It’s been 11+ years since I first met my photography mentor, Naomi, who changed my life & began me on my journey into becoming a professional photographer. I never planned on being a photographer but somehow God had this great idea for my life & I followed & low & behold here I am. I love my job! I love meeting new people, hearing their stories, & creating art out of their lives so they can see just how beautiful they are inside & out. I am truly honored any time a person, couple, or family asks me to document their life.
But…life happens, things change, & you question whether it’s time to do something different. With getting married, becoming a step mom, & moving to a new city, photography got put aside as I figured out this new life of mine that isn’t all about me anymore. Honestly, I lost the passion & drive to build my business again. My body hurt (that gear is heavy), I was tired & overwhelmed with the thought of starting again. I knew I needed to bring in money for my family but how could I make it work while being the present wife & mom I dreamed of being? I tried doing other things to bring in the dough to help pay the bills – Beachbody Coaching (which I’m still doing because, well it works & I need it to stay healthy & strong), I sold furniture I redid (still a fun hobby), I’ve done some painting for a couple of friends but it felt like I was spinning my wheels trying to make something work. Every time I thought about how it was just so hard to make photography work for me & our family I’d run into someone who’d tell me what a gift I had. How annoying is it to hear that when you just want to lay it all down! How frustrating to not have a clear direction & have your hands in so many things but going nowhere! SUPER frustrating & annoying!
So, a few weeks ago I was home visiting my parents & doing my yearly Christmas mini sessions in Selma, AL when I had an eye opening conversation with my parents. It began with my dad asking what brought in the most money for me & of course it was photography (when I’m shooting). It then flowed into my heart for ministry & showing people that they are important, beautiful, & so worthy of being loved. My dad said something to the effect of my photography is actually a ministry even though I may not see that it is. Then I began to think of the relationships I’ve built over the years with people, how they’re watching my life when I don’t realize (thank you social media & my need to communicate), I felt that feeling I get when a client tears down the walls of insecurity & lets me into their life & allows me to capture them (and the yummy light doesn’t hurt either) and I knew I was meant to be a photographer. It was time to put all the stuff I was trying to make work down & pick up my camera & do what I was created to do.
Of course there’s still the questions of how I’ll make it work & if I’m really meant to do this or do I actually make a difference. Enter my God moment. So, I went to Jacksonville for my yearly Christmas mini sessions & I was blessed to have my husband join me toward the end of my trip. For some reason I decided to book us the cutest airbnb in a part of the city we had never stayed in & that was kind of far away from the beach we love. Our first day there we wondered around Little Five Points & before my next round of sessions that day we wondered into a cute restaurant for a snack. It was a nice day so after some debating we decided to sit outside & they sat us right on the edge of the patio by the sidewalk. We were just about to leave when I see this woman walking up behind my husband. She’s carrying a basket of snacks & has a backpack on & I’m thinking she’s about to try to sell me a bag of cheetos to raise money for something. Oh the dread… She approaches us, looks directly at me, and says, “I know this seems creeperish but I know you. You’re a photographer, you guys just got married, you have a daughter, & you recently moved to GA.” Um, hello! This woman does know me & I have know idea who she is. She goes on to tell me she began following my journey when my friend, Naomi, had cancer. By this time I’m crying & Gabe ushers us off the patio onto the sidewalk to continue this God ordained conversation. She said she’s watched my journey over the years & the things I’ve shared & posted have helped her walk through 3 years of brain cancer with her brother. She said she loves how I’m authentic & real in a world where everyone tries to make their lives look picture perfect. She said, “Don’t stop doing what you’re doing. You make a difference.” Gabe & I & even a woman on the patio looked on in amazement with tears streaming down our faces wondering what was going on. I told my new friend, Jennifer Lewis, that she was a God send & complete confirmation to all I had been thinking about the last couple of weeks. That one encounter made my entire week (besides the one-on-one time with my hubby).
People, God hears & He sees. You are not floundering around, lost in a world without someone beside you. You may feel alone but you aren’t. He’s right there waiting for just the right time to show you that He loves you in a way that only you’ll truly understand. I so long to be a vessel that is willing to speak up, reach out, & be His hands & feet. I want to do for others what Jennifer did for me that day. I never expected to be on the receiving end of that kind of God encounter. I’m blessed beyond measure & I’m so so so excited to pick up my camera, see where God takes this, make a difference, & continue to love on the people God created so beautifully…all of them!