The Artist’s Responsibility

I wanted to offer an encouragement to all of you artists out there who may be thinking to yourself, “Is any of this worth it?” Because that’s a thought that I struggle with constantly.

As humans, we were created in order to create. When God told Adam and Eve in the garden that He expected them to fill the earth and subdue it, I believe that one implication from that command was that God expected us to become mini-creators after His image. There’s a reason why He endowed certain individuals with specific skills in specific enterprises. God could have made a simple, utilitarian world that just worked, but He didn’t. He created a world with sights, sounds, smells, beautiful colors, breathtaking vistas, etc.

Because God is a God of beauty. It’s His very nature.

As artists, we have the unique opportunity to reflect God’s nature by taking a piece of His creation – for me, it would be my camera and my “photographer’s eye” (if that’s a thing) – and beautifying it. Turning it into something unique. As a photographer, I want to create beautiful things.

If you’re like me, and you have that drive to create things that cause people to stop and ponder, then get out there today and do it.

And do it well.

What Is It About Eyes?

I love shooting portraits. I love all forms of photography, including landscapes, still life, etc., but there is something about photographing people that I love.

I’m not sure I can provide an answer for you as to why. I just really like it.

I love the way light plays in people’s eyes. If you light your subject just right, you can get an incredibly glistening gleam in their eyes that you cannot help but be moved by. There is something about the eyes that are beautiful, that reveal something that seems to be hidden in there.

I don’t believe that thinkers of the past were wrong when they made claims about being able to see into people’s souls through their eyes. Although I can’t, again, give reasons for it, there is definitely something meaningful there. Ask the young couple who simply can’t help but stare into each others’ eyes. We all know it’s true.

So I pose the question to you, the reader: What is it about eyes? Let’s have this discussion in the comments. I want to know what you think?

First Editing Video

Facebook Live has taken the world by storm (or so it seems), and the possibilities of what can be accomplished with it are undoubtedly still in the freshest stages. Such an awesome new medium tends to get us all excited and bouncy about what it can do — sort of like the latest gadget.

In the spirit of Facebook Live’s ingenuity, I created a [very not-ingenuous] video of my photo-editing process in which I put on full display exactly how I edit a typical portrait. Below is the finished image from that editing video._MG_9705 copy
If you would like to check out the video in full, you can take a peek at it here: http://facebook.com/timothymarseephotography. Make sure you like my Facebook page as well as click the “Turn On Notifications” button so that you can keep up-to-date with my goings-on!

Happy shooting (and editing)!

I LOVE Returning Clients!

I absolutely LOVE it when I get clients coming back over and over again. It gives a sort of confirmation that what I’m doing is pretty ok! Why would someone come back to a photographer that they didn’t like?

Unless they were the only one available, and in our iPhone-inundated world, we know THAT’S not the case!

So, thank you, Heather, for continuing to allow me to create and capture memories of your baby girl! She’s amazing, and I’m humbled that you continue to trust me to work with your family 🙂

I hope that we get to work together far, far into the future!

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Mommy + Me Mini Sessions

Mother’s Day is upon us once again! Before you frantically run out to buy some roses — notice I said “after,” not “don’t buy her roses;” by all means, buy her roses — consider booking her a Mommy + Me Mini Session!

She gets 30 minutes of shooting time with her little one and five fully edited high-resolution image downloads, all for $100!

To take advantage of this offer, visit http://timmyphoto.com/bookme, and in the “How did you hear about us?” dialog box, type the code MOMMYANDME. And while you’re there, check that box at the bottom to subscribe to my email newsletters. You’ll get exclusive offers, and you’ll hear about these sorts of opportunities before anyone else!

There are a limited number of slots for this offer, so take advantage of it soon! It will end this Sunday, May 8th.
Happy shooting!

Timmy

To Wear or Not to Wear?

When it comes to clothes for toddlers, I sort of regret our past. Those of us who were born in the ’80s and grew up in the ’90s all have some things in common in most professional photos taken of us (I’ll only talk about dudes here, since that’s my experience!):

  1. Knee Socks. No need to go crazy here, but for all those ’80s moms out there — WHY? Didn’t you like our cushy leg rolls? Why cover them with two feet of thin, itchy lengths of the thinnest material known to mankind? It’s not like my legs are already super short. Why emphasize it? Sheesh.
  2. Giant Collars. Ok, this one was kind of cool as far as it went. But I’m not talking about those ’70s collars with the bright purple paisley print. I’m talking about those neck-wrapping deals that looked like they came right out of a painting of Henry VIII. Were those in style?
  3. Shorty Shorts. No need. Just no need.

