It is finished.
Some things beg to be created. Some stories long to be told. This is one of them.
Whether you are a client, friend, or regular reader, you have my heart. I never would have risked creating this were it not for your kindness and encouragement. This is for you.
What kind of woman are you becoming? What kind of woman do you long to be? It's a fair question and one that we should be regularly asking ourselves so that we can steer ourselves in the right direction. I was meditating on this the other day and out of nowhere the phrase "sensual saint" blossomed in my mind. It fits perfectly with who I want to be and more importantly, who I believe the Creator wants me to be.
Maybe that seems like a contradiction to you. After all, sensual probably isn't the first word that would come to mind if I asked you to describe some of the female "saints" in the history of faith and spirituality. Among the woman I would count in that group are Joan of Arc, Catherine of Siena, and Teresa of Avila. Teresa of Avila in particular wrote of a spiritual encounter that was charged with sensuality, a passage most commonly referred to as "The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa". Below are fragments taken from the passage that give a picture of her encounter.
"I saw in his (the angel's) hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron's point there seemed to be a ... fire. He... thrust it at times into my heart... and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so... sweet... that I could not wish to be rid of it."
While most of us probably won't share in that type of encounter on earth, we were crafted with a sensual nature. Spicy. Sweet. We were made to be consumed by sensuality and to enjoy it. Where that enjoyment stems from makes all the difference in the world though. Blogger Melissa Jenna has written a brief and fabulous post addressing the trend of women flocking to a book like 50 Shades of Grey and movies such as Magic Mike. You can read it here. One thing she nailed on the head: Striving for spiritual purity and consuming this "erotic entertainment" can NOT go hand in hand.
It isn't okay.
Maybe you consider yourself liberated and don't have a problem with men or women using erotic writing or movies to turn themselves on. There's a fine line there though. On one hand the Song of Solomon metaphorically references oral sex right there in the middle of the Bible and is considered one of the most erotic pieces of historical writing in existence. On the other hand you have women so stimulated by outside influence that their own husbands don't turn them on anymore.
What's a girl to do?
Even if Magic Mike or 50 Shades wouldn't cause you to lust, the fact that you would consume that particular movie/book knowing the topic tells me that to a certain degree you have accepted the content and are enjoying it. Do you morally agree with stripping? Do you believe that BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism) and sex outside of marriage leads to spiritually and emotionally healthier individuals and families?
If you answered yes then either your conscious is dead or you are determined to have your erotic entertainment no matter the cost. In Revelation 3:16 the Creator says, "Because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am about to spit you out of my mouth."
Grey... lukewarm... there may be 50 different shades and 50 different temperatures but in the end it's all the same. A waste.
Ahhh etiquette... an old fashioned word that reminds us there is a right way to do things and a wrong way. Any of you who know me know that I often like to buck tradition in favor of something new and wacky. That said though, there are still traditions and aspects of wedding etiquette that are as necessary today as they were when your grandmother got married. I've been meaning to write this post for some time, as an advice piece to brides and grooms and hopefully an eye opener to wedding guests.
1. You are a guest so enjoy being one. It is tacky to use any wedding as a platform to try to build your business if you were not asked to represent your business at said event.
2. Don't assume because you're the groom's cousin that you can take as many pictures as you want. Check with the bride and groom or ask the photographer directly if photography by guests is allowed. Some photographers restrict guest photography completely in their contract. They aren't being mean. The fact is, your shots ruin our shots. Not all the time granted, but an unexpected flash from a point and shoot can easily ruin the great shot the professional planned on capturing of the bride waking down the aisle.
3. Assuming it's okay for you to take photos as a guest, do the photographer the courtesy of introducing yourself. Try to stay out of their way and respect the fact that the bride and groom have personally asked and paid this individual to do what they are doing. Don't try to pose the couple or the bridal party for your own shots. Again, you are there to eat cake, dance, clap, and in general enjoy yourself. So just be content with doing that. You can always ask the photographer for a business card and inquire about purchasing photos from them of the big day. The photos the photographer takes are likely to be much higher quality than what you could take anyway.
4. If you want to begin shooting more seriously and need some weddings to play with your camera at, find a photographer who will take you on as the second shooter. This is infinitely better than trying to use a wedding you are invited to (doing so is 99.9% guaranteed to tick off the professional, paid photographer and may result in giving you AND your business a bad name before it's even started. Yikes!).
Brides (and Grooms!)
