I'm always thankful, especially when the world gets loud and confusing, to have prayer as an outlet for peace in my troubled heart. As an avid news watcher, I have a moment almost everyday where I want to shut things out, pretend they're different, or flat out ignore them. I've learned, however, that it's better to have candid conversations and authentic opinions.
That is how change occurs and how bridges are built.
As a higher education professional and a small business owner, these worldwide issues also require careful thought, understanding, and counsel, simply because they often directly affect my everyday work. Societal trends, legislative decisions, wartime conflict-- they're never quite as far from home as we'd like them to be. They show up in my classroom, my advising appointments, my consultations with clients. Sometimes, however, they give us a positive opportunity to have a conversation that's been brewing and for me, this is one of those moments.
In light of the recent events happening in Indiana regarding the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act", I wanted to take a moment to talk about this business, its values, and who I hope to serve through photography.
This is not a breakdown of the law, the many sides/opinions there are surrounding it etc. nor is this an expose on other businesses and their approaches. All I can do is speak for me and as a Christian business owner, I definitely feel like the responsibility is warranted as the firestorm grows around this legislation and it's implications for all of us.
So, let's keep this simple:
I, am a Christian. I believe in The Gospel, the story of Jesus, his life & resurrection, and live by the tenants of the Bible, all of which I believe are true & God given. This is the foundation of my life, family, friendships and marriage.
This business, is named from Genesis 1:27, the part of the creation story where life was made. "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." The name captured in His image, in fact, was laid on my heart during a super dark and lonely season of life. I knew God was calling me to create this business and out of prompting did so, but not without dragging my feet and asking him "why". I still don't have the full picture but the name has stayed throughout the 5 year journey because 1.) the story of it matters to me and 2.) I've yet to come up with something better.
My clients have been hands down the best part of the small business journey. I have met people I would never have from all walks of life: socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, religious belief, cultural background has never been a dividing line. My job is to help tell the story-- the first few days home from the hospital, the intertwined hands of a newly engaged couple, the first gaze on a wedding day. Though the tendency for businesses to attract clients that are "like them" is definitely real, my goal has never been for people to feel like they are not able to be a CIHI client because of who they are, or aren't for that matter. To my knowledge, this has never happened, but I don’t want to leave a stone unturned.
Please hear me, you as you is the client I want to work with. What do you believe? What do you value? Who do you love? I want to know these things, to learn, to laugh and capture the intricacies of it all. Matching preferences, tendencies, and experiences is not on my list, though I'm sure we'll find commonalities to celebrate!
If working with a makeup artist and styling your clothing isn't your thing, I might not be the photographer for you. I'm going to want you to love details, to think about naturally lit, clean lined spaces. Those are things we can talk about and shake hands or walk away on. But lifestyle? Religious beliefs? Can we agree not to make decisions about one another based solely on that?
The street is 2-ways. I struggle most days with sharing my faith and feeling like doors are immediately slamming all around me because of "what it means to be a Christian in America" right now. Not to mention it's not a popular choice to be open about in the world's J and I live in (education, photography, and theater). And yet, it's who we are and as individuals committed to furthering inclusive environments, we owe it to ourselves to be open even when it's hard.
The beauty of this life is that God created us all perfectly to be imperfect and uniquely to live life in many ways the same.
My heart beats for people. My purpose is not to draw dividing lines. If we're not a fit for each other, I hope that it's because we've had a conversation and I've sent you along to one of my talented Tampa Bay colleagues who can better meet your portrait needs.
I love you, friend. I really do. Thank you for reading & for journeying with me. If you have any questions whatsoever, I'd love to talk-- firstname.lastname@example.org
in His love,