Let There Be Light

After we lost Tristan, I was a mess. I was mad at myself and I had to do something about it. But where do you start? How do you make peace with yourself? How do you shake that feeling of failure? I started by picking up the pieces of my shattered faith and putting them back together. Then, I needed to make peace with my body and help it recover from the physical and emotional trauma it went through. So I went back to the gym. My plan was simple: go back to the gym, mind my business, and most of all try to be as invisible as possible.

And I met Kristan. From the first time I saw her, I was impressed and intimidated. I mean, the woman is strong physically and mentally. Plus during my first spin class, she was leading, she barely smiled. By the end of the class, I was in pain, struggling to catch my breath, and so frustrated because Kristan, just kicked my behind beyond what I was ready for. But, I think that’s what I needed, someone to push me hard and give me the motivation to heal.

A month later I was part of Kristan’s booth camp. I started to know her a little better but, still, I was intimidated and impress by her personality. A typical work out with her involved a pinch of sympathy and a lot of tough love. The rules are simple: 1) there is no getting away with excuses; 2) giving up is NEVER an option; 3) we always give 110%. Work out after workout, I was building my confidence back. Whenever I would fall, Kristan was there to lift me up. She probably didn’t realized it but, most of the time, when she was sharing her experiences, she gave me the courage to work through my own struggles.

So, when I had the opportunity to photograph Kristan and her beautiful family, I was thrilled. I planed the shoot, met her at her house to have an idea of the location where the shoot would take place.  Her backyard is very nice and surely provides tons of space and possibilities to capture beautiful moments.

The day of the shoot, I was ready but also nervous. It was the first time in weeks that I would photograph someone else other than my family. What I did not know was that this particular shoot was about to become one important learning experience. As a photographer, I know that I should be ready for unplanned turns of events. Especially when it comes to shooting with natural light. So far I’ve always been very lucky to shoot in good lighting condition.

I guess God decided otherwise. On that day, as far as natural light goes, it was a challenge for me. The sun was shining so bright creating a very harsh direct light and unwanted shadows. What happened? It was supposed to be an overcast day. I had never shot with such bright light. What about my settings? I started to panic. It seemed like the world was closing up on me and I was terrified; but there was no way I would let it show.

Kristan and her family were ready. She looked at me and said “You are the boss, just tell us what to do”. Oh Lord! The woman who tells me what to do every morning at booth camp, was telling me that I was in charge and was waiting for my instructions… I was the boss. My brain was racing, going through the fundamentals of how to set your camera depending on the lighting conditions. Despite the self-doubt growing in my brain and the frustration, I took a deep breath and began to take pictures. Quitting was not an option.

As I was digging in my mental photo manuals, I realized that the discomfort I was feeling was similar to the one I feel every morning when I am being pushed outside of my comfort zone during booth camp.  I had to treat this session like my morning booth camp and push myself further than usual. I had to pretend there was a Kristan like figure telling me: “don’t you dare give up”; “keep pushing, girl, you are almost there”; and my new favorite “you are stronger than you think”.  So I pushed over what I thought were my limits. And you know what? It worked.

The mind can sometimes become a double edge sword. It can be our best ally or our worst enemy. The more I was overthinking, the more I was forgetting that the technical issues I was facing were opportunities to grow and learn. Once I concentrate on the positive side, I was able to be Me and do my “job”.

This photo session with Kristan and her family taught me a few things: 1) Yes we are absolutely stronger than we think; 2) Things that we learn in one specific aspect of our life can be successfully applied to another; and 4) Problems serves us best when considered as opportunities to learn, grow, and improve.

Thank you Kristan for giving me an opportunity to improve my skills. And even though I’m still learning , I really appreciated your willingness to experiment and explore with me. You guys were awesome and in the end we got some beautiful, candid shots of your family 🙂 .

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