The Jesus Lens

Although I would like to pretend that I am the same to everyone, it would be a big fat Greek lie. The fact is that while I obviously have some personality traits that are take-it-or-leave-it, I alter my behavior a lot depending on my circumstances. Seriously. You should see my DISC personality test. I am an enormously high C in both natural and adaptive circumstances, but upon the switch from natural to adaptive, I go from a secondary I to a secondary S. For those of you who don’t know what that means, it means that I try to be all chill and laid back and like “whatever man, I can totally roll with the punches you’re throwing right now.” when I feel like people are watching, while I am naturally freaking the eff out on the inside because CHANGE!

Bryan LOVES this about me. (No he doesn’t.) He thinks it’s adorable how I will be super confrontational and crazy person-esque with him, but then be a pushover and treat others with tons of respect and always let them have their way and consider their feelings first. Seems fair right?

All of this to say: I am really nice most of the time to most people. I bottle feelings, I relinquish my opinion, I will do things I don’t want to do, I always try my hardest to make sure I never make people feel stupid or shut down. Now with everything, I am sure I fail at this sometimes, but it would absolutely crush me to learn that I had hurt someone unintentionally with something I said or did.

If you’ve kept reading through all of the brag-fest, I commend you, because I’m really not bragging at all. It is because of this niceness and others-first mentality that I leave myself open to a lot of vulnerability. I am a huge baby and am very sensitive. Instead of being selfless with all of the traits mentioned above, I genuinely expect the same in return, regardless of personality, and will be very hurt if not. Now because we don’t live in that Perfect Town in the Walgreens commercials, you can see my dilemma. I am hurt a lot. It’s a little embarrassing how much I tend to take personally.

She knows I don’t like that and she just doesn’t care.”

He was there when I said that this was what I wanted and he’s doing something else anyway because he only cares about himself.”

And on and on and on and on and on.

Instead of being a mature adult who understands that every person in every city in every country on every continent on this planet is different from everyone else, I take things personally and willingly allow bitterness to take root in my very being.

As usual, I realized what a giant brat I am when looking at my behavior through the Jesus lens. How hurt would Jesus be if He allowed all the bullcrap I pull to get to Him? He gives and gives and gives and yet I seem to have zero problem with knowingly hurting Him or ignoring Him or putting myself before Him.

Ughhh Whyyyyyy can’t I just wallow in my self-pity and let my hurt fester without feeling all guilty and crap? Booooooo.

Anyway, this is what’s been on my mind lately. Sorry I suck at posting sometimes.

Does the Jesus lens ever make you feel like a ginormous brat? (I’m aware that it should and that Jesus certainly wouldn’t want it to, but it does.)

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This Isn’t Really My Jam, But…

In addition to my ramblings on this site, my personal blog, I also write articles for business blogs. One of which is my very talented husband’s photography company, 6th & Burnside.

This is the most recent blog posting I wrote for it, and I am sharing it here because I think it applies to so many other areas than photography. Really any passion we have and want to take further needs to be put through the ringer that is these 10 steps. I’m hardly my usual hilarious self in it, as you’ll notice exactly zero self-deprecation and ridiculous language such as “like” and “for reals.” I hope you can muscle through any writing without clever rhetoric beginning with “So…”

So… here it is guys!

Being a Photographer 101: The Beginner’s Guide to Fitting in

We’ve all been there. We have a great idea, passion, talent/hopeful talent and want to start making money on it. This is specifically for those of us who enjoy being behind a camera, but I think it applies well to people in lots of business ventures. One of the hardest parts is breaking into the market and being respected in your field by your peers and those who’ve come before you. After being in the photography world for almost 10 years, we’ve seen a lot of beginners come and go, and have learned a few things about what it takes to fit into your field.

 

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Photo of: Bryan Fittin & Josh Noren (www.joshnoren.com) Photo Credits: Andrew Lisle

 

1.      Stay humble! No one likes a guy who bought a semi-nice camera and a cheap version of Photoshop and calls himself a photographer. Or even those who have some money to blow and buy a really nice camera and all the latest software and then call themselves photographers. It’s fun to play around and we certainly think photography is the bomb, but it takes a lot of time, sweat, training, and practice to get to a point of quality work. People will have much more respect for you and will be more willing to give you paying gigs if you’re humble about your skills. You’ve got to walk before you can run, so get out there and learn the ropes before you go around acting like a big shot.

