Inspired by listening to Ryan Marshall and Jason Hudson talk at Blissdom, I started a tumblr account for Amber Marlow Photography. It is made up entirely of iPhone photos, specifically, all my favorites from my “theAmberShow” Instagram account. If you’re on tumblr, I’d love for you to follow along.
image source unknown
Thank you for all the love and support following my gross news. The decision I made years ago to blog openly and honestly about my whole life – not just the sunshiney bits – was not one made lightly, but oh! It was the right one. It’s tough to find a balance of what to share and what to keep under wraps, (my inclination was to keep it a secret for a while longer) and it’s difficult when people judge – harshly, some times! – what you do choose to share, but 99% of you have been absolutely lovely. Thank you thank you thank you.
Moments come where I will be feeling particularly sad and lonely, and just then yet another email pings in of another woman who has been there, and I feel fortified all over again.
We women are tremendously strong, aren’t we?
I’m off to Blissdom in Nashville for four days as a photography Community Leader, where I will help other bloggers by leading discussions and answering all questions photo-related. It’s a very exciting opportunity, and I’m humbled to be a working part of this incredible conference. Are you going? Please come say hello. (Unofficially, I have declared myself Community Leader of “The Dougie“, and if you ask, I will teach you.)
photo by me
There’s a naked woman in my portfolio. I’m serious. Go look. You can see her actual boobs. I kind of can’t believe it. (Don’t worry, I asked her permission.)
When I first discovered photography and art books with nudes in them, I thought, “Who lets themselves be photographed naked and put into a book?” It was one of my first inklings that there were people out there “not like us” – us being conservative middle-class Christians – and I was fascinated. Not even in a sexual way, I wanted to talk to the people who got naked, and the people who took their photos, and find out why? Isn’t it weird? Isn’t it awkward? What do you think God thinks about all this? It was all so mysterious.
Now, years later, I’m the one taking the naked photos, and getting paid for it. This is nothing short of astounding to me, and what’s more astounding is that it feels matter-of-fact, not aloof. I don’t feel especially cool, or hip or mysterious. If anything, when someone to takes her clothes off for me, I’m required to be open, and very humble.
A confession: I don’t make as much money as I want to, and my photos aren’t as good as I’d like them to be yet, but holy cow – my life is interesting, and that will have to do for now as my talent sharpens and my business grows. It’s grueling, and I’m tired. But it is so, so interesting to have pressed through to “the other side” of those art books with naked people in them and see how that works, and exciting to know I have this whole big path ahead of me.
I’ve had one of those weeks where personal blogging just didn’t happen. A few professional blog posts made it to print though, and you should to go look at them, because they make me especially proud.
There was a problem with my work professionally – the photos coming out of my camera were good but not measuring up to the photos in my head – and I didn’t know how to fix it until it came to me in a dream that the camera settings could be different. When I woke up, I reconfigured my camera and immediately noticed a huge difference. Huge to me, anyway; no one else probably notices, but I’m so excited! How cool is it that my brain solved a problem for me in my sleep?
These photos are from several weeks ago (it takes a while for a shoot to make it to the blog), and I think I’ve gotten even better since I started using my new technique.
I love making art!
Last week when I was in LA I hopped into the studio with one of my favorite podcasts, The Because Show which was RIDICULOUSLY EXCITING as I spend most of the time I’m listening to them in my headphones wishing that I could pipe in.
We talked about Life Lists, music, and loosing my religion; listen here. (A word to the faint of heart, there is NORMAL swearing, and both sex and orgasms are acknowledged somewhere in there, too.)
Thanks Susan, Jerilyn and Amy for having me! I’ll see you guys in New York soon, ok? We’ll get crack pie at Momofuku.
I am honored and excited to announce that I am going to be a Community Leader in Photography at this year’s BlissDom conference! It’s in Nashville, 23-25 Februray.
Are you going? Come hug me, ok? I’m going to need
So, how has your new year been thusly? Me? I jumped off a cliff.
Specifically, I rented a photography studio which felt scary and brave and very “jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down” a la Bradbury. (I might never forgive Gavin for sending me that quote a few months ago. It’s made me too brave.)
The “studio” is actually a tiny apartment near ours; it has more soul than a traditional office space and the location makes it ideal. I got the keys and locked myself in, looking around and figuring out what would go where, letting inspiration and possibility swirl around me. Eventually I wound up sprawled on the floor of the empty living room, watching the sun slide across the hardwood floor in slanted patches. I was half-basking and half-waiting for “the adults” to come in and tell me to get out.
I chewed my lip.
The light hit the tip of my sneaker. I got calm. I freaked out. The light slid into my lap and touched my chin. I got calm again.
Now I am somewhere in between.
Have I bitten off more than I can chew or is this just the push I needed to inspire “business bigger“? I genuinely have no idea, but I feel blessed beyond measure that I have a life partner who cheers for me constantly, and that so many friends believe in me, too. The encouragement makes for some amazing wing glue.
