Reset | Truthy Tuesday

I had “big plans” for the fall of 2018. Then… I had big plans for winter 2018… Then, those turned into big plans for early 2019… And now? Well I’m not sure.

I’ve been so depressed, anxious, and distracted for much of… well truthfully, all of the past year, but I kept going. I kept pushing because I had no choice, or so I thought. I kept pushing because “that’s what you’re supposed to do”. Life doesn’t stop just because you’re going through it, so I picked up my pieces and kept going. Kept working, kept producing, kept trying… until I didn’t want to anymore.

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I was tired. The heaviness became too much and it felt more harmful than helpful carrying on as “normal”, when I felt anything but… like I’d been limping along all year on a broken bone, not stopping to tend to the “injury”, rest, or give myself time to heal.

And just like a physical broken bone left untreated causes more damage, that’s exactly how I started to feel. My confidence, self-worth, and motivation (to name a few) took a serious hit. I began second guessing everything and every thought kept coming back to “eh, it doesn’t matter”, “I’m not good enough”, “no one cares”, “what’s the point”.

All lies.

But lies my depressed brain quickly latched onto, and made trying to execute anything feel downright impossible.

Although I managed to keep up with client work, that’s where the bulk of my energy was going, which left me little to do much else, so I knew things had to change.

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A few months ago, I made the decision to take a shooting break from mid December to early February so that I could have time to rest, reset and try to get a healthier mode of operating going…

And.

Well, it’s not pretty, but it’s going.

I find that it’s easy to romanticize the idea of change, when the process of making changes is rarely a pretty one. It’s actually really hard.

And although coming to that realization can be discouraging, I’ve been trying to remind myself that betterment is a process that requires a notice of and an appreciation for the little things, even more so when managing life with a mental illness.

So why am I sharing this now? Well unfortunately I don’t have a happy ending- yet. But I really want to. And something tells me that I’m not alone in feeling how I do.

The start of a new year can bring up all kinds of feelings, but I’ve been having to constantly remind myself that I’m not on anyone else’s time frame, and maybe you have to do that too.

Although I’m disappointed that my mental health sometimes causes things to take a bit longer than I’d like, I’m not going to stop trying.

So I leave you with this word of encouragement: whatever changes you’re trying to make, I hope that you’re able to be patient with yourself. We’ll get there by making small adjustments, little by little and taking it one moment at a time.

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The Journey Continues | Truthy Thursday

Writing has been hard this year.

…honestly, everything has.

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Depression has stolen more days from me than I’d like to admit and while I’m still trying to do my best, it can be quite deceiving to have it “appear” that I’m doing well because I’m still able to be “productive”.

Productive in quotes because while one thing may be getting done, 3 (or more) others aren’t 🙃. It’s a constant struggle trying to allocate and re-allocate where my energy goes when it shows up (thanks bipolar II!), managing work (and allll the many facets that come with owning and operating your own business), relationships, and trying to find and fine tune a wellness routine.

It’s exhausting.

Although mental health is being spoken about more these days (which is a VERY good thing), getting help for your mental illness is not an easy journey. I was diagnosed over two years ago and even after receiving a diagnosis, it took me a while to seek additional help for managing it. Often I find myself reasoning “well, I’ve been ‘dealing’ with it for this long, and managing to get stuff done, so it can’t be that bad” and although it may not be “that bad”, it’s still not good.

I often feel like I want to give up, but I’m thankful to my friends and family that haven’t given up on me, and as a result, I haven’t given up on myself.

Progress is not linear.

It’s such a simple sentence, but one that I’m truly learning to understand through and through. And in doing so, I’m learning to find solace in the small improvements I’ve been able to make and keep trying to find the right things to get and keep me on the track to wellness.

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Speaking of which… trying to find the *right* therapist is… a journey to say the least.

I was in therapy about 10 years ago for almost 3 years and had a pretty good experience! After my diagnosis in 2016, anxiety kept me from pursuing therapy again and when I finally did, I was a bit more optimistic than I realized, and that led to disappointment.

I didn’t have realistic expectations, nor was I clear on what I needed from a therapist. Now, I am. The only thing about that is that they are both things I needed to learn over time and after having spoken to different therapists (and spending money 🙃).

I say all that to say that while having a therapist is indeed an amazing addition to your mental wellness plan, just know that it may take you a few tries to find one that’s the best fit for you. If you’re wondering where to start your search, I’ve used both Open Path and Better Help. The jury’s still out on whether or not I feel that I need an in-person therapist, but I definitely think both services are really helpful!

This post has been a little long, but I guess that’s what happens when you don’t do a Truthy post for 6 months lol.

I will end by saying once more that I’m incredibly thankful for my tribe (both near and far) for hanging in there with me. Beyond finding a good therapist, the right medicinal cocktail if needed, a balanced diet, sleep, and exercise… a good support system is critical to helping manage mental illness.

I actually wrote a little about that in my friend Andrea’s (fourth!) book, We Inspire Me, that was just released this month! This was a bit of a lazy book announcement lol, but I just wanted to mention it briefly since I was talking about the same thing :)

Ok, now I’m fiiinally ending this post, and hopefully the next Truthy won’t be another 6 months from now 💛

-Danni

All of the Things | Truthy Tuesday

You know that feeling when you accidentally oversleep? That INSTANT surge of adrenaline that hits when you roll over, see what time it is, and your mind floods with all of the things you had to do before you left vs how much of that won't get done now, as you hop up, throw your clothes on, and leave?

That feeling.

That's what these past few months have felt like... Because I've been doing ALL of the things!

