thanksgiving | no phone, no laptop, just mountains + family

I spent most of last week with my family in a cabin tucked away in the mountains. I decided a while back (with much encouragement) to take complete holiday. laptop free. phone free. WORK FREE. It sounds simple, it really does. Even I thought it was kind of a small order, but as the weeks went by… the to-do lists grew and the editing pile built.

So, that week I learned two things.

1. It’s okay to sprint, as long as you aren’t trying a marathon at that pace.

2. Some times the second mile isn’t in reach, and THAT’S OKAY. You just have to let certain things go. You can’t manage it all. No one hates you for being a small person, with 24 hours a day.

After a long-haul 4 a.m workday/night, I woke up Wednesday morning and quickly packed. We hit the ground around 8:00a.m. At about 8:15, I deleted instagarm, facebook, and snapchat, and turned off notifications for emails, messages, whatsapp, and phone calls. I was officially off the grid.

The get-away was wonderful. I took about 100 photos the whole week… which is shockingly low in my books. I went on my first few hikes without a camera in years. Feeling a new sense of bravery climbing rocks and looking over edges with the lack of camera-anxiety. I wasn’t quite aware just how much I don’t try or do with my camera strapped to me.

Even when I wanted to, I couldn’t reach for my computer to check an email, or edit even when I was in the “mood.” Instead, I did lots of yoga, reflection, reading, and card-playing. I am slowly trekking my way through Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley. Gosh, what spark to light before coming home! Seriously, this book has me dreaming big, ready for action! Highly recommend it even though I haven’t even finished it yet.

For actual Thanksgiving, we all slept in till our hearts (and bodies) desired. We aren’t a major traditional-food kind of a family, so we opted out of turkey and stuffing for our family favorite: Raclette, the description for which is:

“Raclette was mentioned in medieval writings in texts from Swiss-German convents dating from as far as 1291,[4] , it’s a particularly nutritious meal, originally consumed by peasants in the mountainous Alpine regions of Valais (Switzerland), Savoie and Haute-Savoie (France). It was then known in the German-speaking part of Switzerland as Bratchäs, or “roasted cheese”. Traditionally, cow herders used to take the cheese with them when they were moving cows to or from the pastures up in the mountains. In the evenings around the campfire, they would place the cheese next to the fire and, when it had reached the perfect softness, scrape it on top of bread.”

“A modern way of serving raclette involves an electric table-top grill with small pans, known as coupelles, in which to melt slices of raclette cheese. Generally the grill is surmounted by a hot plate or griddle. The cheese is brought to the table sliced, accompanied by platters of boiled or steamed potatoes, other vegetables and charcuterie. These are then mixed with potatoes and topped with cheese in the small, wedge-shaped coupelles that are placed under the grill to melt and brown the cheese. Alternatively, slices of cheese may be melted and simply poured over food on the plate. The emphasis in raclette dining is on relaxed and sociable eating and drinking, the meal often running to several hours.”

AND lastly, in so many words, these are a few things, this year, I am thankful for:

  • My family, including time with my brother in law, Josh.
  • Freakin Memphis and its amazing creators
  • Opportunity and the risk friends and clients have taken to support me
  • Planes and tickets that have taken me around the world this year
  • Best friends who don’t let Facetime feel less than an in-person coffee date
  • Memphis water
  • Friends’ babies that make me want to hold a baby. (that’s you, Clark Daniel and Liam Knightly!)
  • Evergreen trees + wildflowers that sneak up in places they shouldn’t
  • The Michalaks, The Mustards, Sprinkle of Glitter, Our Tiny Tribe, and Safiya Nygaard (to name a few of the youtubers who inspire me weekly.)
  • Butternut Squash
  • Twinkly lights and brick walls
  • My faithful car that has carried me far

Here are a few of my captures from Thanksgiving in the Smokies:

I MOVED | WHAT- WHERE- WHY

So first things first: I moved. Don’t worry, I’m still in Memphis! This move is semi-permanent, in the sense that I know an end date for how long I’ll be here. I’ll probably be in Memphis afterwards, but you never know where the Lord will lead me. Here are some FAQs about my move!

