Today I successfully completed a 12 week course, my mentor and teacher of said course told us, "We teach what we need to learn". As those words resonated through me, it hit me... I, like so many women, struggled with learning to love myself. We don't always like to admit it, it makes us vulnerable to do so and vulnerability is such an icky place to be most of the time, but so many of us fight that fight. Whether because a parent told us we weren't good enough, or a teacher, or a bully, the struggle is real.
It is precisely because of that struggle that I strive so hard to show my clients they are worthy of being loved. The very things I fought so hard to learn (and occasionally still fight with) - confidence, love, value, acceptance, vulnerability, empowerment, self-worth, are exactly what my business is built on giving to other women. I don't always win my battles, 'some times you're the hammer, some times you're the nail', there are days when I just don't have it in me to fight. But after a half century on this planet, most days I do fight, and more often than not, I win.
I am confident that I have value, that I'm beautiful, that I deserve respect, and am worthy of being loved. I also know that I am not everyone's cup of tea and that's ok too. My value is not wrapped up in what other's think of me. That is why, when I bring a client in for a session, it's not for her husband, or boyfriend, or anyone else. Those lucky fellows may benefit from the end result, and often do, but we do this for HER. To remind her of her value, and her beauty, and that she too is worthy of being loved just as she is. She doesn't need to "lose 15 pounds" to be worthy, she doesn't need to "only think of her kids" to be worthy, she doesn't need "someone else to want images of her" to be worthy. She is, YOU ARE, worthy right now! Don't ever let anyone tell you different. And if they do, you call me, any time; I'll tell you the truth, I'll describe the value I see in you, the beauty that the people who love you see.
I love that I can use what I am passionate about to help other women find their confidence. I love it because when you find something amazing, you want to share it. I want all my sisters to love themselves and to know their worth.
I teach what I needed to learn. #Blessed
A beautiful, young life was senselessly cut short last Friday. Here in the town where I live, Navasota, Tx, 19 year old, Fredzania 'Zanie' Thompson was killed when she stepped in the path of an oncoming train during a photo shoot.
The first thing most people think when they hear about an accident like this is, how is that possible, didn’t they hear the train coming? According to Operation Lifesaver (oli.org), a person or a vehicle is struck by a train roughly every 3 hours here in the US. Sometimes it’s intentional, sometimes it's foolishness, sometimes a stall, sometimes carelessness, but trains move fast and some models have gotten a lot quieter in recent years, so no, they aren’t always heard.
In this case though, yes, she did hear it, but the problem in this instance was that there were 2 sets of tracks… and 2 trains. The trains were traveling in different directions, coming toward each other and Fredzania, who was between them facing toward one of them. The train saw her, sounded its whistle, and began to employ stopping procedures, which you might imagine would add more noise. Some trains can go in excess of 100 mph, this one was estimated to be going roughly 50 mph. A train going 50 mph takes approximately one full mile to come to a complete stop. A mile they did not have. She saw and heard the train that was coming toward her from the direction she was looking, I can only imagine she assumed all the noise she heard was coming from that train. Seeing that train coming, she stepped out of its path… and right into the path of the other train. She apparently never knew there was a second train coming.
The news reports said she was on a photoshoot with a “photographer”. Now I don’t know if this was a professional photographer, or just someone with a nice camera who was claiming to be a photographer, but that is what they called themselves and therefore the onus was on them, the "photographer", to know that shooting on railroads tracks is not just reckless, but ILLEGAL! As a professional photographer, it is my responsibility to educate my clients on the legalities and potential dangers of something they might suggest. Fines can rack up in the tens of thousands of dollars per person! But more than the financial risk is the risk of someone’s life, someone like Fredzania. She was young, intelligent, beautiful, loved, engaged, pregnant, she had her whole life ahead of her. She died because the “professional” she trusted didn’t do their job.
This is yet another reason why it's important to hire a professional rather than trust your photo shoot to an amateur. I have a ‘Guide to Hiring a Photographer’ available for download on my website. There are many helpful tips and important questions to ask like, “what type of photography do they specialize in?”, or “are they insured?”, it never occurred to me to list, “do they know better than to do something illegal on my shoot?” Not knowing that it's illegal is no excuse. If they’re a professional, it’s their job to know!
The repercussions of that ‘mistake’ are far reaching. A young woman lost her life. A mother lost her daughter. A young man lost his fiancé, their unborn child, and the future he had envisioned. The train engineer and crew wind up being ‘first responders’ to the tragedy and then, once the police arrive, do their investigation, and then finally clear the scene, well then the rail crew has to just go back to work and continue on to their destination. I don’t know what you do for a living, but if you were headed back to work after lunch and someone stepped in front of your car and you accidentally killed them, would you be in any shape to just ‘go back to work’? They have no choice. Then there is the “photographer”, who may now be facing criminal charges.
As a photographer, I love my clients and I will do everything within my power to give them exactly what they want and the most amazing sessions I can create for them. But rest assured, if you ask for a train tracks session, you will be denied. If you demand one, you will be fired. I will not put your life or my business in harm’s way. Part of my brand message is #youareworthit and I believe that, you are worth more than taking senseless risks. You are worth it, Fredzania was worth it, getting a cheesey, cliché photograph on railroad tracks… so not worth it.
Hire a professional, be safe, and if you're the praying kind, pray for Fredzania's family.
Sweet Sophie is a rescue pup who was found roaming the streets of San Antonio. I've always had rescues, so when the time came for another adoption, I went down to the local shelter and Sophie picked me. The top left picture below is the day she got to come home from the shelter with me. Since then she has made herself quite at home and rarely leaves my side (in the early days her separation anxiety was so bad she would literally pluck the fibers out of the carpet when I left her alone just long enough for me to go take a shower). She's gotten better about that now (it helps that we no longer have carpet) and sometimes she even models for me when I want to try out a new lens or backdrop (she's learned how to 'strike a pose'). She even watches Texans games with me! Most of the time though, you can find her sitting in the recliner nearest my desk supervising my editing. Sophie is a real sweetheart and would love to help me welcome you to the Ms. family!
Ms. Studios may specialize in photography for women, but that doesn't mean you won't find a gentleman or two on our blog. And what a handsome gentleman we have for this installment! Meet the very dapper little Dustin in all his glory. He is the most expressive infant I've ever seen! His parents call it mean-muggin' and it's one of the cutest things I've ever seen.
You might not be a mean-mugger (hey, it's ok if you are!), but you can count on Ms. Studios to capture and celebrate 'you', the essence of who you are at this moment in time, no matter who that is, even a mean-mugger!
Sweet Dustin was born a few weeks ago and he's been making us smile ever since.
If you would like to enjoy a custom Ms. Studios experience for yourself and let us help you tell YOUR story, click here to learn more and see if we’d be a good fit. Or feel free to call (936-463-5893) or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) to speak to us directly. We look forward to hearing from you!