Movin' on up...
2:52 PM


5:22 PM

What does that image have to do with the title? Nothing. But it's October. Deal with it.

You know those dreams you get where you find yourself running down a hill, and you feel like you’re either flying, or your legs will fall off? Yeah, that’s a thing. In my case, I tend to end up being unable to run full-tilt, stuck attempting to run in spurts to get to the metaphysical finish line. It’s as if my conscious knows I have the ability, but joints just won’t align to catapult me at the speed I realistically could be going. (I also tend to crash a lot of cars in my dreams… I’m a renegade dreamer, really).

I feel like that urge to run full-tilt mirrors the frantic, fast-paced real world we’re battling with every day. I don’t stop in my day-to-day life; I move swiftly and efficiently from one moment to the next (spare for the few days that fight back and work upside down) without holding back. I’m that chick that will run for the train instead of waiting for the next one; I’m also that chick that can’t stand being stuck behind a slow walker, and that chick that runs to her car from the train. Why? I don’t want to waste my time in transit. This all being said.. I feel like those dreams with lead-loaded legs are giving me a subconscious message:

Hey, fool – SLOW DOWN.

I’m not saying I’ll stop running for my train, but maybe one of those days I could walk a bit slower, look around, and maybe take that next one instead.

There is something to be said about living in the moment, and milking it for all its worth. In a recent photoshoot, I had a technical issue and had to slow things down instead of my usual machine gun shooting style. At first considering this a burden, I quickly realized how nice it was to take the time with my clients, to really focus on the surroundings and posing to make sure each image I took was worth it. Experience has taught me not to miss a moment, but I haven’t been confronted with the concept of enjoying each moment as well; you notice things. You take a bit more in. Your perspective changes. You can take the extra few seconds between shots to interact with your subjects instead of quickly moving from pose to pose. I’m not usually one to show too many sneak peaks from the back of my camera during a shoot, because realistically that tiny screen can’t do the photo justice considering the work that goes into each photo post-shoot, but that smile that comes with getting a quick glimpse at the goods.. worth it.

Slowing down also allows you to make sure your vision is completely in line with what your client is looking for; it’s so easy to assume you know exactly what he, she, or they want, but in reality you need to apply some kindergarten-taught, age-old rules: watch, look, listen (or is it stop, look, listen? I may have been eating chalk during that lesson..) You need to be on your client’s page, not assuming you’ve already read the book and know the ending. We can sometimes be so quick to assume that because we know how to do our job, there isn’t anything left to be taught. Rethink this.

So. The challenge: take your time today. Stop, look, listen, and take it in. I commute into the city every weekday and really haven’t stopped to look at the city. It’s easy to look at your feet and move forward without a thought. Look up, look around, and take things in. You’d be surprised what you can find.

Psssst... ps: have you checked out the website lately? Lookin' shnaz! Yes, shnaz is a word.


A little chat about WAKING UP: Why I've recently been a real Grinch, in both good ways and bad.
10:34 PM

This is going to be a rambler, I can feel it.

New Sara Barielles playing in the background, the dog is asleep, nothing is in my way, so I'm gonna ramble. Hold onto your knickers.

I need to talk about waking up.

Quick story for you, before things get too profound. I don't know about you, but I'm not a morning person. I'm not a bright, bubbly, "Oh the birds are singing!" kind of a person. I'm a "shoot the birds and close the blinds, I'll see you next week" if you're lucky enough to get more out of me than a muffled groan in protest. I have to, have to set an alarm. Two alarms. Three alarms. It's alarming how many alarms I actually set (har har). These are alarms on my phone, and I usually leave my phone far away from my bed to ensure my zombie self gets up and at'em to turn them off, hopefully and optimistically assuming that at some point in my journey I will WAKE UP. This... doesn't always happen. I'll bolt out of bed at the most undecent hour, turn off the alarm (snooze), and crash back into bed. Cue: the dance of the thousand snooze buttons.

Now. The sleeping wonder that (unfortunately) shares the bed with me does not appreciate this morning routine. I want to say that I've gotten better lately, but he'll protest otherwise I'm sure. It's as though I don't have any conscious thoughts about actually staying awake after getting out of bed; I autopilot back under the sheets and have no conscious choice but to obey my body. It's ridiculous. It's not normal. Is it? Let a sister know.

The connection for this morning-glory story to the aformentioned profoundness is that... in recent weeks...

I've woken up.

