Are you Mom to a teenage daughter?
Are you looking for connection, encouragement, and tips on how to navigate these crazy teen girl years?
Then grab your camera and your coffee, and join us!
Something is changing. I can feel it.
Every morning, I sit down to write, and nothing comes out. I mean nothing. Nada. Zilch. Writing blog posts is becoming less fun and more challenging. It used to be something I looked forward to, something that poured out of me. Now, I find myself looking at a blank computer screen day after day.
I've been wondering what has changed.
So I've been doing a little digging.
First I went to my blog. I checked out the numbers. Did a little research. I took a look at what blog posts get the most views. What do people enjoy reading from me? I discovered that it was my personal blog posts that were most read. The ones about my own children, my own struggles, my own journey. These are my most read blog posts.
Now, before I say anything else, let me just clarify that I know this is not because my life is so interesting or dramatic. Far from it. I'm a wife, and a mom of three kids, doing some photography work on the side, trying (and way too often failing) to keep my ducks in a row. This is not very different than most of the women I know who are reading this blog.
So what is it then, that makes these blog posts more popular? I'm not 100% sure, but I might have an idea. More on that in a bit.
But first, let's go back to my searching. After I searched through the numbers, I did some searching internally, because this is where I seem most stuck.
As I said earlier, I would spend day after day staring at a blank computer screen, or rewriting that one task on my "to do" list- WRITE BLOG POST. What was it that was making this task so difficult all of a sudden? I found myself doodling over and over, "What do I want to write about?"
I think this is where I'm getting stuck.
Like all of you, my life is not about one thing. I'm a wife, a mom, a photographer, a friend, a woman, a Christian, an American, a liberal. And on any given day, all of those things determine how I live my life.
But what does this have to do with my blog?
As I said earlier, I know that my life is not overflowing with intrigue and drama. I know that's not why women are more drawn to my personal blog posts. I believe it has more to do with who we are as women. We are all complex creatures. We all have loved ones, jobs, personal interests, points of view on everything from sports, to politics, to faith and religion. We all struggle to keep our ducks in a row. So we are drawn to others who understand us.
I believe I have been struggling with my blog lately, because I'm less interested in writing about the basics of photography, and more drawn to writing about things that matter today. The struggles of parenting, the questions I have about my faith and my country, the overwhelming desire I have to help those around me who need so much help. My heart wants to focus on people. Whether those people are my kids, my husband, my friends, my family, or whether those people are people in my community whom I've never met, those who need someone to stand with them. Well, that's where my heart is focusing.
I have always felt that this blog was an extension of my business. Teach moms how to take better photos of their kids. Show women how to prepare for portrait sessions. Discuss the basics of photography.
Perhaps it still is. I don't know.
And so I'm asking for your help. Please!
Before I spend another day staring at a blank screen, I'd like to ask for your input. After all, it's you who read these posts. So tell me...
Do you prefer the tutorials of photography?
Or would you rather read about life? My life? How perhaps it relates to your life?
The statistics seem to show me that you prefer the latter. But the blog that I created was initially intended for the former. On the other hand, I love sharing my stories, and taking you on my journey through life. Still, it is my photography that I believe can help me reach out to serve others.
So what am I doing?
I'm not sure yet. And I apologize for taking you on this carousel of a blog post. The question is still there. What do I want to write about? What do you want to read about? How can my words help others? How can I reach others? Who is my audience? Who are you? How can we connect?
Today's blog topic has been on my mind a lot lately.
But before I start in on how to create one, it might be important to explain what the heck one is, and why it would be so helpful to us moms.
Well, I'm not sure. I just made that term up. But the way I see it, whenever I decide to try something new, the first thing I do is call one of my friends. Starting a new fitness program? Text my girls. Thinking about a 30 Day Whole Food Challenge? Call the crew! Ready to take on the challenge of improving my photography? Yup. Time to call the girls.
I cannot be alone in not wanting to be alone. We women seem wired to do things in groups, in communities. Heck, we even go to the ladies' room in communities (ok, we don't call them communities, but still, we all know we do it). Women want community.
We women love being together, but why?
First, we know that "in union there is strength" (-Aesop). If I want to succeed, I'll have a better shot at it if I'm not alone. Think about the last time you attempted a challenge. Maybe you decided to eat healthy for 30 days, or you found a race you wanted to start training for. Did you go it alone? How did that work for you? Chances are you made it a week, maybe 10 days into that plan of yours, and then quit. Ever attempt something with a group? Did you accomplish that goal? Probably. Or at least came a lot closer to the finish line. We truly find strength in numbers. Community builds strength, it builds confidence and support. There are many days when I feel like I can accomplish anything if my girls are with me.
Second, community breeds growth. Not just literally (yes, obviously a group is more than one person), but physically, intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally. The older I get, the more I'm learning that there is a LOT I don't know. I love the irony in that. When I join a community, whether online, or here on campus, I learn. A community is a place to ask questions about a specific topic, and get answers from real people. Just recently my friends and I joined together to complete a Whole 30 Challenge (nothing but whole foods for 30 days- woah). What I learned right away was that I didn't have a clue about how to eat "whole compliant". And then I learned recipes, and tips for cooking. I learned about where to shop, and where not to. I learned so much in 30 days. And so did the other ladies. Communities breed learning.
