Confined to a window seat in coach heading to Seattle on American Airlines gave me plenty of time to realize that I truly am, obsessed with the hustle. It only took me 3 hours of reading to see that I hadn’t checked out and read a book in far too long. Reading about finding balance and learning how your subconscious controls a lot of your day to day outcomes, really turned a light on upstairs. What is it from my past that has me constantly running? Feeling like the moment I sit down, check out, and take “me time” I’m a failure or not achieving anything/enough? I tried to sleep it off but couldn’t nap at all. The thoughts were racing and I couldn’t stop myself from reaching into my carry on to start typing this on my iPhone haha. Seriously Carly? You can’t sit still and not work for just a six hour flight?! Apparently not.
I won’t say it’s a bad thing, I honestly find that one of my most attractive attributes is that I’m driven and a motivated worker. So when does drive and motivation go too far and have no boundaries? Why do I not allow myself down time? I even plan my time to recharge. Ha.
Being obsessed with the hustle isn’t bad it’s a choice sometimes conscious sometimes intuitive. I often can’t control that my mind is racing and I want to achieve more and check things off a list. Finding some semblance of balance by giving more love & appreciation to myself, could truly help give my constant business mode a break. Maybe set a timer? Still planned. Limited.
What does success mean to you?
To me success means straight A’s, well known, inspiring, fast typing, good listener, problem solver, bachelors degree, profitable business owner, $100k+, taking care of your parents, buying a house, vacations to far off places, no debt. You see where I’m going? The funny part is, I’ve accomplished this entire list, I feel successful but still have this never ending nagging in my mind. It’s still not perfect. Keep working on it. You’ve gotta top that, be 110% at what you’re doing. I’m not looking for a high five. I’m looking for some understanding to break down how my obsession with the hustle to my own success doesn’t give time for the enjoying the field that I have sowed. Instead it refocuses and finds a new target, higher, faster, better. Certainly so many variables play into this hustle to success…comparison, staying current, innovating, learning, fine tuning. But one things for sure. My definition for success is skewed.
Begin to create a new definition for success. A “success” that is not 110% tied to my outward accomplishments. There are moments of clarity when I’m able to reflect like today where I see I need more inward me time. More time to unwind and see other things. Space to be quiet and let new inspiring thoughts come to mind! I couldn’t believe I read half the book “You are a Badass” an easy read and very inspiring. Could reading be it?! One of the best rewards to having reached my goals and continuing to grow a successful career is having the luxury to travel. Explore.
This summer we are taking a few extended trips and it will be a great time for me to begin a new habit, enjoying my success & accomplishments inwardly. I remember a few years ago a very wise friend recommended I put the camera down occasionally, take time to see through both eyes not one. Allow my mind and body to really experience what I was seeing. I didn’t heed their advice. Wish I had. We all have our own journey, this is mine. I’m here now and know I’ve GOTTA make a change to be more present. I deserve to live and have fun outside of my business. I need to allow myself this time, otherwise it’s a huge opportunity wasted. I’m so grateful to be doing what I love and that I’m still so obsessed with the hustle of my career. But in 30 years I want to look back on a full life of personal experiences too, not just hustle. Starting today it’s 6 days off from photographing a contracted event, “wediting”, consults, emailing, and social media. Obviously the hustle from yesterday scheduled everything Baby steps people!!
Can’t wait to share my travels to Seattle for my sister Robyn’s wedding and our west coast adventure to Port Townsend and Portland. I have an amazing feeling about this next week and am extremely excited to keep my eyes wide open.
“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure”
– Joseph Campbell
We are pleased to share the story of an awesome husband and wife team, Jennifer and Tom of Tree of Life Films and Photography. If you haven’t considered working with a husband and wife team, read on because you might find it to be the perfect fit for you and your future spouse.
Jenni & Eric’s Wedding at the Barns at Wesleyan Hills in Connecticut from Tree of Life Films & Photography on Vimeo.
1. What is your story? How did you get started/Do you have training?
We went to high school together but didn’t officially meet until 10 years later! We fell in love and shared the most magical experiences together. One of early dates was going to see the movie, “The Fountain” which is a love story rooted in the Tree of Life. This was the inspiration for our company name!
After we got married and received our own wedding photos and film, we were totally blown away…sobbing in tears, just a mushy mess of love. haha! The way that our photos and film made us feel was so inspiring that we thought it would be a great thing to do. To be able to capture amazing moments and create artistic photos and films that would last forever is our dream job! Our goal is to make others feel what we felt when we experienced the memories from our wedding.
