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How To Keep Going

I’m in the woods photographing a Girls Camp this week.  Lugging pounds and pounds of gear while chasing after an ever-moving crowd of teenagers through the trees, trying to be invisible and in the middle of it at the same time.  I came home today to back up my images, and am headed back up at the crack o’ dawn for a 16-hour day of photos.

I’m popping Ibuprofen like candy at this point.

I admit it’s not the best situation for image-making.  First, these are all young women who have been in the woods for days – they see a camera at this point and they run.  Second, there is either tree-dappled direct sun or fluorescent overheads lighting everything I’m doing.  Third, I’m tired.  Battling through week three of a nasty cold.  Stressing about unfinished editing for clients back home.

Yesterday, my mental dialogue streamed nonstop:  “I wish the sun were lower.  I wish I had a telephoto zoom lens with me.  I wish I had worn bug spray.  I wish I hadn’t already eaten all the M&Ms in my trail mix.”

Then some words floated through my head, sent to me from a daily inspiration email:


Do you think the most stunning, celebrated, and adept dancer in the entire world could become so by only ever dancing to the most brilliant, illuminating, and clever music in the world?

Or would they freak, hip-hop, and tango to every riff, beat, and la-bamba within earshot?

Shall we?


I re-shouldered my Shootsac.

I’ve been amazed by street dancers performing on moving subways.  On crowded city corners.  With nothing but a beat-up, outdated boom box.  And I think I need to take a lesson from them.

It doesn’t matter what you’ve got to work with.  Gear.  Location.  People.  Fatigue.  Head cold.

How many great images would be left unmade if we only waited to shoot at golden hour, with the perfect lens, with a smartly-styled subject, in a magical location?

More importantly:  How much GREATNESS would be left unachieved if we waited for all the stars to align first?

The real question is:  Do you dare knock their socks off right now, at this moment, with what you’ve got?

Back to the woods.

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  1. Mandy on May 31, 2012 at 4:20 am

    As someone who spent summers involved in camp, I can also say that the photos taken of those times, however terrible the images (and usually with a disposable camera) are so, so treasured. Sometimes we lose sight of that when we’re on the quest for the perfect photographs. Eating all the M&Ms is a given, though. 🙂

    • Jenika on June 4, 2012 at 9:42 pm

      Thank you Mandy!! Your comment inspired me even further. I feel the same way about my camp images. Thanks for sharing. If you ever go hiking with me, I’ll save you some M&Ms.

  2. Peggy/ on May 31, 2012 at 5:35 am

    I DARE!!!

    (ps – thank you … for so much MORE than I could ever say …)

    • Jenika on June 4, 2012 at 9:42 pm


      You are wonderful.

  3. pam on May 31, 2012 at 10:51 am

    What a great post, totally inspirational. Though, I imagine if I was in your situation I would be popping the ibuprofen like candy also!

    • Jenika on June 4, 2012 at 9:42 pm

      Thanks Pam!!!

  4. Michelle McDaid on May 31, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    I love your posts. LOVE them. I don’t read any other photography blog. I’m sick of looking at other people’s images. Your posts inspire ME to be the best photographer (person) I can be; to work from within. They have relevance in general life, not just photography too. Thank you.

    • Jenika on June 4, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      Thank you Michelle!! That lightens my spirits just to hear. I’m so glad. Thank YOU.

  5. Brooke G on June 1, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    This post is EXACTLY what I needed to hear. I have been struggling a lot lately with thoughts of: I need a new [camera body, computer, lens, etc etc etc] before I can really start a photography business. But this helps me to realize that I need to use what I have, and believe that I can still do GREAT work! One day I will be able to upgrade everything, but as you said plenty of great things come out of not-so-great conditions.

    Thank you for the inspiration!

    • Jenika on June 4, 2012 at 9:45 pm

      Thanks Brooke. Upgrade-itis never goes away – never. You’re not alone!! You are going to make some magic, I know it.

  6. Heidi on June 7, 2012 at 2:45 am

    Yay! I Dare! Great post…I will hold it close ready for when I sit down at a loss…and then GET BACK UP!! Love your posts lots and lots 🙂

    • Jenika on June 7, 2012 at 4:31 am

      High five!!!! That’s awesome! 😀 I’m so glad you took it to heart. Rock on!

  7. Karina Bravo on June 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    This was so timely for me! I’m struggling with everything concerning growing my business and balancing life as a mother, employee, spouse etc. I keep saying if I only….

    Its nice to know I’m not the only one…Awesome post! I just discovered your blog. love it and I added it to my google reader!!!

    • Jenika on June 11, 2012 at 4:05 pm

      You can do it Karina! 🙂 Hang in there.

  8. Sheri on July 8, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    The bug spray would have only taken the paint off your lenses anyway 🙂

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