10 on 10 for January

Good light is hard to find in our house at any time, but it’s even worse in the winter. Luckily there seems to be one or two pockets of light to be found in at least a couple locations in our house. For this months’ 10 on 10 I thought I’d share ten images taken in those pockets of light. This post is part of a monthly blog circle. To continue the circle, following a group of photographers all sharing ten images from either a theme or a day or simply the previous month, follow the link at the bottom of this post.

To continue this blog circle visit Nikki Gould’s beautiful work!

Faithfully Thinking: More thoughts on the doubts even Christians have

Last week I wrote about feeling fake as a Christian when I find myself doubting my faith because of the suffering some people face.

I never know if anyone will read my posts when I write them but I write anyhow, I guess as a form of catharsis for myself and also in case someone else feels they are alone in the same thoughts.

I don’t often receive a response to my more melancholy posts, which is okay because I assume my friends are simply praying for me and aren’t sure how to respond. When a friend or reader does respond it is usually to thank me because they have felt the same way but never knew how to say it or even if they should.  

The private message I received from a friend in response to that post was heartfelt, deep and thought provoking.

With his permission I am sharing part of that response here today. 

“I read your blog post about sometimes we are fake. I wanted to share some thoughts on it and thank you for authenticity.

Suffering and struggle and doubt do not make us less Christian. St. Thomas doubted the ultimate hope until he was knuckle deep in the wounds of Christ. The Apostles huddled in doubt and fear and would not believe the first message of the Resurrection. Face to face with Christ in life and in glorified resurrection….they denied and doubted.

We are weak. That is not an indictment of humanity, but one of the gifts. If we were not weak, we would not need each other. We would not know we need Christ. In Scripture and the history of Saints many of those who are loved and called by Him scream at Him in rage, doubt…run….weep.

When I was ten my mother was dying. No one would say it out loud. But there I was, a little kid good at theology, pious  to a fault. Everyone said I would be a priest. I thought I would. But I asked Mom, because I could not understand…”Why are you going to die? Why are you sick?”

And she said that when God forms us it is art and sometimes it is like a painting…painless. Sometimes it is like pottery. Sometimes there is fire and there is pain. But the potter alone knows the form of the clay and what will make it the best it can be. And pottery, even with the suffering because of the suffering, is stronger than a painting.

She said if someone else had her cancer maybe they would lose faith in Him. And if that was so, she was glad to have it.

Glad to have it.

I remember even then thinking, ‘I will never be her. I will never be that much of a Christian.’

I did not understand it all.

And I asked her why God would fire her like pottery into death. And she said, “Love, my life was a painting. I’m not the one He’s forming right now.”

Through the pains and poverty of my life, that continue in many ways, I have held on to the fact that the most Christian woman I knew faced slow painful death, fading from her children, without blinking, without hate or accusations at God. And she held herself weaker than others. She, to herself, was a painting. Wonderfully made and beautiful but less hard, tested and worked than pottery. She was telling me, it will be ok to doubt, grieve, scream at the heavens. It will not make you less a Christian. It will make you a stronger member of His army.

When my brother died at age 35, his two daughters were just younger than my sister and I were when Mom died. My sister had been so angry at God for years after mom died. So angry before dealing with it all. And our youngest niece (not knowing how her aunt had been) asked if it was ok to be mad at God. And my sister knelt to get eye to eye with her and said, “God’s big enough to handle it. He wants you to give it to Him. And if you do that by being angry with Him, doubting Him…it’s ok. He loves you.”

As Christians we walk a balance between the weakness of our humanity and the strength of being made in the Image of God.

Tolkien puts it best in this work “Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth” in the history of Middle Earth books.

It is a debate between the human wise woman Andreth and the Elven lord Finrod on the nature of things.

Andreth: They say that the One will himself enter into Arda, and heal Men and all the Marring from the beginning to the end. This they say also, or they feign, is a rumour that has come down through years uncounted, even from the days of our undoing.

And earlier Finrod gives a perfect description of Christian Hope:

‘Have ye then no hope?’ said Finrod.

‘What is hope?’ she said. ‘An expectation of good, which though uncertain has some foundation in what is known? Then we have none.’

‘That is one thing that Men call “hope”,’ said Finrod. ’Amdir we call it, “looking up”. But there is another which is founded deeper. Estel we call it, that is “trust”. It is not defeated by the ways of the world, for it does not come from experience, but from our nature and first being. If we are indeed the Eruhin, the Children of the One, then He will not suffer Himself to be deprived of His own, not by any Enemy, not even by ourselves. This is the last foundation of Estel, which we keep even when we contemplate the End: of all His designs the issue must be for His Children’s joy. Amdir you have not, you say. Does no Estel at all abide?’

-J.R.R. Tolkien, The History of Middle-earth X: Morgoth’s Ring, “Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth”

So our hope..is in the Resurrection we have Estel. But it is not less Christian to have failings in Amdir.