KneeSocksNasty

See what I’m saying? I have some questions to ask my mother…

Little boys today have it MADE! Just walk into any Janie & Jack store to see how awesome little dude clothes have become. I admit, I’m a little jealous.

And I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to photograph a couple outfits for one of these awesome-outfit stores! Lucy & Leo is based out of New York, and they make wonderful outfits for kiddos out of recycled materials! Here’s a blurb straight from their website:

“Lucy & Leo organic clothing is known for its soft color palate and classic design with a modern twist. As our brand grows, we stay true to our vision of creating unique, adorable and comfortable outfits for your child in an eco-friendly fashion. We are proud to be one of the first organic and USA-made clothing brands in the children’s industry.

Our mission is simple: to provide your child with the finest, highest quality clothing on the market. Our garments move and breathe, are durable and very comfortable.

Lucy & Leo garments are designed and manufactured in New York. We are committed,  to bettering the world. We do that in three basic ways. We manufacture in the USA to support our local economy. We use only environmentally sensitive and organic materials, and for every garment purchased, we plant a tree with Trees For the Future.”

So there ya go! It was my pleasure to photograph Amos, who was adorably representing Lucy & Leo in this styled shoot:

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The Pose You Can’t Do Without

 

When I shoot maternity, I have one pose that I always do. I’m not sure if it’s my absolute favorite — “absolute” is a very strong, absolute word — but it’s certainly up there.

I call it: (*drum roll*) The Heart of Warmliness.

I know, it’s a cheesy name. But I’m a cheesy guy. But that pose is timeless!

_MG_2759 copy

See how the outlines of Mom’s arm, their heads together, and then Dad’s arm makes a heart shape?

I love it. And I always shoot it.

I’ve even told myself, Nah, I’m not going to shoot it this time. I always do it. But then, I do it. And I love it. Every time.

I don’t even need to explain to you how to pose it. It’s so simple, elegant, and easy to do.

So go ahead. Get out there. Put that Baby Bump in the middle, surround it with Mom and Dad, and rock that Heart of Warmliness! In fact, I would LOVE to see your interpretations of it! Please post them to my Facebook page (http://facebook.com/timothymarseephotography).

And below, I’ve included a slideshow of some more of my favorites from this session with Noel, Andrew, and Hattie.

Don’t forget, subscribe to my email updates to get exclusive features, news, and offers! There’s free stuff in it for you. Sign up here: http://timmyphoto.com/bookme

Happy shooting!

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Just Sit Still!

Today, I’m going to deal with something that most of us deal with. I say “most” because if you don’t photograph kiddos, then this may not apply to you.

This difficulty in photography can be summed up in one word:

TODDLERS.

Did you just shudder? I actually had to stop and take a deep breath before typing it. But why is it that some photographers — particularly newer ones — struggle and stress over photographing these tiny humans? Here are some of my reasons:

  1. They’re Emotional. Look at things from their perspective: this world is HUGE! Why does it have to be so big? And what’s even worse, toddlers are so SMALL! And to add to their troubles, everything is so NEW. I’m not saying that these aspects of the world around us are to blame for all of their little explosions of emotion, but knowing them beforehand can help us to have empathy toward these little subjects of ours.
  2. They Just Can’t. Have you every tried to tell a toddler to sit with their legs crossed, their head turned to the left with their chin slightly toward the horizon line, only to have them get up immediately and start chasing that cat that keeps coming around during your shoot? Here’s some relief for you: that’s SUPPOSED to happen. Some toddlers can sit well, but many, MANY, many can’t do it. And that’s ok. It’s ok, because they’re normal and you can chill out a bit. And it also helps us with our creativity…

With brings me to the HOW-TO of this post!

