press on, keep moving, you’ll get there

Recently, an acquaintance asked, “So what do you think of your new camera? From what I see, your photos haven’t improved at all.”

She was conversational, not critical, so I answered that winter is difficult, people are pale and the light has a constant blue/grey cast. And then I cried for 3 days.

We all have fallow periods– times where we can’t photograph or write or parent or produce. Everything we attempt seems floundering and hopeless. But if we can crawl out of them, those barren times lead to a hunger for education, solutions, a drive to improve. That craving is the force that sells parenting books and fills self-help seminars.

I’ve told several friends that I’m giving up photography(at least in a commercial sense) because I can’t handle the risk that I’ll fail someone. You’ll notice I have no link to my photography website, I never, ever promote “upcoming specials” and so on.

Yet, while I’m wading through this discouragement, I’ve been taking classes, reading voraciously and buying WAY too much equipment and programs and books. Clearly, I’m not serious about resigning.

Today, I stumbled across this blog post on I thought I would get few photoshop tips but gained incredible inspiration instead. Whatever you do in life– write, paint, teach, parent, build or dream of– this short film will encourage you to “be patient, keep on going, transformation takes time…”

And so, I’m determined to enjoy this dark season, to relish the hunger that keeps me learning. Soon, Spring will reveal it’s bright face and we’ll be dancing in an orchard of apple blossoms. I’ll capture every sunbeam, every twirl, every smile, simply because I’ve been starved for the light.

edited to add: I’m sorry– I didn’t intend this to be a ‘poor me’ post(though I have enjoyed your kind words) but rather about the universality of discouragement and, happily, renewal.

February 20, 2009



  1. jess

    February 18, 2009

    no giving up just yet, missy! i still LOVE your pictures, and you still never got back to me about shooting #2… i’m waiting!

  2. My Lucky Day

    February 18, 2009

    No, don’t give up! I’m planning on hiring you in the spring to take our family pictures before my youngest brother leaves on his mission. My parents live in Highland, and we would love for you to come and take them in the backyard. I was just waiting for the weather to get better. We haven’t had a family picture since October 2005 and there are more additions to the family.

    I think you are very talented and love seeing your work. It was Sara Jane who introduced me to your website.


  3. Annie

    February 18, 2009

    Oh, I loved that clip. I needed that today. Thanks for sharing–it applies to so many things: writing, creating, living.

  4. jennie w.

    February 18, 2009

    Whatever Michelle! Your such a great photographer. And a great writer. And a great mom.

    I liked that video.

  5. martha corinna

    February 18, 2009

    I know I can always turn to you for inspiration!

    I love your photography, it’s so beautiful. You need to pass on some of your talent to me, please!

  6. Christie

    February 19, 2009

    The talent lies within you, my friend, not inside your camera. Your work is flawless. Was AND is. Always will be, too.

    Thanks for the words of wisdom though. Needed them today.

  7. Kelly

    February 19, 2009

    Michelle…..your words are SO true.

    Photography has such ups and downs and I’m here to tell you that there will be folks that you cannot please. Its not you, its not your style, its just how it is! Move past those folks and look at the positives who follow your dreams with you.

    The first months of the year are why I focus on a personal project to help me grow and discover new things. April is are so right to look in that direction. Your stuff is awesome…and as long as you can see an improvement with the use of your new camera, that’s all that matters (YOU are the expert on your work!)

    Keep on keepin on….call on me when you are ready for info on that equipment! Trust in your heart…your work is beautiful!

  8. Brenda

    February 19, 2009

    Your pictures are absolutely beautiful. Equipment helps, but it’s really the eye and creativity of the photographer that makes the picture. You have a gift.

  9. smart mama

    February 19, 2009

    first of all amen to the winter funk

    second i can relate 110% – I came home from christmas very ambivalent about my art, very, to the point of mild disdain. I have learned this ebbs and flows- all things with risk creativity follow this- I now appreciate artists who destroy their work, hide it, walk away, because some days I feel just that the urge to walk away but I have learned the cycle. My solution I try to channel into something else for a bit and let the hunger come back, and if I do it’s stronger and better than before! you lay down the camera and i lay down the brushes!

