Last week I got to attend the Showit United conference out in Tempe, Arizona. It’s my favorite photography conference, focused on community in the most encouraging and intimate environment you could imagine. Last year when I attended Showit United 2016, I fully intended to blog about my wonderful experience there, but I found it impossible to summarize my notes in a single blog post. I had lots of thoughts to share, but not enough time to organize them all and I let that keep me from sharing what I learned. This year, I’m doing things a little differently. Instead of trying to recap my entire experience (which is impossible, because this conference always seems to leave me completely inspired and with an endless to do list and hundreds of ideas), I’m simplifying and focusing on sharing just one takeaway. My biggest takeaway from the entire conference.
I have a full notebook from all of the speakers I had the opportunity to learn from. It would take me days to write a post that summarizes my entire experience, but it took me just a second to identify my biggest takeaway. Because among the pages of notes and the thoughts floating around my head, the takeaway that stands out the most is just three words long and easy to remember:
“Every story matters.” ~ Jenna Kutcher
Now, if you’ve ever read our About page, our engagement posts or weddings posts, you already know we love stories. Currently, our About page starts off like this:
“We are a husband and wife team and we love stories. Hearing them, reading them, telling them, and capturing them. We consider it a privilege to be able to document amazing love stories while working side by side, strengthening our own marriage along the way.”
Not too long ago, I even started a hashtag on IG: #idalialovestory. Why? So that future brides who are waiting for that ring on their finger can be inspired by all the love shared between our couples. So that our current brides can see that their story is unique, and it’s the start of something amazing. So that our past brides can be reminded of their own love stories and remember how it all started.
Recently, our paths crossed with a soon-to-be bride who discovered us before even being engaged. And guess who she emailed on the day after she got engaged? Us. She emailed us.
“We got engaged yesterday. I thought you’d like to know since these kind of stories are your thing.”
We were so touched when she emailed us. I mean, it was the day after the proposal and she was still sharing the proposal story with family and friends, but she took the time to let us know that she had gotten engaged. Because these kind of stories are our thing. Clearly, our message has gotten across to those who follow our work. Mission accomplished. But guess what? While Jay and I work tirelessly to capture and tell the stories of our wonderful couples, we have failed in doing that for ourselves.
Something that Jenna had us do during her talk was take out our phones, swap phones with our neighbor, and find each other in our own feeds. It should have been easy, right? I mean, we’re photographers. We should have tons of photos of us. But I had a hard time finding us. Because in the last few years, we have failed at not just sharing our story, but, worse, we’ve failed at capturing it, too.
When Jenna said “Every story matters.” this one truly hit close to home. I hardly have any images of us since our honeymoon five years ago. We used to be so good about documenting our lives. I even started a Project 365 on the day we got engaged in order to make sure I had a memory captured from every single day of our engagement. After I had finished it, I started another one, and then another one. For three years, I took a photo to remember every day by. But since then, we’ve allowed the busyness of life prevent us from documenting our love, our lives, and our story.
“There’s going to be this gap in my life where it didn’t seem I existed.”
Apparently, I’m not the only one out there feeling this way. A fellow photographer who also attended the conference last week, Laura Hernandez, wrote that last quote in a recent IG post and it resonated with me right away. When our future children look back at the last few years of our lives, they’re going to wonder what happened to us during this gap. So, friends, I know bad habits are hard to break but we’re going to try to close the gap a bit, and we hope this post inspires you to capture your own lives.
To start the process of change, here is one of my favorite images of us from this summer. It was about 100 degrees out and we are incredibly sweaty after a 3 mile hike in the desert to get to this amazing location on the border of Arizona and Utah. Jay and I had been trying to get out to “The Wave” for a few years (permits are limited to 20 per day!!) and we finally made it. I’m by no means a hiker but I’ll do anything for this man. Including hiking out to a site that is completely off the map, all while carrying a gallon of water to do my part in preventing us from dying of dehydration. We may not have a lot of images of us from this year but this one is a great reminder of one of our most amazing adventures together!
Don’t just show up – document your story and share it with the world. Because “every story matters”.