Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hold on

Today while at the post office I stuck my hand down in my bag (otherwise known as the black hole of death & doom) and something definitely stabbed me right under the fingernail of my right pointer finger. Is that the right way to say that? Pointer finger? Regardless I just wanted to let you guys know that it hurts like fuck to type right now and I'm enduring the pain just for you. Surely a smart woman would find what poked them in the first place and remove it so it wouldn't happen again, but I'm most definitely not a smart woman...

I've been thinking a lot about jealously lately and how it can have a direct effect on our happiness. I could also say comparison...which usually leads to jealousy.

Over the last few years I've spent so much time looking at other photographers' work wondering what they were doing that I should be doing as well. Should I follow the editing trends? Do I need those expensive florabella actions everyone else is running? I need to find a brick wall with peeling paint to put my brides in front of. And I have GOT to book a wedding for a bride that'll wear fun colored tights or wear her hair in a big messy bun/beehive!

And the thing is that I'm not them. I'm just not. I never have been and never will be. And I'm coming to terms with the fact that it's okay.

Being raised the way I was individuality was something that was frowned upon and never encouraged. The very first time hair dye touched my head was during a visit with my sister. I was 14 and miles away from home. My loving sister did everything she could to free me from the box I'd been put in. She put those bleach blonde streaks in the front of my hair. She gave me my first alcoholic beverage...amaretto sour, heavy on the sour..light on the amaretto. My first date? Definitely arranged by her. (Total disaster by the way.) First tattoo? Oh yea...she paid for it and everything. Second tattoo? Yep. Her fault, mom.

Those visits with her were my only glimpse into a life outside of church three times a week and nothing but "The Lawrence Welk Show" or TBN on a television. I will never forget the magic of Carey Elwes in "Robin Hood Men in Tights" or the first time I saw a for real gay couple in real life.

There was so much constant pressure to be the good girl at home. I couldn't disappoint anyone...that was just not an option. And I'm still living that life when it comes to certain members of my family.

Inside I'm still that 16 year old girl who was terrified her mother would find out that she snuck out of her friend's house that one night to go down to the lake and be ignored by every boy there. I'm still hiding in my bedroom watching Buffy with the volume turned down as low as finger hovering over the last channel button on my remote that would take me to something less demonic in case she walked into the room. Knock? She never knocked. Knocking just isn't what good Christian mothers do.

That fear of disappointing anyone has carried over into adulthood for me. Constantly lying to keep the girl good persona is an unfortunate byproduct of me being absolutely terrified of ever letting anyone down.

I can be honest here and it feels so good. Pouring my thoughts out to a keyboard can be so therapeutic at times. Maybe someone will read it..maybe someone won't. But even if they don't it's there for me. I can look back here to remind myself that there are happy moments..there are stressful moments..there are angry moments..but they're all my moments. And those moments all rolled up into one big ball are what make me who I am.

So here's me choosing not to lie. Here's me allowing myself to be an open book. Aren't there enough fluffy clouds and bows in the blogging world already? The crafts and pretty peachy pictures are out there for all of us to enjoy. It's a gap that doesn't need to be filled any more. That page has been's time for me to write my own.

So anyway...
First step towards honesty...

I don't enjoy photography as a way to make a living any more. I haven't for quite some time and a lot of you know that.

Before anyone sees this and feels the need to take this personally I have to say that that's so not the case. It doesn't have much at all to do with the people. Honestly it doesn't. Yea I have the overbearing mom sometimes that insists on things being a certain way. And the fact that I never know what my financial status will be month to month can be irritating.

Here's why I don't enjoy it any more, in the simplest way I can think to put it.

1. It's lonely. I leave my family to go hang out with other families...sometimes I know them, most of the time I don't...and I don't get the great face to face co-worker experience I'd get at any other job. I drive there alone, make small talk while clicking the button, then drive home alone and it's just down right exhausting mentally.

2. The work is never ending. Seriously. People have this preconceived notion so often that I just take the pictures, put them on my computer then send them back out. So not the case. There's editing to be done (because you don't want that little pimple there, or your bra strap is showing, so on and so forth) then the backing up of files...the burning of discs..the constant endless emailing..the blogging...the unsuccessful attempts at social networking.

3. It's taken all the joy I used to get from photography. Seriously. Browse my flickr for proof. Years ago I was uploading picture after picture. The last couple of years when I've been working so much more? They nearly stop all together. Taking my camera out and using it outside of work feels like, well, work. It used to be the thing that kept me it's the thing that makes me insane.

