How to Avoid Burn Out

"We all work for an audience, whether we are aware of it or not. Some perform to please parents, others to impress peers, other to win over superiors, while many do what they do strictly to live up to their own standards. All of these audiences are inadequate. Working for them alone will lead to overwork or underwork--sometimes a mixture of the two, based on who is watching. But Christians look to an Audience of One, our loving heavenly Father, and that gives us both accountability and joy in our work."  - Tim Keller, Every Good Endeavor

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There have been periods in my life when I'm working for myself. For the approval of my associates. For the status that I want to achieve so I can "be somebody". But these have all lead to burn out. I end up hating my job, or not doing good work, or working for the money which is the lamest reason of all.

But then I am reminded of these words from Tim Keller, I've read this chapter in his book at least a dozen times. (I keep forgetting and need to re-read it). And my soul is refreshed. I shed the burden of my own expectations like a dreaded weight and I'm free to actually love my job, to excel- to be the best I can be. Not for my own success, but because I want to honor the One who gave me the gifts in the first place.

We all have our reasons for doing what we do. Perhaps, to you, mine are "out dated" or "too religious". We live in a post-modern culture right? Christianity has been discarded a long time ago as passe'. But for me, it makes sense. It's what connects the dots in my work. It gives a reason to prize the beauty of human life and to value long-term relationships. Relationships of love are the foundation for all of reality. When I can capture and celebrate those relationships for the right reasons- then I am truly doing my job well.



Why the iPhone Has Made Photos More Valuable

family editorial portraits portland orfamily portraits portland or 5 years ago people used to tote around a digital camera on their vacations and actually capture memories in decent quality. Now, the vast majority skip the extra 2 lb of shoulder luggage and just use their all-too-convenient iPhone.

While few will actually take the time to read this article, this trend is vastly important. Staggering numbers are now documenting the entirety of their life on their iPhone. Remember the days when we used to actually "record" (yes as in a videocamera) significant events or portions of our kids lives? Now we have a 10 second grainy clips that get catalogued into the thousands of other photos stored on our devices. These devices then get out-dated, upgraded or even discarded.  Who actually prints or compiles iPhone selfies? Yeah. No one.

What happens when todays 2 year old is walking down the aisle at his graduation? Will there be any photos or video to remember his story? Or will they all still be on mom's iPhone that got lost when it fell in the bathtub? Iphone photos are cheap. Cheap in quality and in the value we put on them. A little instant gratification, a few Facebook likes and that's about it.

Call me crazy, but I predict that sooner or later (maybe 5 years) parents will realize  that professional photos, actual recorded, fine art documentation of our lives is priceless. I don't want to be that mom that has no video of my baby walking for the first time or laughing in the high-chair. I for one, will carry around my real camera, and record real moments, and print real photos. Because relationships of love are the building blocks of reality and I want to celebrate that on my walls, in albums of family memories and in my heart.

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What You should be Taking Pictures Of

I got my new camera and new lenses.  Now I don't know what to shoot photos of? -Sincerely, 


Dear Puzzled,

I think to answer this question, you really have to ask yourself a couple questions.

What Inspires You?

What do you gravitate towards? There are general categories of photography: Food, Fine Art, Portraits, Lifestyle, Editorial, Landscape, Commercial, Fashion etc. Each of these has its unique challenges and rewards. Get a few magazines from these different categories- as you flip through the pages, what gets you excited?

Think in Series

 I work well in "projects", I thrive on a "to do" list. ( In fact, without my to-do list I get absolutely nothing done.) When I'm feeling less than inspired and want to shoot something, I come up with a project. This is what lead to the Clive Coffee shoot- playing around with one of their Duetto espresso machine to see what I could come up with. I wanted to create a series of images with a certain caption: Two Italian Ladies

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Your series may be a collection of images all geared towards one idea:

  1. movement
  2. decay
  3. light/dark
  4. freckles
  5. puddles
  6. smiles- and their different kinds
  7. ethnicities within the city
  8. street style fashion for spring
  9. architecture of Portland
  10. bridges
  11. things you love in Macro (super close shots of everyday favorites)

The possibilities are endless. Come up with an idea and start shooting!