Purple Lemon Photography

Lessons Learned

Thursday, July 22, 2010
About a month ago, I was at a conference put on by the network of which our church is a part. (We go to City Lights Church- check us out).  We get together once a year for about 3 days for teaching, worship, and loads of fun.  During the first session, several things stood out to me during the teaching and the prayer I received.  The reason I am blogging about this particular session is that is relates to myself as a photographer.  I wanted to wait until I finished my big wedding push to get all my thoughts down to really solidify it all.
The session's overarching theme is that God knows us completely and still loves us. Isn't that encouraging? He knows when our motives are less than pure, and he loves us. He knows when we mess up and lose patience with our spouses and children and parents and still loves us. He knows us when we lack integrity and still he loves us more than we can ever imagine. His grace extends to us in our darkest moments and even in the not-so-bad-yet-not-perfect moments, too. Psalm 139 describes how not only does he love and know us fully, but he made us, too. And he thinks we're wonderful! Here's a section.

1-6 God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand.

I'm an open book to you;

even from a distance, you know what I'm thinking.

You know when I leave and when I get back;

I'm never out of your sight.

You know everything I'm going to say

before I start the first sentence.

I look behind me and you're there,

then up ahead and you're there, too—

your reassuring presence, coming and going.

This is too much, too wonderful—

I can't take it all in!

13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;

you formed me in my mother's womb.

I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!

Body and soul, I am marvelously made!

I worship in adoration—what a creation!

You know me inside and out,

you know every bone in my body;

You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,

how I was sculpted from nothing into something.

Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;

all the stages of my life were spread out before you,

The days of my life all prepared

before I'd even lived one day.

(Psalm 139: 1-6, 13-16, MSG)

I don't know if you ever struggle with insecurity, but I know that I do. My husband does. My friends do. I'm so thankful that the God of the entire universe thinks I'm great and wants to spend time with me. Doesn't that kick some insecurity in the pants?
At that session God worked in me to turn from the attitudes and behaviors that belittle the person that God made me to be in order to honor him, strengthen my marriage, and lift up my friendships. It's a lie for me to believe that I am not beautiful. I used to love being on the other side of the camera when I was little- always posing and hamming it up. I hadn't learned to dislike myself. So for my 25th birthday a few weeks ago, friend and fellow photographer, Casey, took some headshots for me. Her skills + my new attitude = something I'm more than happy to share!
So what does all of this have to do with photography?

Everything. How people look is a critical aspect of my occupation. Couple that with a client's personal insecurity and the result is easily a mess. But somehow- it's not.

I wrote this at the conference in the super-hip moleskine journals they gave us.

"I don't make people photogenic; they already are. God made them wonderful. I simply show it. I give him glory by showing his creation (the things that are already beautiful). He does not make ugly people. I have been challenged in my pattern of thinking to see clients as creations, wonderful reflections of God, created lovingly in his image."

I am not big on retouching. I don't airbrush. I use natural light to highlight and flatter what's best. I do not nit-pick at every loose strand of hair or encourage heavy make-up. I try to show who someone is more than what they simply look like. And more often than not- an image of someone beautiful emerges. There is personality and life. I'll praise God for that.

A few other highlights from the conference:

The young woman in the wheelchair is a friend of mine, and she hasn't had feeling in her lower back and legs for 5 years. As we prayed for her a number of times, she was able to feel tingling and pressure returning to her legs. I have faith that one day I'll get to see her walk again!
We stayed at a cabin, ironically named the Devil's Kitchen, with most of these folks and ate this dinner. I am the one on the couch in black with the seemingly tiny head. I made that rockin' watermelon basket in about 10 minutes while the steak was cooking. :)


Janele Oros said...

Awesome thoughts, Nikki! That was truly a great conference in many ways. Praise God for His faithfulness....

Andrea Hilliard said...

Thanks Nikki, this really touched me.

Anna said...

What a beautiful post. I love your new attitude and you look amazing! You do have a wonderful way of capturing something so special in people. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!