2017 Artists of the Year | LOOKSLIKEFILM

Looks like film. Funny name, right? I'm actually not sure how they came up with it but it's a Facebook community that has exploded over the past year featuring some of the most innovative and talented photographers from around the world. It's a place where you share a photo and photos that get a certain number of "likes" gets added to a club and featured on the LOOKSLIKEFILM blog. It's a fun thing to participate in and while peer recognition isn't necessary to be a successful photographer it's nice to know that what you're doing is appreciated by other artists.

Anyway, they are slowly releasing their 2017 Artists of the Year and I am so thrilled to be included. Every single image in the piece is major eye candy and inspires my creative soul.

Check it out! My image is near the bottom :)

Years later, a story of kindness

I've thought of this day over and over again.

It was spring 2011 and I had traveled from Southern California up to Sacramento for a weekend of shoots. My dad had been sick for about a month, gradually having trouble breathing which was odd for him. He was a strong, healthy 59 year old man with the stamina of a horse. The doctor worried it might be lung cancer after a chest x-ray, but after a few more tests they decided it probably wasn't cancer, maybe some type of infection causing fluid to build up in his lungs. The day of my engagement shoot my dad was going in for minor surgery to remove the fluid so he could start to breath easy again. I was on edge but hopeful that this is what he needed to feel better and this scary ordeal would be over. 

A single phone call would change my life. 

While on the freeway I picked up a phone call from my step-mom. She was crying. They found cancer, a lot of it. Tumors all over his lung cavity. Inoperable. Likely terminal. "Can you call your sister?" 

My world was crashing down around me and I was alone on the freeway, 10 minutes away from needing to be "on" for an engagement shoot. I had been sobbing on the phone with my step-mom, then sobbing on the phone as I broke the news to my sister. I could barely breathe, makeup was streaking down my face, I was wiping my nose on my sleeve. I pulled up to my client's house where I was meeting them for their shoot and I tried to compose myself in the car. I just needed one hour, and then I could lose it again. I gulped down some air, tried to fix my face (hopeless), and got out. 

Sarah and Peter were waiting for me in their front yard and as I walked up, Sarah knew something was wrong. My plan to keep it together fell apart, I cried and told them what had just happened. Sarah hugged me and told me to go and be with my family (pretty sure I sobbed on her shoulder). Not for one second did she make me feel bad or guilty about not doing their session, something we couldn't reschedule due to the fact that I had traveled hundreds of miles and their wedding was only one month away. I knew that she genuinely cared for me and my experience that day, it wasn't pity but empathy. 

It's been almost 7 years since that day but I will never forget the kindness that they showed me. I was so caught up in everything else that it has been in the years after losing my dad that I began to really appreciate what Sarah and Peter did for me that day. It was such a small thing, but allowing me to not do the engagement shoot was a generous act of kindness that I know not everyone would have done. We had planned their engagement shoot for months, they were all dressed and ready to go, likely excited. And then I show up at their door, a crying mess, and I leave. They never got their engagement shoot, as I agreed to give them a wedding album instead. 

Sarah and Peter, thank you. I haven't forgotten. 

May 2011, at Sarah and Peter's wedding. I got to my dad's side 24 hours after we found out it was terminal lung cancer. He died on December 8th, 2011 after an 8 month battle. 

May 2011, at Sarah and Peter's wedding. I got to my dad's side 24 hours after we found out it was terminal lung cancer. He died on December 8th, 2011 after an 8 month battle. 



Looking Back

In general I am the type of person that very much lives in the present. I do not hold grudges, I don't dwell on things in the past, and looking towards the future is a frame of mind that I relish and enjoy. But occasionally in quite moments my mind will wander to the past. Just a few minutes ago I was in the car while Will was driving so that we could get Sloane to sleep (yeah, she's almost 4 and naps daily...often car naps) and I was thinking about our trip to Europe that we leave for in 8 days. Earlier today I was emailing back and forth with a wedding client who's engagement session I'm going to shoot while we are in Rome. I'm crazy excited of course, but then my mind came to a screeching halt.

Shooting my second client in Italy?!

What life is this?

How did I get here?

Do you remember the first time you booked your largest wedding package right after having your work torn to shreds on a photography forum? When your 12 hour wedding package was $1450? (Hi, Mindy and Tommy!)

Do you remember the first time a client drove more than an hour to have a shoot with you? (Hi, Hansen family!)

Do you remember getting that email from Professional Photographer Magazine in 2011 saying they wanted to do a 3 page article on you and you legitimately thought it was a joke and almost didn't reply?

All of a sudden those memories came flooding back and my perspective swung and did a 180. I AM SHOOTING IN ITALY...AGAIN?! Holy shit. My level of appreciation and thankfulness just increased 10-fold. I am so thankful for where I am now and how long it's taken me to get here. I am thankful for every single person who has helped me along the way, from early clients to current clients, from random strangers online who say nice things about my work to my close family and friends who have always supported me even when this might have initially seemed like just a hobby. I am thankful that somehow, someway I was able to turn my love of creation and art into a legitimate career. My senior year of high school I had a dream of going to the Academy of Art College in San Francisco. I got their information packet and VHS (ha! #old), but dismissed it because it was too expensive and didn't seem like the best way into a lucrative career.

I didn't get here directly and I stumbled. Boy, did I stumble. I can tell you for a fact that even in my wildest dreams did I not see myself here. I could not dream that big, but I did dream small. I found that by dreaming small I was able to put one foot in front of the other and reach milestone after milestone. Small steps forward, slow, but constant.

And now when I look back I am able to see just how far I've come.