And third, communities challenge us. Please tell me I'm not the only thick-headed lady here. Anyone? OK, maybe it's just me, but I tend to form opinions and then latch on to them like they are the only truth out there. But when I join a community, sometimes those rock-hard opinions are challenged. Oh my way of training is not the only way there is? You mean Pilates can be as beneficial as running? Wait, are you saying that eating real food with real fat is ok? WHAT? Communities are a great place to take those opinions and give them a run for their money. Communities foster open-mindedness and thoughtful conversation. With proper rules of course, communities allow us to see the world outside of our little box, and maybe to change a few of our unchangeable opinions.
OK, so we've got the what and the why, but what about the how? Well, there are some simple ways to create communities, specifically Momtography communities, as that's what this blog topic is about, right?
Yes, it's that simple. Thinking of improving your momtography? Call the girls! Or should I say text, or email, or FB message them. However you wrangle your group, do it. Ask a few if they'd be interested in joining you in this venture. Invite them to ask some others. Chances are you'll recruit at least one or two buddies to take the challenge with you. And you are on your way to learning, growing, and improving together.
If you strike out with the ladies at home, then get on line. You can search Facebook for almost any kind of group you can imagine. Fitness groups, business groups, arts and crafts, you name it, it's out there. So take a look around your social media sites for already formed groups on the topic you want to explore. Or better yet...
How awesome would it be if you could just join a community right here to improve your momtography? Well, why not! It's happening! Like I said earlier, this is a topic that has been on my heart and mind for a long time. Workbooks are great, and ebooks, or blog posts, but there really is nothing like real live (sort of) community with real people, sharing real questions and struggles, real help and support from experts (that's me) and friends (that's all of you). REAL COMMUNITY!
Anybody else up for this?
Great! Then let's do this!
This JLP Momtography Community is coming soon, but before I launch it, I want feedback from real moms. So click on the link above, or comment below and tell me what you'd love to have in our JLP Momtography Community.
* Daily JLP Tips for improving your photography.
* Fun challenges to attempt together to get you out of your comfort zone.
* Weekly topics and sharing options (like Location Share Monday, where friends share their favorite places to shoot, or Feedback Friday, when we share images and ask for feedback from others).
* Regular posts filled with resources from my favorite photography experts.
* Contests and giveaways on JLP treats, and other cool momtography goodies!
* Special discounts for community members on new JLP products, sessions, and more.
* Opportunities to share mom questions, relating to photography- and relating to life!
Moms, I get you. I AM YOU! I know that your kids are the most beautiful, the most precious, and the most insane creatures you have every laid eyes on. I know that every single day they do something that either makes your heart melt, or maybe skip a beat in your chest, turning your hair another shade closer to gray. I know that the days go sooooooooooooo slow, but the years just seem to fly by. Your kids are the best kids in the world, and if you survive today with them (or they survive each other today!), then you want to have tangible memories of this day. Not just the special occasions each year, but today. This random summer morning, which is nothing special… except that it is so special, because it's a day with them.
But who can afford a professional photographer every single day? And in what world (besides reality TV) does a person with a camera follow you around capturing all the beautifully mundane moments of your life? Yeah, I didn't think so.
So who is going to capture all these special everyday moments?
You, that's who!
Now I know what you're saying. "I don't even know how to use a camera! I can hardly get a handle on my iPhone camera, let alone the DSLR that I got for my birthday!" I know. But I'm here to help.
And yes, I know what else you're saying. "I don't have time for a photography class! I've got work, and home, and those kids we were just ooh and ahhing over!" Yes, I know that too. But I'm here to help.
And yes, I know what else you're saying...
I get it. I'm a mom, remember? So I think like a mom, I shoot like a mom, and I create like a mom and for a mom.
Yes, I create like a mom and for a mom. And so my latest creation is Spruce Up Your Momtography (And Have Fun While You Do It!), a mini workbook created just for moms to offer you some simple but effective tips on how to capture the beauty of everyday life with your kids. It's a mini workbook which means you won't need to carve out a month to go through it (because what mom can do that???), but it's got enough good stuff in it to give you a solid jumping off point to get out there with your kids and capture some great shots.
It's got instructions, examples, and assignments to keep you learning, visualizing, and working.
Yes, I said free! Why free? Because I'm a mom and I get moms! And any smart mom out there needs to be sure of what's she's getting before she invests one single penny in it.
I want every mom out there to have something quick and easy in her hands to help her start capturing her family's everyday moments today. I want to make moms' lives easier, not give them something else to stress over.
So moms, this one's for you.
Then get out there and enjoy today with your kids. After all, today's a special day, right?
The last month has been quite exciting for Avery and me, as we've partnered up to create Valley Girls Photography, and to bring you the first of what we hope are many workshops geared towards empowering girls of all ages through photography.
Have no idea what I'm talking about? Catch up on the blog posts HERE, HERE, and HERE.
We are MOST excited about today, the launch of our VERY FIRST WORKSHOP!
The Portrait Power Workshop is for girls, ages 10-13, and their moms, and we are preparing a jam-packed and powerful afternoon for all. With an emphasis on photography, we hope to educate, encourage, and empower mothers and daughters to celebrate their authentic beauty.
We're talking dynamic group activities, outdoor portrait lessons and application, even take home swag bags to continue the conversations afterwards.
The cost is ONLY $50 for each daughter. Mothers attend free as the guest of their girls.