recently we decided to put her in gymnastics, and she has loved every second and has grown in leaps and bounds. Two weeks ago she had a chance to watch the “big girls” in the gym. They were practicing for their next competition, and Rowan saw them doing their floor routine, which included walkovers, handsprings, round-offs, and leaps. She hasn’t stopped talking about it, and she’s always wondering, “Are the big girls in the gym right now, Mama?” I catch her practicing leaps and splits in her room, but she’s getting frustrated with her limitations. She is seeing a big, new world of gymnastics, and she’s ready to do those amazing things, too.

But she’s not ready. Her little body is strong and is doing amazing things already, and she’s been selected to move to the pre-competitive team this summer. She has a natural talent and skill that the coaches want to build on and foster into something more. I love that she’s learning at such a young age that to reach for amazing isn’t by chance or without hard work.

Last year, I had a long-time, very loved client ask me how I was so amazing after I delivered her images. I’ve thought about that comment often since then, and the truth is, I do not consider myself to be amazing. I don’t ever want to feel amazing or that I’ve arrived or reached my goal, and since then I’ve considered what it takes to truly become what you dream of being? To stretch and reach towards that pinnacle?

Instead of that pinnacle in the last several months, I’ve surprisingly found a space of relative comfort and confidence. I’ve written before about conquering the gap that Ira Glass so eloquently described. The chasm that beginners find when embarking on a dream is intimidating; it’s frightening. The self-doubt and the frustration can be incredibly overwhelming, and it’s easy to get lost in the muck, to splash around in it and get stuck.

Comfort and confidence is a welcome shift from anxiousness, fear, and frustration. After endless hours of practicing, of analyzing, of studying. Endless hours of searching for my heart inside of my images and style. It’s incredibly satisfying to finally exhale. I enjoy feeling more confident about my work and my style. But it’s also nice to know I’m not amazing. Because that means there is still so much more to do, room to grow, and progress to make.

One day I’m sure Rowan will do a walkover and handspring. She will be one of the big girls in the gym and will find so much more comfort and confidence. And I hope that she understands that amazing isn’t a destination. Amazing is a reaching, a longing, and a desire for more that is never quite achieved, and that’s what makes it beautiful.

how to be amazing lifestyle photography girl jumping

Shooting For Me | Personal

When I first started this photography journey, it began with capturing our lives. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll remember our weekly photowalks and my struggle with being brave enough to just push the shutter button. Over the last two years, the habit of shooting for me, shooting our personal lives, and capturing our memories has fallen away. Throughout 2015, I was consumed with growing my technical ability, my business, and my presence in the industry. I went to workshops, drove hours to second shoot with an amazing photographer, second shot locally over 20 times for several great photographers, and shot several of my own weddings, portrait sessions, and styled shoots.

It definitely was a year of growth, and while I don’t regret investing so much time and energy into those choices, I’m looking forward to a year of better balance in 2016. I have many amazing projects and a brand new direction for my business that I am so excited about, but personally, I am really happy to have begun my own version of a 365 project. I at first felt pressured to take an amazing picture each day, but honestly, it hasn’t been every day and sometimes it’s not necessarily amazing. And that’s okay. What is important is that my camera is out, I’m capturing memories, and I’m pushing myself creatively at least a few times a week for personal. I probably won’t get to 365 unique images by the end of 2016, but I will have an amazing collection of images showcasing our lives, day-to-day.

Here is a sample of what we’ve been up to so far! I’m trying very hard to not set up moments, but to lurk and capture them instead. But at the same time, when the urge to be creative strikes, I am creating more intentional compositions and posed shots. I love the combination! <3

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The Timing of Dreams | Personal

Many years ago I remember telling people that I would love to know more about photography, but I didn’t really think I would be any good. I briefly considered taking a photography class somewhere, but something along the lines of fear and doubt held me back.

Three years ago, I had the quiet dream of completing a half-ironman. After successfully finishing several half-marathons and short triathlons over the years, I felt ready for a new challenge even if it terrified me. Speaking that dream aloud set into motion a path to follow, and suddenly signing up didn’t feel insurmountable. I found a coach, got a training plan, and lived and breathed triathlon for two solid years, completing three half-ironman races in twelve months.

Along that triathlon timeline, my photography dream began to take form. Maybe it was the courage and confidence conquering a seven hour, 70.3 mile race brings, maybe it was the hours of training each week, the early morning sunrise sessions on jello legs. But maybe it was just time.