This... is profound. I've woken up... creatively, business-wise, idea-wise, ambition-wise; I've woken up wanting to push again. Push? At what? Oh, that little thing that I forgot I love to do. That, my friends, is as sincere as I can get with a snoring dog drooling on my toes: I FORGOT I loved photography. Totally forgot that the subtle focus of rain drops on kittens (wait, what?) and toothy, gleeful grins that get my heart racing and eyes shining. I love what I do. And I do it, because I love it.

So where have I been before this revelation of epic proportions? Drowning in self-pity, in my negative levels of self-assuredness, drowning in the complete disbelief in myself and my talent. I decided that because I'm not making a million dollars and taking photographs of Miley Cyrus twerking, I'm not worth a single penny of anyone's thoughts or business. This is just insane thinking, folks (much like the a fore-mentioned performance of the fallen Disney star). Insane.

If you can't believe in yourself, WHO CAN?!

I can assure you: caps were needed in that last sentence.

So lets flash forward: how did I wake up? It was a normal day, totally unexpected; out of nowhere, my heart filled with something other than self-hate. I suddenly went OH. Weddings. Love. Light. Love. Photography... love? Love.

A friend has been diligently tweeting and posting over at her wedding planning blog, and I had read a tweet or two that morning. My head got thinking, my heart got beating, and I made a plan to get off the train and buy a wedding magazine. I had a wedding to shoot in the next week or so at this point, so I figured, inspiration is needed anyways. Magazines: expensive! But am I really prepared to say that my inspiration, my love and pride in myself, isn't really worth $6? If there were any moment in which to spend some cash, this was it. I bought my shiny, beautifully-bound WeddingBells and hugged it like a bomb that would explode if I let go.

As I skimmed slowly through those slick pages, my heart opened up again. I kid you not, it's as though I had closed a door inside me somewhere, locked it up, and hung up a sign that said "Given up; try again later". Down goes the sign, and I'm off running through pages and pages of glossy, gorgeous inspiration. It was a real Grinch moment: heart growing so big, it was bound to burst out in a rowdy rendition of Here Comes The Sun.

And that was it.

I went home and blogged (hence the sudden re-appearance, I'm sure you noticed that). I blogged and I edited and I planned. I emailed clients that I hadn't scheduled yet. I emailed old friends and made plans. I organized. I fantasized. I woke up.

I shot the wedding that I had been nervous about, and it was amazing. So inspirational and wonderful. I've since had several shoots, and two more coming up this weekend. I've got new projects planned. I've got ideas. I've got aspirations. I may not be where I want to be yet, but I am closer now with my heart open and my eyes focused. I don't know what made me suddenly snap that morning (the wedding tweets, a bad batch of coffee? Who's to say, really.) but I am so thankful for my change of heart. This, I feel, is what I'm meant to do. One way or another... I will inspire others, and continue to amaze myself with the possibilities ahead of me.

Profound, right? I told you so.

NOW: The homework.
I normally don't care about this side of the blogging business, but I would love love love if you would leave a comment about a struggle you've had lately. About a great morning of triumph over your bad thoughts. A quip about some bad coffee. Don't care; comment. It would mean the world to my tiny brain and over-sized heart that is now full of love, love, love.

Savannah & Joel, 2013
8:09 PM

Savannah is one of those people that come into your life and you take note. Incredibly smart, talented and kindhearted, Savannah picked me to be the one to capture her wedding day; how could I not accept? Joel is a match and a half for Savannah, and they had the most beautifully put together celebration I've ever seen.

Beyond all that, Savannah took the time to write a glowing review for me, and while I cannot read through it again without tearing up, I thought I'd share her kind words that almost speak more to her character than mine.

"After a not so great experience with our engagement photos, we decided to contact Hilary for our wedding photos. Everyone we spoke to had amazing things to say not only about Hilary but also the quality of her work. From our first meeting together, Hilary made us feel at ease ensuring she would capture every moment of our special day. Sometimes, I thought she was more excited about my wedding than I was. Hilary exceeded our expectations throughout the day capturing over 800 individual memories that we will be able to cherish and look back on. She was always quick to return phone calls/emails/texts, always showed up on time, and was consistently professional throughout the planning process and on our wedding day. We had such a great experience with Hilary Spencer Creative Photography we can’t wait to do our “Trash the Dress” photo shoot with her. Hilary – thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts for doing such a wonderful job capturing a new chapter in our lives together."

I cannot say more to the amazing person that Savannah is, and the happiness that her and Joel have together and always.

 ...and yes, you read that correctly; my very first Trash the Dress will be one for the books!

The Details
Makeup: Orly Kahn-Waldman
Reception Venue: Deer Creek Banquet Hall & Golf Course
Video: Shyah Yan Zarrabi