A New Journey

When I made the decision to take a break from work for a while I thought I may never return to photography. I was burnt out creatively, jaded and exhausted. However as time moved across the landscape of my life I began to realize it wasn’t photography that I was disliking but all of the nonsense that comes with owning a business. I was doing photography that wasn’t authentic to me just to appease clients. That is not a good thing for a creative soul like mine. Then one day I asked myself what work was I happiest with in the past year and my heart and mind yelled ” your work from the beach this summer”. Then I looked up and saw in a row on a my wall – images from those sessions. I had chosen to put those images in my she shed – my retreat. Subconsciously my mind had been drawn to the last time I remember being in love with photography. With that said I will spend most of my energy in 2016 changing the direction and purpose of Amanda McNeal Photography.

THE LIGHT SERIES

nashville child photographer

Light of Attraction

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NightLight

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I am the Butterfly Queen

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Trapped

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Over the Rainbow

Nashville Child Photographer

Lover of the Light

 

So as with everything, change is inevitable. You can throw your hands in the air like Buddha and let the change engulf you or dig your feet in the ground like a statue and refuse to budge. Up to you but I will choose hands in the air anytime. You will begin to watch my blog change and transform into something new and different from the past. Thanks for all of you that have followed me on this journey and I hope you stick around to see the magic of childhood and the love of life unfold on my blog.

Warmly,

Amanda

 

 

Next Chapter Please

For seven years I have photographed over 400 families. I have held and photographed over 200 newborns. I have placed newborns in baskets and buckets in rivers, forests, dirt roads and streams. I have watched those newborns grow up into kindergarteners and captured them along the way. I have been trusted by new parents and veterans to capture the most pure beings we will ever know. I have gained some amazing friendships from those parents. I have been paid to travel for my work. I have given families memories to treasure for years to come. I have surrounded myself by the purest of beauty and a world of bliss.  The decision to take time off was hard but the decision that resulted from months of self-discovery was actually easy. I found that I no longer felt the joy I once felt doing this and honestly some clients took the joy out of it long before I lost the joy. The stories I could tell.  I never started this venture to be a rich photographer by society standards and that I never became. However when you realize something has died or no longer is then it’s best to finish that chapter and start a new one.

The hard part is making it concrete – putting it out there in the world so it’s no longer just my thoughts but part of the universe. I have prayed and meditated and am reminded of the divine series of events that have led me to this fork in my path. I am beyond grateful for the path I traveled for many years but now is time to take another path.

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Some of my favorite clients and sessions….Thank you.

I have succeeded in what I came to do. Now God ( an idea I had forsaken at one point)  is telling me it is time for me to fully open this new door. Although there is still fear and uncertainty in me, the signs continue to be crystal clear.

  • First and foremost I will become the mom I always wanted to be. It is my main job to create two strong independent problem solving little ladies that will bring change to the world.  I realize now I can not do this by swamping myself with work.
  • After being diagnosed with my own mental illness of Bipolar2 I have a passion inside to bring awareness to mental disorders such as Bipolar and Depression and help break the stigma. Women (and men) shouldn’t have to live with the shame or feeling of isolation that mental illness can bring. Many are not curable but with the support and help mentally ill patients can often lead normal and productive lives.
  • I have been called to share my reconnection with God and faith and will continue to share this with others as it has been one of the driving forces to pull me from the depths of personal hell I have walked through.  Months ago when this all began I started a blog, Dancing in a Hurricane, that will be my platform for mental illness awareness and the power of the love to heal.
  • Lastly I will be putting efforts toward legalizing medical marijuana in Tennessee as well. It’s a proven medication for PTSD, pain, anxiety and depression – issues that have debilitated me at times. It is an injustice for so many people to not have access to a medication that can change their lives for the better. For this will loose fans, followers and friends. I will be judged. I will be questioned. I’m prepared. However my biggest hope is that I can help heal others.

So it comes down to I will no longer book traditional portrait sessions – they will move towards concept. I have plenty of amazing and talented photographers to refer clients to. I will be using my gifts for philanthropic causes – a need to help and give to others has always been within me – but I just got lost in the madness of the American Dream.  Images you see on my pages will be based on this and of my NEED to create.  I have been given all I ever wanted. I have a supportive husband and two brilliant little girls. I have a warm home, fully belly and a brilliant mind. NOW GOD IS GIVING ME ALL I EVER NEEDED.

“Oh but you’re so good at what you do. Why would you stop doing it?” (I have found other creative outlets that encourage my passion and creativity in a way I just don’t feel with portrait photography anymore.) 

“You get to hold newborns everyday. You have the best job.” (Yes and at a point you stop seeing the bliss and beauty in a newborn and see it as a job.) 

“You’re so talented. You can’t throw that away.” (I’m not. My work will turn towards concept and philanthropic work.) 

Yes I agree with all of the above so here is the raw and real reason I’m leaving this career. I didn’t go on sabbatical to enjoy the summer. I’m not going to sugar coat it with some sweet spin that I’ve been enlightened and all that matters is family. That’s not how this decision has come to be. This is not for the faint of heart. It may even make you question your path.