 

2.      Reach out to respected professionals. There is so much good that can come out of learning from those you look up to. Most photographers love to talk about photography! That should go without saying, and if you come across someone who is unwilling to help you, then run away quickly and find someone else. Everyone we know and associate with in the business would love to let you tag along on shoots, do an internship, an apprenticeship, whatever you want to call it. We have an intern program in our company, and are getting to work with an amazing college student with a passion for photography right now. She is getting to learn a lot, build up her portfolio and resume’, and earn a little money to boot! No one is stopping you from doing the same. And hey, it never hurts to get one someone’s contact list for second-shooters while you’re still learning. I know she’s at the top of ours!

 

3.      Make sure you have some second-shooting under your belt to build up a portfolio. Before doing wedding photography, you absolutely need to have some experience! Of course I’m using weddings as an example, but they are stressful! We’ve seen many a photographer get way overwhelmed and in over their heads because they had no idea how fast-paced and demanding it is. Like I said before, work with some other professionals, have some shooting and experience on your portfolio, and have someone else look at your work often to make sure you’re ready to break into the world of professional photography.

 

4.      Be teachable. Don’t let your fear of a bad critique get in the way of humbling yourself to ask others’ opinions. Asking a professional to do a portfolio examination often will set you apart from the rest and instantly gain you respect among your peers. Editing can be tricky stuff and technique is what separates people with cameras from those who deserve to be making money doing photography. Reach out and ask for help as often as it takes to be ready to market yourself as a professional photographer.

 

5.      Stay away from cliché work. Nothing screams “I’m new and don’t know what I’m doing!” more than posting tired, cliché stuff on social media. We’re talking your train track poses, making a heart with your hands, and you know, all that is the sunset photo. Don’t do it. There are plenty of lighting and editing clichés too, but we’ll let your selected professional mentor handle that one.

 

6.      Learn how to market yourself in the type of photography you want to do. Starting out, you’re going to be doing a lot of stuff for your friends, and that’s great! But keep in mind what kind of photography you ultimately want to do, and target what your clients see most based on that. For instance, we ultimately want to market ourselves more to bands and musicians, but we do A TON of family, landscape, wedding, etc photography as well. What we choose to post and feature of those shoots is work that will still market to that music crowd. When choosing your featured work from your collection, focus on photos with the color scheme, posing, and general mood that will best fit your target audience.

 

7.      Volunteer! This is one of the fastest ways to get in with professionals and to be able to serve at the same time. There are a number of charities geared at photography, but the one we serve in most prominently is Help Portrait. There is a branch in most major cities and it is a charity that does photos for families in need around the holidays and for high school seniors in the spring. They will have everyone come and set up “studios” usually in church classrooms and will schedule “clients” in 30 minute sessions for you throughout the day. A good way to get involved up front is to volunteer as an ambassador or an assistant in your first year with the organization. Other ways to volunteer are to donate sessions to your pastor, someone you know who volunteers a lot of their time to worthy causes, or have people sign up for a drawing to donate a session to someone they know who deserves it. 

Alex and I at a Help Portrait Event//Photo Credits: Phillip Thomas (novo-studio.com) // http://www.helpportraitnwa.org

 

 

8.      Invest in a professional website. This one is important. Running your business off of Facebook may be fine for a very short while, but if you are serious about getting into this line of work, invest some funds into a working, clean-looking, professional photography site. If you are starting out and don’t have the cash-flow just yet, pay a graphic design student a small amount to get you up and running. This will invest in their future and give them some good practice as well. Make sure they give you the rights to edit it, so if needed, you can later have a more skilled professional designer touch it up.

