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“Don’t be led by your problems. Be led by your dreams.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

When given the choice between problems or dreams, it’s easy to pick dreams. But goodness, problems are easy to focus on.

When I think about problems I get anxious and my work is not creative or inspired. I find it nearly impossible to be inspired when I’m being pushed by problems. But when I’m led by dreams, I do better work, I have more creative thoughts, and overall, I’m happier.

Will fear take control your life or will you let hope lead you towards your dreams?

Happy Wednesday!

xo

Tiffany

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Before a wedding weird, unexpected things tend to go wrong. It happened before my wedding, and I’ve seen it happen many other times. The days leading up the Kayla and Justin’s wedding were full of many of these unexpected bumps in the road. But every time I spoke to Kayla, even as she was figuring out what to do with her car that had broken down, Kayla was still positive and calm.

Justin is the same way. Always smiling, always making people smile. You can’t be around Justin and Kayla and not instantly be in a better mood.

When I asked Justin and Kayla when they knew that this was “the one” they both told me that they loved how positive the other person would take care of them after a rough day. Not only do they lift others up, but they lift each other up.

Their wedding day was full of so much joy and laughter, and I couldn’t imagine a more deserving couple. Here are just a few highlights from their wedding day!

The day started off with clear weather:

Look at that dress! Love it. Kayla’s bridesmaids are pros are lacing up dresses.

An almost first look:

Walking down the aisle to her groom:

First United Method Church in Fort Collins is always gorgeous!

Just married!

How cute are these two?!

Such a fun exit!

Kayla’s mom did so much for this wedding! She made the veil, all the flowers.. you don’t need a wedding planner if you have Kayla’s mom!

Right as portrait time for the bride and groom was beginning it started to rain. We quickly got in the car and started driving to find a new location and this is what we found in a matter of five minutes. Couldn’t have dreamed of a better location on such short notice!

Congratulations Kayla & Justin! I know there were quite a few bumps in the road leading up the your wedding day (as there usually is!) but your day turned out so beautifully. I’m so excited to see you two continue your lives together, along with your amazing friends and family.

xo

Tiffany

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  • Nicole - July 17, 2013 - 12:44 pm

    Tiffany, you never cease to amaze me. These photos are brilliant and I’m sure you captured their day just perfectly! Beautiful!! xoReplyCancel

After a couple of months my website was ready. Now I had a website, business cards, and a camera. I felt like a “professional photographer.”  It felt surreal. After shooting a handful of portraits I knew I wanted to focus on weddings.

A few images from my first three weddings.

In a few months I would photograph my first wedding. I jumped in head first without second shooting or assisting at other weddings before. I was extremely nervous but just loved it. My family and friends had so much confidence in me and kept pushing me to keep going. Soon my business was slowly growing. I shot a few more weddings that year and invested in more gear. From a year of so much pain and uncertainty to a year of happiness, growth, and hope. Such a stark contrast.

During that year I found this quote:

“Imagine yourself as a living hours. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and son; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wig here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He in tends to come and live in it himself.” – C.S. Lewis.

When I first read that quote, I cried. It struck me so deeply and I still consider this to be one of my favorite quotes. It put exactly what I was feeling into words. Things that hurt you can lead to something beautiful and good.

I won’t try to sugar coat it and say I was a positive person throughout the entire process. I hurt so much, physically and emotionally. There were moments that I was full of despair, and questioned why me, why now? I felt like my world was ending but really, it was just beginning!

Over time I questioned less and embraced all of my experiences, good and bad, as part of my journey. I don’t think it’s an accident or coincidence that I now have a photography business. Every wedding or event I have the honor of photographing is not only a blessing, but a privilege.

Of course, there have been other challenges I’ve faced since starting my business. Moving 3 times, additional surgery, negative criticism…plenty of moments that have made me doubt if I’m good enough, talented enough to keep going. Honestly, a little part of me thought/wished bad things would stop happening after being through so much.But I’ve learned that there will always be challenges to overcome, and more importantly there will always be something to be grateful for. You can’t let trials and setbacks permanently hold you back. You have to keep going.  Every day I’m alive and healthy is a gift and I truly believe that every day is worth celebrating!

