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As I’ve been doing for the past four years, I named my new year. Leave it to me to switch blogs so much and fill up so many journals that I can’t find what my previous years were called, but I can tell you last year (2017) was named “Content”.
My main focus with naming my year “Content” was to learn how to be content with the state of my house, content with the material things I already owned, and content with the phase of my life that I was at - essentially content to not have a clue where I was going.
I was big-time struggling with wanting to renovate my whole house, and buy all of the new, pretty things I could. Which is understandable, since this is the first house we’ve owned, and the first house I’m allowed to tear apart and paint. But I recognized a growing urgency in myself to change things for outward approval, and not as much because I wanted to do it for us and us alone. I can honestly say that last year, even compared to the years before I owned my own house, was the year I spent the least amount of money on material household items. It felt good to get that little sector of my life under control and learn how to just “be” inside my house. I haven’t met many people in Dawson Creek that can relate to the “renovation bug”, but if you’ve ever caught it before then I know you get me.
And content with this phase of my life? Hella big fail. I spent all summer constantly chasing what I thought was where I wanted to be headed, and ended up missing out on crazy amounts of friend and family time, relaxation, and enjoying life. I only just began to realize this a few weeks before Christmas, and I went into a big shut-down mode because of it.
I had to admit three important things to myself:
1. I wasn’t feeling fulfilled anymore at the current part-time job that I had (don't worry, my boss is amazing and the job was amazing - I'll be writing a different angle on this in a later post)
2. I wasn’t happy with my current focus in my business
3. The really tough one - I wasn’t actually enjoying having an office downtown again
Yeah, tough stuff to admit to myself and even harder to say aloud. Especially after putting so much time and effort into all three of those areas. Are you thinking I'm a crazy person yet? Considering I just wrote a blog post a few months ago about my new office. Yeah, I have no words for that right now, but I'm sure they'll come later too.
I spent some time looking at these three things once I had them figured out, and the word that arose for my 2018 year was "Abundance". Over the past couple of years I've been reading a stack of books that always describe living a life of scarcity as a big source of stress, and if we can learn to live in abundance we will be so much happier.
I honestly thought I had that figured out.
Here's what I am good at: not freaking out when I only have $5.00 left in my bank account, and my student loan payment is due tomorrow.
Here's what I'm not good at: living a life that recognizes that I have everything I need and more, and that a large majority of my "needs" are actually "wants, living a life that focuses on people and not work, and living a life that brings peace to those around me.
I want to recognize that I have an abundance of funds for living my life.
I have an abundance of safety and security - two things many people lack.
I have an abundance of family and friends worthy of my time.
I have an abundance of time for doing things that relax me, and choosing work projects that excite me.
And a big one for my business this year - I want to recognize that I have an abundance of skills and gifts to offer, but that I don't have to offer those for free or with hand-outs.
This year I am choosing to live with the belief that I have everything I need, and that everything I need is coming to me without stress or worry.
Keep an eye on the blog because I have a whole lot of shit to get out on paper these next few months.
The first time I received a wedding photography inquiry, I was offered a piece of cake in return for my services.Read More
I have always found it hard to pinpoint my passion. I find myself constantly comparing my level of joy over my work compared to what appears to be others, and never quite understanding how they arrived at the spot where they felt fulfilled, whether it was through self-employment or working for someone else. None of my jobs have ever seemed that similar, and I had a difficult time figuring out what motivated me, or made me feel accomplished and satisfied. Over the past few months, it's become increasingly important to me to figure this out, almost urgent.
Why is it that I’m interested in being a community worker? A business consultant? A mother’s helper? A marketing agent? A house cleaner? A photographer? An office assistant? It didn’t seem to add up in my head, and I kept feeling like I was on the wrong path all the time. Or that maybe I just have an unlikely mix of skills and those were the jobs that made sense at those periods in my life. It began to feel like everyone else was filled with more passion than I was, and I was just floating through life, faking joy and fulfillment, hoping to God it would start building inside of me if I just kept on pretending it was.
And then during a messy, breakdown cry to my mom one day, she said something that resonated in my head for days after. “You and I are helping personalities. We always want to help people do better, whether they want it or not, and you have to be careful that you don’t overstep your boundaries”.
