I worked at photography in general for years and nothing happened until I started styling and photographing food. I read everything I could get my hands on. I had mentors. I asked questions. I tried over and over, but the stellar images in my head didn’t ever come out in the camera. It leads me to believe that I just wasn’t meant to be a portrait photographer, that I only have to be who God made me to be, and it takes all of the journey of life to figure that out with him. There were other factors too, like not being able to drive, my small town, things I wasn’t involved in, and the fact that not a lot of people here appreciate the same aesthetic that I do. It was incredibly frustrating for years, because I’m an entrepreneurial spirited person, and truly did want to make it work!
I love styling and photographing food. Trying to get “the perfect drip” of lemon curd on a spoon rocks! Standing on top of tables, chairs, and counters with Eric to get the shots is the best thing ever. And maybe it sounds weird, but I hand model in some of our shots and really enjoy it! It just feels like this was part of what I was meant to do all along.
Let’s break this down right now: There is no formula. Honestly, whole-heartedly creating takes so much time and emotional energy. Sometimes we walk through dry places, completely drained, and sometimes we live in creative desert lands. While I love my hometown, it has been a creative desert land for me, and at times, it did feel like it was holding me down a lot. That only changed when I threw fear into the deepest part of the sea and started believing that God made me the way I am for a reason, and my identity is in him. I started believing that Jesus set me free – that it’s okay to be myself, even if it’s drastically different than any other person in my small Southern town. That has been the biggest influence on me, my life, and within that, my professional/creative journey.
None of that has made me an overnight creative genius, but it has made me free and at peace, able to journey with God on who he’s made me to be. So, here’s what I suggest if you’re in a place like that- stuck in a creative rut, feel like you’ve lost yourself, and want to create genuinely and beautifully:
Throw your fear like a rock into the deepest, nearest body of water. Don’t let it be part of you, even if you if you have to scrawl the Bible on your walls and arms to remember.
Take a break. I’ve taken an entire summer before.
Do more of what makes your heart swell, gasp speechless, and cry. Do it because you were made to feel like that about it for a reason. Do it even if everyone else doesn’t understand it at all.
Step outside of things, even if just a little bit, and do the best you can, with what you have and where you are. It can be long and tiresome, but there is promise and joy.
Be brave enough to take the journey. This one? This is no short jaunt.
Take real risks, ones that make you have to trust God.
Allow yourself to feel, even if it hurts.
Don’t compare yourself. This is has been one of the very hardest, longest battles I’ve fought.
It’s still hard. I’m not going to pretend just because this is the Internet, and sometimes we have a thing for magazine perfect stories. That’s over, at least for me. I want to remember every day that my identity is in Jesus and he has set me free, that fear, sin, and darkness are no more. I want to be brave enough to tell of what he’s been doing in me, in my life. I want to remember. I don’t want to compare myself, my decisions, my actions, or my life. I want to keep feeling, because God has been so good to give me life, and I still remember the pain of not feeling. I want to step out and take risks and trust God, even if the people I love look at me funny. I want to to the best with what I have and where I am. I want to find my strength in Jesus, taking joy and peace every day, even if through tears and hard times. My friend Hannah Nicole wrote a blog entry on genuinely, bravely being yourself, and it really resonated with me. You might want to read it too. I think it’s important to be transparent with our struggles sometimes, if only to let show what Jesus has been doing in us.