On the first day she sat in the first row, and we went back and forth as I did one my impromptu (yes, ever so slightly Miss Cleo-esque) brand predictions on her. I told her I saw pink in her future. She told me I was crazy. And the two of us have been fast friends ever since.
As it turns out, I was more right than either of us could have ever known at the time. And it's one of the very few times in my life, I would have been more than happy to be wrong.
You see, Lauren did end up rebranding later that year and it did, in fact, end up including pink. But that's not the part I wish I was wrong about (her brand is totally killer and you can check it out here). The part that I wish I was wrong about, was when pink took on a whole different meaning in Lauren's life late last year as she found out she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Lauren came to WPPI, just two months into her diagnosis when she still wasn't telling anybody. And while she was there, she came to sit in for support at our Platform class because that's the kind of amazing friend she is. While she was sitting there front and center in the first row, we played the Mary Ann video. And unbeknownst to us at the time, it struck a chord with Lauren perhaps more than anyone else in the room. Later during our talk we had people write down a list of their bHag's (big hairy audacious goals)....and Lauren knew exactly what was going to be first on her list. But I'll let her tell you about that....
A few months after WPPI, Lauren wrote this blog post. Unveiling to the world that she in fact reached that first bHag. She had faced cancer....and beaten it. And she told her story with a humor and a wit that only Lauren could do. I encourage each and every one of you to head over and read the full post in its entirety. But for now, I just wanted to end with these words from her:
'Since the day I started my business I was scared. Scared of doing something wrong. Scared of not being good enough. Scared of failing. Every big idea I had was stuck behind a bigger excuse of why I couldnít do it. Some reason as to why going after something bigger was too scary. But not anymore. I literally faced the scariest thing I can think of and I beat it. So what could I possibly be scared of now? What excuse could I possibly come up with as to why Iím not going after every single thing Iíve ever wanted. Nothing. To anyone out there who is scared. Or has a laundry list of excuses as to why theyíre not going after their dreams. I beg you to let go. Forget about the things youíre afraid of and just do it. Make them happen. I promise that even the scariest things really arenít that scary after all.
And you will come out on top."
Ladies & Gentleman of the blog world, I ask that you please help me thank Miss Lauren Wakefield for having the courage to be here.
And for giving us all the courage to fight a little harder.
For being an inspiration.
And for showing us all that even the hardest of scars, just make us that much stronger.
"A scar does not form on the dying. A scars says 'I survived.'"
The idea began percolating (coffee, ideas...a lot of things percolate in my life) while we were out in Portland to speak at the What If Conference.
And just like I like my coffee, the more I brewed on it the stronger it got.
It's something that's been on my heart for a while now, and when I finally had the space and time away to think and dream about it in Portland...everything started to become really clear for me.
I had at that point already done a couple of video blog posts on things photography related like the getting ready and shooting the ceremony. But what I realized when I really started to think about it, is that I wanted these videos to be about something more than that. That if I was going to commit to doing a video blog series, and y'know...showering, blowing out my hair and putting on clothes that are something other than yoga pants a couple of times a month :), then I really wanted those videos to come from the heart.
And while we were out in Portland giving our What If talk, I realized that the things that really get me fired up and the things that really come from the heart for me are more of the stuff that life is made of. Of dreaming big and doing bigger, getting back up when this world knocks you down, of falling down seven times but standing up eight. Of trying harder, fighting harder, and believing for more. And never ever once settling or backing down when it comes to this our one wild & precious life.
So if those are the kinds of things I talk about when I can write about anything in the world that I want....then why on earth wouldn't they be the kinds of things I would talk about here with you guys?
That's not to say that the photography posts aren't important, and we will definitely be doing a lot more of those in the Pancake Sessions and possibly even a few video posts here and there.
But for now, I wanted to give this a real shot. And who knows, maybe this will be a HUGE flop. That's definitely a possibility. :)
And right about now I'm pretty much shaking in my yoga pants as I hit publish on this.
But I'm going to push the button anyway so at least I can always look back and say I tried....and that it always came from the heart.
Happy Friday friends!
And a HUGE Friday congratulations going out to the winner of our PocketWizard giveaway....Miss Sara Adams!! Sara just shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get you all set up!
On Sunday, Justin & I got in our car and made the three hour drive to right outside of Philly for Kelly & Paul's wedding at the glorious Cairnwood Estate.
Yes, glorious. Because, really, glorious is the only way you can describe Cairnwood...trust me, it's magnificent. Ok, glorious AND magnificent...two, there are only two ways you can describe Cairnwood. But I digress. Because this post isn't really about Cairnwood.
It's about the three hour drive there. And then the full day of shooting the wedding. And then, because we're extra crazy (and because we had a project back home we were working on yesterday), the three hour drive back that night.