There isn’t a great way to end this story because it’s still happening right now. I’m so grateful to my family, Travis, friends, and clients who have joined me on this adventure so far! I am excited to keep adding new chapters to my story.. who knows what life will bring!

 

 

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  • Karen - July 15, 2013 - 6:29 pm

    Forget any negative criticism you hear EVER!! Every time I look at your pictures I wish I had had you shoot my wedding. Sometimes I intentionally avoid your page so that I can stop regretting my own wedding choices, haha! Tiffany, you are AWESOME.

    Also, thank you for sharing that quote.ReplyCancel

  • jess apostle - July 15, 2013 - 6:45 pm

    very cool story, tiffany! amazing how it all worked together for good (thanks God). hope you’re doing well! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Logan - July 17, 2013 - 11:13 am

    What an incredible story! You are SOOOO talented! I am amazed at the strength you had to stand up for what you wanted to do and dramatically change paths like that. I love looking at all of your photos – I think you truly have a gift for photography!ReplyCancel

  • Holly - July 24, 2013 - 9:00 pm

    Love you, Tiff =)ReplyCancel

I  felt born again, not just spiritually but physically. I almost died, but by so many miracles I lived. For the first time ever I felt that I could choose to do anything. Anything! I thought about so many things I had never thought about before. What would I do with my life, this gift?

So I went back to school, wondering what major would be best for me. I was excited but didn’t know the challenges I would face. I felt as if part of my youth had been torn from me. I had scars I didn’t want anyone to see. I couldn’t eat what everyone else was eating, I needed to stay as healthy as possible. I couldn’t do the same activities as everyone else. The first time I went ice skating again, something I loved to do, I was incredibly sore for days. My muscles were still weak and I wondered why I couldn’t just be a normal college student. Emotionally I was still recovering.

A dear roommate of mine encouraged me to run. Because of the severity of pneumonia and surgery on my lungs, part of my lungs died and I would never have full lung capacity again. I thought running was out of the question but I decided I wanted to try. Almost exactly a year after being admitted to the hospital I ran the 5k I was planning on running previously with my Dad and roommate Kelsi. It was so empowering conquering this challenge. I realized, I can do hard things.

From trying to walk with my Dad, to running with my Dad almost exactly a year later. I wish I had a picture of my mom too, because she was right there beside me encouraging me every step of the way too.

Later that summer I would take a trip to Italy. I had bought a new camera and was excited to take pictures. The art of Italy blew me away. Everywhere we went was full of inspiration. All I wanted to do was take pictures and more pictures. More than that, I wanted to create art.

Me in Italy

Growing up I had a passion for photography. I was always buying film, taking pictures of anything and everything. Like when my siblings lost their teeth, or a photo shoot with our pets. After a terrible high school film class I had brushed it aside. But now, after that trip, I was thinking about it all the time.

A few pictures from Italy.

I went back to school for fall semester and felt uneasy about it. I called my parents, told them I was coming home, and that I wanted to become a photographer. It must have stunned them a little. I had never used a DSLR camera before, I had already taken time off from school, and I already had an signed contract for an apartment with great roommates.. Despite all the logical reasons for me to stay in school, my parents still supported my crazy idea.

So I packed up my room, drove home and almost immediately called a photographer I admired and asked if she would mentor me. She said yes and I was so excited. Soon after, I got a call saying that someone would be taking over my lease. It still amazes me how everything fell into place. I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be.

I worked 3 jobs that semester to buy all the equipment I needed. I don’t even remember being tired, just excited and happy. At the encouragement of my mentor, Tina, I entered a photography contest. At the last minute I entered and forgot all about it. Tina called me awhile later to tell me I had won! I couldn’t believe it–someone liked the photos I was taking. The best part of winning though, was a free website.

Read Part III here!

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  • Melissa - July 12, 2013 - 4:29 pm

    Thank you for sharing your amazing story.
    MelissaReplyCancel

  • Amanda - July 16, 2013 - 4:32 pm

    Awesome pictures! I’m amazed that you did such creative work even before you had the advantage of mentoring. No wonder you’ve continued on to have so much success. Way to go!ReplyCancel

Today is my 200th blog post. (My old blog had 239 posts.)

