Authenticity — Behind the Business

Authenticity — Behind the Business

Ugh. I’ve debating even blogging this, but you know what? That’s why I have to.

The last few weeks have been a bit crazy. In the way that nothing seems to be finished. In the way where you spend hours working, only to feel like you’ve accomplished nothing at all. So instead of finishing the half dozen posts I’ve got in the works, I’m writing this.

I’ve been working on updating my about me page lately. Because, while it’s all nicely written and it took me WEEKS to write it, it’s not right. And while I’ve stared at it for hours, I still haven’t changed it. But I’m struggling.

Because it doesn’t feel like me.

Because I find myself editing the words I say on the blog. Not just for clarity, but to sound better. More like those other wedding photographers. Those people I’m comparing myself to.

But I’m not them. And that’s the thing. Their business is not my business. Their story is not my story. Their clients – the ones they want – they aren’t the clients I want.

We’re all different.

Having the house has been fantastic, especially the garden. At the moment, we’ve managed to remove a lot of dead old plants. We even paid to have our big tree trimmed (now I feel like an adult). And I’ve met with dozens of people about a variety of things, trying to figure out what project(s) to tackle first.

But next week I’m escaping for a few days to Portland. I’m going to spend hours and hours at Powell’s. I’m going to eat from food trucks and catch up with friends. And maybe, for a few days, I’ll forget that endless list of things that need to be done. I’ll go to the market and drink some wine. And I plan to have a dang good time.

Blogging is going to be a bit thin around here for the next few months. There’s a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes – the not-photography part of a photography business – but I’ll try and post occasional updates.

One of the things I’ve been working on is cleaning out my harddrives, which resulting in finding this beauty from our old apartment in Seattle. Sometimes I dress my cat up and torture her by taking her photo. She deals with it. Most days.

tuxedo cat with a bow // Emily Wenzel Photography

A New Year, A New Home

A New Year, A New Home

All photos taken with my HTC One, and edited with VSCOcam for Android. Because I don’t always use my big fancy camera 🙂

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While I knew late in 2013 that 2014 was going to be an amazing year, I had no idea what changes it would bring. I am so super excited to share this next big change with you all — finally! Sorry for the secret keeping.

A while back, I posted this beauty below to Instagram. An image of my feet, standing in the snow. A snow day. Not so uncommon in Spokane. What I didn’t tell you was that they were standing in the back yard of a house we now own.

Buying our first home // Emily Wenzel Photography

Yup. As of last week, H and I own our first home. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me well. After all, I’ve been dreaming of tearing down walls and making my own space since I moved out of my parents house. They never let me tear down walls, although my younger brother got to do that when he was three. I’m still a little bitter, Dad. Although, you did let me paint my room crazy colors…so there’s that.

Moving on. I’ve been watching the Spokane housing market for over 18 months. Yes, more than a year before we moved here. Please don’t judge me. Homes came and went. This house was on the market that entire time. We looked at it, we dreamed about it. We talked it over and sketched out ideas. And then? Gone. Foreclosed. And our brand-new-to-us Realtor didn’t have high hopes for when or how it would come back. Foreclosures can be a funny thing, and a lot of them end up being auctioned off in Spokane County. So we moved on. We looked at other houses. We put this one, this perfect for us with old wood floors and great light, out of our minds.

And then, poof. Back on the market. And, in a very uncharacteristic move, I was the one who hesitated. H was ready to buy it the moment we walked through it a second time. I waited. But she called to me. With her location in one of my favorite Spokane neighborhoods, only a few short blocks from my favorite coffeeshop and bar, we really couldn’t have picked a better home for us. She had a history — one I’ve started looking up in the Census reports and hope to research more this spring.

On Christmas Eve, we put in an offer on our 1902 little beauty. And thus began six weeks of back & forth with Fannie Mae.

