Working for Yourself: Month 6 | Owning It

It’s been 6 months-ish since I last stepped foot in my old agency office, and so it’s been 6 months that I’ve been doing my own thing over here, trying to find a rhythm, creating my own schedule, and generally figuring out how I want my life to go. After years of being on someone else’s schedule — school days, college days, general workdays — it’s been difficult fitting my life into a new structure.

Soon after I quit my day job, I still felt this ghostly presence of it around me, like a creeping halo. When I woke up on my own time, instead of using an alarm, in the weeks following my final workday, I had a feeling of “I am playing hooky today! haha!”

Or when I checked the clock and it would be noon, I’d think, “People are eating lunch right now.” These days, I eat lunch whenever I want to.

It’s been 6 months since I left, and it’s taken about 6 months for that odd feeling of “should-I-be-somewhere-I’m-not?” feeling to ebb.

Nowadays, I really feel like I’m coming into my own. I can focus on my business as much as I want, without being distracted by too many other things. I have a routine that is starting to work for me. I’m not exhausted all the time and have rediscovered the joy of having the time to read books again. I can experiment with new techniques and devote my time and attention to the stuff that matters. I might write an opposite post at some point about the first 2 years of business and how absolutely horrible it can be, but right now… I’m owning it.

zilker clubhouse wedding photos

I want to share an anecdote with you. Back when I still worked at the old state agency, I received a mass email from someone in a sister department to mine. The email invited us to an engagement party in a break room for one of the employees, and asked if we could all bring something or do something for the couple — you know, easy stuff, like bring a liter of Sprite, be in charge of the music, that sort of thing. At this point, I had been shooting weddings for over a year and thought it might be nice if I took pictures at the party. Nothing fancy, just random photos of people enjoying themselves, nibbling on cupcakes, chatting amongst themselves. (State agency daytime party equals just punch, no liquor.)

The woman organizing the party thought it was a great idea, and so on the day of the party I brought my camera. No one at the agency knew that I was a photographer, no one had a hint that this was a second job that I was pursuing, and to make it worse — I didn’t own up to it at all.

I took a photo of the groom- and bride-to-be with my D700, which has a very impressive click, and he said to me: “Wow, that’s a nice camera!”

You know what I said? I said, “Oh, thanks. It’s my dad’s. I borrowed it for the day.”

Why would I say that? I wasn’t ashamed of my business. It was doing pretty well, in fact. But for some reason I did not want to divulge this, didn’t want to start a conversation that would inevitably lead to price discussions, wedding industry gripes, and quips about bridezillas. I’d timidly stepped into this conversation once before with my coworkers, by offhandedly remarking how much we spent on our own wedding photos, and you’d have thought that Beyoncé had died, the way they reacted. So at my day job, I was just a quiet person who did my work and did not mention anything about my creative side.

It’s taken some time for me to come out of my shell. At parties, when I was still juggling two jobs, if someone asked me what I did, I would timidly say, “I shoot weddings?” It wasn’t what was supporting us financially, so it really did feel like a question to me.

But now, I own it. Yeah, I shoot weddings. I love my job. Yeah, it’s awesome. Yes, there’s tons of cake! Cake every weekend. Cake all the time! 

And I’ve gotten better at dealing with my daily schedule, too. The last time I updated, I wrote about how I was trying to structure my day the way I wanted it to be structured. If that means reading as soon as I wake up, so be it. Getting my workout in before I turn on a computer, sure! I work Saturdays and use Mondays for chores — grocery shopping and batch-meal-cooking (crock pots are genius), vacuuming and decompressing. My new routine makes sense to me.

I don’t know how else to say it, because really, the past few months have felt more dream-like than reality, but: this is my life now. This is what I do. This is how I am.

This is what makes me happy.

Jill & Zach | Offbeat Backyard Wedding

backyard wedding photographer

I’m a little bit in love with this wedding. When Jill and Zach described their initial wedding ideas, they said all sorts of wonderful things that all sounded extremely exciting, such as: backyard wedding (swoon, my heart), green dip-dyed Wai-Ching dress, doggie ring bearer, funfetti cake! When I arrived on the day of their wedding, on that very cold, clear day in Abilene and everyone there was so friendly and excited, I knew it was going to be incredible.

Jill and Zach were married in a gazebo on the lawn. Their unity ceremony was actually a Lego-heart that they built together before their first kiss! The groom’s mother made the funfetti cake with green ombre hearts. There was plenty of coffee and cocoa and 799 paper cranes (“because this is how many days Jill and Zach have known each other!”) Their sendoff was their guests throwing handful of fake eco snow! It was, in short, absolutely wonderful… and I’m so happy to share this with you today! Here are just a few of my favorites from Jill and Zach’s amazing backyard wedding!

green dip dyed wai ching dress shoes and keychainswedding ring shotsbride gets makeup done b&w wedding photo groom ties tie with father wedding first look wedding first look wedding first look kiss groomsmen line up for wedding wedding dog ring bearer bride walks with both parents groom waiting at altar sees bride texas backyard wedding photos bridesmaid hands over the ring groom reading his vows bride reading her vows bride tears up during wedding ceremonhy guests during wedding ceremony bride and groom exchange rings using a lego for a wedding unity ceremony wedding first kiss green dip dyed dress indochino suitaustin wedding photographergreen wedding dresswedding portraits bride and groomgreen ombre cake do it together wedding happy wedding guests happy wedding guests happy wedding guests fake eco snow for winter wedding exit

 

Hello, Friday | It’s Not a Double Exposure!

reflection photo

I’ve been playing around with some ideas recently during weddings and sessions, and really having fun with it. I think it’s too fun to not share with people.

These images are not double exposures, as some folks have thought. They are each one shot, taken with a reflective surface held near the lens. Any guesses as to the reflective object?

iphone5

Yup.

So, I’ve been exploring the idea of shoot-throughs for interesting texture — shooting through leaves or flowers or jars or string-lights or what-have-you. Available objects. For instance, for Jill and Zach’s engagement session, I photographed them through a pile of 3 mini mason jars that the café used as water glasses (seen as the blur in the foreground):

http://elissarphotography.com

Or this shot of Angelica and Christopher, shot through twinkle lights:

http://elissarphotography.com

And one day a while back I was wandering around a store and saw pocket mirrors, and I thought… I should carry a pocket mirror with me for shoots. But all of them had really distinct plastic edges, and I didn’t want to carry around a mirror without an edge (it sounds like a good recipe to cut a hand open). Then I realized I had a reflective little item in my bag already: my iPhone. I tested it out on Chieko and Robby:

austin engagement photographer in houston

You can see the pink edge of my phone case. It looks like a mirror. It wasn’t until Maggie and Daniel’s wedding that I really tested it out and made sure that hot-pink edge didn’t show up…

creative church wedding photo

And then I pulled it out for Amanda and Gene’s session and really liked the effect:

creative couples shot

That’s all there is to it! I’m still new to this, but it’s fun to play around. Used well, the images that come out look pretty darn magical, I’d say.

So go play :)