So 2013 will be the last year I do this. And I need you guys to hold me to it.
I'll do little things here and there for friends because those are the little things I love doing. But it'll be on a casual let's hang out, I'll snap some pictures and maybe you can buy me lunch basis.

One last wedding for friends in November then it'll all disappear. To be honest I'm more than a little excited about packing it all away and making it just a memory.

I'm ready to be Vanessa, the mom with the camera again. It's so cliche to say, but I need to find my center once again. I need to find that healthy head space and reconnect with that creative outlet that's pulled me out of some of the darkest times in my life.

It's a new beginning and I couldn't be more excited. And this blog? I'm really gonna try to come visit it more often. Because as you can tell from this post that started out as deep thoughts on me comparing myself to other photographers and turned into a bitch session about my upbringing proves, I have a lot of shit to work out and it just feels right to do it here.

So....see you soon I guess.


  1. "That page has been's time for me to write my own." You inspire me. I love you. And also, I'll take the credit for introducing you to Alabama Shakes, of which, you clearly feel the same way that I do. And that song was totally made for you.

    1. So what you're saying is that you can't be angry with me when I run away with her because essentially it'd be your fault?
      I love you, baby.

  2. I know I say this a lot on your blog, but Vanessa, I think you are fantastic! And I actually can relate to so much of this particular post! I can't wait to see you in a few weeks when you do our pictures, and hopefully I am one of those friends that you will continue to do the "casual" picture thing with :) Your photography is perfect, and laid back, which I love. It fits our family just like it should. Don't change anything about the way you do it!
    And I know all about the comparing yourself to others thing...I am now in the Norman Public Schools system, and am one of the ONLY moms that works full time. It makes me feel like crap sometimes, but I have to constantly remind myself that I do actually choose to work, and it doesn't make me a bad mom. All these women who I went to school with long before CCS are coming back out of the woodwork in to my life, and it's crazy how small you can feel.
    I hope you just continue to do what makes you happy, and no one else. You are so very inspiring, I wish we lived closer so we could do coffee (or maybe something a little stronger) on a regular basis!

    1. Of course you're one of those friends. Absolutely you are.
      And I know exactly what you mean. Coffee should happen...we could always meet in the middle.

  3. Oh god, I missed you.

    My sister also gave me amaretto as my first drink. We didn't have any sour, though, so I put it in Sprite. Claassssy bitch, I was.

    I hope you find your passion for photography again. I lost mine, this year. I don't even take photos of my boys anymore and it's kind of killing me. Whenever you post photos of your kids, I'm inspired a little more to get back into it, so the mom with a camera again!

    I grew up with the opposite end of the parental spectrum. My parents allowed me freedom that I cannot even fathom giving my children. No, really. I was on a plane to Los Angeles at 16 to meet a boy. By myself. Results? Low self esteem because "no one fucking cares about me" even though I have a man who's been with me for 10 years and children who light the fuck up whenever I enter the room.

    Basically, I think we're going to be on this journey to put ourselves back together forever and it's OK because at least we know for certain our own kids won't even know they CAN feel like this.

    1. "we're going to be on this journey to put ourselves back together forever"
      So. True. <3

  4. Is it okay to say "I love you" Yep, I'm absolutely certain it's more than okay. I'm reading your words, nodding in agreeing with them, most of them because I have never even had the courage to take pictures for a living. So that part I can only imagine but I'm pretty certain I would feel just like you. I was just thinking that same thing about my flickr. the only things I post now a days are IG photos I send to flickr. Remember the days we found beauty in the most simple forms and would share via flickr and then bond over those moments, woman to woman. I miss those days. They don't have to be gone forever. We should just do what makes us feel good regardless of who else is looking. We just should. I just LOVE you man!

    1. It's more than okay to say you love me, because I love you right back. So damn much.
      I miss those days too. I've vowed to pick up my camera more often... I have to.

  5. This is the way I've felt about music for a long time. When I was a kid, I wanted to take piano lessons, but it also wasn't an option not to. I actually had kind of a breakdown before the Mumford thing because we were expected to play and I didn't want to. At all. But I feel this pressure from my childhood that I've never faced to play whenever anyone asks me. My brain's all mixed up right now about all of it so I don't have anything clear to say. But I feel ya. And that disappointment thing is SO MUCH a thing that I struggle with.

    1. Truth: Your music soothes me. It always has.
      But I definitely know exactly what you mean and you know what? It's okay to say no sometimes.
      That's something that I'll probably never learn.

    2. Thank you. That really, really means a lot. I realized the other day that I've been performing a handful of times a year for almost 30 years! It's about time I reframe it for myself and figure out what I want, lol.