The Picture of Happiness – Mornings

It’s The Picture of Happiness Month!

Today’s guest is photographer Jenni Lillie, she says:

This photograph is called Joy in the Morning. When there are difficult times in our lives and the darkness seems like it will overtake us, the sun comes back up and at some point there is joy again. Flowers make me happy.

Mornings + flowers = happiness for photographer Jenni Lillie

Mornings + flowers = happiness for photographer Jenni Lillie

Jenni is a wife, mom, photographer and art lover. To check out more of her work, check out her website.

Jenni is a wife, mom, photographer and art lover. To check out more of her work, check out her website.

Do You Compare Yourself to Other Women?

Welcome to Moms’ Month on Dr. Stephanie! This month I will be featuring guest posts from some awesome moms around the country.  They will be sharing tips, tricks, and funny stories about motherhood.  This will be a fun celebration – thanks for joining us!  Today’s author is Jenni Lillie.  Welcome, Jenni!

I’m a wife of a fun and energetic husband. I’m a mom of 4. 2 of those children I’ve had the privilege of holding and watch grow. My passion is photography and I love that I get to do it professionally. I love a good party, but need to refuel by being alone. I’m a great sleeper when I get the chance. I think I could win prizes if there were contests. I love it when I’m organized, but that feels like a challenge to get to that place. I love living in Colorado and seeing the mountains and beautiful sunsets from our windows.

I’ve been pondering this phrase for a week or so…there is no win in comparison. The past couple of weeks I’ve listened to a few talks by a man named Andy Stanley about comparison. They have really stretched me to look at some areas of my life where I compare myself to others. Motherhood and my business are areas where it is tempting for me to compare myself. I sometimes feel envious of other moms and fear I’m screwing up my kids. My husband and I joke that we need to start a counseling fund alongside the college fund.

Being a mom is one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced. I fight the feelings of failure and discouragement in my mothering everyday.  Anybody else? Maybe it’s just me. I desire to be a mom who lovingly parents out of who I am and who my kids are. I feel icky when I jump in the comparison pool. I want to be a woman who encourages the kids and moms around me, and not makes comparisons. I also desire to look at the children and moms around me and celebrate their uniqueness and differences. I really want to grow in this. Anybody else?

CREATE Mental Health Week – Photography

This is a guest post in the series CREATE Mental Health. All week we will be exploring how different people use creativity to create and maintain mental health. Today’s post is by Jenni Lillie. Jenni is the owner of Awaken Photography, which specializes in wedding and family photography.  Welcome, Jenni!

Cut the “CHEESE!”

Photographing kids can be very fun, unpredictable and stressful. When I photograph a family, I can tell right away how their family takes pictures. A lot of times as soon as I point the camera at them they will look at me with a cheesy, fake grin. Sometimes the kids will even yell “cheese,” a prompting born out of repetitive habits and norms.

But there’s a different option out there. If you are tired of the “cheese” smile my suggestion is to “cut the cheese.” Just don’t say it anymore. If you want more natural-looking photos of your kids, do the opposite–don’t demand they look at the camera at all. Follow them around, observe, and snap away. Photograph the details of their day or their lives. Do they have a special blanket, toy or sport? Let them play and get photos of them being themselves. Those will be the memories and moments you cherish.

Finally, it will be more enjoyable and fun for everyone involved to not force the photo to happen a certain way. Removing our expectations frees us to just capture them naturally. There’s always a place for posed photos, so I wouldn’t discard them completely. And when that time comes, get your kids laughing and snap the genuine smiles they have and not the toothy “cheese” grin you may be used to.