We both came from an artistic background. Jennifer went to art school and studied fine art, photography, graphic and web design. She was working as a graphic and web designer prior to starting up Tree of Life. Tom went to Temple film school, worked on various types of productions, then produced, directed and edited two independent feature films prior to Tree of Life. Tom was just finishing up his latest feature film before starting up Tree of Life.
We combined all of our experience and skills to do what we do now. But most importantly, we are both inspired by the same things: love and life. This is what drives our creative passion. This is our 5th year as Tree of Life Films & Photography and we are having a blast!
Image of Jennifer and Tom taken by The Hursts.
2. Where is your favorite venue and why?
It’s hard to pick just one! We love venues that are surrounded by nature. Places with farm charm (haha!) including rolling hills, barns and cute animals. Anywhere with epic scenery and beautiful natural light is very exiting to us. We also love the rustic urban settings of converted warehouses in the city.
One of our favorite local venues is the Glasbern Inn in Fogelesville, PA. It is a beautiful property with various cabins where the whole wedding party can stay. The ceremonies are held outside overlooking these wonderful hills and pastures. There is a beautiful barn for the reception. And our favorite part of the location are the gorgeous settings for portrait sessions with our couples. There are various nooks and crannies throughout the property with the most epic being at the top of the hill. There is an open field with a massive tree and the sun setting in the backdrop. It makes for some amazing portraits with great light.
3. What would you want to share with prospective future clients?
One of the most important things to us for our own wedding was that it was about our love for one another and that it represented us and who we were. We would encourage all of our couples to make their wedding their own. To forget about rules and have fun! Be in love. Everything else will fall in to place. From a photography and film-making perspective, we would say to check out all of the different styles that are out there. And to pick a company whose style really makes you feel something. Then trust them to be creative and do what they do best. Capture your love with their own unique artistic vision. Creative freedom is what allows us to do our best work.
After doing over 150 weddings, we have found that photography and cinematography go hand in hand with one another. When we do both on the same day, we use the same creative approach. Our main thing is to capture real emotions between our couples and candid moments throughout the day. We don’t do much posing with our couples at all (except for group family photos of course). If you choose two different companies (one for photo and one for video) we find it works best if they share a similar type of style. This makes the process of portrait sessions flow more seamlessly. If the companies have totally different styles, then it’s really important to budget in time for both companies to work their creative magic equally in order to get you the best photos and films possible.
It’s also just as important for our couples to meet with us (either in person, Skype or phone) before booking. We will be there with you on your wedding day, one of the most important and intimate days of your lives so we don’t want to be strangers. It is so important to surround yourselves with people who you share the same vision with, get along really well with and are completely comfortable being around one another. We often become friends with our couples because we have so much fun together!
4. Where are you based out of and how far do you typically travel for clients?
We are based out of beautiful Bucks County, PA. We love nature and have actually been watching 3 fawns grow up in our yard for the past two weeks! We travel anywhere for weddings. We love to shoot locally and for destination weddings. We have travelled as far as North Carolina, Vermont and Lake Placid, NY for weddings. And we’re super excited to have the opportunity to travel to Hawaii later this year for a wedding! We love to explore and are always up for a new adventure
5. What are tips to have a stress free wedding/event?
Scheduling! haha! We help all of our couples create their wedding day schedule. We find that we can eliminate stress by budgeting for the right amount of time for us to capture full photography and video coverage throughout the day while having the couple not even notice or think about it. We want our couples to focus on each other, their family and friends, and having the time of their lives! If you plan a well thought out schedule ahead of time, then you won’t have to worry about a thing on your wedding day. We’ve done so many weddings that we know how much time to budget, including fluff time for things that may run late.
Aside from scheduling, it is very important to not sweat the small details. Life is not perfect, but that is one of the things that makes it exciting and fun! So don’t worry if everything on your wedding day doesn’t go exactly to plan. Just roll with it, let go and have an amazing time. How can anything else matter when you are celebrating with the love of your life? Enjoy the big and small moments, and we’ll help you remember them later.
6. What is your favorite thing/person/place to film?
We love photographing and filming moments of love and joy. Whether it be at a wedding, engagement or family session, it comes in all forms. We love capturing the exciting times, the quiet moments, all of the little details and the atmosphere. One of our most loved things to do is shooting into the sun. There is such a magical quality that sun flares bring to the images. We always find ourselves chasing the sun.
