Thursday, December 12, 2013

This Year's Journey

I know it's a little early for a New-Year's-Eve type post, but I can't help being reflective already.  When I look back at all the changes in our life over the past 12 months, it's amazing where God has taken us.  My husband entered the year being a part of his original film company with two partners, but also knowing that he had been offered a management position at one of the largest wedding video companies in the city.  We spent the first part of the year wrestling with that.  Should he leave the company that he had built from the ground up over the past few years?  Should we take on something so big?  The idea of both of us working together as a husband/wife team at the new wedding video company is what won us over in the end, among other things.  We have always wanted to work together at something, and the fact that it was a husband/wife team asking us to come on as husband and wife sealed the deal.

That threw our lives into a flurry of activity.  We have never been busier.  Ever.  In. Our. Entire. Lives.  March - September was filled with literally sometimes 100-hour work weeks (70 hours would be considered taking it easy).  (Save for a day 10 trip in April where we went to Mexico and literally laid around and just slept for days on end because we were so exhausted).  Nick would do back-to-back weddings.  He would leave on Friday morning and I would see him Monday night.  Sometimes he would come home and leave again in the dark hours of the morning, and sometimes he didn't come home at night at all.  He had to miss the entirely of Easter as he spent the entire weekend working (literally, he slept one hour per night on the couch at the office while projects rendered out).  I  wanted to punch anyone I heard complain about long work hours during this time.  There were no days off - at least not for Nick.  He says he got days off, and I have to remind him that working 5-6 hours from home a couple times a month does not count as a day off.

There wasn't room for me to come on full time this year, so I kept both of my day jobs (working full time at the hospital, and teaching piano at night).  However, every spare lunch break, evening and weekend my mind had to shift gears to the company.  I would find myself walking to the skytrain from the hospital, with a backpack full of piano books heading to lessons, while I texted video clients.  Fridays were the worst.  8am - 4pm at the hospital followed by 4:30pm-12:30am at the company.  We made it all the way to almost the end of June before we hit a wall.  There was just so much work.  So many clients.  We turned and looked at each other and said, "This is not the life we believe God would call us to".  There has to be room outside of work for community, for friends, for family, for helping others, for seeing each other.  Those aren't "fillers" you cram in once a year when you have time.  Those are what life is about.  We looked at our budget and realized we really couldn't afford to quit.  And then we did it anyways.

We helped finish out the Summer and found ourselves completely on our own in October.  We braced ourselves for it to get hard.  It had been too long.  Nick had said "no" to too many opportunities and to too many people over the last year for him to have any leads.  We trimmed way back and prepared to live on my income alone and send Nick out to scrounge for a few hundred a month (since even with my having a government job AND a well-paid, part-time gig, you still can't have a mortgage here on that alone, which is sad when you consider our mortgage is less than almost all our friends' rent...).  Nick went out and connected like crazy.  He tried to re-establish relationships at church, and with friends, and with work contacts.  We even had a potential dream gig turn up for him, and thought he would get the job for sure.  Part time.  Not a great, but not a terrible salary either.  Close to home.  In the industry.  And God said... "no".  That's it.  Not, "No, because I want you to do this instead".  Just, "no."  And we said, "Okay, we're sad, but we'll trust you."

And then the miraculous happened.  We were only three or four weeks into "we have no idea what we're doing, but we know we're following God to... somewhere... eventually... we hope!"  Suddenly, all these jobs started to come in.  Nick was getting to do his favourite kind of work (Assistant Directing), with some of his favourite people, and unlike previous years, it wasn't for free this time!  I started to get some photography gigs.  We even decided to start our own little company - Paraphrase Productions - working together!  (Granted, I still have my other two jobs).  Nick ended up making more in his first month solo than he made with the large video company.  God just poured blessings into our lives.  Nick had satisfying and fulfilling work.  We had our own tiny company together.  We were both back on the worship team at church and volunteering.  We saw each other in the evenings.  We even had most weekends together.  We couldn't believe it.  I still get teary-eyed when I think of how gracious God was to us in our blind faith.  And then it happened.