We all doubt. We all wonder why at times. We all scream it inside at time until our heart breaks. Thank you for mentioning it out loud because I do believe God wants us to – because that shows us we are not alone, we need each other in this world.

He could take all suffering in this world away. He could make reward and prosperity and joy here a point by point reward for goodness. He does not. There are many reasons Theology lists for why that is. But those reasons are flat and tasteless to a suffering heart. And that suffering heart is united to the Cross. So that alone means it can never make us less Christian. Even though we often worry about that.”

Let’s Be Honest: Photography is not a lucrative deal

My Facebook “friends” congratulated me. 

“Wow! You got a job! Great!”

“You’re submitting photos to a stock agency! Awesome!”

They all thought I was finally making money off my photography obsession and I finally had a job, which probably meant I’d finally stop trying to figure out how to work from home while parenting a toddler and a ten year old. 

In reality, I don’t have a job. Photography is not a lucrative deal. And before you roll your eyes at me, this isn’t a “woe is me post.” It is an honest one. It is an eye opener to the many people who recently picked up a new “fancy camera” and are certain they are going to make money booking clients or working for a stock agency

First, if you can get clients, they don’t want to pay you what you’re worth. They want to pay you what they think you’re worth. Because everyone has a camera today most people don’t think  you’re worth much. You push a button and download photos and give the photographs to them. That’s it. How hard can it be?

Very few account for the cost of your equipment, online classes you paid for so you could learn more about your passion, the fees you pay for online galleries, websites, and online advertising. No one thinks about the time your spending away from your family not only during the session but while editing the images. And editing – that’s easy right? Actually, once you learn about it, editing isn’t that hard, but it can be time consuming for someone who is annoyingly meticulous like I am. 

From culling to editing I could find myself spending several hours preparing a client’s final images.

Maybe it’s lucky then that I don’t have a lot of clients. 

That’s right. 

I’m being honest.

I am a photographer with a “business” but no one hires me.

What’s my problem?

I have no idea. 

Not good enough.

Not outgoing enough.

Not a good business person.

These are many of the reasons I’ve listed privately, to myself, in my journal, in my mind as I tell myself trying to make money from my love for photography was pretty much the stupidest idea I have ever had.

The excitement over the stock photography “jobs”?

Completely unwarranted it turns out.

In the last two weeks I made $13 from the one stock agency, who pays me $1.25 each time one of my images is downloaded.

In the last six months I made $67.57 at what was portrayed to me as a high end, exclusive and well paying stock agency. The agency only cuts you a check if you make $500. At this rate I should earn $500 by the time my youngest (who is 2) starts Kindergarten.

Maybe.

For now, I still submit my images to stock agencies because I’m already taking them for myself, why not try to make a little money off of them, even if it’s only a small amount? In this economy ever bit helps. Even if it’s only $13.

Of course, I should remember that particular agency only pays you if you make $100.

Hopefully I’ll have that cool, hard, cash in the next, say, six months.

I won’t give up on photography because for me it’s more than something I might someday, (maybe possibly, very slim chance) make money at.

It’s a lifeline.

It’s memories.

It’s connections.

It’s therapy.

It’s a bright spot in a dark world.

But it is not a source of quick money.

 

Four photos from the past month…on the fourth | Athens PA Child Photographer

This is part of a blog circle with Clickin’ Moms (a photography education site to encourage moms and all female photographers) and also part of Melissa Firman’s 99 days of blogging.

The blog circle features other photographers showcasing four photographs from the previous month. Follow along by visiting Alexis Fischer Photographer

This week has been absolutely crazy since it was my son’s last week of school but we were grateful to find a little bit of time to run through a sprinkler and play with the water hose on a hot day. Of course there was mud as well. And of course there was time on the playground earlier in the month for both of the children.

The week in focus | Elmira NY Child Photographer

Last week we had a mix of nice and rainy days but Little Miss didn’t care what the weather was because she rain outside to slide on her new slide no matter what the sky was spitting.

It’s a inexpensive slide meant for toddlers but even her brother found a way to have fun with it, by leaping off it and attempting 360 turns in mid-air.

It doesn’t matter the height of the slide, Little Miss, who isn’t even 2 loves them and finds a way to get to the top and slide straight down to the bottom.

We visited a playground last week that had three different size slides. She was in toddler heaven, running back and forth to each one. She has no fear, climbing up a ladder to the top of the one playground set that had even me a little nervous to climb.

If she’s this much of a daredevil at 19 months, I have no ideawhat the age of 2 will hold!

 

Bubbles and sun | Elmira, N.Y. Photographer

We’ve had so much rain lately that when the sun finally broke it was definitely a welcome sight.

Life feels like that sometimes.

When it’s sad and dark for so long and so many trials face you, even the smallest glimmer of hope seems that much more wonderful and better.

Today’s post is part of a 10 on 10 blog circle where we post ten photos on the tenth day of the month. Continue the circle at Lais Livone.