7. Many people have an outdated idea of videography. How would you explain the difference between that outdated idea and what you offer?
We don’t use massive chunky cameras or big bright lights! With the new camera technology over the past decade, it has made it possible to achieve an artistic video image with a quality that resembles what you see in the movies. In the past, the only option for many years was to use a large video camera which requires large amounts of light in order to record an image. So this is where you would see a big camera on a rolling tripod smack in the center of the ceremony aisle or shining a flood light onto people getting down on the dance floor. It can be very off-putting!
Now, we have light weight cameras that have given many of us creative people the opportunity to capture weddings in an artistic and unobtrusive way. We aim to remain in the background and be as unobtrusive as possible, capturingcandid/genuine moments. We have a small footprint which allows us to be mobile and move around often to get the best angles, all while staying as unnoticed as possible throughout the day. Our cameras are also very light sensitive, so we can film in dark situations like receptions without using any additional lights on top of our cameras. Usually when we are shooting video, we are often mistaken for photographers because we use similar cameras.
8. What is your favorite moment of a wedding?
We love photographing and filming genuine and exciting moments. Some highlights for us are when brides are getting buttoned up in their dresses. It’s always touching for her and whoever is helping her, seeing her for the first time. The first time a couple sees each other on their wedding day, huge long hugs, the first kiss, couples dancing down the aisle together after they just tied the knot, and crazy dancing.
Perhaps our favorite time of the day is during the portrait session. This is where we can take our couples to amazing locations with beautiful natural light and capture moments of them just getting lost into one another and having so much fun together. We feel that these moments are what really defines our work as capturing the true love of our couples.
9. What is on your bucket list to film?
We love to travel. It would be amazing to go somewhere with vast landscapes and capture a couples adventure of a lifetime.Iceland looks amazing. So does the Almafi Coast, or Tuscany in Italy. We’ll be in Hawaii later this year and that is definitely on our list!
10. What would you want to tell yourselves 5 years ago as business owners?
When we first started doing this it was all a risk. We had to wait until we booked enough weddings for the year in order to quit our day jobs and know that we had secure income to do this for a living. Now we are so insanely busy that we don’t really do much other than work! haha! We love what we do but there is definitely a balance to life that not only will make us better rounded beings but also will make us better artists as well. We probably would have told ourselves to take on a little less work so we could balance our time better. But we’re working on that for the future 🙂
Kathy owner of Raye of Light Studio in Annapolis MD, has recently taken a HUGE jump in opening the first collaborative Art space for creatives of it’s kind. Kathy is a talented visionary and I look forward to seeing all the people that her space inspires and brings back into the creative art space. Art is an escape, frees the mind, and heals the soul for many. Her space is already doing just that in the first few months of opening her doors! Kathy from Raye of Light Studio is sharing her process.
Kathy: “Jumping with both feet off a cliff…free falling…starting my own art business…
Born into a family business and surrounded by a life time of entrepreneurial thinking and art…I decided to open a business….it was time, my time now.
I didn’t want to be that person who magically came out of nowhere and can paint at 70. I had pursued a life of marketing because it put kids through braces, sports and college. So it was “me time” I’m calling it….but that revelation didn’t just pop up out of nowhere. This idea has been brewing with every art show I attended over the last three years. I found myself gravitating to artists and talking more and more about this dream of mine at art shows and fairs. I wasn’t conscious of it yet, but my soul was calling…wake up…its time to return to your roots!
What I found during this time frame of incubation was there are so many talented people out there. How silly for me to think that somehow I was this great undiscovered artist, and would just return to my craft. I realized I couldn’t be the only one who did not pursue a career of art because of financial and other life decisions. So I started to entertain thoughts of a totally new way to create.
I knew that my personality didn’t lend it self to sit behind an easel or drafting table all day no matter how inspired. I had many discussions over the summer with Marion Edith ,owner of The Bethany Art House, who after many years just up and moved. Gave up her crazy metropolitan fast paced NVA life and teaching at the Corcoran, to open her business. She was my inspiration. Here she is telling me that photographers and artists from all over the eastern shore and beaches were dropping in…
She had anchored them.
She had built it and they did come.
So I envisioned a space of my own, the price here was right and so Raye of Light Studio would be conceived in the design district of Annapolis.