What!

I know! eeeep

Where?

I now live in a pocket neighborhood behind Walnut Grove. I have some awesome new roommates named Bekah and Maggie; I already love living with them. They let me drink their coffee, so…it’s a good deal.

Why?

Pretty short and simple: it was an unexpected move.When I graduated from high school and decided not to go to college, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. As I’ve started learning how to work from home, though, it has become clear that it’s difficult to fit your bedroom and your office into one average-sized bedroom space. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t think size is always necessary–companies like IKEA can help you prioritize organization. I think it’s really important to live a minimal lifestyle in terms of organization and how much stuff you have. I strive to live a life like this, but even I began to feel claustrophobic in my own space due to all of the equipment I have. I haven’t narrowed down exactly where I want to

be–I mean, I don’t know if I ever will–I think I just know that I will always want to be creator. I don’t have a designated “creation” or outlet so to speak–I think in general it will probably always include photography, but I’m not confident enough to say that photography will be what I do for the rest of my life. Because of that, I have a lot of other art supplies including canvases, paint, packaging materials, and loads more in boxes I was never able to be unpack at my old house. My space at the new house is twice as big, with lots of additional storage space. Being able to find a place for things and store my equipment has been a huge blessing.

Did something happen with my roommates?

This is more of a personal note, especially for my friends and family who really didn’t expect the move. Before this, I lived with my best friends Hope and Katherine. Hope and I moved in together July after graduation from high school, so I really haven’t known living with anyone but her, and then Katherine joined us not too long after. To be clear: there was by no means any tension there. The move was not an emotional decision–it was very practical. There have been many tears shed after having separated the three musketeers. I will seriously hold dear the memories of living with Hope and Katherine for the rest of my life. I’m going to be always telling all of the crazy stories and talking about all the laughter and fun we had. We’re excited to learn how to be friends now– that is, how to schedule out intentional time together and hopefully that will go really well. It’s already been really strange not coming home to see them, so I am slowly learning and would definitely appreciate prayers in that area.

What does your new space look like? How have you set it up?

One thing that attracted me when I walked in was the beautiful stone floor and the exposed brick wall. I ended up painting the wall with white primer and I’m really happy with the results. My friend Emily Gluntz was the final push that convinced me to do it and we did it together with two gallons of primer paint. We did one layer with brushes to get into the mortar and grooves and the second layer was done with a roller–my new roommate Maggie ended up helping us roll too. In the end, we did it in four hours. I was actually moved in before then, but the space is big enough that I was able to move everything away from the wall before painting. On one side of the room, I have a standing desk that I got from Autonmous, and my bed is on the other. I decided to make the brick wall a feature wall mainly because I think it’s unique and it’s what makes the room really feel like a studio apartment. I have an awesome table that was built for my sister’s wedding by her husband Josh, who heads up Olive & Iron Woodcraft. He does some personal projects on the side so if you’re interested in getting a new piece of furniture built, let me know and I’ll send you to his inbox. I really wanted to put that table in here because 1. the space was available and 2. I want this room to be filled with art and artists, and I want to be able to share this space. I feel like I would never have dreamed I would be able to live in a space like this when I was 19, and I want to give it back to other artists as much as I can. Super excited about the future of it! On another wall, I have a seating area and my big ficus, and also a huge closet that has allowed me to expand and unpack a lot of those boxes I mentioned before. If you would like to come by and work and treat my place like a coffee shop, you are welcome to! I have been able to stay at home a lot more and work from home and I’m excited about that. I hope to continue to soak in the amazing opportunity to live here. What I’ve learned in this process is that the Lord is not held by leases– and when His will is to be done, His will is to be done and there is no fighting it.

How are you doing?