She's right. I often overstep my boundaries.
In fact, I have a hard time creating boundaries at all when it comes to "helping" others with their problems.
And if we're being even more specific, it's not the "helping" of others that really drives me, it's the ability to help them reach success.
When I hear someone talking about a problem in their personal life or business, I have a really hard time keeping my yap shut and letting them go about their day. I have an intense desire to help them work through those problems, so they can reach success. I'll do my best to start explaining it:
Almost a year ago now, my sister started delving into The Enneagram. Have you heard of it? No? Well, be prepared to have your mind blown. No exaggeration. My family has been obsessing over The Enneagram for a full year, and I would be lying if I said we talked about much else besides it. That's how pivotal and life-changing this concept is.
Here's a super brief rundown: The Enneagram is a system that works on the basis that there are 9 Personality Types in the world, and that each of us identify closely to one of those numbers. If you want to start looking into it, and maybe take an online test or two, check out https://www.enneagraminstitute.com to start with. There are TONS of books that you can buy on this subject - I was just joking with my family the other day that if we all die in a car accident one day, and people come to our homes to go through our things they'll probably think we're part of some cult based on the amount of Enneagram books we've collected in just a year. Honestly, if the Enneagram is a cult then I'm totally okay with being a committed member. This shit has changed my life, and I'm just getting started.
When I originally started reading the Enneagram, I was positive I was a Type 8 personality. Strong, entrepreneurial, not afraid of conflict, and the big one - ruled by my anger. This is one of my favourite parts to figure out - there are a number of different groups that each personality type can fall into, depending on which division you decide to read up about. The division I'm talking about is sometimes called "the centers". The Instinctive Centre (ruled by anger), The Thinking Centre (ruled by fear), and the Feeling Centre (ruled by shame). So I spent the last few months up until January saying that I was a Type 8, which is ruled by anger in the Instinctive Centre. I put up a wall, and marched on, refusing to consider any other number. And although I learned a lot from thinking I was an "8", and I struggled through tons of my anger issues and triggers, the day that I considered that I was possibly a Type 3 instead, ruled by shame, is the day I started to feel a real break through.
It took nearly seven months to arrive at what I think may be my true personality number, but who knows, maybe I'm still wrong. Heck, maybe the Enneagram doesn't even really make sense, and it is a bit of a cult.
But what matters is that it forces you to look deep into yourself, and the way you react to the situations around you, and to question it. To learn how to deal with your demons, and give a softer response to the world.
Yikes, what a nasty word. No wonder I avoided that one like the plague. I'm pretty sure the first time I read the descriptions of the personality types, I remember saying, "Wow, 3 sounds terrible. I'm definitely not that one." Cue Karma.
So why am I describing all of this to you, and how the heck did we go from talking about discovering our passions, to talking about shame? Claiming that shame, that "negative" number that I didn't want to admit I was, lead me to some big break throughs about my personality. Some things I'm willing to share, some things I'm not ready to share yet, and some that I may never share with anyone. Claiming that shame, meant I read the page in my Enneagram book that says 3's love success - they love it for themselves, and they love it for others. And sometimes that's a negative thing, but sometimes that's a beautiful thing.
And when it comes to finding work that gives me fulfillment, it means that it has to be something that helps someone else find success. There are SO many ways that could take shape, and I have a pretty good idea of what it looks like for this year, 2018.
So here's to claiming the nasty shit about ourselves, dealing with it, and then using it to fuel the good in our lives. You guys really have to go pick up a book about the Enneagram now. Don't wait. It will help your work life, your personal life, your relationships, your friendships.
If there's only one thing that you accomplish in 2018, let it be discovering your personality type so you can start to discover a better version of you.
*If anyone would like book recommendations, or more on my "take" on the Enneagram, feel free to comment below or send me a message on Facebook :)
I often spend so much time waiting for something to be perfect, that I never spend time appreciating the progress or the current state. For example, my new office.
Already over seven months have gone by since we first jumped into this new project, and not once have I stopped to look back on what we’ve accomplished.
New to my business? Then you’re probably wondering who’s we? And where is your “new” office? And why should I care about it?
