Thursday, November 10, 2011

{Thankful Thursday - Studio Open House Edition}

If I'm not super busy - trying to stay super busy - to avoid being a sap, then I'm really, truly just a big sap. Eh, just keep reading and you'll see why. I'm a lovable sap though.

Tomorrow is my open house. I'm excited. Maybe a little nervous. But more excited. When I first stumbled on the space I am renting {found it through a friend and neighbor - yay for Shelly!} I saw the beautiful light streaming in and knew it would be perfect for what I need working with natural light.

And my husband thought: "Yeah, it'd be nice to have our front porch back." :) Porch ='d prop room.

I didn't think about it too much though. It was full of exercise equipment and hadn't really been occupied too much probably in the recent months. Not to mention, I had no clue if the owner would be even ok with considering my idea to rent.

But like most really cool things in life when they happen, they happen without you even really pushing for them. When I first saw the studio it was end of winter/early spring. Now it's end of fall/early winter.

After I got the go ahead to rent the space - things naturally just fell into place. I was able to go and paint, clean up the area a bit. {Although it had been remodeled a few years back and was actually in great shape to start with - it needed some touch up work.} Then in the summer the local photography business in town shut down and sold a bunch of it's items of. Which.. I went a little bonkers and bought a lot of the vintage props I liked - I was able to walk through and pick some things out that I wanted since I was a local. I love this small town.

So fully stocked on props and with a newly painted studio room - I started ordering prints, buying items needed to furnish the place.

There was this fabulous orange couch, butterfly pillow and black chair...

Picking prints out to place on your walls and represent YOU when you have SO much to choose from is REALLY hard! I picked some of my personal favorites from the past year and ordered them. I also ordered two huge canvases as well of some favorite weddings.

Among the decorations were a few things that truly reminded me of my sister Jess - who is the entire inspiration behind my monarch branding. She had this green partition that she used to keep in her bedroom. She'd rest her guitar on it. I remember seeing it and always thinking it was so Jessy. It sits in the corner of the studio now, near the picture I first took in my college photography class 17 years ago of my first true photographic subject... my sister.

When my canvases came I unwrapped them alone in the studio. I kept thinking, someone should be here to be excited with me! And then I thought about my sister, of course. I cried a few good minutes, partially out of happiness to see my beautiful canvases, partially out of sadness b/c my sister wasn't there with me. I think that was the moment it hit me... "yeah! I get to use this awesome room to photograph clients!" It was a complete moment of gratefulness and hopefulness - combine that with missing someone and you get that sap part I was talking about earlier. :)

It was like that tonight when I looked around before I left. I stood there in the doorway like a kid who had just cleaned her room and knew her momma would be proud. Everything was in its place and ready for tomorrow. Cozy, quaint, antique and very Josephiney. Couldn't help but wonder if Jess can look down and if she's proud of me.

I thought about the beautiful gifts that people had given me as housewarming/studiowarming  presents. The friendships. The gratefulness I had for each of them. I thought about all the things that brought me to today. The losses, the heartaches, the struggles, the accomplishments. I thought about how if I could go back in time and rewind fate and change the course of my sister's life - my business may have been different - definitely not represented by a monarch. Not even sure if I would have pushed myself as hard as I have over the last three years. How I'd trade that all to go back to when Jess was still living, but of course that lies out of my hands.

Reminds me of a quote:
"One of life's quiet excitements is to stand somewhat apart from yourself and watch yourself softly becoming the author of something beautiful, even if it is only falling ash." - Norman Maclean.

But.. I thought about how my studio room, so carefully decorated with monarch accents and themes is part of the representation of my driving force - not just my business branding. The same driving force that turns pain into progress for me and serves as a reminder that transformation on earth is never ending. We are always changing to the next better state, or should be. The monarch butterfly to me represents so much. Mostly it represents my sister because it's the same butterfly that flew around my head that day before her funeral as the very butterfly I found tucked away in her Bible on paper the day of her funeral.  But equally - as she wrote in her Bible - it represents transformation. Being broken in order to transform into something beautiful.

The change of life.
Her very own words.

One of my brides from this past summer who I consider a friend {how did I get so lucky as to have this job where I make these awesome friends and get to be a part of photographing the very people they love?} She told me that I should step back and take some of it in. I like that. It is a small studio. I am no Olan Mills. I am however, very boutique. Very me. By no means have I arrived or finished anything on this journey. I'm just taking another step. I have so far yet to go. I am simply grateful to have been able to find such a fantastic space - owned by fantastic people - and with hopes to help me become a fantastic photographer.

Here's to an exciting step that starts tomorrow morning with the cutting of a ribbon and a phrase I whole-heartedly believe in... Live Your Dreams. 

I feel like I am living mine. :) They may be small, but they're mine.