Buying our first home // Emily Wenzel PhotographyBuying our first home // Emily Wenzel Photography

The first image above I posted a couple weeks ago. That was from the day we put in our first offer. The second image is one I snapped the day we signed all our paperwork and closed on the house.

Buying our first home // Emily Wenzel Photography

I took this photo almost two weeks ago. My key. To our house. Sitting on our kitchen counter. Whoa. That was a crazy moment. There were times when I questioned our sanity in purchasing this house. Times I wanted to cry over the headache buying a foreclosed home brought us. But then, I would walk in the house, with it’s 112 year old (original) hardwood floors. With it’s big, beautiful windows that let in so much light. The backyard that begs to host family BBQs, and the park (perfect for a dog, right H? …I’m working on him) just steps away from the front door. I’m not saying it’s perfect. Oh no. This beauty needs a lot of love and TLC. But I do love a good project.

Buying our first home // Emily Wenzel PhotographyBuying our first home // Emily Wenzel PhotographyBuying our first home // Emily Wenzel Photography

First — our house, the day after we got the keys

Second — those floors, my shoes. the light

Third — me, excited to live in a place with stairs, and the sidewalk I shoved ALL ON MY OWN when H was in San Francisco for work. I’ve rarely been more proud. Seriously. Look at those crisp sides.

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I want to promise you this blog won’t be all about the house now, even though I’m SUPER DUPER OH MY GOSH EXCITED. But I might sometimes write about it, because it’s a big part of our lives. Also, please excuse any craziness and slow responses in the next week-ish as we move. It’s been a bit insane to clean a home almost twice the size of the largest place we’ve ever lived. 

Family History, The Ballard Locks — Seattle, WA

Family History, The Ballard Locks — Seattle, WA

I’m in a strange place right now. This retail job I picked up, it’s driving me crazy. Besides the full load of work I do for the photography (which, at this time of year is less photo-taking and more business-maintaining), and the 20-30+ hours at the retail gig, we’re also house hunting. That doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying the job. It’s been a learning experience and I’m gleaning whatever I can from this, as well as working with some pretty fantastic people. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t counting the days until I head out. I miss making my own schedule, having time to read a book. Being my own boss.

Back when we went to Seattle in October, I conned H into driving us all the way out to Ballard on Monday morning before we left. We were driving against traffic, so it wasn’t even that bad. I love the locks, for more than one reason. First, because they’re fascinating. Because it’s fun to watch the ships come through the locks. Heading out to sea, coming back in to port. Second, because I feel connected to the locks. If you’ve ever visited the locks and walked all the way across, you might have seen the plaque below. It’s in honor of my great-great-great grandfather (my dad’s mom’s grandpa), Thomas Heinrich Peterson. He was one of the first shipbuilders in the Seattle area, and his shipyard was at Salmon Bay (which is long gone) and he lived in Ballard around the turn of the century. We have a model of one of his ships in my parents’ living room, but we didn’t know about the plaque until recently.

As we look at houses, ones old enough that my great-great-great grandfather could have lived there, I’m reminded that the past is just as important as the present and the future. That we need to remember the little things. This plaque doesn’t tell you that he almost died in a shipwreck once, or that he wrote very long run-on sentences with little-to-no punctuation, or that he had five children, or that his wife outlived him by many, many, years. But it’s there. A testament to a life well lived, to a man who left his mark on Seattle’s history.

Seattle AlkiBallard Locks SeattleThomas Heinrich Peterson Seattle WABallard Locks SeattleBallard Locks SeattleBallard Locks SeattleBallard Locks SeattleBallard Locks SeattleBallard Locks Seattle

Merry Christmas everyone. I’ll hopefully post again before 2014 arrives, but if not, I’ll be back with more in January!

Looking for the Light

Looking for the Light

You guys.

We spent three years in the Seattle area. And shortly after we arrived, I realized I was going to have trouble adapting. It was the light. Gone were the clear blue skies that seemed to go on forever. It was all trees. Lots of gray and rain.

But now, now I’m back in the light. And it calls to me.

