Guys, what in the world. I have come to the end of my first wedding season and grateful doesn’t cover it. There have been triumphs and challenges, growth, provision, lessons learned, and so many joys. I have teared up over first looks and vows spoken. I have helped button dresses and secure veils. I have witnessed the most emotional of days and the stillest of moments. I’ve had the honor of working long weekends alongside gifted wedding photographers turned friends. I have traveled a ton, driven a whole lot of miles, spent more weekends behind my camera than not, and danced through a million receptions. I have had brides feed me THEIR cake, ones who I exchanged I love you’s with as they’re hopping in the getaway car, and ones that became dear friends.
And through it all the thing that stands out to me the most is that the title “photographer” is only a tiny portion of what I want to be. I long for Jesus to be glorified and pray to have open eyes that never miss His goodness. I pray for a steady heart that’s always longing for His presence. I pray for my couples entering into a covenant marriage, and all that have entrusted me with their moments, that as we journey through this season together we’ll see and carry the joy of the Lord. That I will be a soft place to land, a comforting word, and the friend before the photographer when they need a reassuring voice through this season of planning and busy and excitement. My heart is for my brides and couples to know they are absolutely treasured. That these images I hand them will be so much more than just pictures in frames twenty and thirty years from now. I want them to know they are so worthy of all the adoration and celebration in the world. And I pray when they look at their images they will be reminded of every little reason to choose love, even on the hard days.
The relationship aspect of my job has breathed such life into me, after so many hours of editing and screen time that can easily run your soul dry. With all the glamour my industry promises, there is a much different side to the day in and day out, that isn’t always as pretty as the final product that comes out of it all. Year one of pursuing a creative career can be full of self-doubt, ugly comparisons, financial stress, lonely hours in front of a computer screen, thoughts that you may or may not be insane for doing this(!), and of course fear of failure. But beyond that is great joy to be found and waves to be made. There is art waiting to come alive in your hands, and the promise of greater things if we’ll take the hand of the One who’s called us here. This past year I found adventure among uncertainty, fuller life in going against what this world says is normal, and sweet rest in the fact that every time I take hold of His promises, He is faithful. I gave myself grace when I compared my work to other photographers who have been in business for years. And I learned to draw strength from the One who calls me enough.
Throughout this year I have been blessed to have others pouring into me, which is something that I believe is so significant. To any aspiring creative, I cannot stress enough how important it is to have encouraging people in your circle who not only believe in your crazy dreams, but who just “get it”. To have people nearby you to grab coffee with, to walk through the every day with, to celebrate with, and to lift you up and encourage you to walk deeper into your calling. I’m so grateful I found this in my friend and fellow wedding photographer Christina, who has cheered me on like no other in this journey of entrepreneurship. Every week we meet to work and edit together, chat life and business, and trade stories of triumph and struggle until we’re laughing ourselves out of Starbucks. Walking through my first year in business by her side has been one of the sweetest blessings.
Yesterday I received a text from my dear friend Cam, who happens to be the most insane photographer, and one I worked closely with this year. It read:
“Girl! I was praying for you this morning after I saw a preview you posted and I heard the Lord tell me ‘she has only scratched the surface.’ Girl it is so true. To think this is just the beginning for you blows my mind. It’s an honor to watch you flourish into your calling and bless others by your gift. You are so anointed, so talented, and I recommend you to everyone. Haha love ya bye!”
Guys, just tears. I have been inspired by this friend from the beginning. When pursuing photography was a mere dream in my head, I was being blessed by this girl’s work and talent before she knew my name. Before she contacted me to second shoot for her, before countless weddings together, late delirious nights, and trips to Charlotte and beyond. And the way the Lord has used her of all people to mentor me and encourage my heart astounds me. I am such a believer that the Lord loves surprising us with the small. He loves gifting us with blessings we don’t ever expect to come our way. And this sweet friend has loved on me and championed me and spoken life over my business to the point where I just laugh and say, “Thank you Jesus.”
So as I have thought about what I wish to carry into 2016, I come to these truths. I believe that we were created to love, and walking in that is our highest calling. I believe in leaving my couples feeling full, adored, celebrated, worthy and beautiful, just as their Father sees them. I long for glimpses of heaven to come with every wedding, session, and bridal consultation, that gives hope and life and joy to the brim that only can come from Him. I pray to be intentional with my time and intimately engaged, to get lost in your stories, and to serve my clients well. My small contribution, my story and my song.
For I am on a journey to tell your stories in truth and in beauty, and give of myself as long as He wills it. I am so grateful for where I’ve been, and for the paths I have yet to walk. For now, this is my life well lived. And a life well lived will always be enough. Cheers to the sweetest first year in business, and all that is to come. To 2016!
“Whatever it looks like, whatever may come I am Yours.” -Jenn Johnson