1. Don't ask a guest, family member, or friend to spend the day shooting unless you have cleared it with the paid photographer first. It can be tempting to try to get more "free" photos out of someone you know will be attending who has a decent camera, but this can backfire on you quickly and drastically reduce the quality of the images you'll get.
2. Be prepared, if necessary, to back your photographer up and ask a guest to cease taking photos for the remainder of the event. If the photographer knows that you are both on the same team and want the same thing in the end (fan-flippin-tastic photos), it will make it much easier to address unruly guests who could be jeopardizing your investment. I understand no one wants to make Uncle Bill mad but if you think of the big picture, which would you rather deal with: a disgruntled relative who can't have what he wants or wedding photos gone wrong that can never be retaken?
As wedding photographers we spend hours working with people we've just met, bringing out the best in them and thinking creatively while still maintaining technical precision. Respect and courtesy on the part of the guests play a HUGE role in the success of photographing a wedding. Besides, we'd rather photograph a crowd of guests who are crying and laughing than a crowd of guests with red focus lights hiding their faces.
Final Note - Many guests are convinced that the pictures they take are the only pictures from the event that they'll ever see. This doesn't have to be the case! Ask the photographer for a photo with the bride and I promise they'll be more than willing to capture your best side. Most pros also post photos from the event on Facebook or have an online ordering site. Just let the photographer know that you are interested in seeing the photos and wa-la! You've said the magic words. :) Now you can have your cake and enjoy great photos of it too!
Love and Peace,
The other day I was photographing a group of women and working on their individual portraits before doing the group shot. The woman in front of my lens at the moment had beautiful, silvery hair and hip, funky glasses that gave me a peek at her personality. After a few shots with not even the glimmer of a smile, I mentioned to her that she could feel free to appear serious or give a grin or two, either way was fine. Her reply?
"Well, less wrinkles if I don't smile you know."
And that was that. She didn't smile for a single shot, convinced it would take away years from the appearance of her skin. Never mind the fact that she now resembles Oscar the grouch. Another woman from the group mentioned as they were dispersing that despite my being a great photographer, there wouldn't be a single good shot of her in the bunch.
What is with us?!?
I get a pang in my heart when women I'm photographing say things like that. It hurts because I know that deep down inside, what they're saying is "I'm not beautiful. I'm old. And I don't like being photographed because it reminds me of that."
Now you may laugh at me for what I'm about to say next. You may dismiss it as the foolish thoughts of a thin, young woman who still has smooth skin and naturally dark hair. I'm going to say it anyway. I only hope that someday I'll be graced with silver hair and wrinkles, shining proof and a road map of life well lived. In fact, I don't know if anything is as head turning as a confident woman with a crown of silver. My mother-in-law has beautiful gray hair (she wears hers short) and a co-worker keeps her gray locks long, a refreshing change among American women who typically don't seem to do long hair past a certain age.
As blogger and fellow beauty enthusiast Wanda McPhee posted, "Now I know most women won't welcome these little silver intruders with open arms. As a matter of fact, most of us at the first sighting of a few gray strands leave skid marks in the driveway in our haste to get the "Fixer" in the little bottle. L'oreal, Clairol, Garnier, whatever our favorite hair color brand is, we fix the gray pronto!"
"Well, I on the other hand have been proudly cultivating my few gray strands with joyful anticipation. I can't wait to have enough to get a little streak or something going on. Why? Because it's fabulous! I am so in love with gray hair.....but then again, I come from a genetic pool of creative, stubborn, spirited and nonconformist people so sometimes I can cook up some stuff in my head that even amazes me. To me, it is the glorious evidence that I have been blessed by God to live this long, its a silver/platinum crown, and its down right fierce!"
Kristin Davis, star of the show Sex and the City, was actually quoted as saying that she would never have plastic surgery to look younger because the wrinkles are reminders of the high points in life. As she puts it, if you didn't have any wrinkles it would mean that you had never smiled or laughed. And that's just not right. Kristin, I couldn't agree more!
We need to turn off the wrinkle cream ads, stop dousing our heads in dye, and start looking in the mirror to tell ourselves we're beautiful. Those gray hairs you're starting to see? They're amazing. Those laugh lines you always look for in photos? They're wonderful. You are a ravishing Queen in your own right and don't let anyone convince you otherwise! So smile, laugh, ham it up for the camera and know that your joy is more beautiful than boxed color or Botox could ever be.
All good wishes,
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