Don’t do what comes naturally, do what is hard

Yesterday, the incredibly skilled Vanessa Corral, captured our annual family photographs for us.  The entire time she was with us, I was in awe of her.  While it’s obvious she has natural talent for her craft, I know she has relentlessly trained her eye and honed her skill.

She is determined to do her very best work, 100% of the time. 

It’s not something she decided to try one day, and it just so happened that she discovered this incredible, pristine gift.  Nope.  I know her story.  Her talent is a result of YEARS of hard work and experience.  She’s photographed thousands of faces.  She’s specifically worked with women, mothers, sisters, and families to capture emotion, confidence, and connection.

That connection is the hallmark of her art.  

Whether it’s connection between her subjects, or simply one woman, finding her confidence in Vanessa’s lens, she conjures beautiful connection in her photographs, every single time. She’s taken classes, scoured images, and practiced over and over again, to discover how to make the beautiful emotion that’s happening in the moment, be felt through the images . . . even years later.

Some of it is natural of course, but most of it is a daily decision. 

It’s a decision to hone her craft, even when she’s busy and tired.  It’s a decision to create the very best art she possibly can, even when she’s not “feeling it”.   It’s a decision to keep learning and trying again, even when things don’t turn out the way she planned.

It comes from desire, determination and persistence.

Vanessa, spent a TON of time on the front end of our shoot asking me questions, looking at images I love from previous years, checking the lighting.  Even then, we she arrived she patiently waited until everyone was completely ready, without putting off any sense of the need to hurry.  She created an environment of peace and calm for us throughout the entire process, even if that isn’t what she was feeling on the inside.

Trust me, that is a SKILL.  

Vanessa asked me yesterday if I naturally wake up early to write.  I get asked that a lot.  I almost always laugh, saying that if I left it up to what was natural for me, I wouldn’t have ever written a blog in my life.  Waking up early is on the short list of things I like least in life.  I LOVE to sleep.  But blogging takes me about three times as long and is less than half as helpful when I try to squeeze it in during the day, while the whole world is awake.  So I’ve made the decision to blog daily before my family wakes up and hit that publish button, no matter what.  (That’s why this blog is rarely perfect, but it’s almost always done.)

Blogging, for me, isn’t natural, it’s a decision. 

Waking up at 5:30, no matter what the previous day held, isn’t natural.  It’s a decision.  I liken it to folks who wake up early to work out.  For most people, that initial sound of the alarm waking them in the pitch darkness doesn’t feel natural.  They’re still asleep because they’re still tired.  Their body would prefer to rest.

But they have a higher goal that simply will not be achieved if they do only what comes “naturally”.  

As we enter into this season of celebration and rest, I encourage you to pay attention to what seems to be calling to you in the coming year, even if you typically hush that little voice.  Even if you push it aside with a promise of paying more attention later.  Even if you think it’s silly, unimportant, or even completely unachievable.

What are you passionate about? 

Where do you already have natural talent?   What is calling to you when you feel most alive?  Who would you most love to serve in the coming year?

It probably won’t be easy.

It will probably be difficult, time consuming and often inconvenient.  But the decision is still yours, and the time to begin is now.

Don’t do what comes naturally, do what is hard. 

We need you.

to more love,


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