  1. Just Let Them Be, with Limits. That toddler is most likely going to get bored with that pose pretty quick. So you need to have all your settings on point so that you can get their giggle, release that shutter, and move on after three or four shots. Then, follow them for a little bit (unless, of course, they’re heading toward danger. PLEASE stop them!). What are they interested in? What’s captured their attention? The image that I’ve featured in this post was one of those shots where I had to be patient. I posed him next to a fence, and don’t get me wrong: those fence shots were cute. But then, he became mesmerized by these dandelions! And he DESTROYED THEM! And it was ADORABLE! If I had not have had my camera settings ready and my eyes up, I would have missed it. So follow their interests. Watch their eyes dart around and become interested in what has captured their interest.
  2. Be Patient. Your best shots will most likely come when you don’t expect them. Pose them, but don’t be a slave to that pose. If they aren’t going to sit, then let them stand a bit. Just make sure you don’t take a ton of shots of their backside. Get to where their eyes are. This will require some hustle and sweat on your part, but it’ll be totally worth it!
  3. Shoot with a Telephoto Lens. This is simply my opinion, but when I have a good distance between my subject, myself, and the background, the images are a THOUSAND times more lovely. When I photograph toddlers, I put them roughly where I want them — which is usually a field of grass or flowers, if I’m being honest — and then back off and photograph them with my Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L lens. This separation allows them to be more natural, in my opinion. Big smiles aren’t always what we want. Let them be a little, with limits (remember: DO NOT ALLOW DANGEROUS SITUATIONS!). Those sweet moments happen better that way.
  4. Your Settings Should Be Ready Beforehand. I can’t emphasize this enough, no matter what type of photography you do. If you’re sitting there fiddling with your settings in the middle of the shoot, your clients will eventually get annoyed. You need to have those settings ready to go before you start to shoot! And make sure to do plenty of variety in each location. When you move into a new lighting situation, you’ll need to adjust your white balance, shutter speed, etc., accordingly. In a future post, I’ll explain how I meter on my camera before I even take a single shot. But if you’d like to know before I get that one published, send me a message or comment! I’ll be glad to divest some wisdom! 🙂

Please be patient with these sweet little ones. Clients who see how you care for their children will be all the more impressed with you and super thankful. Think about what those parents went through to get that toddler up from bed, fed, dressed, entertained, and then transported to that location for their portrait shoot. Have a large dose of empathy, and above all:

BE A SERVANT.

If you would like receive exclusive content, receive our monthly newsletter (which contains lots of sweet little tidbits, including how to save money on your future sessions), please visit http://timmyphoto.com/bookme to send us your email address!

The Privilege of Christian Artistry

Blog posts are so much easier to write when there are emotions flowing through the writer at the moment of writing. Which is funny, because I also just wrote a Discussion Board post for my Biblical Counseling class at Southern Seminary.

So this all goes hand in hand, which is typical of how the Lord works, isn’t it?

Today, I’m dealing with discouragement.

It happens a lot of the time this time of year, and if you’re a photographer in the middle of winter (albeit a very mild one), you can probably attest to it:

..PEOPLE AREN’T BOOKING YOU.

And with that come specific emotions: discouragement, sadness, a dissatisfaction with your work, a questioning of whether or not you’re in the right field, etc., etc.

So how are we to deal with this as artists?

And why in the world did I title this post “THE PRIVILEGE OF CHRISTIAN ARTISTRY?”

I’ve read so many articles about what to do when clients aren’t booking photo sessions, and all of them say just about the same thing: you need to reconfigure your marketing; you haven’t updated your website in two weeks; perhaps you should spend some time portfolio building; your prices are too cheap or too expensive.

I’m not going to give you any of that (mostly because I have no idea what to do from a business standpoint).

But we live in a spiritual world, and there’s a spiritual aspect to this problem of discouragement.

We’re living in a time when people are peddling a lot of feel-good mantras as a remedy for dealing with sadness and despondency. I have a couple musical artists in my mind right now whose songs revolve around just forgetting about what others think about you and “doing you.” I can think of a handful of photographers on Instagram whose message to the world is to “just be yourself. Everyone else will get over it. Just let go. Follow your dreams. ‘Wanderlust’ is the key to happiness.”

So what happens when you devote all your time and efforts into building an artistic identity, and yet you still fall far short of what you had in mind? Forgetting everybody and saying “haters gonna hate” while following your dreams does not guarantee that those dreams are going to come true.

And that’s a good thing.

All too often, we create idols out of our dreams and desires. In the Old Testament, the prophet Jeremiah (by the way, if you want to complain about discouragement, just spend some time with Jeremiah. You may come away with different eyes) declares, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

This passage comes in the midst of a passage about trusting in the Lord. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,” Jeremiah writes. “He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

The person — for my purposes, I’m going to substitute the word “artist” — who trusts in the Lord is like a tree planted by water. This is an object lesson! A tree planted by water is a very happy tree! In fact, it “sends out its roots by the stream.” This tree is growing, just like a tree is designed to do.