 

9.      Let your pricing and marketing reflect your skill level. This key item goes all the way to the beginning of the list in staying humble. If you’re just starting out (this includes your first 2-3 years), there is zero chance you are skilled enough to be charging professional pricing. Don’t be vague about your skill-set. Be up front with your clients in that you are just starting out and don’t market yourself as a master photographer and charge them like one. This will likely lead to frustrations on both ends with the work they get back and will definitely lose you a referral. It’s better to leave your client pleasantly surprised by your great work than very unpleasantly surprised by your lack thereof.

 

10.  Have fun with photography and remember why you love it. Every photographer struggles with keeping it fun and not just a job. We encourage everyone to grab their friends from time to time to practice new techniques, new poses, new lighting, and just to have fun with shooting and editing! When you’re starting out, this is absolutely essential for practicing and building your portfolio as well. It is great to have those beginning photos to go back to and remember why you even wanted to do this in the first place. (And to keep you humble on your beginnings!)

 Starting out in any field is rough, but following these key elements is a great start to being respected by those who have committed to hard work to get to where they are. We’ve all put in our time and hard knocks along the way. No one was born perfect at this amazing line of work that we are privileged to be a part of. If anyone acts like they know everything there is to know, then stay away from them.

We say all of this with love as people who have been beginners. We’ve learned so much along the way and want to be able to help others succeed. People with cameras (Are you catching on that this is a common term among people in the business?) just cheapen the market and slay the reputation of good photographers. You definitely don’t want to be passed off as a cocky amateur early on in your career, so stay humble, reach out to those you respect, and put in the work and you’ll be just fine. Welcome to photography!

Sqeezing out the Yuck, or Something Like That.

Before we got married, Bryan and I went through premarital counseling with our pastor and his wife. I’ll never forget how she described marriage on several occasions. She said that marriage has a way of bringing all of the yuck inside of you to the surface and then squeezing it out. Lovely isn’t it? Somehow, I love that analogy. Like it has a way of showing us all of our ugly parts and forcing us to either rid of them or call it quits, and we all know which one of those is the healthy choice.

So Bryan and I have been looking at houses. We are becoming all too familiar with the phrase “Catching the house bug.” We’ve caught it. Oh has it been caught.

We rent right now, and neither of us has ever owned a house, so we get to go through this little taste of hell adventure together. The problem is, we see this process very differently from each other, and it’s bringing out all of the yuck in me. I think I’ve made it clear how refinement and the realization that I am not perfect makes me feel.

Bryan has always lived in smaller houses and grew up not having a lot of money, so he sees every house we look at with such amazement, I swear he thinks he’s looking at the Wonka Chocolate Factory. He is just so grateful for the fact that a house like that is even in the realm of possibilities for us. It’s all so sickeningly charming.

I, on the other hand, grew up living in decent-sized, while certainly not huge homes, didn’t have a share a room for most of my upbringing, and am just generally a selfish person, let’s just be honest. I look at each house as imperfect and not something I could possibly settle for.

I knew that admitting this would not be fun, but as I type it, I realize just how much yuck I have in me.

Sheesh am I the worst. How much of a horrible a-hole can you be if you find ways to complain about something that most of the world does not have. Gross gross gross. I am officially disgusted with myself.

I hate that I can’t see things with as much contentment as he does. His grateful heart and the sheer thankfulness that he encounters with each house we look at is astounding, and it simultaneously makes me feel like a terrible person and makes me want to be a better person.

God is really showing me a lot with this process. I am learning how yuck-filled I am and how thankful I should be that the wonderful man, friends, and Family that I have been blessed with put up with the apparent ton of crap I put out in the universe. I am learning that my dream home can definitely wait, and that all of this is God’s anyway, duh. I think I need to take a harder look at the yuck in me and do a better job of forcing it out instead of harboring my negativity.

Besides, I could never forgive myself if I made Bryan as jaded as I apparently am. I love that he sees the world in a brighter hue than I do, and I am going to start trying harder to rise to his level instead of bringing him down to mine.

Oh the joy of finding new areas of life that need work. Sooooo much yuck.

Please tell me I’m not the only who needs a dose of humble pie. What about you? What areas of your life have you recently found that need work?