It was a very wet Saturday in early November for the wedding of Mike and Marnie. Not to be deterred, Marnie insisted upon still doing some of their photos in the rain and I’m oh so glad she did.
The venue, Olson Mansion, in Maple Valley, Wa., provided the perfect backdrop for their wedding and they also provided perfect umbrella’s to use as well. Rustic barn type exterior for the wedding venue and beautiful old mansion for the gathering location of the bridal party and family created two very unique places for photos as well.
Marnie and Mike first met in January of 2014 at World of Beer. Marnie was working on an essay for a Foreign Language scholarship when Mike and a few friends sat next to her. One of the guys Mike was with noticed Marnie’s University of Washington sweatshirt and struck up a conversation. They ended up all talking about music and sports while getting acquainted and, at the end of the evening, Mike asked her for her phone number. On the way to their vehicles, Marnie say’s she just might have reminded Mike to make sure and call her. He did and their lives together began.
Marnie says she knew the proposal was coming because they had talked about marriage and knew this was where they were headed. She had the venue booked before he even proposed but it didn’t take long for him to make it all official.
Their wedding was what Marnie described as “Vintage Glamour” mixed with a little rustic.
Their families are both warm and inviting and seemed to really enjoy the day together. Marnie and Mike were both so relaxed all day and made working together with them a joy.
Mike and Marnie, may you have many wonderful years ahead to enjoy each others friendship and love. Thank you for allowing us to document your day and thank you for not allowing the rain to dampen your joy and fun.
A couple of weeks ago, the theme for the 52 week photography project I’m working on was “Abandoned”. That simple word conjures up so many visual images in my mind. The one true image my mind craves above all others is the simplest, yet most difficult one for me to actually achieve. It’s that of being completely Abandoned to God.
According to Webster’s Dictionary, Abandoned means “Wholly free from restraint, given up, We think of this word in a negative context, of dilapidated buildings, of being left behind. However, I want to think of it in a biblical context, that of being sold out, wholly free from restraint, given up on my own agenda and sold out to God’s.
What does this look like? How would I portray it in photos? Even greater, how do I achieve it in my heart so that it flows into the rest of my life?
It seems that there are many barriers that keep me from being completely abandoned to God. I would love to blame the barriers on everyone else but the truth of the matter is that the barriers are my own faults, my weaknesses, my pride, my self-elevation that get in the way and not the influences of others. Yes, others can say things that make me feel defeated or less confident. Their weaknesses can become my weaknesses if I allow them to, but it’s not their fault. It’s mine.
I reflect back on the story of David in 2 Samuel 6. David was returning with the Ark of the Lord and he was doing so with full abandon. He was completely sold out in his worship of the One True God and he was dancing with all his might as he led the way to the tent he had prepared for the Ark to be placed in. His wife saw him as she looked down from her window and she was disgusted by what she saw. She later went to David in her disgust and chastised him for his actions. His response to her was perfect; ““I was dancing before the Lord, who chose me above your father and all his family! He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the Lord, so I celebrate before the Lord. Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes!” (2 Sam. 6:21,NLT)
That is the sort of abandon I deeply desire in my own life. What else in this world could possibly be worth more? Yet, I seem to constantly put things above this. I prefer to call out my own faults and failures in place of someone else pointing them out so I’m going to do just that here. Following is a list of things that keep me from abiding in the state of abandon.
1) Lack of true relationship with Jesus Christ – when I do not spend time building my relationship with my husband, Ric, there is a void, a lack of connection in the relationship. This is multiplied tenfold when I neglect my relationship with God, the living and ever present Creator of this world and all the creativity in it. If I neglect this first and most important relationship then what am I trying to be abandoned to? Myself? The World? My art of photography? Abandoned means being sold out to something and I certainly don’t desire to be sold out to myself, the world around me or my personal passions.
