January 31, 2012 § 1 Comment
This past year has been the best. I can’t imagine 21 topping 20, but I have a feeling it will.
In no particular order, my six favorite life experiences from the past year.
Our Dayton Summer
After summers on the East Coast and in Paris, who knew I would fall so hard for this little town. Having my favorite people in the world around me for three and half hot months didn’t hurt, either. Here’s to Sunday lunches and Friday dinners, Bride & Prejudice and brownies with Lydia, driving in Dayton at 4am regularly, little adventures with Luke, living alongside Amanda and Joel and Jesse and Jonathan and Justus and so many more, mornings spent in a warm garage (with my own fan) on fancy computers alongside Blake and John and Lindsey and Jack, and taking photos of John in a sombrero doing chores.
A Week at City of Refuge
Luke & I were able to spend a week with a group of people in San Diego who live among the poor serving and ministering as a way of life. It has changed my view of ministry – and even, Christianity – forever and the two of us continue to talk about all we learned there.
Brock’s Folly Records
A little over a week full of hurried lunches, cold walks, and songs songs songs. I didn’t think about it much before the time recording began, but found myself cherishing each day and feeling a sense of loss when it was all over and reasons for some of my dearest friends to all be in the same place every day were gone (for now).
Learning & Growing In My Job(s)
From long days shooting weddings to learning more than I thought possible in the span of one year, my job as a photographer and studio manager has continued to be my dream job. I am ridiculously thankful and blessed to be working for the wonderful people I work for and to continue meeting wonderful clients who believe in my talent and entrust me with such special days. I just can’t get enough of it! I am already getting pumped for the next wedding season (which will start in April for me). You can see some of my work from the past year on Motion Picture Co‘s website.
I’ve also picked up the most amazing side job ever: hanging out with these crazy kids a couple times a week. I have never worked with kids, and this job started out as a temporary favor to a friend… but I fell totally in love with these kids and I couldn’t imagine giving it up after just a couple weeks. These kids bring so much simple joy to my life!
(Photos by myself & my friend and co-worker, Lydia)
Home Again, Home Again
I’ve been blessed with the freedom and resources to go home more this year than any other year I’ve been away… I’ve missed home more and more and more, so what fun to jet home to Mississippi several times this year! Cuddling with my dogs, talking with my mom, and pulling out Super Mario will never get old.
Becoming Luke’s Future Wife, Officially
It is hard to describe what it feels like to know that you will live forever with your best friend. I am ridiculously thankful for the person that Luke is and God’s impeccable timing… and for these blurry pictures I’ll treasure forever. (My dear friend & boss, John, took some incredible photos of Luke & I that you can see here… no blurriness there!)
So here’s to 21… to graduation, to marriage, to moving, to starting again… and cherishing the previous year!
January 25, 2012 § 3 Comments
A few things I’ve learned since July 13th.
1. Set Wedding Goals!
I was totally inspired by Sara Cotner’s down-to-earth list of wedding goals that I read pre-engagement, so much so that I insisted it was the first thing Luke & I did when we began wedding planning. And man, has it been an emotional life saver! (You can read our goals here!) Not only did this focus us at the beginning of our planning – as Sara says, starting with the end in mine – but it continues to refocus us when we get in too deep! This really has been the single most important thing in our planning process. I have asked a few fellow brides, “What are your goals for the wedding?” and more often than not they just seem a little flustered and confused. This is important, you guys! (PS – I am ridiculously goal-oriented. It is, I admit, a bit of a sickness.)
2. It’s Not All About You
Much like every other life experience, planning a wedding is all about expectations. And whether or not you already have a Pinterest board solely dedicated to your wedding (that will take place in 2017) or have “never thought about it, really”, you are going to realize that you – and your groom – have subtle expectations about your day that could be as important as number of guests and as subtle as what kind of prayer (if any) is said during the ceremony. It’s not all about the bride, and it really shouldn’t be. It’s about you, your groom, your families, and even your friends that have loved you and supported you throughout your relationship. However, the other side of this self-sacrificial coin is dealing with all the pressure that will – whether or not the pressure is conscious or unconscious – be put on you. (And many times you are putting this pressure on yourself!) The hard part is striking the balance of letting some things go, and knowing when to say when and stand up for what you want.
3. People Want to Help
I am a helper. I am not a person who is helped. Sure, many people have helped me throughout the years – I don’t mean to sound ungrateful – but naturally, I would much rather offer you my help than ask you for help. However, I really want our wedding to be our community of family and friends coming together to create something together… I don’t want it to be a show that Luke & I put on to impress everyone. (I could NOT handle that pressure at all!) That meant accepting help in big ways and small ways… from my dear bosses (and friends) opening up their home for our celebration, my boss gifting us his incredible photographic talent, friends and family doing everything from brewing beer to ordering plates and making yarn balloons and many other things that have not yet been made but will definitely require lots and lots of help to pull off… to when we drive away, knowing that we’re leaving behind our favorite people in the world to clean up and that’s okay because if we haven’t cleaned up from their weddings yet we will when it is their time. People really want to help, to be involved, to make and craft and work alongside us. That is something I have to constantly remind myself, because there is no way we could do this thing without the willingness and generosity of our family and friends!
