Five Years | Jacob and Ashley at Home

These sessions are my favorite. (Hi. Broken record here.) 

Jacob + Ashley are celebrating five years of marriage this year so of course we had to celebrate with photos. Also, this is their real-life-seems-unreal home that they moved into a year ago. Serious #homegoals if you ask me. These two are the real deal. (Be on the lookout for the guest appearance by their adorable dog Frank. Can we all agree that human names for dogs are the best?) 

Jacob + Ashley | Ellie Be
Jacob + Ashley | Ellie Be

A Morning in Tulsa | The Fraziers

"Life is a collection of a million, billion moments, tiny little moments and choices, like a handful of luminous, glowing pearl. It takes so much time, and so much work, and those beads and moments are so small, and so much less fabulous and dramatic than the movies. But this is what I’m finding, in glimpses and flashes: this is it. This is it, in the best possible way. That thing I’m waiting for, that adventure, that move-score-worthy experience unfolding gracefully. This is it. Normal, daily life ticking by on our streets and sidewalks, in our houses and apartments, in our beds and at our dinner tables, in our dreams and prayers and fights and secrets – this pedestrian life is the most precious thing any of use will ever experience.” / Shauna Niequist

Human First

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me'. / Emma Bombeck

I've been a photographer for ten years. (Wowza.) I think once you do anything consistently over an extended period of time, it starts to become second nature. It becomes comfortable, like a natural extension of yourself. With something like running a photography business, there is a very real danger of it becoming entangled in your personal life. Like a vine that wraps around anything in its path if you don't prune it back every once in a while. 

Turns out I'm not super great at pruning. 

I started my business in middle-school. (I use the word business loosely.) It was on the side, super casual, a hobby turned money-making opportunity while I was still in school. I loved photography and I loved the fulfillment I got in taking photos. In high-school, I was "the girl with the camera." I would photograph church events, had regular photo sessions with friends, and eventually ended up doing senior photos for half of the people in my grade. (#homeschooled) At this point, I knew I wasn't going to go to college but instead, I was going to pursue a full time career in photography. It was part of my identity. I was, and am, a photographer. 

Late last year, I noticed a tired quality to my photos. They seemed rehearsed, comfortable, safe. I was going through the same motions I had been for the last ten years and I was weary. My Instagram was mostly wedding photos, just because I felt like I needed to market my business somehow. I had been burned out before (I ended up in the hospital with a panic attack so, no bueno) but this felt different. I just felt tired. I had been calling myself a photographer for so long that it was just a cemented part of my identity. "What do you do?" "I'm a photographer!" And that was it. I realized I didn't do anything else. I was a photographer first, business owner second. No wonder I was tired. I had no hobbies, no life outside of photography except for the occasional church event or time spent with friends who weren't in the creative industry. I, for the first time, despised the thought of doing photography for the rest of my life. 

And you know why? You know why I was tired and confused? Because I am a human first. I am not a photographer first. My business should not be my everything. It should be a very small part of who I am as a whole. And it was my everything. It was my entire identity. Pruning shears, nowhere to be found. 

This doesn't mean that my business or my clients or photography aren't important. Photography has shaped my life in such a way that without it, I would be a completely different person. It has been woven into the threads of my life, throughout my growing years, and I would never take that back. I love it. I'm still passionate about people and telling stories. But I believe that it's not the most important thing in my life. 

For the past five months, I have been pruning. Looking at and praying through my life and asking God, "What is the work that YOU want me to do?" Turns out that the answer isn't simply photography. It's a lot deeper and wider than that. My work is loving humanity. I am called to be faithful with today so that means photographing my little heart out, sharing Jesus with the world, and investing in the incredible community that I have here in Tulsa. 

When I take a step back and think of myself in 10, 20, 30 years, I don't want to still be doing photography as a full-time business. I will always be photographing (there's no way it's going away forever) but I hope I will have moved on to other things for those new seasons of my life. As I change as a human, I want to grow deeper and wider and experience different, new, things. Not the same thing over and over again. That's what I believe being human is. Changing. Growing. Not holding on to things that need to be let go. 

I am a human being first. So are you. Whatever it may be that is threatening to take over your life, I'm handing you some shears and giving you permission to cut it back. It may be painful (especially if you're like me and didn't pick up the tools until my work was cut out for me) but it's worth it. It's worth it to put things in their place and prioritize what is most important. 

Hey, human. We're all in this together. 

Photos by Monica Johnson

How Not To Get Blisters While Sprinting Across An Airport (and other travel tips)

Travel Tips | Ellie Be 

It's fitting that I am writing this from 35,000 feet. Airplane wifi, what a gift. 

I've flown across the country a few times in my life and have learned a bit about what works and what doesn't when traveling alone. (I'm certainly not a pro traveler but I'm a huge fan of sharing what you know so that others can hopefully learn!) If you've got a flight coming up, I hope these help you sort out your trip so you don't make some of the mistakes I have in the past. (Throwing away water bottles at security? You think I'd know by now...) 

Bring an empty water bottle and your favorite snacks

I'm telling you, food at the airport will cost you an arm and a leg. I like to bring an empty water bottle to fill up at the airport, after going through security. High-protein bars (RX, Lara, and Clif brands are all faves) are great for snacks. I also like to bring popcorn or granola in sealed bags. 

Pack your carry-on bag carefully

I usually bring a new book so that I've got the whole thing ahead of me on my trip. (Plus, I'm not a super-reader and so bringing more than one book is a little ambitious.) I also like to bring my laptop, computer and phone chargers, snacks, earbuds, and my journal and a pen in my carry-on. I always used to overpack this bag and would regret it as soon as I hoisted it up onto the security belt. Consolidating has 100% made my life easier during my travels.

Use a mobile boarding pass

I used to be a paper purist, someone who wanted to hold a paper boarding pass in my hand. But let me tell you, using a mobile boarding pass will make your life THAT much easier. Pulling out your phone is usually easier, at least for me, than juggling your ID and a paper boarding pass. Most airlines have their own apps, but you can also put your boarding pass in your Wallet (if you have an iPhone) through your email.

Wear comfortable clothes

This sounds like a "duh" point, but it's a game-changer. I usually wear something like leggings, a t-shirt and tennis shoes. Also, it's super important that I bring a cardigan or light jacket because airplanes can be chillaaayyy. (Comfortable clothes also make it easier to sprint across the airport when you're about to miss your flight. I know this from experience.) Also, shoes that easily slip on and off make the security line a lot less hopping around on one foot trying to remove your shoes and more, "Look at me, I thought ahead." (Again, experience.)

Do you have any must-know travel tips? Share away. :)