Nick got a phone call.  The dream job we had originally wanted as we stepped out alone and God said no?  Three months later they were asking Nick to please come in because they wanted him.  It didn't work out with the previous hire, and they really wanted Nick.  You'ld think we would have jumped all over it immediately.  But we were cautious and took some time.  Because, you know, after a year like this, we had learned that what we actually wanted was whatever the heck God wanted because He obviously has a bigger plan.  Nick accepted the job this week.  And here we are.  Together.  With TIME.  Not as much as some people as we both still have 2-3 jobs each, but with what feels like oodles of it compared to the past months.  I'm still full time at the hospital and part time with piano.  I also do a very little bit of photography on the side with our new company.  Nick is half time at his new job and half time with our company.  We are in awe of God's provision, and so happy right now.  We have evenings (albeit LATE evenings) together.  We have most weekends.  We have time for holidays.  We have time for friends, and church, and family and community.  And most importantly, we have faith.  Faith that whatever could possibly be around the bend, as long as we're following God, we're right where we're supposed to be.  And we don't regret any of it.  Not even the hard stuff.

Yes, I realize I could have easily ended with the sentence above, but I had to add one thing.  The journey we just walked is NOT just work-related.  It can apply to anything in life.  God often takes us places we don't want to go.  He says, "Don't do that or don't go there", and we say, "Why not!?  That doesn't even make sense, God.  I'm just going to ignore that part of You, and follow the rest of You."  We actually think we know better than Him, and that our plan is better than His.  What I want to say is God does not need to explain Himself.  He loves you, so just TRUST Him.  Obey Him.  Even if Nick didn't get any work.  Even if he never got that phone call.  That's not what matters.  What matters is that REGARDLESS of the outcome, God has a plan, and it's a really good idea to just go with it.  He's read the entire book.  So just follow Him to the next chapter.

Monday, November 25, 2013

"Those People"

Today is the day I become one of "those people".

First off, I have a confession to make.  I'm sort of a jerk inside my head.  I default to the negative and worst-case scenarios.  This makes me a kind of solemn and often judgmental person.  I'm working on it, and slowly with God's help I will get better.  But I can be pretty mean with my thoughts - and sometimes they come out of my mouth.  Even before I knew what side of a camera was up, I would look at photographers' Facebook pages and turn to my husband and say, "Why do they have a FB page?  They don't even know what they're doing.  You can't just get a page on FB and be like, 'I'm legit now'.  What is that?".  (Because I knew soooooooooo much - that is sarcasm in case you missed that).

And OF COURSE I would never be one of "those people".  I would never put up a Facebook page before I was ready.  I would not be a wanna-be.  I would be the real deal.  Ha..ha.. hehe.. hum.. hmmmm...

Well, my husband and I decided that we would launch a joint business page on Facebook in the New Year.  He is starting his own film company, and I would be coming along side him with a bit of photography.  However, he's been getting a lot more projects and work than we first anticipated and it started to make more sense to launch it sooner.  So, today is the day.  Today is the day that we put up our page and I say to the world, "Hey world, I have a FB page, so I'm somewhat legit now and up for hire!".  I know I'm not there yet.  I know I have so much more to learn and do.  My images are still sometimes soft, and skin tones are the ever-constant battle.  I doubt myself and die a little bit inside every time I step up and start bossing people around - until I remember that I'm good at being bossy and find my stride, ha!  (Thankfully, hubby is totally "legit" and has over a decade of movie-making experience under his belt).

I know some people will probably look at my work and think, "What is she doing?".  But I suppose I probably deserve that ;).  So without further ado, here's my little corner of the world going public today:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Just For Fun

I've been doing a lot of posts lately that are largely photo-based, so here's a little text-based one to even things out :)

10 Random Facts About Me - Just Because:

1.  Even though I own an iPhone, with a Contacts List, I still manually dial in 90% of phone numbers by heart.  It's faster than opening the Contacts List.  I secretly like push-button phones because I can "hear" how fast I'm dialling.