It was a lot. And at around 11pm with all of our gear still left to pack up and that drive looming ahead of us, I started to go all disaster movie about the situation: Leave it. It's too late for them. We have to go on without them. We'll find new lenses. Start a new life. But lucky for me and my delirious self, Justin was feeling way more Black Hawk Down. LEAVE NO LENS BEHIND! And so he went to work, and in record time our bags were packed and ready to roll.
Now a HUGE part of that credit goes to Justin and his completely OCD tendencies which means that every piece of gear we have has a place and was accounted for. But what makes THAT possible, are the two bags that have basically changed our photography travel lives: The Think Tank Airport International roller bags.
These bags are amazing. We take them everywhere we go. And since to say that we'll be traveling just a little bit more this year for weddings would be about the understatement of the century, we are feeling extra thankful that we made the investment to have these bags with us all the time. Here are just a couple of reasons these bags rock our world:
* The inside sections are fully customizable, which means that you can literally create cut out shapes for every piece of gear that you own. And once everything has a place, one quick look will tell you if you're missing anything. Which means that, literally, no lens is ever left behind.
* The Airport Internationals are specifically designed to be able to fit into any overhead compartment, which means we never have to check our gear bags and run the risk of anything getting lost or damaged.
* The bags themselves are designed to look like regular black rolly bag luggage, so there's less risk of them getting stolen. They also come equipped with a bicycle-type lock so you can tie them down to something when you're out shooting.
* They keep us incredibly organized and because we know exactly where everything goes, our pack up time at the end of the night has been cut in half.
* They also offer low rise inserts, which leaves room for a laptop to be packed in there as well. Which means we can cruise through airports with no weight on our shoulders.
Think Tank is actually running a pretty awesome special right now through June 17th where when you buy one of their rolling bags, they will gift you one of their laptop cases to go in it for free. So if you've been looking for a solution for traveling with your gear (or even just for being extra organized at your local weddings!) definitely check them out!
Because really, no lens should be left behind. And a pocket wizard is a terrible thing to waste.
**And since every post is more fun if a little contest is involved, we put together a little Think Tank prize pack to giveaway! All you have to do is leave a comment in the box below to get entered and we'll pick one lucky winner on Friday to win a Think Tank card wallet, Gel wallet & the Retrospective Lens Changer bag that we just ordered for ourselves! And...GO!!
After "how do I even get started" and maybe "what lenses do you most recommend".....the hands down next most popular question we get from other photographers is about understanding their flash.
On camera. Off camera. Multiple light set ups.
TTL. Manual. Firing remotely.
Ambient light. Main light. Gelling and shutter speed.
Let's face it, when you're first getting used to using it, flash can be a scary, scary thing.
I get it. I really and truly do.
Because I was one of those people who used to think that I would always just be a "natural light" photographer because, quite frankly, my flash scared the stuffing out of me. Seriously, I was the kind of person who used to avoid setting up a light stand because I was convinced that somehow I was going to make it blow up. Austin Powers style. Hidden beneath some benign looking mountain, somewhere in the secret la-bor-atory. But, very fortunately for me in so many ways, I am married to a man named Justin. A man that Julia & I affectionately refer to as the "light whisperer." And a man that, again quite frankly, has never believed in letting me get away with anything even remotely resembling a cop out. It's a fact that I'm grateful for every day.
Because if there was ever anything I didn't understand about photography, you can bet we were going to work on it. Over and over and OVER again. Until I got it. Hands on. In the trenches. Under the gun. Until the lightbulb (pun FULLY intended) went off. And I'm a better photographer because of it. Because I can now confidently tell you that there isn't a lighting situation out there that I wouldn't fully be prepared to rock. And believe me, on a wedding day....we've seen them all.
Since I know there are so many people out there still struggling with this very thing, I am beyond thrilled to be able to announce ....
This July, we are going to be hitting the road and hitting up 3 cities to start- Charlotte (Concord, NC), Richmond & Boston- and bringing all of our lighting equipment & knowledge with us!
The formula is simple. It's a five hour, super-intensive, incredibly hands-on lighting extravaganza with one goal in mind: no one goes home that night until they convince us they are 100% confident that they could fully rock their flash at their next shoot. We'll show you our complete approach for on-camera & off-camera set ups (Including our basic one-light set up and more advanced lighting, incorporating multiple set ups and other light modifiers), and then we'll get to the real work: working side by side with you as you use your camera and your flash to achieve the same results. We'll have several table set ups and models available, so there'll be plenty to shoot. And we're keeping space incredibly limited to make sure we have lots of one on one time with you until every question is answered. But one thing is certain. You will be using these set ups by the end of the night & you'll go home with a working knowledge for how to rock the light no matter the situation. Dark rooms, brown walls, pink uplighting....we got you covered! And yes, I know, words like "hands-on" and "intensive" can be really scary in you're flash-phobic like I used to be. Again I get it, I really do. But like Justin always told me...you're only going to learn to swim if you're brave enough to go in the water. We hope to see you there!