We used to drive over the pass — to my parent’s home, to Spokane — and when we’d get to a point, between Easton and Thorp, I’d always tell H to look at the light. I don’t think he understood what I was talking about. Even in the rain, Eastern Washington’s light is different. And in the winter? When it snows and then the sun comes out? So bright it blinds you? That’s something I missed. Blue skies, white powder, flying down the mountains. Oh, yes. That light is right.

It’s soft and elegant. It’s warm and clear. And it’s so right.

Even now, on a crisp fall day, as the leaves are just starting to turn (and I cannot wait for crisp fall leaves), it’s clear and bright.

Yes, I miss Seattle. But this light? Oh this light. I’ve been looking for the light for three years.

It’s good to be home.

Camden Ranch Wedding Photography
Methow Valley Wedding Photography

Top photo: from a shoot I did at the beautiful Camden Ranch in Elk, WA for Applebrides. 10 minutes before that photo, it was pouring. Bottom: Alaine & Dan‘s gorgeous Mazama wedding. I can’t wait to share more from both shoots!

On the Road Again

On the Road Again

I’m leaving town again this weekend, right after publishing this baby. Thankful for the friends who take care of my cat and apartment. The number of weekends we’re home during the next two months is less than the weekends we’re away right now. Between work and family and H’s triathlon’s, we’ve been busy. Here, there, everywhere. It’s not such a bad thing. The photos below are from a couple weeks ago, when we went to visit my family in Mattawa, and H ran a triathlon in Ellensburg. We’re going to be traveling around the state and country during the next few weeks. At the end, there’s a list of three weekends when I have time. Time to meet up for coffee, time to for a shoot, time to just…be. Let’s meet up.Eastern Washington photographyEastern Washington photographyColumbia River PhotographyColumbia River VantageEllensburg Triathlon Budu RacingEastern Washington photography

WDS 2013: Letting Go

WDS 2013: Letting Go

Champagne Toast WDS 2013

(c) Armosa Studios

Earlier this month, I watched Tess Vigeland get up on stage and say that she left her dream job at NPR because she had “too much self respect to stay.” And I choked up, because I understood. I saw Chase Jarvis expound on the importance of creativity, of artistry, and how there is a lack of it in our culture. And my heart ached, because I know that school system too well. I watch Steve Schalchlin played the piano, singing songs he wrote after almost dying of AIDS. And I cried. Because life is about living every moment to the fullest.

Last year, WDS made me realize that I wanted to be a photographer. Full time. Not as a hobby. And I knew I wanted to do it in Spokane. So, here I was a year later, working at a photographer and moving to Spokane. Check and check. And I watched Tess say that she quit her job. That people asked her “what’s next?” and she didn’t know. Because when you’ve accomplished those goals, what’s left? And I felt her words echo in my heart. Saying things I couldn’t have verbalized.

Last year, WDS sparked something in me. And I took that something and ran with it, straight into my business. This year, I was expecting the same, but it never came. I thought, what if I have no other business goals? I do, and I know that I do. Because I want to do more with my business. And I know that. But those are little goals. What is my next big goal?  What if I don’t have any more goals? Obviously, the lack of sleep was turning me into a drama queen. So I asked myself, what did I learn this year?

Moments matter.

When I think back on WDS 2013, the difference is that it’s more about the people, and less about the message. Last year, I met so many wonderful people, but didn’t really keep in touch. And even though those people sparked so much change in my life, I didn’t feel like was holding myself to those goals because no one in my everyday life knew about them. This year, my goal is to keep in touch. To create and grow those relationships. To be fully present in my life, living every moment. Not holding back.

As I danced Bollywood with 3,000 people and sang along to Journey with 1,000 others, I realized that my life is beautiful and wonderful. It is remarkable. And I can’t keep wishing for something else, I need to live the life I have. Don’t wish for a different life, find a way to make your own life amazing.

PS – You can read the transcript of Tess Vigeland’s talk here.