I am doing well! This space has been life-giving. There is space to create, breathe, stretch, and separate my work and personal life. I’m loving inviting friends and even clients over to have coffee. I am enjoying having an area for messy art while keeping my “work” desk clean (since there are two desks). I have felt growing pains, but I know His plan is greatest. Thanks for asking!

Here is some PICS from the whole process.

 

Some BEFORE and AFTER!

THIS IS MOVE DAY:

 

GETTING READY FOR BED IS LIKE THE BEST WITH FAIRY LIGHTS

+ WE HAVE TOO MANY SELFIE MIRRORS IN THE HOUSE (GUILTY

The lovely Jo of JoDarling Photography took a few photos of me in my room:

EFC | FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU STARTED PHOTOGRAPHY?

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I was 12 when I picked up my first camera, trailing behind my big sister with her big camera. I started pursuing photography as more than a hobby sophomore year of high school when a friend handed me some cash after we frolicked around a field taking her senior photos. As I grew in the time I spent with my camera by my side, my friends and family starting seeing more potential than even I saw! And then my life changed forever (age 16) when a couple trusted me to take photos at their wedding that same year, 2014. And it’s been a whirlwind since! Booking through word of mouth and my portfolio circulating through platforms like my blog and Instagram.

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WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

I grew up interacting with so many cultures and peoples. I spent my childhood by the Mediterranean Sea speaking Turkish and eating lot of veggies. I currently live in “the City of Blues”, Memphis, TN, where you can find me in any of the coffee shops within 10 miles of my apartment.  I travel as often as I can. Every new place I visit, when someone asks me this question, it usually stumps my heart. I never fully felt like I fit in Turkey, nor do I feel as though America is my home. I don’t really know where I am from but I cling to the truth of Philippians 3:20.

“ BUT OUR CITIZENSHIP IS IN HEAVEN. AND WE EAGERLY AWAIT A SAVIOR FROM THERE, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.”

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BABY EMILY IN TURKEY

 Why photography? 

Simply put: it’s just me. There is something pure magic about stopping time. In such a visual world, I love that I can spark emotion, capture moments, and deliver work that allows my clients to cherish their memories. I love the responsibility I have to capture something that won’t ever happen again. And I love that I am growing and getting better each day I pick up my camera.

I know I will never stop taking photos because, like I said, it is truly a part of who I am. I think in colors and composition. I process life and events through photos. I pray I will always have the opportunity to empower, encourage, and evoke. I don’t think photos should only be happy. I choose to pick up my camera to be a communicator. A photo is worth a thousand words. I don’t control your interpretation of an image, and that is a beautiful thing.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE PRODUCT/BRAND PHOTOGRAPHY?

Community over competition is what I am all about, and I never want to lose that. I love coming alongside other entrepreneurs and creatives, empowering them in their own goals and dreams.

If I didn’t have microphone anxiety I would absolutely love to be an inspirational speaker. That being said, I love to be a one-on-one catalyst. My passion is to set goals, write mission statements, and make things happen. There is a world full of people with ideas scribbled on napkins and journals, but they are never challenged or given the tools to make their dreams grow into a reality. I want to be there with the passionate individual and help breathe life into their visions, to be their one-on-one inspirational speaker and tool kit.

You need QUALITY photos to launch your product/brand. Photos that capture you as the maker and creator, photos that show off your products in a lifestyle way. That’s what I am about.

WHAT ARE YOUR BIGGEST DREAMS?

1. I want to be a humanitarian photographer. I want to use my skills and heart to serve the nations, shedding light on the culture, joy, as well as hurt in cultures and nations. I want to serve with those being a voice for the voiceless. I don’t want to just photograph someone. I want to dignify them, empower them.

2. Community Creative Space. My brother-in-law and I have dreamed of starting a community building/studio for creatives in our city/a city. A place where photographers, designers, videographers, illustrators, entrepreneurs come together to work alongside each other at community desk areas. Turning screens around, brainstorming big ideas on white boards and windows. Community over competition at its very finest!