4. You Can’t Compare (Make it Yours)
As a wedding photographer, you can bet your britches I’ve seen all different kinds of weddings. I’ve also seen the same wedding a few times – same venue, same caterer, same bridesmaid dresses, and obviously same photographer – and there’s nothing wrong with that, if that’s what you want. But that’s not what I want. I want my wedding to be unique to Luke & I, to show the way we live and interact with each other and those around us – to be full of streamers and the best Mexican food in the world and globes and maps and letters and fun yard games and a sense of, “This is a celebration – not a show.” I don’t really struggle with being different or comparing when it comes to my wedding, really, but I have seen many of my friends struggle with not getting a certain type of tablecloth or not having their ceremony at a ritzy venue or buying a designer dress. (And I have to admit, it can be hard reading countless wedding blogs where you HAVE to have cocktails and you HAVE to have a calligrapher and blah blah blah, on and on – you really don’t need all those things if you don’t want them. You will still be married at the end of the day.) A wedding shouldn’t be a society statement or a way to outdo your friends or keep up with whoever the heck the Joneses are this year – you’re in love, you love your friends and family, they love you, let’s have a party to celebrate all the love. I’ll be the one in the white dress.
5. You Don’t Have to Spend Tons of Moolah
Really, you don’t. Much like the previous lesson, wedding blogs are not a happy thing to read all the time when you are on a budget. You will hear things like, “It’s your wedding, splurge!” “You only get married once!” and, “Do you mean it’s not that important to you?” Ouch. I totally know that it is my wedding – and I’m totally, completely in love with my fiancé – and it only happens once, but I also know that we’re both attending grad school in the near future, we are soon-to-be recent college grads looking for jobs, and it is really important to responsible with the money given to you (especially in this economy). AND, it’s kind of a fun game to see how you can work the numbers around! It also forces you to prioritize, which I personally believe is a good lesson for later on in life. (If you want some good low-cost but ab-fab wedding inspiration, check out John & Sherry’s wedding and Matt & Sara’s wedding.) Like everything else I do, I try to do it well - and for me, that meant being financially responsible. We chose a couple things to splurge on (for me, it was my wedding invitations/other paper goods – we hired this designer who is absolutely fantastic – and if my boss wasn’t generously donating his talent for our day, it would have been photography as well) and things to save on (no favors, my dress was discontinued and on sale, our favorite taco truck is catering).
6. It Goes By So Fast
You’ll be married forever, but you won’t be engaged for long (in my case, roughly ten months). Engagement is such an exciting time of making decisions, being formally committed to each other, and looking toward a future in which anything is possible. Treasure it, let some things go, and spend time with the person who is the entire reason you’re doing this whole wedding thing in the first place. Happy planning!
All photos from here. Thanks, Ryan Gosling.
December 30, 2011 § Leave a Comment
September 26, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I’ve found the future to be an exciting, scary, and ever-changing place as new opportunities arise, ideas form, and goals and hopes become words. It is very reassuring that no matter how the future turns out – all the potential cities, schools, and jobs – Luke will be right beside me. There’s no one I’d rather be living life with.
September 7, 2011 § 1 Comment
If there is such a thing. My experience in France, now over a year in my past, is summed up in a few of the “big stories” I tell people when they ask about it. These stories are visually captured in “Sarah’s Greatest France Hits” – pictures that have been shown in my school’s assembly, in classes, online, to prospective employers, etc. For that reason, perhaps, they still seem very close to me. I find myself missing not the moments where I knew I would be telling my grandchildren about this day, but the smaller pieces of my life that made up an extraordinary ordinary whole.
I miss the limited conversations with the cashier at my grocery, and the time two elderly ladies let me go in front of them in the check-out line because I had two things compared to their full buggies. I miss exploring the city with Corrie, and the confusing time when an old woman yelled at us in the street for postcards we were collecting from the trash that turned out to be condom ads. I miss the wisdom I garnered from Katie’s year-and-a-half stay in France, along with reading most of her personal book collection during my long metro rides. (Quite honestly the most fiction I’ve read in my life.) I miss the moment at a Parisian theatre when I had my “I-don’t-know-enough-French” breakdown that resulted in me hitting my head against the counter while simultaneously apologizing for being a monolingual American to a man behind the counter who turned out to be Australian, and the young man working at Versailles who asked me “I love your Lady Gaga, do you know her?” I miss meeting new people every day – some who made me want to embrace the city and never leave, and some that made me search for early flights home just in case.