Busy season got started way earlier than I anticipated this year and each week, I have been trying to find my equilibrium. 2017 ended, 2018 began... the month of April is almost finished, and I'm STILL trying to find that equilibrium. 

I know time moves fast, but it has really been moving at warp speed lately.

That being said, despite how quickly things have been moving, I am SUPER thankful to all of my beautiful clients for making this first quarter of 2018 a fruitful one. Despite my personal struggles, I am so very grateful to be able to do what I love for a living. 

Can I just tell you how much I love my clients?

I know I say that often, but I really do. It really means soo much to be trusted with documenting your important moments and creating beautiful business imagery for your brand.

Take a peek at what we've been up to! (Spoiler alert: a little bit of everything! Headshots, brand photos, family and grad photos, engagement, anniversary, and wedding portraits, with some mentoring and a few just because sessions thrown in there :)

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If you’re interested in a scheduling a photo session, I would love to get you on the calendar! Email me to schedule yours today! Currently booking: limited May dates, along with June, July, and August! 

It Takes Time [Maternity] | Truthy Tuesday

Happy Tuesday! I hope your week is off to a wonderful start 💛

For Today's truthy, I want to look back. In an effort to maintain transparency, I love sharing old photos from early in my photography career to drive home the point that one does not become awesome overnight, it takes time!

Back in 2013, I shared the story of how I got started (originally appearing here), which was supposed to be a multi-part series, but apparently I got busy and never finished it lol. Maybe I'll add that to my list of things to do (an updated series :) 

A couple years later in 2015, I created a short guide of sorts on how to prepare for your photo session (originally appearing here) that included quite a few progress photos relating to location, wardrobe, makeup, and session planning. I actually still share this with my clients so that they have an idea of the elements that make up a successful shoot!

Today? I'm going to share what the (session specific) progress looked like in real time, so let's get started with maternity sessions!

2009

Though I had been shooting on and off for a couple years, 2009 is my starting point because this is when DFinney Photography officially was born :) I didn't provide any direction or suggestions (wardrobe, makeup, location, etc) to my subjects, nor were my photography skills where they needed to be (posing, focus, sharpness, etc).  

2010

In 2010, I took wayy more maternity photos, but each was very different because at this point, I was letting my clients dictate my style. Bare bellies were very much "in", so I bought fabric and had it on-hand in case maternity clients requested it. I wasn't a fan of this style of maternity photos, but I also didn't yet realize that by sharing images that I wasn't a fan of (just because I shot them), I was inadvertently advertising for more of that work. 

2011

I became disillusioned with maternity sessions. In 2011, I was no longer interested in photographing bare belly sessions, but it seemed that it was all potential clients requested. I photographed a few sessions, but did not publicize much of the imagery.

I didn't photograph any maternity sessions in 2012 or 2013. 

2014

In 2014, I decided to approach maternity sessions once more, but with a fresh outlook. By now I'd began providing my clients with more direction prior to the session (including seeing their wardrobe beforehand) so that we were crafting more cohesive portraits.

2015

Because I was out of practice with them, 2015 was more of a mental shift for me- to approach maternity sessions as no different from my others. Meaning, not being so "stuck" to traditional posing and composition.

2016

I carried the goal of the previous year into my 2016 maternity sessions, and stepped it up a notch. Bold colors, backgrounds, and focusing more on capturing meaningful interactions defined the maternity sessions from this year. 

2017

Having shot more maternity sessions in the new style I felt confident with, in 2017, I was inspired to get creative! Color harmony is a staple of my work now, so crafting visually appealing portraits that are cohesive all the way through is a goal of mine for every session.


So... this post ran longer than I intended it to, but I hope you made it to the end and enjoyed seeing the shift over the past 8 years :)

Interested in seeing more progression photos? Check out this post where I go into detail on the different factors that impacted my work from year to year.

If you've found yourself at a "stuck" point, and would like to improve your natural light shooting, I'd be more than happy to help! Check out my mentoring programs (upcoming sessions are now being booked for Atlanta, DC, Houston, and Chicago). Just shoot me an email if you'd like to attend!  

-Danni

Day 4 | Truthy Thursday

...It's been a slooow start to the new year for me.

This time is characteristically busy and full of excitement; New year, new opportunities, new goals! But all of that excitement seems to have been lost on me this time around.

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Art by Fisayo Quadri

It all just feels like yet another day I have to muddle through. I know it is "just another day", but those "clean slate" feelings have escaped me completely, and I've been feeling kind of bad about that.

Honestly, it's still pretty tricky for me to actually "own" my bipolar 2 diagnosis and understand just how much it affects me :/ Sometimes I feel fine and I am able to get things done easily, be thoughtful, responsive... you know, normal adult things lol. Then (far more times), I feel quite the opposite of fine, and my accomplishments for the day are very minimal- just getting basic things done like: 

And not all of those things in one day lol. So while the world is excited about a new year, I'm just trying to manage consistently eating and actually getting out of bed when I wake up. 

Despite the daily mood and energy shifts, I am still chipping away at things and trying to be productive, so I guess that counts for something? It's just a long road to find exactly what works and what doesn't, so when I'm MIA for days or weeks at a time, that's why. I'm in the mix trying to figure this thing out... or just trying to make it through a crappy day.

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While I inherently hope that 2018 will bring me closer to a better way of operating, I fully realize that it's going to take a LOT of effort, but I am ready for it and I look forward to seeing those improvements (no matter how small) in real time.

If you're feeling similarly about the new year, just know that you're not alone, and just like we got through 2017, we'll get through 2018. One day at a time 💚

-Danni