2) My fears and insecurities – This is such a huge battle for me and I am finding that the more accomplished I may become with my photography, the more I battle this one. I have always been fearful and insecure. I don’t think I come across that way to most other people unless they know me intimately. I think I may come across as confident yet I am so lacking in personal confidence that I am frequently paralyzed by it. When I was young I ran for a position on the Student Body at our Junior High School. I had to give a speech and run a campaign. I lost the election (I was much a “nerd” in school so I wouldn’t have won an election such as this) but my mother has commented many times how surprised she was that I would step out and take on something like that. You see, one of the things I gained from my parents was the ability to jump out and take action even in the midst of my own fears of failure. It has served me so well and I’m grateful for this character trait that God has given me as a strength because it helps balance out the weakness of fear and insecurity that He also allowed me. How can I live an abandoned life when I am so fearful of failure and so insecure about what I’m doing? The bible is filled with commentaries about people who couldn’t see their ability to succeed yet God has called them Faithful because, at the end of the day, they chose to step out and follow with Abandon. (Think Noah, Abraham, Moses, and others listed in Hebrews 11)
3) My Pride: Okay, this one is really hitting to the nitty gritty of it and this one hurts the most. It’s maybe the easiest to notice yet the most difficult to treat. Its symptoms in my life are reflected in my need for affirmation, my desire to “be the best”, my toiling to achieve perfection (perceived perfection, that would be, for perfection is subjective) and my hope that I will be noticed yet fear that I will be noticed. Does any of this sound familiar to you who might be reading this blog post? There are a plethora of ways pride can be shown and these are only a few that I’ve listed here. Even in sharing these thoughts I have to be completely honest and share the battle in my mind right at this moment; it wavers between wondering if I look “spiritual” to others for admitting this or hoping I can slay this pride issue by willingly admitting it. I know I’m not doing justice to my thoughts but this is the best way I can explain them. Pride trips me up continually from my own judging of my work to my judging of other peoples work and hoping that mine will somehow be considered worthy in comparison to others.
4) Comparisons : The last line of the paragraph above is about comparison. This is perhaps one of the last strongholds in my life that I have yet to find release from. Comparison. I A-L-W-A-Y-S find myself comparing myself to others. Do you hear what I’m saying? MYSELF compares MYSELF to others. It’s all about ME! That is so counter to anything God asks of me that I almost have to laugh at the ludicrousness of it. It’s silly to think that I can live a life of abandonment to God if I’m always worried about how I’m doing in light of how others are doing. David cared more about how he would appear to God and about how God would judge what was in his heart and actions than he cared about what his wife thought. His wife, who did not care about God at all, Am I willing to dance openly before the LORD regardless of what others might think? What if I dance poorly? What if I trip and fall, step on someone else’s toes, lose a shoe in the process, or horror of horrors find no one else dancing with me? Isn’t it so much more important that I do everything with a pure heart and quit worrying about what others might think, do, say or accomplish? Yes, it is.
I will spare you, my dear reader and friend, the details of the endless list of things that might trip me up in my quest to be abandoned to God. At the end of the day, it’s my hearts desire and my prayer that I would live my complete life sold out to Jesus Christ. I so deeply desire that whatever I produce with my photography would honor God and serve to bless those I’m photographing that sometimes I push others out of the way to get there. That’s not acceptable but what is acceptable is my willingness to become second. To be second to God, who should be first. To be second to others, who I am commanded to love as Christ loved. (Notice I didn’t say to love others as I love myself; John 13:34 says we are to loves others as Christ loved us. Christ loved me enough to die for me. That’s a pretty high standard) I know that the answer to true abandonment does not come from looking within me; that’s actually where the problem originates that keeps me from living the life I desire. The answer comes from looking to God, allowing Him to clean house in my heart, to remove the “me” from the equation and to make it a “Him” centered heart.
If I were to die tomorrow I would deeply desire that others would say these words about me because they saw them lived out in me: “She lived to be more and more abandoned to Christ and, while she stumbled along the way, she never lost focus of this one singular goal: To become more and more like Jesus Christ and to reflect Him in all she did”
I want to be Abandoned to the only thing that will matter at the end of my days and that is my relationship with my Heavenly Father. After all, He’s the one I will spend eternity praising and nothing will be about me other than my praises to Him.
