I hope this post is finding you all well. I wanted to thank you so much for all the kind emails and comments that came my way due to my announcing my first book that I photographed and styled, Quilts From the House of Tula Pink, due out soon. The well wishes I received made me feel so happy.If you missed that announcement and have no idea what I am talking about you can catch up by clicking here.
As I said in my prior post, I would spend the next couple of posts doing a little story telling about this shoot and share a few amazing stories, as well as some behind the scenes photos and photos that were not used. I did receive a very nice email from the creative designer who said she wished the book could have been longer because there were so many photographs from which to choose and selecting which photographs was very difficult. Getting that email made my day.
In trying to keep the stories somewhat succinct (yeah, right, cough) I will quickly tell you that I got the offer to do the job in April, signed the contract late April or early May (can't remember), and had to have the cover shot by late May.
I was so excited to get the assignment. I had never met any of the team members before. I had no idea who Tula Pink was and no, I am not a quilter. I just opened my email one day and there it was, an email from the publisher, asking if I would be interested in the project and if she could call me. She had seen my work, of all places, on my blog, and she loved what she saw...I couldn't believe it! This is what I have been working for all this time and now, I am staring at my email, and a publisher wants me to call her...I don't even remember what I was thinking...I just emailed her back that I would love for her to call me and just gave her my phone number and we spoke the next day.
So we connect on the phone, and immediately, I realize that this is more a "professional" call than I had been used to in a while...meaning more "buttoned-up and panty-hose" as my Texan girlfriend used to say when she was referring to corporate. The publisher was very polite, but professional. Not that I am not, I am just more, let's say, casual. The publisher is trying to give me the vision of the book, and the "feel" they think they want and is trying really hard to connect the dots for me as I listen, but I am quick thinker and soon, I sort of lose my "buttons and panty hose" and resort to my old self and here is how the conversation goes on our very first phone call:
After some struggle of visionary discussion...
We just want a really different sort of book, sort of edgy...
May I interrupt for a moment?
Well, let me tell you what I think you want, and if I am way out in left field, then I will be quiet and you can keep telling me what you think you want, but I think I know what you are trying to say, but aren't really saying it...
Sure, go ahead...
I think you want Shabby Chic, but not really Shabby Chic.
I think you want industrial, but not really.
I think you want it urban, but not really.
I think you want it feel homey, but not really in a home.
I think you want it to be rustic, but not really country.
I think you want it really unique, really Tula, but not so far out there that the readers' can't relate.
I think you want it to be edgy without it being hard.
I think you want each quilt to have their own personality, but they all are related.
Am I getting close to what you are trying to say?
That is exactly what we want!
We talked a little more and hung up shortly after that, and then I realized that I somehow said a whole lot of something without really saying anything! Is that crazy talk, or what? At the time, it made sense to me, but as soon as I hung up, I thought, "What the hell did I just say?" Now what do I do? And never mind I had never met Tula Pink or even seen her website or even seen one single quilt of hers. But I tell you what, I give the publishers and Tula a whole lotta credit for turning over their babies (quilts) to a total stranger and just letting me do whatever I wanted. We did email a few times after that call of course, and I emailed them a few ideas, but they never once saw my location, or styling until I shot the assignment and turned in the shots. Now that is pretty trusting.
Now that I got the assignment, I just have to figure out if my camera will handle their format requirements and if my computer programs are up to par.
I suddenly felt like all eyes were pointing in my direction. I had signed on the dotted line...and this was a do or die situation for me. All that I had done had led up to this moment. Except I didn't know this at the time. Little did I know that all those years of working so hard were about to pay off...but I had no idea after that one phone call what adventures I was about to have. No idea at all.
So Much To Learn
I learned very quickly that I didn't have the right lens, nor could I afford one. So...I learned to rent lenses. I did not have the updated computer programs to convert my files into files for print format for the required format for books. So, within 36 hours, I had to upgrade my computer, take a class and relearn a very hard program. I learn just enough to squeak by. I learned new ways to work my camera because I demanded new things from it that I never knew I could do.