2.  Whenever I am getting food or drinks for Nick and myself, I will eat/drink the difference if one plate or cup has more than the other when Nick is not looking.  This way it is "even" when I put it on the table.  Similarly, if I steal food off one plate, I will steal an equal amount off the other.  You know, just to keep things fair ;)

3.  My intense introverted nature may or may not make me one of those people that hold the elevator "close door" button to prevent others from joining me in the tight space.  I will only do this if they are not obviously already running to catch it.  I'm not a complete jerk.  I just don't want them to get any ideas about thinking they might join me.

4.  I appreciate a good bowl of cereal as much as I do a good bowl of ice cream.  The two foods hold an equal place in my heart, and my brain associate them together because they are both milk dishes in a bowl.  In fact, if you offered me a bowl of ice cream or a bowl of sugar cereal for desert, I will almost always choose the cereal.

5.  Okay, this one is a bit embarrassing.  I am BEYOND OCD when setting my alarm for the morning.  I will set both my alarm clock and my phone alarm 5 minutes apart, and will check each of them at least 3-4 times each before finally going to sleep.  I even made up this little song about it that I sing and now Nick sings too.  It's complete ridiculousness.

6.  I'm not good at sight reading music.  When my piano students ask me to play a piece for them, I always tell them to "work through it once first, and then I'll play it for you", and then while I walk them through it, I am intensely memorizing as I go.

7.  I really enjoy board games, but I avoid them because they STRESS ME OUT.  No matter how many times I tell myself to relax and that it's just a game, I have this overwhelming need to WIN.  So much so that I avoid playing because I want to avoid the inner stress.  I sabotage my own enjoyment and can't help it!

8.  If I lick my fingers while cooking or baking, I decide whether I should wash my hands again or not based on how hot the food is being cooked at.  For example, cookies?  Do you REALLY think a few germs would survive 350 degrees?  I don't think so.  I have Googled this, so you can relax if I ever give you baking ;)

9.  I don't really like socks.  Probably because I wear Nick's worn-out, stretched-out, way-too-big-for-me socks.  I only own about four pair of my own, so they go quick when you're a month between loads of laundry (there's a free random fact for you on how often laundry gets done in our house).  I wish I owned more socks.  But I can't bring myself to buy something like that when Nick has a bazillion pairs and they get the job done.

10.  My least favourite feature about myself is my hair, and namely my bangs.  My hair is neither curly nor straight.  It is just "poofy".  I want it to be one or the other.  Preferably straight.  And my bangs are unruly.  I often bring bobby pins or a straightener to work with me just to fix whatever they have turned into by the time I get off the bus.  Oh, and my hair also started going grey when I was 27.  Basically, it hates me.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Before & After Edits in LightRoom 5

I just finished a pretty intensive 5-week editing workshop that I cannot recommend highly enough.  If you're familiar with all the basics of LightRoom and are looking to take your editing skills to the next level with a fantastic teacher, Caroline Jensen at Love Stands Still Photography, this is the course for you.  You can check it out HERE, and it runs again in March 2014.

Here is a sample of what I've been working on for the last month or so:

BEFORE (straight-out-of-camera, with skin tone corrections only):

BEFORE (straight-out-of-camera with crop):

BEFORE (straight-out-of-camera):
and for fun:

BEFORE (straight-out-of-camera):

BEFORE (straight-out-of-camera):

BEFORE: (colour edit)

BEFORE: (straight-out-of-camera but flipped)

Thanks for looking!

Friday, November 15, 2013

West Coast Froese Family Photo Shoot 2013

It occurred to me last month after doing a photo shoot for a friend of mine that Nick and I have hardly ANY photos of the two of us.  We have a few here and there taken with a tripod and timer for various photography projects, but our wedding was really the last time we had a decent amount of photos.