When I look back over my time in France – both through journal entries, emails, and photographs – I am grateful for an experience that was whole-hearted, diverse, and lived to the fullest. My regrets for my three months there are both small and few, and I am thankful for the risks that I took, the people I met, and the lessons I am still learning from my time in France.
My grocery runs!
Katie & I were VERY excited to receive peanut butter… many cookies were made.
Some favorite foods.
I went to this museum three times. It was my FAVORITE! (It was located in a residential area, so I would typically take a walk after my visit… and maybe pretend that I lived there.)
Corrie & I stumbled upon this exhibit during one of my favorite exploration afternoons… I’m not even sure what arrondissement it was in now. Obviously, it was right up my alley!
A lot of hurried self-portraits.
Laying around in my yard…
…with Corrie painting next to me!
She painted (a picture of) the house next door.
Philippe. I stayed with him & his incredible family for a week.
People I wanted to remember… and talking to Luke in Africa one of the very few times we were able to get through to each other!
We explored; and apparently pondered!
Street art… saw a lot of that.
Corrie liked to collect it!
And draw statues that she couldn’t take with her!
Sometimes I was so surprised that stuff I always read about growing up happened at the corner I was waiting to cross.
Sitting on the street… some beggars I talked to, some I photographed, some I gave a few cents to, some I just passed by.
Corrie & I sent a message in a bottle.
I don’t think we ever heard from the finder. Maybe they didn’t know English.
In a landmark cemetery full of historical, ancient, and famous figures, a man visits a deceased loved one.
Things you see on the street.
Sometimes we took to the country…
…And sometimes we took to Versailles!
I hung around with these kids quite a bit.
I met a British man who owned an automotive shop in the middle of Paris for decades.
I met people from the Middle East, one of whom gave me an Arabic Bible.
I traveled a LOT… and often wasn’t quite sure who would meet me at the end!
In the unfamiliar, always something familiar.
Laughing I was so tired at the end of my sprint across Southern France to photograph mission teams… on my second-to-last train to Paris to pack up and fly to Venice the next day. I was pretty euphoric at this point.
All you need to travel well.
September 5, 2011 § 2 Comments
It is going by too quickly. It is already five days into September, and I still feel as if it should be late May or perhaps early June. The summer is over, as are regular community meals and lazy sunset evenings. In just a few months time, my last semester will be done and most of my material possessions in a storage unit somewhere waiting for Luke & I to be married and acquire a place to live with them. In a year from now, Luke & I will be in a yet-to-be-decided city… Luke going to school, me frantically searching for a job. It will go by too quickly.
When I look back on this last semester, I want to have more to show for it than the completion of my last few classes. So, I’ve decided to make a few resolutions at the beginning of every month… because once a year just isn’t enough for a list-making girl like myself!
1. I will create a good organizational system. Although I’m taking less classes than I ever have in college, I find that organization is a bigger issue for me as I’m spread all over the place vs. being all about school. I really love the “Lifebinder” idea of Sara Cotner’s that you can find here, and am toying with some little tweaks here and there to make it perfect for my life. Mandi Creswell has a similar binder… and although it is absolutely insane, I will most definitely have one in the next couple years.
2. I will bring my cloth/canvas bags to the grocery store. I always have a couple in my trunk, but always forget until I’m at the register bagging in plastic! Yuck! It is such a simple thing that makes such a difference… I just have to get in the habit!
3. I will blog 2x a week. I really enjoy blogging and certainly have lots of lists (erm) and photographs to share, but its always one of those things that gets pushed to the end of the to-do list and never happens. So, 2x a week = around 8 posts for September. I think that’s doable.
4. I will put together a recipe binder. Luke & I have been cooking new recipes together often – at least once a week. We collect the base recipes from everywhere but always make our own changes, etc., and we have not been keeping very good track of what works and what doesn’t. So, time to get organized.
5. I will begin working on a photo/coffee table book featuring my time in Europe last summer. This is the most embarrassing one, because it should have have been on my September 2010 list! Oh well. I have thousands upon thousands of photographs from Europe, and as a favor to my mother, myself, and my future children, it is time to get the best ones together to party around in a book. It’ll also be a cool way to write down some of my favorite stories behind the photographs.
6. I will update 101:1001. The ultimate list needs some ultimate updating. I’ve accomplished a lot more on that list than I’ve blogged about, so time to do a bit of revamping and sharing on how my 101:1001 journey is going!
7. I will create a definite wedding budget. Planning has been going well, but I found myself struggling in the beginning even knowing how much certain things were going to cost. Now that I’ve done more research and made more decisions my budget is lookin’ good, but I’d like to set something in stone to stick to the next eight months. (I am pretty proud of how frugal and creative we’ve been so far… hurrah for wedding goals!)
8. I will explore opportunities for the winter. This means a lot of googling, emailing, and praying.
Weddings will begin taking over my life again in a few short weeks – and I have to be honest, I really can’t wait! – but this break is the perfect time to get some personal stuff done. What are some of your resolutions and goals for this month?