Help from Above
But actually, I have that backwards...I demanded new things from myself that I never knew I could do. And for that I have to thank God. And for me, my God is Christ. I have absolutely no doubt that on this assignment, Jesus was there every single day, every step, every computer click, every click of the camera, every mile I drove, every time I picked up someone's precious prop that I borrowed and never broke it. That is why in my first post I didn't thank Him, I wanted to save this post for that. I wanted this post to be about Him, not me.
God was such an important part of the success of my shoot and styling that I have now put Him on my business card...He is my Creative partner. Without Him, this would have never happened. After the shoot, I designed new cards and put my new partner on the card with me, take a look:
Let me just paint a brief picture for you, if I may. This shoot took place in an abandoned building, on the top floor, in the summer heat of triple digits. I had to drive an hour and twenty minutes to get there. I had ten very heavy quilts to haul up the flight of stairs, props, furniture, and many items did not belong to me. I rented expensive equipment, and many times, spent up to 10 hours in the heat, with ice packs in the ice-chest to keep me cool. I had to climb ladders to hang up chandeliers, or tie umbrellas to the ceiling. At any time, I could have tripped, fallen over cords, fallen down the stairs, dropped the quilts in the dirt or mud. I could have fallen off the ladder, dropped someone's precious prop, lost an item, or even wrecked my car while driving back and forth on farm roads. I could have had computer issues, missed my deadline, or even gotten sick or had a week's worth of migraines. This was also during the horrible tornadoes we endured and I could have easily gotten caught in one of them while shooting or driving home (we had over 200 in our area during August and September).
And if this isn't enough to convince you, I haven't even begun to tell you the stories that even a non-believer will at least have to scratch his/her head and have to admit that someone was helping me out.
Now, please understand that I am not trying to convince, convert, or conclude anything for anyone. But I do wish it to be clear that while I am so happy about this book, the very hard work that went into it, and all the creative energy from the entire team and all the enormous amount of creative trust between us...I just want to pay my full respect to the greatest Creator I have ever had the pleasure to work with...Christ. If I had the influence, I wish I could respectfully get Him to be known as "CC" for short(Creative Christ) because He does create some amazing things.
I will never forget my first shoot after I turned in my cover shots. It was late at night when I finally got home, about 11PM. I downloaded all my photos while I took a shower. Randy was in bed already and I got something to eat. My computer was clicking away and I was rubbing my neck with my eyes closed and then I heard the little bing!
I yawned and opened my eyes and clicked my mouse and then I just stared at my computer...I couldn't believe what I shot. I hadn't even cropped, or straightened any photos yet and I couldn't believe my eyes. I knew right then, I was not alone in this project. I just remember slowly scrolling through all my photos and quietly whispering, with a lump in my throat:
Thank you God for not letting me do this alone. I know You had a hand in this. There is no way I did this on my own. Thank you so much for helping me today.
And below was the first photo I saw that first night...sitting in my office, in the dark, with only the light of the computer screen illuminating the room.
As I stared at my photos in my office...I knew I wasn't alone while I clicked through them, one by one.
The funny thing is...I have never been alone in any of my projects, but for some reason, God chose to be very present in this project. I have always been aware of Him in one sense or another and more at some times in my life than at others. But during this entire assignment, He seriously had a vested interest and I was so grateful to have Him on board.
Well, I thought I was going to tell the barn story of the quilts, but this is already getting long. So the next story is funny and amazing....it is about how this...
...finally made it to this:
Thank you dear readers for allowing me to share my adventures. I so enjoy sharing and having you in my life to share them with. It makes my adventures all the more exciting. Thank you so much for sharing in my joyful days as well as in my days of hardship. You mean very much to me and I feel extremely blessed to have such great readers who take time out of their busy lives to stop over now and again for a visit.
Until then, if so inclined, my Creative business partner is not on an exclusive contract...He is free to work with anyone who has a need for His services. Just call out His name...no waiting, and no automated operator to put you on hold either. (I hate those things!) I would be happy to give Him a wonderful recommendation... :-)
from my house to your house,