Please Don't Take a Piece of my Soul - Free Spirit Sessions

As an introvert, I take in my surroundings. I internalize the situations that I’m apart of, the words that are said to me, the comments that find their way to my ears/eyes, the people that cross my paths, and I’m learning to take everything in as a messages; as some sort of lesson, or guidance. There aren’t too many things that will affect me in an incredibly emotional way; I would like to think that I’ve always been good at distancing myself from scenarios that do not serve me well emotionally. If someone wants to utilize the same location that I’ve used for a photo session, it doesn’t affect me because I’ve come to the very true realization that two people can perform the same exact photo session, and that they’re images and clientele will forever diverge. I don’t ever feel the need to lash out or complain on my social media, as it’s simply not something that I feel is good for my heart.   There aren’t too many times where I feel as though anything needs to be addressed on my social media or otherwise, because I stand by the philosophy that I will worry about myself + my family, and everyone else can worry about themselves. We aren’t here to parent and monitor everyone around us; we are here to utilize everyone around us in order to better ourselves. I truly believe that. I lead a minimal-stress lifestyle. Mark and I both lead a minimal-stress lifestyle, together. Sure, he gets to see me angered more often than anyone else in my life, but as a whole, our day-to-day lives are simply filled with good. Happy, simple, worry and anger-free goodness.

For weeks now there’s been a small piece of me that has been calling me to speak out. There isn’t anything alarming or grandiose that has been nagging at me, but more so a simple and subtle call that is longing me to touch on and write about. I’ve said it hundreds of times before that writing is not only my preferred method of communication that allows me to properly articulate my thinking processes, but it’s also a form of personal therapy that allows me to transverse the situations that I face in my day to day living.

Before continuing on, please hear these words. This post is for me, above all else, as these posts usually are; but today, this post is also for other people. It’s one of the rare times where I actually need to direct this towards other people, in this city, in this country, and elsewhere. It’s one of the rare times that I feel as though I need to physically stand up, and use this platform as a way of saying that what is going on is not okay. It’s one of the times where I feel as though I need to put out into the world the frustration that I’ve been feeling regarding this topic.

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This post is for people who are maybe too afraid to pursue their own venture, who perhaps fear their own ideas, who maybe don’t know how to do their own work, who just are not aware of where to begin, or who simply aren’t aware of what it is that they’re doing. This post isn’t to address anyone in particular, or to talk negatively about anyone or anything. This post is simply for me to be heard. It’s for me to step away from the wallflower approach that I’m used to taking, and standing up for something so true to my heart.

Writing these words are causing me to feel even more vulnerable than I have in the past with my writing, but as I often share with others who are afraid to use their platforms to speak their truths, I know that just jumping in is the best way to do this.

It has now happened on multiple occasions. There are other photographers who have adapted or are wanting to adapt Free Spirit Sessions as one of their own offerings. The photography process has turned into a “product” that implies that it can--and should be--replicated elsewhere aside from where I work from (currently being Calgary, Alberta, Canada). For days now, I’ve wrestled with thinking about how I can compare these sessions to something that would make sense; some sort of analogy that would better explain my circulating thought pattern; but alas, there isn’t much that I could come up with aside from the following words:

Free Spirit Sessions are--as funny as it may sound--like a child to me. They were created as a result of true, honest, intimate personal situations that happened in my own life. They were developed over the course of twenty-four months. They were conceived out of a need to offer something that wasn’t being offered anywheres else. They were born out of the want to create an extension of my heart for the women who have-are-and will be crossing my path.

They are not a ninety-minute photo session with five standard poses of a women in flowy clothing. They are not a replicable process that can be mass marketed. They are not a professional transaction of money and photos.

They are a part of my soul.

These sessions are honestly a piece of the reason as to why I walk this planet. These sessions can only be offered by me, because they were born out of the need to fill a piece of my heart that was missing. They are for me. And they are for the brave women who trust me with photographing their hearts.

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As someone who believes (and preaches) the concept of sharing anything + everything that we can with one another in order to better ourselves and those in our lives, I will never say that you cannot photograph women in flowy clothing; I’m not the first--or last person--to do so. I will never say that you cannot use the locations that I’ve used (I’ll even share my locations with you). I will never say that you cannot create something that isn’t called “boudoir photography” because you don’t align the connotation that the word “boudoir” gives off. I will never say that you can’t work night and day to develop a concept for your own business that makes your heart flutter.

But I will say--and I am saying now--that you cannot offer Free Spirit sessions under your own business. It simple does not work that way. You do not know my process. You do not know my reasons. You do not know my heart.

You cannot say “I offer Free Spirit sessions too” and photograph a woman in a white dress by a river and call it such. Free Spirit sessions are not the same as investing in--and opening--a franchise in your own city. They are what they are because of the heart behind them, and it hurts my soul to see something that I’ve worked, worried, celebrated, and cried over treated as a mere idea that can easily be replicated in other areas of North America.

Call them Wildheart sessions, Honest sessions, Intimate sessions, Bohemian sessions, Freebird sessions, Water sessions, or whatever else you want to call them; but don’t say that you want to offer “Free Spirit sessions” because you love “what they stand for” or the sheer idea of them; create something unique to yourself that has MEANING to you, like I did with Free Spirit sessions. Create something for yourself that is unique to YOUR STORY. Put in the time and the effort if that is what you’re longing to do.

You can and will create something unique to yourself. You deserve to breath purpose into your work. You should continue to chase whatever longing your heart has. But you shouldn’t settle for copying an idea that someone else has worked on for years simply because you don’t think that you can come up with an idea of your own. Allow yourself grace. Have patience. Work hard. Put in whatever time you feel is necessary if that is truly something that you want to do. Don’t take other people’s ideas simply because you don’t want to put the work in. Don’t replicate other people’s concepts because you are afraid to do so yourself.

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I am fully aware that no idea is a new one, and that no concept or pose is unique to one person or is something that hasn’t been done in the past; but it’s not the idea or the pose or the clothing or the location that is the unique, it’s the wholeheartedly individual beating heart behind the entire process that cannot--and will not--ever be replicated.

My WHY is unique to myself. There is no one on this planet who has led the same life that I’ve led. There is no one person on this Earth who holds the same purpose as I do.

My WHY is all that I have.

So please don’t take a piece of my soul and call it your own.