I remember being a little girl and eating up any photos I could find of my parents.  I would pour over the pages and say, "How old were you here?"  "How old were you now?"  "What are you wearing!?" Unfortunately, these photos were rare and far between.  This got me thinking.  I want to create memories that my kids can look back on.  Memories that Nick and I can share in our old age and reminisce about "how young we were".

That would require two things, though.

1.  We would actually need to HAVE photos of us; and
2.  We would need to actually PRINT something rather than burying it in layers of hard drive data.

We debated back and forth because it felt so weird to hire and pay someone for something that we could do ourselves... kinda.  But the thought of hours of endless fiddling with the tripod was daunting.  And it also made us question what we valued.  We pitch photo shoots, saying the memories are priceless.  Our clients believe us, but do we believe it ourselves?  We do!  So I contacted my friend across the border at Jennifer Bogle Photography and asked if I could hire her to do a shoot for us.  She is fabulous, and I highly recommend her.  (And trust me, I'm super picky).  

Here is a small sample of the results (which are already put together into a photo book, waiting for me to print as soon as the next sale comes up!):

Thank you for these memories, Jennifer! 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Night of Creation 2013

For the past few years, our church has hosted what we call "Nights of Creation".  It's an awesome idea where they decorate up the church for an evening once a year and invite various artists from all over the city to contribute their work.  There is live music and appetizers (food is art, right?).  There are displays of paintings, models, photographs, videos and much more.  It's a place to share the gifts God has given you as well as to meet and socialize with other artists in the community.

There's just one thing.  I really struggle with calling myself an artist.  I feel pretentious every time I do it.  Aren't artists supposed to be these wonderful free spirits that walk around oozing creativity and procrastinating?  (Don't ask me where I got that definition from).  I'm just so not that person.  I am type-A in the EXTREME.  I am not a "free spirit".  I love structure and rules and organization.  Deadlines are my best friend because I like to BEAT them.  I don't do procrastination.  And I feel like I have to work and dredge every bit of creativity out of myself.  I'm probably the only person on the worship team at church that HAS to practice.  Everyone else "seems" to just get up there and improvise.  Also, I sit for hours researching, shooting and editing the "perfect shot".  I don't walk around with my camera capturing these beautiful happy accidents.  I'm way too methodical and anal of a personality for me to feel like, "Oh yes, I'm an artist".  My career should be something like lawyer, accountant, etc.  But my husband?  He's the artist.  He's the one that can sit around and conceptualize ideas and gets visibly excited when the creative juices start to flow.  I'm the one that's like, "Just pick something.  There, that's cool.  We should do that.  Let's make it happen - by tomorrow."  I suppose that's what makes us a good team.  So, in conclusion, I guess I'm just "me".  I never really did fit the social norms.  So here is "me" sharing what I made with you.

My 2013 submissions to our annual Night of Creation:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Mitchell / Morgon / Maxwell Family Photo Shoot 2013

On Friday, my husband and I got to do our first "official" shoot together since deciding we are going to start our own little photo / video company in the new year.  My good friend, Tara, (brown glasses, fifth picture below) hired Nick and I to capture her family.  She has also given me permission to share a little background information regarding this shoot.

Her mom has Alzheimers and it's getting worse quickly.  Tara has written a beautiful post about her mom and this awful disease HERE if you are interested.  The family wanted to capture both some memories as well as their mom's spirit.  I'm not going to lie - this was probably one of the harder shoots I've done / will have to do.  Two very energetic little boys.  A big family of eight (Mom, Dad, Tara & Husband, Sister Jenna & Husband & their two Boys).  Trying to engage Tara and Jenna's mom who wasn't always sure of what was going on and tired quickly.

A lot of the shots they wanted were bigger group shots and family combinations with their mom to have as keepsakes, which I was more than delighted to be able to provide for them.  However, most of the photos sampled below are from some of the smaller combinations of people and candid moments, as those are the most fun for me to shoot as a photographer, and thus those images easily become my favourites of the bunch.  Enjoy :)