This past weekend, Brooke finished off her final wedding season. For the past seven years Brooke and I have traveled all over the world and the United States shooting weddings. We've seen enough mason jars, burlap, lace, flower arrangements, DJ's, bands, bouquet tosses and awkward speeches to last a life time. We've watched beautiful ceremonies that have brought us to tears and really weird ones that brought raised eyebrows. We could tell stories for days and days.
Like the one wedding where the totally drunk guest told us that he gave the brother of the bride his "slick black tie" to wear and "made the knot so money." To which Brooke replied, "Like, sooo money, it was double money?" And freaked out screaming "DOUBLE MONEY!" for the rest of the night.
Or the one where two bridesmaids were giving a speech and a woman pulled a Kanye and grabbed the mic right out of their hands to talk about something else... That moment was so shocking that we didn't even get photos of it! We just watched in amazement.
Or the time the videographer bumped the cake table and a beautiful five tier wedding cake came crashing down onto the reception floor. The bride and groom just picked up pieces and smashed it in each others faces.
I could go on and on with stories on top of stories. From beautiful to ridiculous. From awkward to wonderful. Weddings have it all.
With this being our last season, I have been at home with June while my wonderful wife is off shooting. I've been stay at home dad while Brooke drives up and down the east coast hanging out with strangers on one of the most intimate days of their lives.
Brooke is the most phenomenal photographer I have ever seen work. The way she sees things is beyond me and I have marveled at what she has produced over the years. The thing about shooting weddings is that, as a photographer, you ultimately have no control over what the day brings. You don't pick out the clothes, flowers, couple, day, timing, weather, etc. You are at the will of the day and everything else your client has selected. Even with all that Brooke still brings such artistic beauty to every wedding. While I've been home this past season, Brooke has been second shooting with a friend, Claire, who said this about shooting with Brooke -- "It's been such a blessing to watch you shoot all these weddings. It's like watching someone who's played the piano for 25 years. It's effortless."
When we told people that we were finishing off our careers as wedding photographers, friends, family and industry professionals were shocked. People couldn't understand why, with such talent, skill and market share, why we would walk away!?!
So, I thought I would share a little of our reasoning for why we are walking away.
God's better is better.
Brooke and I both truly believe that God did not put us on this earth to shoot weddings every weekend for the rest of our days. We believe that He has something different for us. Now, if you are a wedding photographer, or in the industry, and believe that it is what God has called you to do, that is awesome! Do it and do it ALL for His glory! Please don't think that by me saying we are called to do something else that it belittles your calling. We can all start anywhere and end with Jesus.
But as Brooke and I moved from one season to another of shooting, editing and booking weddings we felt like we weren't all in. We always felt like we had one foot in the wedding pool, one foot in the walk in love. pool, and one foot in the mystery pool. We felt scattered, spread out, worn thin. We had a team of photographers and a team for walk in love. and we felt like neither were getting our full and best attention. We were tired and we dreaded almost every weekend.
And then February 12, 2015 at 8:39pm God sent us the final push to end our careers as wedding professionals and listen to Him for what is next. Our beautiful daughter June came into this world 10 days late and we were smitten. We were blown away by our love and instant commitment to her and we never wanted to be to spread thin ever again. We wanted to be all in on raising this little one with as few distractions as possible. So, after a couple weeks of living like new-parent-zombies, Brooke and I had our final conversation about what to do. We decided that we would let all our currently booked clients know that we are moving on (and not to freak out when they hear we were done!). Brooke would shoot one final season and then we'd move on to just working on walk in love. full time.
That conversation and decision seems like ages ago. I was just looking at photos of June last night from around that time period and I barely remember. I don't really remember the exact moment we shifted our focus and finally decided to throw in the towel, but as I look back and think about the last 8 months, I see something beautiful.
I see how God use the end of one career to change our hearts. Instead of feeling stressed, burned out and tired, we feel focused, fired up and ready to do what God puts on our hearts. We feel reenergized by His spirit. We've fallen more deeply into His loving arms. We feel an overall sense of joy and passion for life that we haven't felt in a long time.
Are we scared? Heck yeah we are! We've made over $100,000 a year shooting weddings. We were able to travel the world while being paid to do it. To some that is a dream. As we stepped into the decision we definitely had doubts. We are so good at it, should we really just stop? Maybe we can just do a couple a year? Isn't the money worth it?
But the real question we kept landing on is do we live for money or do we live for Jesus?
And we live for Jesus. And maybe we are cutting our annual income in half right now by saying goodbye to weddings and living off the salary that walk in love. provides. And maybe we won't travel to exotic resorts or other parts of the world. Maybe we won't have as many funny stories to tell!
But you know what we will have? We will have peace, joy and contentment knowing that we did what God called us to do. We will know that we are leaning into Jesus and His plan for our lives rather than our own.
It's taken me my entire adult life to even realize I need to learn this lesson, but I am glad I am at least beginning to. Take everything away. Take away the money, the stuff, the succsessful business, followers, blog viewers and just give me Jesus. More of Him, all the time, until the day I die. It's all I want. It's all I need.
Brooke and I certainly don't look at these past seven years as a waste of time, simply because we are now done -- they are now a footnote.
I see these past seven years as a footnote in the story God is telling with our lives. I want to live in the fullness of what God wants from my life. I no longer want to focus on selfish ambition and personal gain. I want to focus on making heaven come to the earth and the glory of Jesus shining brightly through whatever I do.
I don't know where you are while reading this. Maybe you are in the exact same place I am in right now. Saying goodbye to something you've done really well for a long period of time. Maybe you have been ignoring God pushing you into the next phase of your life and now you hate that you actually clicked on this link. You feel the glorious conviction of the Holy Spirit pushing you to jump, take the leap of faith and trust in the goodness of God.
I can tell you this. It isn't always easy to jump. It's not always easy to trust that God is actually calling you to something different. The world has a hard time understanding why Brooke and I would stop doing weddings. We are good at it, we make lots of money and we "get to do cool things". But we know that Gods glorious plan dumbfounds the things of this world. He uses foolish things to bring about His glory. Ending our wedding career seems foolish to most, but not to our hearts, not to what God is speaking into our lives.
Now that we are on the other side, I can tell you that all the tough conversations, all the worry about money, all the difficulties in making the decisions are TOTALLY WORTH IT! God's best for your life might just be a step of faith away and God's best is always better than your best. Take that step. Jump into the loving arms of a loving Savior.
Let the things of this world be a footnote in the story God can tell with your life. Give it all to Him and His glorious, undeniable, amazing love will shine through.