Thought I was looking at a vintage 90s catalog but it’s current day. Yikes!!

Top Five Tuesday: Life-Changing Books

Ok people, here is my disclaimer – I am not promising these books will change your lives. They have changed my life at certain points so I hold them near and dear.

To Kill A Mockingbird
by Harper Lee

It is one of the few classics I’ve read that I adore. I can relate to Scout’s tomboyish nature and the admiration of her father. Sure most girls say that. But what I loved most about TKAM is Atticus. All hail Atticus  – a man with morals who was not afraid to face a crowd and do what is right and just. If that isn’t inspiring, I don’t know what is!

My Name is Asher Lev
by Chaim Potok

My aunt sent me this old paperback copy of My Name is Asher Lev while I was finishing college. Lev comes from a strict Jewish family where tradition is sacred. Lev is faced with the choice of keeping with tradition or following his heart. Read it to find out what happens. It was certainly sent to me at the perfect time as an art major!

Art of Living
by Epictetus

A short manual on living that is simply stated but powerful. I call this one of my bibles.

The Old Man and the Sea
by Ernest Hemingway

Totally embarrassed to say this is the only Hemingway book I have ever read. This is a short, simple story with a lovely message. If you yearn to escape technology and need something inspiring, this is perfect.

Diving Bell & the Butterfly
byJean-Dominique Bauby

This memoir-of-sorts tells the story of Jean-Dominique Bauby. One day his life is turned upside down by a terrible accident. He is left paralyzed and able to communicate only by blinking. And that is how he got this book written. You will never complain about your life again after reading this.

Hanging Up the Camera….

I remember feeling the panic set in around my second or third year of college. I was an majoring in art with a concentration in photography and trying to cram in a minor in business. Interesting combo, no? What could I do for a living to make a decent amount of money and fast?

I certainly had no intention of being a starving artist. I decided to print some business cards and start shooting portraits and weddings. Luckily, there were the first few brave folks who saw my work and gave me a chance. The first weddings I shot on my own and soon I realized it was not a one-woman job!!

I begged my college classmate Sarah to help me shoot weddings. She was quiet and seemed wise beyond her years, just like me. She was the perfect match. Who would have thought we could keep going for 15 years? We’ve experienced a lot over the years – the migration from film to digital, changing gown styles and even laws that finally allowed same-sex unions(yay!)

Sarah and I have recently decided to stop shooting weddings. It was a hard decision for the both of us to make because we so enjoyed doing it. It was fun meeting everyone and it was especially moving to be so close to people during one of their most intimate occasions. It can be really beautiful watching two people exchange vows. It takes a lot of guts to get up on the altar and profess your love in front of a crowd. It was certainly a challenge for this introvert. But after gazing into your partner’s eyes, one might forget about the crowd. That is always one of my favorite moments to shoot. Many people don’t realize how hard wedding photography is. Allow me to give you some insight on the topic.

If you think the prices for wedding photographers is high, most of the time you are wrong. Out of all the wedding vendors, photographers suffer the most pressure. We are the only vendor with a product the couple will keep forever, so it has to be good!! It is a long day (8-12 hours at least) running around with 15-25 pounds of equipment on your back and around your neck. It is an immense amount of pressure to get great shots of not only the bride, groom and their families, but the cake, the table decorations and of course, the dress. Did I mention this is always on the weekend? Try working a full time job then spending your whole weekend driving around from place to place, unpacking & repacking your equipment then of course uploading and editing all the images. To this day, I still don’t know how we did it. I guess being young helps!!

I cannot recall reading anywhere, wedding photographers proclaiming how much work wedding photography actually is. I love a challenge but this has certainly been one of the hardest I have ever signed up for. Couples and their families invest a lot of time and money into an event that will last one day. It needs to be perfect. But when something goes wrong, emotions are released rapidly and most times we are in the line of fire. We’ve had to console crying and scared brides and make the tough decision to stay quiet or make a statement when someone in the bridal party is acting out of turn. Surprisingly most people listen to us. We are the calmest vendors whose intention is only to capture memories, so they trust our judgement. Quite an honor.

I am glad we are coming to a close now. It seems like the right time in our lives. One of the last weddings we (well, Sarah) did was mine. And I don’t mean to sound bias, but it was Sarah’s best work. I say that because I loved every picture. Sarah knows me, my husband and knows exactly what we like. We are a product of the same art school and we are the same kind of soul, so of course she would capture our day perfectly.

We will miss it all – the ridiculously high heeled shoes, the insane amount of bobby pins and hairspray, the tears, the laughter and hugs at the end of the night for job well done. One of our favorite accolades is  “we never saw you all day.” We were there, you were just so busy in love that you didn’t even notice.

Below are some of my favorites over the years. You can tell I lean more toward black & white. There is something so classic and forgiving about it. Photography is about capturing one moment, but color can make it so busy. Black and white can break it down into something even more simple – PURE LOVE.

Thank you all.