I’m not certain of the timing of dreams. The doors and windows that open and close along a life’s path do not follow predictable routes, and the twists and turns and noodling seem to leave us no option but to surrender to the ride.

Seems to. But not really. Within the hazy timing of dreams and all of the curves and U-turns is an intricate tapestry, a singular thread making its way in time and space with us at the helm. We might not understand the path we are on or why a particular dream is too frightening to begin to face or even why one comes to fruition almost as soon as the words tumble from our lips. But within those moments we have the option to plot a course; we can set goals; we can grasp the dreams, put in the miles and cross the finish line. And most importantly, we can trust our life’s path.

Last October I signed up for a full ironman: 140.6 miles on a single day. This year, on October 10, 2015, I was supposed to be completing another dream– a huge, terrifying dream. One that brought tears of excitement and respect to my eyes. I knew there would be hours of training, but I believed I was ready to move towards that goal.

Life has had other plans. I’ve struggled with lower back issues since November. It waxes and wanes but still isn’t healed, and the thought of being on my bike for less than an hour, not to mention three or four or more right now is unimaginable. I haven’t been allowed to run for over a month. And while I’ve been through the injury cycle enough to not allow this to completely derail me, and while I’m trusting in where I am on my path, I’m still sad. I miss hot summer runs and long early morning bike rides. I miss racing and conquering goals. I miss that part of my identity even though I go to the gym and elliptical and strength train and swim.

But then I remember the noodling. Ironman isn’t on my life’s path this year, but my photography business is front and center. It’s time for that dream to grow, and I trust that my back issue is keeping me focused on that. I know I would not have had the time and energy to be in the middle of wedding season, second shooting more than fifteen times and having five of my own weddings, planning a successful styled shoot, taking on portrait sessions, and training fifteen or more hours a week. It just wouldn’t be feasible for my lifestyle, my personality, and my family goals.

This is the beauty of the timing of dreams, and I appreciate that I have grown enough to understand that seemingly random clockwork. I can embrace a season that is meant for this business because I see that I have been prepared for this dream over the years. In my mid-twenties when I would wonder and wish and whisper about photography, I simply wasn’t ready. Now I know that I am; the timing of my other dreams has brought me to this precipice of an amazing journey.

And I’m ready to run along this path (especially since no other running is happening right now). <3



Sieze (Seas) the Day | Personal

Sometimes I find it hard to get going. Does anyone else feel that way? I have ideas or things to work on or things I want to do, but it’s hard to just start. I think much of my issue comes with being overwhelmed by the process and worrying something won’t work or that the result will be less than I wanted it to be. So it’s much safer to just hang out on Facebook and Instagram instead, right?

Tell me I’m not alone. 🙂

If I’ve learned anything over the last few years of training and racing long-course triathlons and starting a photography business, it’s that there isn’t time for lingering and there certainly isn’t time for too much fear and doubt.

Otherwise you stagnate. How many times have I stared at the start line of a triathlon, petrified to dip my toes in the water? Or even worse, 100 meters in, flailing around in a full fledged panic? When that begins, there isn’t much forward progress towards the swim exit.

The same is proving true in the hustle required to be a successful photographer and business owner. There have been many times I have wanted to climb under the covers, deactivate my business Facebook page, and just disappear from the entire scene because it has all felt too overwhelming. Luckily that only lasts for a few minutes before I calm down and take stock of why I love it despite how terrifying it can be.

Even still there are times when it feels like it takes all of the courage and energy I can muster to move forward with a project, a blog post, or even preparing for a session. I love this journey; I love meeting so many amazing clients and capturing memories for them, but I’m an introvert. It takes everything out of me, and it’s old habit to want to hide.

And this is why I absolutely adore the necklace giveaway I won from Amanda Hedgepeth Photography and All Washed Up Jewelry. Not only is it gorgeous and all things beachy, but it is a fantastic reminder for me to get to it, to keep hustling, to forget fear and keep moving forward.


Because nothing at all will happen by hiding under the covers, and great and amazing things won’t happen without being fearless and taking risks and embracing limitlessness.

So there are a few fun things in the works! A uniquely beachy wedding styled shoot geared towards beginner photographers is what is coming up in July. Eek!! Stay tuned for details!

#seastheday (My new favorite hashtag!)


Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Henson Photos, and I LOVE this one. Happy!