I want all I do to be about the One who created me, who gifts me with any ounce of skill and creativity I might muster up and the One who brings me to places I never thought of before. Places where lives might be touched and people might feel blessed having a photograph that reflects the infinite creativity God has in creating us as unique individuals.
I want to go out to live and serve with abandon.
Yesterday dawned cloudy here in the Pacific Northwest but quickly turned to sunny skies for the wedding of Micah and Elise on the farm where Micah grew up. The farm was the perfect setting for the beautiful ceremony.
Micah grew up in our local community, the eldest son of their wonderful family. Elise grew up mostly in South Africa, the daughter of missionaries. Elise came to Seattle to attend college where she later met Micah. The rest, as they say, is history.
Their engagement came after they spent time together designing her ring. Micah was still able to surprise Elise with his proposal, planing it to happen when they were out cross country skiing on Mt. Spokane.
Micah and Elise are both adventurers who enjoy rock climbing, snowshoeing, and everything about the great outdoors. They are headed out on a honeymoon that includes a road trip to places they can find adventure and climb lots of rocks.
Micah and Elise, it was a wonderful joy to spend the day photographing your wedding. Thank you for the opportunity to share in your day and may you have a long life ahead adventuring together.
Today was the wedding day for beautiful Megan and handsome Caleb. Oh, my, what an amazing couple they are. I’ve known Megan for a number of years and she has blessed my heart immensely over the years. Sweet, adorable, tender hearted are all words that describe her. Caleb is new on the scene for me but I can tell he’s a perfect match for Megan.
Meeting at Barclay College in the Midwest, Caleb and Megan did not have the immediate “THIS IS IT!!!” feeling. Instead, their love grew out of friendship and blossomed into “you’re the one!”. As Caleb says, “I think it was more of a gradual thing. There could be a lot of little points and things she did to confirm that she was the one Letters or adventures, her willingness to be herself around me and just the way she would laugh and humm and sing. It was a process, but I know she is the one!”
Megan says the thing she most loves about Caleb is that he listens to her, always encourages her in her relationship with Christ, and he is a goofball but knows how to make her feel special. Caleb says that what he loves most about Megan is that she loves Jesus and she loves music. Put those two together and it’s a pretty awesome combination!
Caleb and Megan, thank you for allowing me to part of your very special day. I am always honored to be asked to take wedding portraits and it is was a blessing to take yours today. May God always bless your relationship and may you both grow in your love for Him and for each other!
I’ve had a couple of Senior Portrait sessions this past week. It’s such a wonderful time of year when the new graduates and future graduates are having their portraits done.
Kyle is graduating from the University of Washington. I must say, first of all, that I had to do this photo shoot on the sly; my husband attended the rival school of Washington State University and anything Husky or Purple and Gold are things of disdain to him. Ha ha!! I had to convince him that I would NEVER go to the dark side just by walking around the (beautiful!!) campus of the University of Washington. 🙂 School pride runs deep.
A few years back, Kyle’s wedding was my first leap into the world of Wedding photography. I was the second shooter for he and Mallory’s wedding and it was the time I came home and told my husband “I’m never doing that again!!” I’ve eaten many words in my lifetime so these were just a few more that I had to eat. I now love wedding photography.
Kyle’s degree is in Mathematics and his hope is to land a job working for a company such as ESPN doing statistic’s. The world is their oyster and he and Mallory are looking for the pearl in that oyster to take them to a new destination and experience.
The other soon-to-be graduate I had the joy of photographing is Zachary. Zachary is a quiet young man with a passion for music. His plan is to attend Berklee School of Music in Boston next year. He is a drummer and singer with dreams and goals for his future.
As I do with each and every graduating senior I know, I hope that Kyle and Zachary each are able to pursue their dreams, enjoy the success they desire in their careers, and experience fullness of life ahead.
Thank you for allowing me to be part of your story by helping to Capture Life at this moment in time.
You see, the culture in today’s world in which we live has seen great transitions from our more “role specific” past. It use to be that women and men had more defined roles, more defined things that typified them. Not so much any longer.