  10. Kira

    February 19, 2009

    I for one LOVE seeing your work. Please don’t give up on us 🙂


    February 19, 2009

    Did you ever hear about the magnificient violin? It was priceless, but only a master violinist could wholly appreciate it’s finer details that enabled it to make music that brought joy to countless listeners. One day, a person walked by and asked why someone would want a violin if it doesn’t play video games! The passer by did not have the comprehension to appreciate the grand violin’s beauty and it’s expertise. It was not a reflection on the violin at all, but rather a reflection on the ignorance of the passer by. The violin remained a priceless treasure singing joy for hundreds of listeners!! Keep going Michelle, your photos are beautiful and celebrate something eternal: your photos sing priceless celebrations of the sacred bond in families… a song our world so much needs to hear today. Keep playing 🙂

    Love Cuz’n A

  12. Heather

    February 19, 2009

    Well, I think your photos are fabulous and if they were just as good before your new camera, then I really have no hope of ever being a good photographer. I keep telling myself, “If only I had a great camera like Michelle..” when I see moments in life that I would love to capture on film (or is it pixels now?), but can’t and blame it on my dumb camera.
    You really do have talent regardless of all your really cool equipment. You have an eye for it, and more importantly a heart for it.

  13. Andrea

    February 19, 2009

    I think what makes your pictures stand out to me has very little to do with the technical quality (although I am sure that is right on)…you have such an ability to portray emotions…to evoke feelings. Your vision goes so far beyond the camera. You are great.

  14. Brooke

    February 19, 2009

    you KNOW i love your pictures. and your writing. and you.

  15. Tracy

    February 19, 2009

    You are amazing Michelle. This too shall pass..and Spring will be here soon! Much love,t

  16. twoelves

    February 19, 2009

    Obviously your acquaintance probably only meant that your photography was amazing to begin with and still is… enjoyed your link – I needed that too…

  17. duchess

    February 19, 2009

    Oh, how I needed to hear that.

  18. Heidi

    February 19, 2009

    That makes me kind of mad! A new camera SHOULDN’T change your photography! A new camera is to improve your efficiency in doing what you’re already doing (which is: darling pictures, great color saturation, great exposure!) Those things DON’T change with a new camera. It just makes it easier for you to capture the things you want to! It’s like a wood-worker buying a new hammer or something!

    Your work is GREAT, Michelle! PLEASE don’t give up. I agree totally with that Kelly clip, that there are days we don’t think we have what it takes. But you DO have it Michelle. In more ways than you realize.

  19. Danielle

    February 19, 2009

    Michelle you know the camera doesn’t make the photo, the photographer does! You are amazing and an inspiration to me. I know what you mean though, I dont have any lights or anything and am anxious for spring so I can get out with the camera again, my indoor flash photos leave a LOT to be desired LOL. I’d love to have you take family photos of us – wonder if I can convince the hubby for a vacation in SLC? LOL!!!! 🙂 Hang in there.

  20. Jess

    February 19, 2009

    Ah, my friend. I wish you wouldn’t give the comment a second thought. Not only do you have an amazing talent, but you have a gift. Think of all the families you bless and touch with your gift of capturing their relationships.

    I can’t help but think perhpas your friend who commented lacks an eye for photography and art. Perhaps she has no idea what she’s looking for! Clearly she commented without thinking.

    Please don’t let a quick passing comment, said without thinking about your tender heart, stop you from capturing the emotion and feeling you capture so beautifully! I don’t stalk the blogs of average photographers…but I check yours several times daily impatiently waiting for the next post! You must not leave me hanging. 😀

  21. Alyson (New England Living)

    February 20, 2009

    I know EXACTLY what you’re talking about. I’m in one of those periods of life too.

    I think your photography is always beautiful, no matter what camera you use. You are talented and “the eye”.

  22. Chelle

    February 20, 2009

    loved this. love you.

  23. Melissa

    February 20, 2009

    Thanks for the link, Michelle. It’s nice to feel that everyone, regardless of their art, feels this way sometimes. Lying fallow is a great analogy. There’s a lot of peace in that image.

  24. dalene

    February 20, 2009

    Your work is great–keep on keeping on! (But yes, I can really relate to your post.)

  25. Jan Russell

    February 21, 2009

    How do you improve on pictures that have always been perfect? YOur shots have such love, feeling, magic! I don’t know a single technical thing about photography, but I know nothing is as important as the “moments” you capture – they are real and beautiful!

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