And if you need some further convincing, here are some good things other folks have had to say!
I'm so happy to hear that! I meant every word. :)
It's funny that you e-mailed when you did because while I was shooting a wedding last Saturday, I had my brand new D700 stolen from me with my 50 1.4 attached just 15 minutes before the getting ready photos were supposed to begin. The venue was pitch black, and I rocked it out with a D80 and a few modified J&M off-camera lighting techniques (thankfully my partner's gear was intact). But during the wedding, I kept thinking to myself, "What would I have EVER done if this had happened before Walk Through a Wedding? I would have ruined every photo by jacking up the ISO as high as it goes, and praying for a miracle." Thanks to you guys, I had enough confidence in myself that I knew how to make even my backup gear yield amazing results. So THANK YOU. Because THAT moment was when I really needed some a**-saving, and you guys provided it.
Please keep doing what you're doing. It's such a rare thing.
Hi J&M! Just an update (and HUGE thank you)!!
We had the wedding this past Saturday, and that was one heck of a tough lighting situation. In addition to the copious amounts of red and gold, there were these indents in the ceiling with blue lighting, so anywhere we turned, we got a different white balance. I can't emphasize enough how much the one light set up SAVED OUR BEHINDS! (and my sanity when I started post processing ;)
Chris (my husband and second shooter) decided to bring our plug-into-the-wall lighting kit just in case we needed a stronger light. We didn't even touch it after getting to the reception, and on our way home, he said "I really like this one light set up. Let's get rid of the powered set." Haha! He loved that we were able to set it up anywhere without the hazard of anyone running into it or tripping over extension cords.
So again, THANK YOU to you and Justin for teaching us so well in February!
Getting emails like the ones above just makes my HEART happy! Happy for the photographer. Happy for the couple. Happy for the history that was documented on both of those days. If flash is something that you struggle with at all, we would LOVE to see you at one of these three cities. Like we said, space is going to be really limited so we do expect them to go fast. Be sure to sign up today if you want to grab your spot! And as an extra little added bonus, if you enter "getflashed" at checkout that will get you $50 off your seat. You can click HERE to sign up. And....GO!!
Growing up in West Virginia, sitting on a front porch swing or around a good bonfire with some homemade marshmallow sticks, telling stories was pretty much a way of life. An art form. The unofficial state past time. (Well, that and watching WVU whoop up on Pitt. Amen.) And from years and years of listening to other people tell their stories, somewhere along the line I learned how to start telling mine.
A good story makes you feel something. And, it makes you feel like you were right there. It takes you along for the journey, puts you right in the action, and when it's all said and done....the best stories will change you. Charge you. Call you to do higher things.
It's this kind of story that I'd like to share with you today.
Our amazing friends at StillMotion have just launched a new project that they are calling "Share." A grassroots initiative to tell stories that matter. In their own words:
We had considered donating a percentage of our profits to the many good causes out there, but it always felt like we could do more. With that, the idea of Share was born. Rather than donating a percentage of our profits, we thought, what if we donated a percentage of our time. In doing so, we could tell stories that could reach and help in a much bigger way than any single donation we might make.
Our first story is for Old Skool Cafe, a youth run supper club. Teresa, the first heart behind Old Skool, was a correctional officer who was really affected by how few options there are for youth after they have entered the system. She would get so connected to many of the youth with the time she spent with them inside of prison. Sadly, many ended up right back inside shortly after being released. The environment many of these youth come from, and the environment which they are released into gives them little chance of breaking free. Teresa wanted to created a way out, another options that could offer these youth a positive community support system as well as an income. With that, and 8 long years of hard work, Old Skool Cafe was born.
We started Share because we wanted to give back. we wanted to help illuminate some very valuable causes or projects that need to be seen by larger audiences. What we didnít fully expect, was just how much we would gain from the experience. Weíve long said that the process of filmmaking is as valuable as the result itself, and nowhere is that more apparent than the creation of this film.
stillmotion: Share. a story a year.
Every year stillmotion will take on one cause and tell their story on a 100% volunteer basis.
if you have an idea for a story that needs to be told, whether that is your story or one you know of, please email email@example.com
if youíd like to lend your support and get involved in Share, whether that be in your time or skills, you can also email firstname.lastname@example.org
And even if you don't know of another story, you can help by spreading this one. Just by doing what the project says, and Share.
With HUGE thanks to folks at still motion for being the amazing hearts that they are!
So much love,