This session. Oh, this session. I don't have the words to express how much their love touched my soul. How much their story is one I will never forget. I can't possibly put into words the magnitude of God's good will, therefore I'll let Jordan tell the story...
"If our story does anything, I hope it glorifies God. I know that was our prayer for our relationship going into it.I met Arturo on my first international mission trip with a church out of Greensboro. I had heard about and felt called to pray over a specific people group who lived in the central jungle of Peru. Arturo was our interpreter for the trip (I still remember struggling over how to pronounce his name the first time we met in a hotel lobby at 2AM in the morning). We would then travel from Lima into the depths of the jungle to live with a family with no electricity, toilets, or running water for a week. It was the hardest thing I have ever done!God used Arturo to teach me about orality and cultures made up of people who cannot read and write or who use languages that are only spoken. Learning how to share the Gospel through Bible stories was foreign to me, something reserved for children in Sunday school classes. Seeing it used in a way that captivated adult audiences was something wholly “other.” I realized it stripped the messenger of added fluff, opinions, or commentary to the Bible – it is simply retelling the story God has already told. The beauty of storytelling did not truly take root in my heart until I found myself sitting beside Arturo listening to aggressive tribesmen arguing over our presence (white presence) in their village. I was in the middle of telling Jesus Calms the Storm when I was interrupted by their arguing. I could tell even Arturo, our fearless leader, was nervous. So I prayed for safety and called out in fear just as Jesus’ disciples had on the boat. The storm was very real in my life at that moment – just as the presence of the Holy Spirit became as peace settled in my heart. I was no longer afraid because I knew God was with me. The angry men suddenly stilled and said something to Arturo. He smiled in relief and translated: they wanted us to tell them the story.That moment and countless others were burned in my heart, and so was the desire to carry out what Jesus has always intended for his followers, to make disciples by sharing the good news. With what began as countless questions on how to use storytelling in a first world culture, Arturo and I’s friendship soon blossomed into something more. Through a lot of prayer and seeking counsel, we decided to start a relationship (even though we were in two different countries). Our only consolation was that with God all things are possible. What made me fall in love with Arturo is how much he loves Jesus. He shines so brightly in people’s lives, and I know it’s because he is only reflecting the light of God that changed his life. He reminds me every day how blessed I am to not only have a relationship with the one, true God, but that He also placed the perfect partner in my life.We’ve been together for two years now, one year spent mostly apart and one year serving together in Huanuco, Peru with the Quechua people. Arturo’s parents were from Quechua villages before they moved to Lima and became professors. They died before ever starting a relationship with Jesus. His mom succumbed to breast cancer and his dad was hit by a car. Arturo was an engineering professor at the time. Through interpreting Bible stories countless times for American missions teams as a way to learn English, Arturo became a believer and felt a call to take bible stories to Quechua communities like those his parents were from so they would have the opportunity to hear the greatest story ever told. Our heart is to share God’s Word with remote Quechua communities in a way that’s culturally appropriate. We are so excited to start that journey hand in hand this year. We will get married February 27th in Lima, Peru on the beach and after serving near Cusco, return in August for a State-side mountains wedding. In all things, we give God the glory for what He’s done and for what He’s going to do.
[Story Behind the Ring/Engagement] Just if you’re curious! So, Arturo knows I love triangles, with that in mind he crafted a hand-made wooden band that was inlaid with a groove for the golden band. He knew he couldn’t get Hickory wood imported to Peru, so he bought a hammer instead. A hammer with a Hickory handle. (So I could take a piece of home with me wherever I go.) When he got back to the States, he took me walking in the woods to a special place where my family had all carved initials years before. I was excited to add our own to the same tree. As I carved my J, I asked him to add his, but he refused, saying, “Not until I ask you a question… do you want to marry me?” “Yes, you know I do.” “Do you want to marry me?” “Yes… are you really asking me?” Then he knelt and pulled out the ring. “Will you marry me?” “Yes!!” Needless to say, both initials are now carved."