For my 200th post here, I want to write about my story how I became a photographer. I get asked this question frequently but I don’t share my full story often, because it is a little uncomfortable.

A few years ago in July, I was finishing my freshman year of school out of state in Utah when I became incredibly ill. I went to multiple doctors, and emergency rooms, only to continue feeling worse and worse. Eventually, I couldn’t leave my bed because I was in so much pain.

I was confused as to why I was feeling so sick! I had been exercising and training for my first 5k which I was about to run soon. But a week after initially feeling sick I was admitted to the Pediatrics unit. Within 10 minutes of being in my room a dozen doctors surrounded my hospital bed. I was startled. I asked them what they were all doing here. One doctor looked at me and said almost sternly, “You’re very sick.”

Hospital via Utah Valley Regional Medical Center

That would be the last thing I would remember for quite awhile. Shortly after being admitted I was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit. Because of my extremely low white blood cell count they initially thought I had Leukemia and began treatment. But then my kidneys and liver failed. Then I developed pneumonia, pancreatitis, sepsis, and high fevers.. all at once.

A few days went by without a diagnosis. Then, a pediatric infectious disease specialist, hired just ONE day before I was admitted diagnosed me with Lemierre’s disease. Lemierre’s is a rare blood disease, affecting less than 1 in a million young adults. This specialist just happened to have seen this disease before and was able to recognize it. He saved my life and I know it was no mistake that he was put at that hospital at just the right time.

I spent two weeks in ICU, and I honestly don’t remember much of it. I had surgery on both of my lungs which caused me to be intubated. I remember just wanting to talk or sing so desperately. I remember sitting in a chair for 20 minutes every day and crying through it because it hurt so badly. Despite the pain, at this point I really had no idea of the scope of this disease.

After two weeks I was transferred back to the pediatrics unit. Being the restless person I am I asked the doctor when I could back to work and school. I honestly thought that in a week or two I would be back to my normal life, and accomplishing the goals I had previously set. He looked at me a little confused and told me at least 6 months. I cried and cried. I wasn’t used to putting my life on hold and I also did not understand how much my body had been through at this point. I didn’t understand that healing takes time and patience.

Left: Unconscious in the ICU. As much as I hate this picture, I am grateful my parents thought of documenting this part of my life.  Right: Walking with my dad. I look so grumpy, and I probably was.

Physical therapy soon began. First, it was just moving my legs in bed. I remember telling the physical therapist to go away because I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t even moving myself, he was moving my legs for me! Soon I would stand up and then the hardest part, walking. Even with a walker I could barely walk. I felt trapped in my own body. It was frustrating to watch TV because every time I would see someone jumping, running, or even just walking I wanted to tell them how lucky they were to move so freely.

After two more weeks in the hospital I was able to go home. I didn’t feel ready because I still couldn’t walk on my own fully but home I went. I was still taking IV antibiotics every 6 hours along with shots. Recovering was exhausting. Everything took effort, and I had no motivation to move, let alone eat. Within a a week I was back in the hospital again for another week long stay. It felt as if this nightmare would never end.

Over time my body started healing and I started to believe that life would return to normal someday.

Read Part II tomorrow.

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  • Amanda - July 11, 2013 - 4:10 pm

    Oh, Tiffany. That was such a nightmare of a summer. I’m so glad it all ended well. You really scared a lot of people!

    Take care!ReplyCancel

  • Holly - July 12, 2013 - 1:16 pm

    I remember visiting you in the hospital with my mom, but I really didn’t understand everything you were going through. I remember you looked so tired. I mentioned something about an activity that was happening outside and your reaction surprised me. You appeared totally stressed, and maybe it was because you couldn’t jump up and join them. I wonder what point you were at in your recovery when I visited…That was a scary time, and I’m glad it’s long past! Love you, Tiff!ReplyCancel

  • Logan - July 17, 2013 - 11:08 am

    I had no idea about all of this! That’s so crazy! And look at you now! I can’t wait to read the other parts to this story!ReplyCancel