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After the birth of Claire and a year later the death of my father who had become my best friend something changed in me. A switch was flipped. It was a year that I now realize rocked my world to the core but I was too busy competing to be “the premier newborn photographer”.  Looking back I was just running and hiding. To be honest the business was running me. I never really mourned or reflected on the events of my life at the time. I hid behind a camera, a beautiful home and what to the outside world seemed the perfect life. It’s amazing what make up and money can do but it can’t bring you what you really need. For four years I have battled up and down on this journey of life. The “I’m going crazy” comment that I hear the world toss around was my actual my reality, my hell and not okay for me or my family. So about a year ago my brain and body had had enough and I had what would be called a “nervous breakdown”. There would be hours I felt I was spinning a million miles a minute but the world around me moving at a snails pace. Then there would be times that I would sleep for days at a time. A day later I would work out for hours just for some relief from the thoughts racing in my head end the energy flowing through my veings. I lost all faith and love for anything. I remember telling my doctor ” I don’t feel like I love my kids anymore.” I stopped finding joy in anything. Sunglasses hid my bloodshot eyes from days of crying just so I could venture out in public. I cancelled sessions and hid behind the walls of my home. A camera was no longer big enough.  I was done.  I went to a psychiatrist, filled out an 18 page psychiatric evaluation and talked about my entire life story. I left that appointment with knowledge that I was Bipolar 2 (undiagnosed for years) and had developed a severe social anxiety disorder.  Like any diseases or illnesses it had progressed to the point it could no longer be denied. It was rampant in my body, my mind and my life. I had lost control. It was part of me and wanted to be heard. My body began to have physical ailments like arthritis in my hands (of all places) and more severe migraines. There were days my vision would be blurry or my anxiety so bad I had to medicate and sleep the day away. I started to notice certain foods affected my moods and I had weight gain for no explained reason. My business, my family and my life was in true despair. I was done.

I started intensive psychotherapy, a cocktail of meds, went Paleo (I cheat sometimes), found new hobbies, joined the Y, hired a house manager, reconnected with God, began attending an amazing church to heal my spiritual wounds and began reading and educating myself about my diagnosis – this has been real work. Now you understand sabbatical. I wasn’t vacationing because I needed some time off. I was picking up myself off the floor of my own hell.

That has led me to here. To this blog post in this moment. Thanks for each of you for allowing me to share in this part of your journey. I have been humbled and honored. I thank each of you that have been so patient over the past months during this messy and confusing time while I figured out my next step. It’s still all very messy so I know I can no longer run the business as I need to. In the big picture it’s not important. If any of this resignates with you I hope it encourages you to take the first step to find peace in a world not always so giving of it. I’m here to encourage and empathize. If you ever need referrals I have them. If you need photography advice I’m here. I have a long way to heal and recover but feel now I’m at a place I can at least peek my head out the door.

END OF A CHAPTER. TURN THE PAGE.

Always snapping away,

Amanda

 

 

 

 

Samuel | Franklin Baby Photographer

Oh my.

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Kelli | Franklin Nashville Maternity Photographer

I love that I have so many return clients. It’s such an honor to watch them grow as a family. Kelli and her family have allowed me to capture their lives over the past three years . We had such fun with Kelli’s many sessions this time around – she even braved the snow in January for the lady in red shot!  Third times a charm! Enjoy and stay tuned to meet Charlotte Grace and hear her birth story.

Warmly,

Amanda

As a thank you Kelli will receive a special gift when her blog post receives 25+ comments.

 

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Amanda is an award winning  and published maternity photographer located in historic downtown Franklin, TN just twenty minutes south of Nashville. She is a premier Nashville Newborn Photographer that captures the beauty of new life in a casual fine art fashion

kelli - July 30, 2015 - 2:25 pm

you are amazing!

Preserving Memories | Franklin Portrait Photographer

I, like most of you, grew up in an age of film, point and shoot, waiting a week for your images to develop and actual tangible pictures you could hold in your hand. Memories to be framed and to be past down from generation to generation.We also experienced the end of this era. (However recently film is making a comeback!)

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With the arrival of digital and the ease of getting images within seconds of downloading them people are no longer printing images. (instant gratification – hard to deny.)  Will your grandkids stumble on your digital collection hidden among folders on in an obsolete computer or a box of actual photographs containing pics of youthful you and their parent as a kid?? If you loose some of those images then those are memories lost forever -for some it is hard to remember things you don’t remember without a reminder. Did you know computer crashes are more occurring than home fires?

It’s important to take time to print off images that hold special meaning or a memory you want to relive years from now. Don’t loose them to a computer crash or obsolete technology.  From your child’s first Halloween costume, hands of a grandparent, a first day of kindergarten, catching fireflies on a summer evening…these are memories you want to hold onto. Digital is fine to capture these there is something special about holding the image in your hands and reliving the moment – being in the moment of experienced the beauty of life. The personal connection a paper image can create.

How to Preserve Your Memories Through Photographic Prints

  1. Mark your calendar every couple months to go back through the past months images.
  2. Star, favorite or copy and past your favorite images to an “order” folder.
  3. Use an online printing site such as mpix.com who will give you high quality images for a great price. The turn over is quick and much better than a drugstore print lab. They actually have a great sale doing on right now. 25% off Prints
  4. Once your images arrive, frame a few and store the rest. I store mine in archive photo boxes.

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While talking about preserving your memories it’s also important to note your computer could crash anytime as mentioned above. You need to have your images backed up digitally as well. Here are a couple of great articles discussing the very topic.

Digital Photo Preservation  |   How to Store Digital Photos

The intangibility of digital imagery, as well as technology constantly changing, negatively affects photo preservation and retrieving. Technology is constantly becoming obsolete among software or storage devices. Ten years ago one could back up to DVD but now many computers don’t even come with a DVD drive. Believe it or not the DVD is becoming obsolete.  Now that data needs to be converted over to USB’s, dropbox storage, etc. Howe long with this technology last? In one hundred years do you really think these technologies will exist outside an antique store? I’m sure no one thought film would become antique.

I hope this has enlightened everyone and gets everyone to start the journey of printing images and saving them for generations to come.

Warmly,

Amanda

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