So here’s the story in a nutshell, with some iPhone photos to illustrate along the way because it’s actually incredibly hard to always document my life and work, despite the fact that I’m a photographer.
There are actually three stories here that I could tell, or rather, perspectives, but I’m only going to tell you my perspective, and I’ll leave the other two alone.
This past April (2017), I decided to open up a small office in Rock Steady, a local clothing store that’s been operating in Dawson Creek for over nine years. Why the heck would I put my office in a clothing store? Community.
The owner of Rock Steady happens to be my boyfriend’s sister, and the three of us together came up with a plan that would allow all three of our businesses to operate under one roof - Rock Steady, District Co., and Loch Evergreen. We threw this plan into action with barely a second thought, and started the process of moving into Rock Steady. For my business, this meant building a large, moveable wall divider that acted as my office during the day, and opened up to create a barrier blocking off the clothing store by night for large photo shoots or events.
This was much easier on paper than in real life.
So began the renovation and building process to end up with the photo below.
The first thing we did was cover the old linoleum with some fresh new vinyl planks. I knew if I was going to be shooting in the space I wanted a flooring I could work easily with. The stars aligned or something, because we ended up hitting a random sale day when we went to pick up our flooring, and got it for 50% off. We floated the flooring right into the bathrooms as well. Side note: all of Dawson Creek’s downtown businesses seem to be blessed with the most disgusting washrooms ever, or is just me that thinks that? So that was also a priority - making the bathroom feel bright and fresh so that my clients would feel comfortable. If you’re wondering how we did all of this while keeping Rock Steady open, and me still working full time, I’d have to say we couldn’t have done it without the full commitment of his time and energy that my boyfriend gave (and some visits from our nephews).
After flooring and updating the bathrooms, paint came next. We discovered some lovely wallpaper underneath the slatwall on one side of the room, and thankfully it just fell off with a bit of water. We chose white for the front portion of the store where my office would go for two reasons: to provide simple backgrounds for me to shoot against when I needed to, and to help the shop feel more bright and airy. We also planned to hang a lot of local art on these walls, and it’s my personal opinion that art looks best on a background that doesn’t overtake it. I always find it very odd when art galleries or photo studios choose super saturated colours for their walls. Always consider the light that you’re reflecting back on your subjects.
Moving on - thus began the process of figuring out how to build a 27 foot stable wall on wheels.
There are some things in life that require a great amount of creativity and innovation, and this project was one of them. Say what you will, but I strongly believe that ‘expertise’ sometimes stands in our way. What do I mean by this?
I don’t believe that a Journeyman Carpenter, or a structural engineer per se, would have believed this wall could be built. I don’t think I ever truly believed it would stand until I saw it with my own eyes.
My boyfriend, Kurtis, spent hours and hours, staying up late many nights thinking outside the box, coming up with a plan for how this wall could be put together. Friends and family continuously stopped by and questioned him while he was building it, not believing he had thought it all out. It honestly started to feel a bit like he was building Noah’s Ark, I kid you not.
Finally, the day arrived when we could stand it up, and see how it worked. We asked over 10 of our friends to come down to the shop and help us lift it.
And it was done.
Nights of planning, and weeks of building, and hoping it would work, and there it stood. It sounds so dramatic, and if you don’t understand how walls are built, probably pretty mundane, but this was a pretty awesome moment. For months after, we hated talking about ‘the wall’, and that it felt like such a simple thing that we had turned into something bigger. But I realize now that wall was pretty symbolic to the start of our new journey, and seeing it stand and knowing that it only worked because of Kurtis’s ability to see past what everyone else does, and come up with a new way for things to work, was a thread of belief that I needed to have the courage to face our new life plan.
Once the wall was taken care of, we set to work ripping out the outdated window display, and changing it into a seating area for my office, as well as for the future events Kurtis would hold under his District Co. business (a business that supports local artists through music and art).
One of the best days was when we received our new vinyl stickers for the front windows, and everything started to come together. I had my first meeting in my office, with my iMac propped up on a tiny little side table, using a stepladder for a chair. Then we hosted our first District Co. event, with Shake Appeal being the first band to play in our new space.
It has definitely not been an easy seven months, and entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. Even with five years of my business under my belt, this year has still taught me so much more, and I can guarantee next year will be just as big of a learning curve.
