I've been trying to figure out what to blog about after the first one was such a hit. News flash to self: This is a photography blog for entertainment purposes. No awards to be won here. You're just thinking out loud. This is what overthinking looks like.
But this was so easy to write after I spent some time with my new client and friend.
This photography thing is "just a hobby" for me, but it's also a much-needed outlet. Indulging a borderline obsession. The overarching question since I've gotten behind the camera again: what type of photography am I going to focus on? Weddings? Families? Newborns? There are a million things to "specialize" in as a photographer. Do I have to pick one? A business coach said I do. But after every shoot I do, no matter what type, I get in the car to leave and burst into tears because I've just gotten to capture something so special and they ALWAYS turn out better than I could prayed they would. I have tears of relief, excitement, and I'm a bit sad that it's over. And then I drive home in a daze thinking about how fun it's going to be to show my clients their galleries.
I decided I'm not going to choose. The business coach guy I met with online can kiss it. I love photographing literally everyone and everything. I'm not going to "pick a lane" and focus on one type of client, which he claims is crucial to growing my brand and my business.
But, I'll admit, I do have a new favorite type of shoot that I want to do a million times over...
"THIS" studio maternity session is something I've been dreaming about doing with an expectant momma for a long, long time. It seems all maternity photos are done in a long dress blowing in the breeze in a field with some golden sunlight, all very ethereal. Don't get me wrong, that style is gorgeous, but it's also overdone and trendy. Studio lighting gets a bad rap for not being natural, and I'm not gonna lie, it can be hard to get the light to do what you want it to. But when it does what you want it to? Damn, it's beautiful!
I've been waiting for the right client to come along who was into the same style of maternity photos as I am. As it turns out, there are so many women who love this style. [Rosie, I'm equally as excited for your shoot, momma!]
Rana pinged my phone late one night desperately searching for someone that could do last-minute maternity photos but with a very specific style. She shared her Pinterest board with me. A carbon copy. Seriously. She had EXACTLY everything I had on my board. A match made in girly-girl heaven. We texted constantly in the weeks and days leading up to her shoot, talking about outfits and vibes of photos we loved. I couldn't believe that someone else was as into styling a maternity shoot as I was. It was equivalent to giddy little girls planning their dream weddings.
On the big day, the plan was to first shoot her baby shower in Tampa. Immediately after that, her husband and daughter would come with her to the studio in Lakeland, which was a long haul for them after a 3 hour baby shower. I didn't think this pregnant mom would have the energy to do a shower and drive to do a maternity shoot straight after, and I even had a backup date if she was too tired to make it, but I was pleasantly surprised. This woman had queen energy.
At her shower, the mom-to-be came bounding up to me with wide eyes and wide arms, perfectly balanced on sky-high heels. How was she walking in these heels as pregnant as she was? Effortlessly.
Also effortless was her genuine hospitality and warmth. She invited me to be family for the day. Anything I wanted or needed, please eat and drink, sit at the table with her and her friends, have fun, enjoy, relax, laugh.
She took time to love on everyone in her tribe. She put her arm around them while she listened. She was the ultimate wing-woman to every story that was told, helping to build suspense but giving the punch line to her friend. She supported them and gushed to me about them. She was the life of the party but in a classic and humble way. The ultimate hostess. A natural leader.
Her husband, Micheal or "Mesho," was also there. Rana clearly adored him. She met him and most of her friends in attendance that day in Egypt from where they hailed.
Undoubtedly [in my mind] Egyptian royalty; daughter of an ancient, beloved dynasty of kings and queens because of how she carried herself. If "queen glow" wasn't a noun, I'm declaring it one.
Rana seemed so close to these women, like a sister to them. But, her favorite?
When I said I loved that her husband had come that day when most other husbands wouldn't have, she grinned and said proudly, "He's my best friend. Of course I want him here." ...[swoon]
After the baby shower and studio shoot...
That night, we chatted while I packed up the studio and she changed into comfortable clothes for her drive home. Her hour shoot flew by, turning into almost 3 hours [I think? Or two? I didn't care] because of how much fun we had.
She asked how my business was going. She offered encouragement as a new business owner. I'm ashamed to have been surprised. "You started your own business?" Rana answered excitedly, "Yes, several. While helping Mesho with his. And I also have a separate full-time job."
Shock and awe. Why?
This woman has energy and kindness for days. She doesn't whine. She glows. If she was tired or over it, I wouldn't have known. She did not allude to being stressed out by owning multiple businesses, thriving in a foreign country, being a mom, pregnant again, an adoring wife and friend. So many women in our society are [very rightfully] overwhelmed by expectations to combine a successful career with motherhood and being a wife and countless other things. I don't blame modern women for being burned out. The Lord knows I can barely handle what little I've got.
But Rana does it all effortlessly, and it makes me feel like I can toughen up and conquer more than what's on my little plate. She smiles and humbly expresses nothing but gratitude that she has the heaping plate.
Quick ode to the cross-cultural power of facial expression
I've never been more eager to understand a foreign language in my life than when watching and hearing this story in Arabic.
I'm assuming things didn't end well for this guy who loses- ....well. We'll just say his dynasty is over.
What's important here is that the story tellers are all on the same team.