More than a camera, it's my life support.

I'm going to get very real and personal here for just a minute.

Last month I faced with the hardest and saddest time in my entire life. On September 1st, my baby sister passed away. I won't go into the details but it was tragic, avoidable, and completely devastating. She was 15 years younger than me so our relationship was much closer to mother/daughter than sister/ sister. We weren't best friends or closer than usual as we lived separate lives, but we loved each other very much. I've never felt my heart shatter like it did the day my dad called and said "Jilly is no longer with us."

What did that mean for the future of my career? I really wondered that. As a photographer you have to be happy and talkative and I wasn't sure how I could pull that off for any of the upcoming appointments I had. I really thought about taking a leave and referring my clients to other photographers and just hiding in my grief for a while. I just had to get through two appointments and a wedding first. It was during those appointments, however, that I learned how much more photography meant to me than I thought.. More than I ever imagined.

My sister passed away on a Thursday. Friday evening I had a bridal consult right before my family gathered for my sister's viewing. Saturday I had a maternity shoot. Friday before the consult I sat in the parking lot, and I couldn't stop the tears. I had no idea how I would make it through so I just prayed, I prayed for one hour of strength and peace. Just one. I dried my face off, told myself "you're a professional, get yourself together," and I walked into the coffee shop and grabbed a table. You know what happened next? In that moment, while representing my business to the client I had just met while trying to book that wedding, I found myself laughing at times. Even smiling and genuinely feeling excited for the upcoming wedding. That is the moment I realized that this business, my business, fights for me just as hard as I fight for it. It's a part of me. The tears started right back up as soon as my car door shut, but I felt like I had just conquered Mt. Everest. I felt pride and accomplishment.

The shoot the next day started roughly the same way. In fact, my husband drove me and brought our children along and they were within my eye sight most of the time, thank goodness. This time though, it didn't end with tears. I sat there for a moment, my toes in the water of the lake as I watched the sunset, and realized a very small part of me was healed. Photography made it OK for me to laugh and smile again.


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