… I thought I’d dive a bit into our ROADS LESS TRAVELED project on here today….. this is an idea Dave and I “launched” to the world alongside our new website/blog launch last week….. it’s huge amounts of exciting, and at least equal amounts of scary, but this has been on our hearts for a long while, and I’m going to try and dive headfirst into sharing more about this. Here goes….
THE IDEA….. well, it’s hard to pinpoint where the idea came from exactly. Even when I started this business a few years ago, I wanted to make something different out of it. I remember considering adopting an elephant and being known as the elephant photography studio (umm how random is that?? haha). And so I began my business, as a way to escape from the normal and create the life I wanted, and ended up creating a business that looked pretty much just like any other business. Yep, I did. I think a lot of people fall into that trap, as much as we hate to admit it. And any thoughts of how to “give back” with my business were pushed to the back of my mind for a day when I was making enough money at it for me to feel comfortable about it.
Well, that is a lie we tell ourselves, I think. Giving back will never feel comfortable from a financial standpoint as a small business owner.
I think it maybe struck me the hardest in the middle of last year. We’d just met up with SARAH & CHRIS, and for the first time I had someone else tell me that my documenting travels and journeys clearly sparked something within me, it is something that feeds my creativity, and frankly, it feeds my soul. Things went well last year — I felt like we were doing well with the business, I was loving the people we were working with & the stories we were photographing, we were feeling fulfilled but still like a piece was missing. I felt like I had attained what I wanted, but that my goals maybe hadn’t been big enough. If there’s anything I fear most of all, it is the thought of living an unremarkable life…. and I couldn’t shake the ever-growing sense that I wanted our business to be not only about our relationships with our clients, but how we could build relationships with more people, and to build this into our idea of giving back by doing what we love….
TAKING SHAPE… there are quite a few books that I can credit with changing my life; two of those I can more specifically credit with changing our business. START WITH WHY is a fantastic book, required reading for any creative entrepreneur, that delves into the difficult topic of discovering what your overarching purpose is, and separating WHAT you do in life from the reasons WHY you feel drawn to do them. I’m drawn to photography because of something deep inside me, and it was an “a ha!” moment when I realized that I wasn’t a photographer, but I was someone who is intrigued by bigger stories, by atmospheres and meanings and feelings, and through the telling of those stories to hopefully inspire someone, somewhere. Photography is merely a means by which I can express that…. I read START SOMETHING THAT MATTERS right around the same time. This book is the story of TOMS shoes, and it was one of those “this is exactly what I needed to read right now” kind of books. It introduced to me the idea of the trifecta, where you are (1) doing something you love, (2) making a living doing it, (3) giving back to the world in a meaningful way. Much of our time in MAUI last December was spent talking through these ideas, about breaking out of what was “expected” of a wedding photography business, and about this idea of giving back with our business, not as an afterthought, but to build giving back right into how our business ran.
IT LOOKS LIKE… a crazy, undefinable adventure. We’ve always been drawn to adventures, to this idea of taking a journey. It explains some of the crazy things we’ve done in our lives. In a nutshell, we hope to plan at least one, hopefully a few of these journeys in a year, using a set amount from our incomes to do it, with the aim of documenting meaningful things along the way; of meeting with people who are making a difference; and of hopefully being able to give away our gifts, what we are good at, in a way that is meaningful them…. maybe it involves taking a roadtrip, or a long bike ride, or a plane across an ocean…. we are excited to go wherever the wind calls us and to see and encourage the positive things I know are out there :)
I know it’s not something I can expect everyone to understand. People might ask why we don’t just donate money to an organization or cause. And I’d reply that to us, the idea of doing this is something we’re really excited about. To us, the idea of giving our time and talents somehow means more.
WE WOULD LOVE… for you to get involved! It completely blew us away that we had people sending us emails and messages the day we released this, asking how they could be a part of it or offering us some ideas of places we could go and amazing stories we should check out. That is honestly amazing you guys. If what we’ve talked about speaks to you in any way, whether you are a client of ours, a couple searching for a photographer, a photographer, here in Toronto or anywhere (anywhere!) around the world, we’d love to hear from you. We’ve got a “be in touch” link at the top of our blog for you to send us a message.
We’d also love for you to take a few minutes to think about what matters most to you. It doesn’t have to be (and most likely isn’t) the same as what we’re doing, but I think each of us has a little adventure deep inside of us… is there a way for you to do something about it? We’d love to hear your thoughts & we want to encourage you to pursue it!
We’ve now got a few things in the books for actual adventures we’re going to take & people/places we’re hoping to document, so it’s all becoming a bit more real and exciting now! We’re hoping to announce our first project in the upcoming month, and we hope to be blogging the process of setting this into motion. Your support, as always, means the world. Thanks for listening. xo, jenn