As I wandered through my thoughts this past week thinking of the theme and what I wanted to do, every time I thought of something that in my mind seemed to define “Masculine”, I would then realize that no, it could define both men and women. Women have permeated almost every area that use to be the definition of a man. Sports, carpentry, mechanics, these are just a few of the things that came to mind and then were dismissed.
As my husband, Ric, my son Austin, and I watched the movie “Courageous” last night, I realized what I wanted to show in my weekly photo. It’s not something dramatic or dynamic. It’s a very simple reflection of what I think defines Masculinity.
I believe Masculinity is defined as a man knowing what his role is in society as a defender of others, being strong not physically but in fortitude, resolute in his beliefs, filled with character and integrity. He is ready and willing to courageously do battle to defend and preserve his family, he takes responsibility when he should and steps up to stand firm when necessary. A “manly man”, in my opinion, is not some guy who has bulging muscles and walks around the gym grunting. Nor is it a man who lives in the woods, eats his own kill and wears deer scented spray. Instead, it’s the man who is willing to lay his life down for others sacrificially, who shows his strength in his willingness to do what is right, not what is popular.
I am grateful to my husband for being a “Manly Man”, for teaching our boys how to be real men, and for showing me what the word “Masculine” really means.
(Note: As I just completed writing this I glanced out the window and witnessed my husband and son knocking down a wasps nest; they had a long stick and knocked it down, then ran! Masculinity shows wisdom when needed and knows when to fight and when to run!)
A few years ago, my sons drum instructor, Kit Mills, came to me and inquired about having some portrait work done for his website and business applications. I had just entered the world of lighting and didn’t have any experience with that sort of thing. Because I am a “can do” type person, I agreed to give it a try. It was one of the most nerve-wracking yet exhilarating assignments I have taken on.
We met in our local town and ended up at our train station. I’m sure it was a little odd to see someone setting up a drumset on the train platform and a couple of trains even came zipping through while we were setting up. It was a wild few moments hanging on to the equipment so that it didn’t get blown away by the draft created from the rail cars.
After the train station we found an indoor location and did some indoor portraits. Because I was new to flash photography, I only had a speedlight, light stand, and umbrella. I raised the speedlight up high overhead and aimed it down, hoping to light Kit and all his drums. The results amazed me. While they were not technically perfect by any means, I learned a lot and we ended up with some very cool shots.
Last summer, I had another opportunity to take some group photos and head shots of some of the agents for a local insurance agency, Leslie Tripp State Farm Insurance Agency. Again, there was a lot of new territory with this being the first time I worked at getting head shots for business applications. We set up shop at a local school, using their brick wall as a backdrop. It was a mixed bag of results, and, once again, I learned much by taking this on. All of the photos were usable but that does not equate someone being satisfied with the end results. I learned that while a photo may be technically sound, that does not mean that someone will be pleased with the poses I might choose for them or the angle I choose to photograph them from. We did end up with some fun group shots in a beautiful red car that worked perfectly for their company Facebook page.
More recently, I had the wonderful pleasure of photographing a young woman, Leanna Crawford, who recently went to Nashville to record 4 original songs which she has written. She has a new Amazon.com album for sale and also has entered a local contest (link to one of her songs) to be the opening act for a Jars of Clay concert in August. She is part of the final 3 people being voted on this week to win the contest.
I had been given her rough mixes of the 4 songs so that I could listen to them and try and get a vision for photos that would work with the songs. We had several ideas and, in the end, only had time to work on a few of them. The end results were some photos taken in their horse pasture and in the old part of our local city. Taking the base photos and working on making composites from them created some great final results. I was able to apply what I’d learned about lighting, photoshop, and telling a story through photos to achieve results that will hopefully provide her with some publicity photos as she launches her music career.
There are times when I realize that I’m in way over my head, when I wonder how I’ll ever be able to pull off an assignment. It may overwhelm me momentarily, I may panic inside and lose any creative thought I’d had prior to showing up on location and I will probably feel that momentary panic again when I first view the photos during post processing. In the end, however, I am always glad I chose to step out, to take on things that are over my head, to take the risk of failure with the hopes that I’ll actually be able to give my clients what it is they’re hoping for.