I'm trying not to mix my mommy blog with my business one, but I talked about this business today over at Peanut Butter Grits today. Here's what I had to say:
"I wasn't going to mention my business too much on this personal mom blog, but I had a dream last night. My dream felt so vivid. I woke up and thought...why not? It's a part of you. I have worked hard on my business. HARD. KRJ Photography grew from deep down inside of my soul. I have worked longer hours than I'd ever care to admit. It's a part of me. I honestly can't ever imagine a time where photography would be on the back burner for me. Even if I never ever took another client, I would document my children because I love it. I love watching them, remembering them, capturing memories I will never get back. I've been in this business now for almost 5 years. Well, I say in business loosely because I had no idea what I was doing in the beginning. I thought I did. But running a business is a lot more than just snapping a pretty picture. It is. It's paying taxes, education, upgrades, website maintenance, re-branding, marketing, gosh guys the list goes on and on. At the end of this last year I sat so tired. I'm allowed to say that. It's still a job. The thing is, I never wanted it to feel that way. In November 2015 I had 54 families alone. Just in November ALONE. But Mellisa, you should be so proud, so grateful, so... I was. I am. But, and here comes the big but, I felt like I didn't make the connections to the images like I had before. I take my work/art very seriously. Very seriously. I put 150% into every session. Having that many sessions, that many families, I felt like I didn't have a voice in my art. In ways, it became like a production line. THAT, my friends, is not how I want to run my business. I like building relationships, I like texting my clients long after our session to ask about something I know that is currently going on in their lives, I like to watch their family grow, I love the connections. So, I made a decision that this year that wasn't going to happen. I changed my pricing structure, I will try to educate my clients better on why I'm not going to do a disservice in just handing them over a digital collection and let them figure it out on their own, I'm not going to over work myself, I'm not going to take just anyone, I not going to leave them in the dark, I'm not going to take anyone who doesn't value what I offer. I know to some that may sound snarky, but let me tell you it comes from a place of goodness. A place where my heart is truly in this to document time. A place where clients and friends know with everything that I gave it my all. Will I loose some special people? Of course. Am I unhappy about that? Not really. My time is valuable just like yours. I don't want to just do any old session and then say ok, have a great life! I get hired because that's not who I am. I am deeply emotional. I am deeply committed. I am deeply in love with your families. I am deeply protective. I am deeply in love with what I do. When there are times when I don't feel that way, I have to step back and think of the why. I am not for everyone, but the ones who I connect with value me as a person and artist. They see the real me. I will walk the walk and talk the talk. I turned away two weddings this week. Don't you like wedding though Mellisa? I do. But, after lots of prayer, I don't think that's where I want to be this year. I thrive on documenting the trueness of family, the kids who want nothing to do with me (ahhh, a challenge), the hippie families who live the life they want to live with abandon, the snotty nose, the crying toddler, the teen who doesn't think she's beautiful, the baby who was so wanted and prayed for, the fine art portraits, the different. I don't want to be like anyone else. I want to be me.
This is a new way of thinking for me. I am a people pleaser through and through. I don't like to disappoint. I don't like to say no. I don't like to turn away. The thing is..I want for clients to come to me knowing all of this. Knowing that I am here to make art for them. Not just a snapshot. I am here to make them cry with excitement. For them to look at me and say you get us. I want them to look at that image they put on their wall and think she did it, she got us completely. I want them to open that heirloom album that they will hand down to their children and think I'm so glad we did that.
If you value yourself, it's very hard for others to not value you as well.
Happy Sunday friends."
Oh how I loved this group. They were so relaxed, so eager, and so much in love. The setting began at their house that they have worked so hard to make a home. It's absolutely stunning. HUGE windows, dark hard wood floors, and their beloved Boomer(their dog). Mt. Zion Lutheran Church, where Daniel's parents were married, set the stage for a lifetime of promises. It was so special. As Tim, the organist played away, Ingrid walked to her forever. I can't tell you honored I am to have witnessed such love surrounding this couple. Happy Wedding Bliss you two.
Venue: 74 South at Moretz Mills
Wedding Planner, Decor, Flowers: Tara Bland with Tara B's Eventful Planning & Floral Boutique
Cake: Alex Bell
DJ: Carolina DJ Professionals
Linens & Rentals: It's My Party Rentals
Photographer: Me :)
This family came together from all over the country to be together for the holidays. Even though we had some hiccups during the session(lol), these images say it all. There is so much love here. So many memories. It was my honor to photographed a moment of togetherness for them. <3
What an incredible year. Seriously, I am so honored to these families that chose me to document a moment of their lives. My heart is so full. My poor blog has taken its toll this year lol. So, one of my never ending goals for the upcoming year is to stay on top of sharing here. I have two sessions left for the end of the year and I will have documented:
24 Family Sessions
6 Children Sessions
2 High School Senior Sessions
22 Mini Sessions
6 First 24 Sessions
2 Commercial Shoots
3 Engagement Sessions
10 Portrait Sessions
4 Promotional Sessions
2 Bridal Sessions
2 Boudoir Sessions
1 Maternity Session
To all the couples who trusted me. To all the families who let me in. To all the children who giggled with me. To all the faces I smiled to. To all women who allowed me to show you how beautiful you are...My cup runith' over