Last June, the last day of school and a week before Father’s Day, one of my blogging friends posted photos of the Father’s Day book she’d created. It was stunning, perfect. I had to make one for own lovely husband and clicked straight through to Shutterfly.
Gulp. Last day to submit.
So with all the last-day-of-school craziness and at least 35 kids hurtling through the house I threw photos from my computer onto a template and hit SUBMIT.
When the book arrived a week later in all it’s spiffy Shutterfly glory I paged through it and cried.
The last few years as a mother have broken me down. I’ve struggled with Mary, I’ve struggled with the sheer number of people in my house, struggled to get dinner on the table every night. Thinking I could help with our mortgage payment, I started an online store. Running the store shredded my already-faltering self-esteem and made me feel like THE WORST MOTHER ON EARTH. I’d sold the store just a few weeks before but I’d feared that my family was already ruined.
But here was this book in front of me–children laughing, birthday parties, Easter, reading together, washing the car–and clearly, our life was/is beautiful. The past years HADN’T been wasted. And yeah, Erik liked it too.
A few days later Shutterfly sent me an email saying they’d noticed the book in production and wanted to feature it in their online gallery. Sure, thanks, flattering.
I set about rebuilding my life and thought nothing of it.
Now you may have noticed I’m kinda into photography(ironically my store had forced me to improve at it). And my cute little Canon Rebel(bless it’s little megapixels) simply can’t keep up with the images I want to create. So Erik, very reasonably, said, “Start charging people; earn your camera.”
Rational, yes, but I was still shell-shocked from my last business. I wanted to enjoy my children, photograph the people and places I loved. And while I am endlessly grateful to the people who did hire me(esp. you Melinda!) I certainly wasn’t ready to promote myself, start a website etc.
Then one morning in July, I opened an email that said,”Shutterfly would like to buy the publishing rights to your ‘celebrate everyday’ book.”
I cried again. After weeks of interviews, negotiations on publishing and online rights(mostly me saying, “uh, huh. uh, huh.”) and an 8″ stack of paperwork they sent me a check for $3000.
Yep, just enough for a spiffy new camera.
Here’s the interesting thing–and possibly the point to this whole longwinded story– when I spoke to the Shutterfly people(and I spoke to several) each one commented, “We loved your book because it felt so ordinary.”
Because ordinary is beautiful. And even when we are struggling beauty is all around us.
You can do a Google search and find 81,500,000 better photographers than me in .13 seconds, so I know this is not about my skills. But it is a small miracle, a tender mercy and a reminder that none us knows the good waiting for us just around the corner.
Hi! I am a total blurker and have meant for some time to tell you what a great, insightful and honest blog you have…I love that admist the chaos in your life you have a happy, loving family. And, you are a fantastic writer! Thanks.
You can always count on me to show you the value you’ve brought to me and my family through the photography you’ve done for us. I would never take advantage of your kindness nor your skill. You are gifted and I fully expect a pricing sheet for all to reference when calling on you for your time and talent. My picture above my fireplace is a little piece of you in there when I look at it. You deserve to have these little miracles come to you. You have great value and I hope you see that in the photos you take at minimum.
Ruth’s friend here again. You could never imagine how much I needed to read that today. Thank you.
Please tell your dad we ended up in the town next to Sharon. We only have to drive 30 seconds to get to his town–where he wanted us to live. Please thank him for us. It is incredible here. Thank you again.
Shannon & Eli
MIchelle—my sister just got engaged (Meagan) and she is looking for a photographer and she was explaining the type of photos she wanted and I told her she must must must go and talk to you so she said she will probably be giving you a call today. She LOVES the candid shots and wants to be able to have someone their the whole day at the temple and the dinner… no reception…don’t know if that is something you would do or not…but she will be calling!
That is so beautiful. You deserve it! Congrats!!!
Michelle, That is fantastic! How could they not recognize your talent (read= photographer with great eye and open heart). Can’t wait to see what you do with your new camera…it’s a beauty!
You totally stink at bragging!
That album was FANTASTIC, I remember when you posted it! And I can’t wait to see all the amazing pictures you take with your new camera, too!
I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more.
I’m glad you shared this; it’s a wonderful story.
I say that this is an Alma 26 kind of brag post — the whole “if this is boasting, then I will boast — in the Lord.”
This is a beautiful example of a tender mercy.
Life Trekking Mama
Congratulations…but I’m not the least surprised. You have a-nearly-magical talent! Keep enjoying the wonder and thank you soooo much for sharing =)
Love Cuz’ A.
It is not ONE BIT SURPRISING because you are an amazing photographer. I love the book. Congrats. You totally deserve that 5D!
And I love miracles that include lovely people like you. Nicely done!
Congrats, honey! That is a wonderful recognition of the way I feel about your blog…you take your everyday life and make it seem magical, buoyant, and beautiful.
That is FANTASTIC news, Michelle. I am so proud of you!