But this is my favorite part when I think about my discouragement: “[he] does not fear when heat comes.” Why not? I’m dealing with discouragement, aren’t I? Here’s why: because “its leaves remain green, and [he] is not anxious in the year of drought…”

This where being a Christian artist has its eternal perks.

In seasons of discouragement, we are called to rest in the Lord. As one who has been redeemed by the blood of Christ and has turned from and is continually turning from sin, you have an amazing promise straight from the mind of God: your leaves will remain green.

Now, please don’t misplace my words.

I’m not saying that God is promising that things will get better. In fact, if I’m being truthful, it’s quite possible that this could be the end for your artistic career. I’m not pulling any punches, because Scripture doesn’t pull any. There’s no sugar that I can put on this, so here it is again: nowhere in the Bible does God promise that your life will go as you plan. In fact, here’s another passage that buttresses it from Proverbs: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand” (Prov. 19:21).

But here is what God DOES promise:

“The fear of the LORD leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied…” (Prov. 19:23).

There are many, many times when God does not allow your plans to succeed. And at those times, Christian artists need to rest in Him when He promises, “Your leaves will remain green.” That is not a promise that your plans will finally succeed at some point. That’s a promise that God’s plans will ultimately succeed and are succeeding. And that’s FAR better for you.

So the answer to my initial question, “What do I do when I’m experiencing discouragement,” is to look at your priorities. It’s quite possible that you’ve made an idol of success. Far more important is to fear the Lord, for it leads to life, whether your art is noticed or not.

But what if you’re an artist but NOT a Christian?

God has promises for you, as well, but they begin with this truth: your lack of photography clients and artistic noticeability are the least of your problems.

In Malachi, God promises that “I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and DO NOT FEAR ME, says the LORD of hosts” (Mal. 3:5 — emphasis mine).

Your ultimate problem isn’t that fashion houses and magazine editors aren’t noticing you. It’s that you do not fear the Lord, and that’s a far, FAR worse offense.

But the Lord is so, SO kind.

As sinners, none of us deserve life. And yet YOU’RE ALIVE. You have so many things in your life for which you can be thankful, and none of us deserve any of them. If you’re reading this, you have an electronic device that allows you to. You’re living, you’re breathing, you’ve probably drunk something today, etc. I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.

You have so many things in your life for which you can be thankful and can consider as the Lord’s kindness to you. Here’s what Paul says about that: “…do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4). All these kindnesses are meant to lead you to repentance for sin and to place your trust in Christ. Don’t assume that things will simply go on as they always have. That’s called “presumption,” and the passage deals with that, as well. Don’t presume on God’s kindness. Don’t take advantage of all the good things that you have in your life and forget that each of them comes directly from the Lord as a gift to you. And ultimately, don’t neglect that final portion of Romans 2:4: “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.” Every time you go on a shoot, remember that “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.” Every time you touch your brush to the canvas, remember that “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.” Whenever you buy a coffee or eat something delicious, remember that “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.” When a loved one gives you a kiss on the cheek or shows you ANY sort of love, remember that “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.” You’re surrounded by it, and that’s by design. God has surrounded you with kindness, in order to lead you to repentance. Don’t presume that you have years and years ahead of you. You may not. Because: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand” (Prov. 19:21).

I repeated that phrase a lot in the previous paragraph: “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.” And that’s on purpose. Whenever you experience good things, I want that to come into your mind. I want you to remember that, because it’s TRUE. And you need to act on it, because there are eternal consequences for not doing so.

For Christians, I find that when I’m dissatisfied with where I am in life, I discover that I have been putting expectations on God’s plans for me. I forget that promise in Proverbs, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.” God’s plans WILL succeed. Yours may not.

Take this season of discouragement as an opportunity to renew your trust in the Lord. He hasn’t given you the desires of your heart in your artistic endeavors. And that’s for the best. Because His plans are constantly succeeding. If it were for your good that your business would boom and thrive, then it would. But for now, you’re called to trust in the Lord and continue in what He has called you to, whatever that may be. Rest in Him. Rest in His kindness.

Remember that to fear the LORD is far more important than to book more February sessions.