Ah, this week was a good one. I had two elopements at City Hall, both couples that were in New York to get married because they are not allowed to where they are from. The ladies from Nevada told me that the second they stepped off the plane at home, their marriage would be invalid, so they were going to walk around New York City enjoying legal wife-and-wife status while they could.
And my heart broke.
I had a moment this week, walking to my second wedding from the subway, where I wished I could photograph myself and send the shot back to me at seventeen. (Sadly, there is no app for that.)
I would like to show her that the inkling she’s recently gotten – that gay people are not wrong and sinful and in need of religious conversion like everyone around her is saying – has blossomed into a full-on conviction (and then mellowed into a matter of course of thought, so much so that when people make a stand against gay people, they are easily dismissed with a mere head shake). That she owns a business, and has business in Manhattan if you can believe it. That she is wearing designer boots, gotten on sale, but designer boots none the less! She would have liked to know all this.
Oh, Camp Mighty. It’s hard to explain what it is because it is so much more than words can tell, but basically it was a weekend where we brought our Life Lists and focused on accomplishing things. From the website:
The objective is to improve your life until it cannot be further improved…The retreat gives you time to think about what you want, a team to help, and a pool. For floating.
Camp Mighty was a larger version of the Mighty Summit I went to last year, a life-changing event, as it was what started my business in earnest and what helped me realize on a visceral level that living epically is totally possible, even for little old me.
This year’s event brought into focus that I’m in a Good Place right now. My Life List is chugging along; I have successfully created the space for doing Amazing Things. The time is there, the room is there, the fortitude to press onward and accomplish is there. That didn’t come easily, but my 2010 goal of making my lifestyle such that I could Life List as I wanted was accomplished.
And it feels SO GOOD.
“So, Amber,” I asked. “What now?” Because, ok, excellent, but one can’t stop.
The larger conference was broken down into four teams; we met together and were encouraged to share five things with the group that we wanted to accomplish. Here are my picks, and if you can help with any of them, get in touch, please. It would be so nice of you.
- Holi color fight.
- Hike in Hawaii, jump off a cliff, and yell “Geronimo!”
- Officiate a wedding ceremony.
- Fly kites in a group of friends.
- Be in a book club.
They’re all “doing cool stuff” things because that’s where I am right now: I want to have FUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNN! Wouldn’t you know: I was seated a few chairs over from two ladies who live in Maui – one of who is building a guest house.
“Hi,” I said. “I’m Amber, and I make an excellent house guest.”
“See you this spring?” she said. “I know a cliff you can jump off of.” (Later that evening we decided capes should also be involved.)
Someone else had “have a professional portrait of myself taken”, and, of course, I had my camera. The only thing cooler than having someone help you with a Life List item is to help someone else yourself. (A lot of people had this on their list, actually, but between timing and the rain, I didn’t get to snap as many faces as I’d have liked.)
Best parts: hugging people who have inspired me. And hugging people I’ve inspired. (So much inspiration!) And rocking out to the TonTons (plus chatting with the singer between sets – she’s adorable). And drinking champagne in the hot tub while chatting with super smart ladies. And the speakers. And dancing my ass off at the space-themed dance party, in my pretty space-themed dress. And soaking up the sun poolside. And road tripping with three hilarious gals from LA to Palm Springs, with a pit stop at In-N-Out (as one does when one is from the east coast and lands in California).
(My dress is from here.) (I totally brought my one-frillion dollar camera into the hot tub. I was careful. The photos were worth it. Don’t judge me.)
I did end up floating in that pool, too, alone on Friday night, with the rain in my face and my body warmed up by the hot tub. It was incredible, and an excellent way to think, by the way, should you have the opportunity.
“What next? What bigger? What more?” I whispered these questions to myself softly, but heard them loudly because my ears and my lungs were both underwater. You want to know what popped into my head?
Adventure. Business bigger.
Everyone who has heard the details of AMP growing the past year is astounded at the trajectory, but I still want more. I decided, as the pool wormed its way into my ear canal, that I will be consciously unafraid of making more money and getting more business. (It is terribly difficult to be consciously unafraid when your stomach is in knots.) I will take on larger, longer weddings, I will stop dragging my feet about offering customers prints and albums. And I will have more adventures, because those are rad, and I deserve them.
You all know me by now; you know I do not believe the “Universe speaks to us” or anything like that, but goddamn if there isn’t an unprecedented inquiry for a 120 person wedding sitting in my inbox as of 9:30 am Tuesday morning.
So I will open myself to adventure and success this year.
Oh man oh man. Here I go.
I’m going to attempt NaBloPoMo for the (fourth?) time this year, but no promises; mama’s got a business to run. Speaking of which, here’s something that’s a bit of a bummer: I missed the first anniversary of my starting a business. My very first paying client was in October 2010. (It was on the way home from that photo shoot that I fell over onto my hand and borked it. My hand is fine, thank goodness, but there’s still a scar on my knee, which I’ve made peace with. It’s a reminder to not be stupid.)
A whole year! It feels like I’ve come so far, and am still only just beginning.