This may have changed my vision a little, but like all artists I had to brainstorm and innovate. I realized I was going with more of a” class room style”… and still didn’t have a clear vision. In fact most of my ideas,came to me in the shower. Some people sing in the shower, apparently the light bulb goes off for me early am. I would actually draw on the shower door in the condensation …sketching out my ideas for classes. Recalling a conversation I had with a student once about “classes” at an art school and how disappointed they were with the lack on imagination and inspiration that was given there , I decided to name my art classes ART ESCAPES.
Everyone could use a little escape into the arts now and then right?!
My goal is to create an environment where people can reconnect with their inner artist. We start out drawing with crayons and somewhere along the way, we stop. We do it to ourselves, we stop allowing that creativity to be nurtured. When you create art it is a self expression…an interpretation…it takes you to a different place. That is why I fell in love with the expression #takeanartescape
In fact we know that participating in art for enjoyment actually improves your mental health according to recent studies of Bio Med Central
So here at Raye of Light studio is a huge opportunity to create what you want through any art escape. I see it with every one who takes a “class” …you start off saying can’t and end up in silence, deep in thought, creating. Music playing in the back ground and surrounded by no more than ten others, who like you are willing but afraid all at the same time. At the end of every escape a natural peer critique happens…people get up and want to share their new knowledge and appreciation of what they just created.
That is the reward, to see this transformation, the pride, and confidence they now have and the enjoyment from spending 2.5 hours with me at Raye of Light Studio and leaving with their very own masterpiece. It makes me happy to share something I love that exist and manifests differently for each individual.
We are currently working on a new project…Portraits of Love. (https://www.rayeoflightstudio.com/portrait-of-love.html)
If I can help families by offering this experience where art and creation prevail where words fail, it just might help someone.
Where Words Fail
Art and Creation Prevail
Just like me…we all know that with a little guidance and encouragement you can reignite your imagination and find your creative happy space for an escape!
Life is short …I realized I needed to jump with both feet into Raye of Light Studio, helping people create art you can experience.”
These family photos on film by Elizabeth Tate with Nancy Ray Photography blew us away! Her light hearted way of capturing the many different stages of a family in her photographs is truly special. There’s a timeless quality to Elizabeth’s photographs that reminded us how important it is to take time out to freeze time in a photo. Whether you’re single, married, expecting, or with grown up kids, coming together even for a mini session will create so many valuable memories for the future. The Mom Lauren in Elizabeth’s family session said it soooo well…
From Lauren (Mom):
“These images mean the world to me because they are images of my whole world. The time has passed all to quickly this first year since becoming a mother and the only way to stop time is to document it with photos. These are simply photos of me, my husband, and my son in a field but, at the same time, they are so much more than that – they are my baby’s adorable dimple, they are a sweet glance from my husband, they are my son’s face lit up with curiosity about a leaf, they are giggles and silliness and love. Every image is a precious heirloom that I value more than gold. Elizabeth captured my little family perfectly and I’m so incredibly grateful to her for stopping time for us.”
There is so much joy in this wedding, it might just burst out of your screen. I think my favorite part was reading how they rolled with the punches. Things will inevitably go wrong but if you focus on your love, the day will reflect your love and happiness. Thank you to Noreen Turner for sharing this happy couple with us. In Noreen’s words, she shares more about Laura and Joey’s happy day.
In the wedding industry, vendors meet with couples all of the time. Sometimes you know immediately that the bride and groom are just one of a kind. Their happiness is evident in the way they talk about their plans for the wedding and in the way they describe their relationship so far. Laura and Joey were even beyond that typical happy couple. In addition to being in love with each other, their love for their family and friends and even their cat and dog was obvious as they talked about their lives and their plans for the future.
Laura and Joey, surrounded by loving friends and family were married on April 2nd in Riverside, NJ at The Madison. In typical wedding day fashion there were things that went wrong. The morning was dreary with on and off rain threatening to ruin their outdoor ceremony plans. Hair and makeup ran late. None of this phased either one of them. Joey and his groomsmen took advantage of the delays and had a great time with their portraits. Laura was flawless and enjoyed each moment of the day as it unfolded. Moments before the ceremony the sun peeked out through the clouds. However, even with the rain gone there was not a dry eye in the house. Their vows were written personally and were some of the most beautiful things one could ever say to another. Joey and his daughter Emma welcomed Laura into their new family with love and open arms.
Congratulations and Laura and Joey and may you continue to enjoy great music, food, family and friends in the many years to come.