We didn’t have access to a huge amount of funds, and we didn’t have anyone backing us up. We just had a dream that turned into a plan, and now we’re learning how to implement it. Business is ever-evolving, always changing, and you have to be willing to change with it. It’s been fun to see so many new clients walking though my door because of this change, and even better to see more and more people discovering District Co. and Rock Steady.
Thanks to my sister-in-law for providing the space, and my boyfriend for putting it together, I’ve now taken a few more steps closer to my long term goals, and accomplished short term goals I thought I wouldn’t complete for many more years. This process has taught me many things, but one thing stands out in my mind: we are the only thing standing in our way, and we accept the life we believe we deserve. In 2018 I plan to believe in a better life.
Jamie & Michael
These two and their laid back wedding are proof that wedding planning doesn't have to take over your lives leading up to the big day. Michael & Jamie got engaged just a short six months before their chosen wedding date, and managed to pull together all of the details without a hitch. It was simple and clean with a vintage flair, and just a touch of whimsy. I love that all of the little details reflected them as a couple, and all of the decor was simple with a slight ethereal feeling - nothing overwhelming. Clean. Classic.
And those shoes! If you've been following along this summer on my Facebook page, you'll know that I've been obsessed with all of my brides shoes lately, and it's not hard to see why. Blue suede Steve Madden's? Yes, please.
To top it all off, the bride and groom have the most adorable bulldogs, and what photographer doesn't love photographing a squishy face?
Jamie & Michael included a little memory box in their ceremony to be opened in the later years. It's so interesting to see what each couple chooses as a personal touch to add to their ceremony - I've seen Celtic hand-fasting, memory boxes, pouring sand together, and lighting unity candles just to name a few. It totally doesn't matter what you choose to do, or if you choose not to do any of those rituals; your ceremony should reflect you as a couple, and it's becoming more and more common to snuff traditions and go with new, modern rituals that resonate you as a couple and are less about following the norm.
I seriously can't say enough good things about my friend's company, Rustic Rebellion Events & Rentals - she has so many cool props to rent for weddings. Jamie chose a white antique sofa and chair set to rent for her family photos, and we ended up using them for most of the formal shots. If you really aren't sure what you want for your formals, or if you'd like to jazz it up a little bit, even one sofa or chair will do the trick. I just had a couple in my office the other day wondering what kind of props or extras they should be thinking about for their photos: the reality is, I've done entire wedding shoots in a ditch before. Yup. With no props and a whole lot of champagne. Wedding photos can be whatever you want them to be, and I can work with whatever is given to me. Props are just another way to show your personal taste, and let me tell you, grandma and grandpa never complain when they have their very own antique chair to sit on during family photos :)
The moral of the story: if you want props, rent from Rustic Rebellion Events & Rentals. If you aren't sure, don't sweat it. It's all going to turn out exactly as it should.
Only the cutest cake toppers ever! How hilarious that they were able to find two little bride and groom bulldogs to match their little fur babies.
A little nugget of photographer wisdom: It's so important as a client searching for a wedding photographer to make sure you know your photographer can shoot all lighting situations with confidence. Often you'll see photographers list "natural light photographer" on their descriptions, which can sometimes be a red flag. Although I prefer natural light shooting over shooting with flashes, you should always be prepared to use artificial light. I have a good story that is the perfect example! But that's for another blog post :)
For those of you that follow Loch Evergreen on Instagram you may have seen a post where I wrote about my website being completely wiped out. For those of you that don't follow me: 1. Follow me @lochevergreen, duh :) 2. My entire website/account that I just built back in January was completely erased from this world without a single notice.
I decided to wave goodbye to that piece of sh!t (to put it lightly), and move on to bigger and better things! Hopefully this website decides to show me some much needed love, and I can really get my photography blog up and underway again.
I've been thinking a lot lately about my goals and aspirations, and what I'm doing to achieve them while still maintaining a personal life.
And I've decided that's the problem.
If I have to think so much about having a "personal life", and feeling like both sides of the work/home spectrum are taking up too much brain space, then those fields are not co-existing how I believe they should in my life. My work should complement my home life, and vice versa.
Cheers to trying to let go, and going with the flow.