3. I would love to write or commission someone to write a biography on my parents’ story, covering from the day they met to current day. From the date my mom accidentally spilled a whole glass of ice water on my dad; to the day my dad asked her parents’ blessing in marriage, communicating “You won’t watch your grandkids grow up. We want to move overseas”; to their around-the-world trip, straight to living in Turkey for 20 years. Their legacy inspires me daily, and I think it’s a book that would impact so many.

HOW DO YOU TRAVEL SO OFTEN?

After growing up overseas, I’ve got the travel bug strong. Thankfully my TCK (third culture kids) friends still live all over the world AND are getting married. So a lot of my travels are to visit them/shoot their weddings. I am continuing networking and one of my goals by 2019 is to have almost 80% destination weddings/out of Memphis weddings. SO, where ever you are, hit me up!

As for personal trips, as with most things that are luxury and not necessity, you give up a lot to have something else you want. I don’t go to movies, concerts, and festivals. I try to stay frugal on clothes and stay conservative on how much camera gear I invest in and keep. ALL in order to save for long trips. I love LIVING as long as I can in a place I visit to truly experience the feel, culture, people, set up, and way of life.

WHAT DOES YOUR WEEK/DAY LOOK LIKE?

Honestly, it’s different every week, but in general my to-do lists look a lot like a scatter-brained 15 year old with priority issues. Every week I log about 40-50 hours of work split into about 5 categories (listed from most time to least time spent): Editing, Shooting, Bookkeeping, Media (blog/Insta/website/fb), and Client Care (emails, meetings, calls, etc.).

You can find me working in coffee shops (especially Avenue Coffee, our local spot open till 12a.m.), in airports, on planes, in the car on road trips, on trains, (have yet to work on a boat), in my bedroom at my standing desk, anytime I can outside on my patio, on the floor at a friend’s house, or pretty much anywhere that week has me. I live on the go as much as I can, relishing new spaces that inspire me and help me create in a way that keeps me getting better and better. So to answer that question is kind of hard, but let’s just say I work as hard as I can wherever I am. 

WHAT EQUIPMENT DO YOU USE?

My main camera body is the Canon 6D (and my second is canon 6D) accompanied by the Canon 35mm 1.4f prime, and Sigma 50mm 1.4f prime. Every once in awhile you will catch me traveling with the 24-70mm 2.8f. For low light situations you can find me using the trusty Canon 600x flash. I edit on my 15 inch MacBook Pro with Adobe Lightroom. I stand behind Photo Mechanic and BlogStomp as lifesavers, as well. I use Mailchimp for my monthly newsletter, as well. My favorite app is TOGGL for self-employed folks like myself.

WHO DESIGNED YOUR LOGO AND WEBSITE?

My AWESOME brother-in-law through KINGSMAN CREATIVE. Seriously the bomb. Check out his work! He’s committed to taking the time to build something that’s inspired by you.

Learning From the Wise | Travel

As I travel, I grow. I start to observe and question the people I’m with. You know yourself more and more interacting with other cultures and out of your comfort zone. I have experienced such self-evaluation, and I believe it is an opportunity lost, if one does not ask of another’s evaluation journey. Everyone I’ve stayed with has experienced multiple cultures both living and visiting. I want to hear their words – their wisdom. When in any other circumstance do you observe and talk with the same couple of people for such a condensed saturated amount of time then when you visit? You get to hand pick the traditions, habits, and priorities you see to take home with you from those experiences. I encourage you to ask the big questions. Ask questions you haven’t answered for yourself. Don’t be afraid of conviction. Take it all with a grain of salt, but don’t run from truth.

The time I spend in my friends homes who live in Europe always reminds me of my global heart. How much I value world view, hospitality, food, history, and culture. The best way for me to learn is hands on. So to feel the cobble roads under my feet teaches me the age of the city. My hands running over the walls, confirms this things I’ve heard.

Here is a little collection of my lyon ootds at the Fords to go along with these thoughts.