As I sit in a hotel room in Dhaka, Bangladesh on the last day of 2016, I reflect on all that has happened this year. It’s been a year of ups and downs, at times filled with beautiful memories, and at times, financially stretching for us as a company. Yet, perhaps with some childlike faith, I have hope. I am hoping that 2017 will be one that is great. A year that will bring about change, as we have set into motion some plans for the year.
Recently, in between our wedding shoots here in Bangladesh, I had time to walk the streets a little. We bumped into an old curiosity shop that looked like it sold antiques (or lookalikes!). I was drawn to a hourglass that had a compass at the top and bottom. That afternoon, as I was praying about the year ahead, I felt God telling me two things: That I need to depend on Him as the compass of my life. He would give me the direction I seek desperately. And the hourglass reminds me that my time on earth is short – what am I doing daily that makes a difference to the world?
Naturally, my thoughts go to my children and leaving a legacy in their lives. It would be tragic if I spent so much time working on my business but neglected the welfare of my kids (and husband!). If today was the last day of my life, would I feel happy with all I had done in life?
Let’s make each day count. Happy New Year from us in Dhaka and have a great start to 2017!
*Thank you to the random waiter who suggested we have a photo together after the holudh event, and who actually took it for us on our phone! (Left to Right: Jamie, Grace & Jennifer)
It’s 2am and I lie awake in bed, one of those nights where my thoughts lead me to my work, life and my general state of happiness as a person. It’s been 10 years since I started this journey as a photographer, and in these past 10 years, I’ve explored many areas of photography – from travel to documentary, posed portraits vs candid photography, learnt about studio and natural light, thought about diversifying my work to get various sources of income, and then thought about finding my niche so that I can get the type of clients that I really like.. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how to grow my team, spending more time with my family yet running this business that I love and thinking about my retirement plan when my body is too weak to shoot.
These past 10 years, I’ve also felt insecurities as a photographer – not knowing if I am on the right path, feeling envy when others are successful, worried about how to move forward in this business.
How I wish there was a blueprint in running a successful photography business.
Many of the lessons I learnt while running this business was built on trial and error. I have swayed to the left and to the right over the years, and now, I think it’s time to go back to the start.
What drew me to photography in the first place?
I just love capturing life.
People intrigue me. Everyone is so different and yet, the human emotions of love, joy or sadness connect us. I love photographing human connections – that moment when a child looks trustingly at his mother, when the father of the bride cries as his little daughter is finally getting married, that laughter shared between life-long friends.
This thought comes through again and again – keep doing what you love and you’ll excel in it. But it also takes a lot of work. On days when I am not shooting, I am trying to learn something new – reading about ways to improve my business, looking at Pinterest to find new inspiration, signing up for workshops and trying out different genres of photography just to upskill myself.
So 10 years on, I am still learning and doing what I love. It’s what keeps me going.
This is the 9th year of my marriage. What incredible 9 years filled with joy, hurt, reconciliation, love and compromise. Deep down, I know that marriage comes with its own set of challenges. There’s no going into it feeling naive. There will come a time when you will argue, say hurtful things to one another and regret it. As a Christian, I’ve always based my marriage on the principles I read in the Bible. It really helps me to know that my husband values marriage and wants to work at it as hard as I do.
I recently read this verse that made me stop and think a little more about relationships.
They must turn from evil and do good;
they must seek peace and pursue it.
1 Peter 3:11
What really struck me were the words seek peace and pursue it.
It takes effort to keep the peace. It must be something that is worth pursuing and going all out for. We must be proactive in any relationship to maintain the peace, and not expect it to just ‘happen’. In any relationship, we have to believe that pursuing peace is worth the fight.
Which brings me to the other question… “What does peace mean, really?” (According to Alex, he says it’s when the wife doesn’t nag).
After giving it some thought, I think a peaceful relationship means that I can trust someone. That we are both working towards the end goal of each other’s happiness. It doesn’t mean we keep quiet or sweep under the carpet issues that need to be discussed just to ‘keep the peace’. It means talking things through and being mature enough to compromise sometimes.
I am not an expert at marriage, but I work at it. Hard.
Stories is part of the Integricity group
It’s true, God’s love is extravagant. God has blessed us abundantly, even more than what I could have imagined. My heart is overflowing with thankfulness…I see the business flourishing, and I know God definitely had a hand in it. Every year, I make it a point to reflect about the year that has passed, and to give thanks for good and bad experiences. In 2010, Stories turned one, and now, we’re two!
Last year, I gave thanks for the 38 wedding & pre-wedding clients that we photographed in 2011. This year, the number of clients increased. Collectively, the Stories team photographed 58 different wedding / pre-wedding clients and 30 other clients for lifestyle portraits & events. On top of that, we had a great year with a number of different corporate projects as well.
Our team grew as well and we now have a strong team of 7 core members with other supporting members. Everyone worked really hard this year and I am thankful for such a wonderful team.