Feb 8, 2012

creating with The Creator part 1


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. 

The Email:

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.

The Vision

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?


Of course...


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!

Crazy Time

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:

Too Good

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,



Susan McShannon-Monteith said...

And the outcome... worth every perspiration drop on your brow, eradicated any doubt you couldn't do it and will be enjoyed by many...
That's thanks to you and a little help from God.
I've already pre-ordered my copy and located a few fat quarters of the fabric.
Can hardly wait.
Susan x

Jen said...

What a wonderful experience, from start to finish! Gorgeous photos. I love how you sing our Creator's praise in this project. It tickles me to think about His amazing creativity - imagination that formed our world and all the diverse minutia in it - pared down and used so wonderfully for you and quilts. We're so fortunate that being created in His image wasn't limited to physical being, but included creativity and passion. Congratulations on a job well done!

Sherri B. said...

I have tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat...Thank you for sharing how Jesus is working with you in your hearts desire. I'm so excited for you in your new venture and look forward to all of the other projects that you and your sidekick, The Creator, come up with...I've heard really Big things about Him! xo

Tiffany said...

I really LOVE this post!
Beautiful praise to Him! Beautiful pictures!

Garden Antqs Vintage said...

E, again you have inspired me more than you'll ever know. This is an awesome post and the most beautiful abandoned building I've ever seen, truly. So glad that God is working through you to create such beautiful works of art. Hope you are in Round Top this year, would love to visit with you.

summersundays-jw said...

I always wanted to be a photographer but was never willing to work that hard. Your post makes me wish I'd worked harder. Your photos are amazing as is your story. Great job....by you & your partner!!! Jan

Linda at French Hollow said...

I'm a new follower and wanted to tell you that your work is beautiful and your sense of gratitude is inspirational. Thank you so much for sharing both.
Blessings, Linda

Laura @ 52 FLEA said...

I love every photo and have enjoyed your stories...so beautiful.
Can't wait to see the book...and will share it with my 90 year old mother in law who has been a life long quilter and collector of quilts.
As always, you provide so much inspiration...thank you! :)

anotherbethsmith said...

i hardly ever comment on a blog- but not only do you have beautiful things to look at- the content of this post is amazing...thank you...and by the way, we share our creative partner :)

The Midwest Cottage said...

Great post. I love the last photo of the quilts hanging from the old barn. You really are good!

laura said...

WOW it's hard for me to put into words how gifted you are. Just last week I was talking to a sweet country lady from Tenn who makes quilts..has been making them from way back.. says when she was a little girl that is what they did durning their long hard winters..I will be sure to pass this on to her.. looks like a book to cherish.Bless you always Laura

laura said...

P.S. He is the BEST business patner anyone could ask for. Always on time, never lets you down,right by your side to work with you till the bitter end. xo

Deb said...

Thank you Elizabeth for sharing your God given talent ♥
Beautiful photos & words ~ Such inspiration.

Miss Gracie's House said...

I absolutely LOVE this post...isn't our God good?!

Tina said...

well you know..... I just love you to bits and back again! :)

Revi said...

It blessed me to read how you see God's hand in your life and your work. Anyone who chooses to notice will be amazed at what they see. Thanks for the reminder.

Alice said...

What a fantastic experience for you! Even though I'm not a quilter, I would love to see the book just for the photos.

Thank you for sharing such a wonderful, touching story with us. So many times we go about our busy lives without a thought of God's part in it. Thank you for reminding us to thank one one who makes it all happen.

trash talk said...

Your photos are beautiful and yes...I can clearly see His hand outlined in each and every one.
You're proof positive that God does know our heart desires and wants to give them to us. Your heart, along with His hand, is clearly visible...a team made in Heaven.
P.S. Thank goodness He was there watching over you. I kept thinking about that bird.

Shelley in SC said...

Loved this post. Love the relationship we can have with Him. The walking together . . . the sharing of ideas . . . the enjoyment of a private joke together that no one else could understand. Love that His amazing creativity can be enjoyed by me. Can't wait to get the book!!

Sandi said...

Hi Elizabeth,
LOVE this post and your photos. I especially love the photo of the chairs in the room. Stunning!!

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and leaving such kind words. A comment from you MADE MY DAY!! :)

Cynthia Patterson said...

What an amazing post...I think you have truly touched our Creators Heart with the honor given Him....each time you spoke His name tears came to my eyes.....You are a Good and Faithful servant♥... you have proven yourself worthy of the talents placed in your care.

p.s. I absolutely LOVE the first pic of your shoot....it is amazing.

Richard Cottrell said...

Looks great, you done good. Glad to see where your mind has been. Richard from My Old Historic House.

Sandi~A Cottage Muse said...

This has been a wonderful visit with you! Thank you for sharing this journey you went on and I love looking through your lens!

Nella Miller said...

Elizabeth, what a beautiful story...beautiful work from a beautiful lady...and so deserving....N.xo

Lisa said...

Bravo! I'm standing up and clapping, for you! Besides the fact that you were very inspiring and successful before this book, I think you've written us all a very valuable lesson. Thank you for sharing your excitement and your fears. As we all have, when we have something we want to achieve.
I'll buy the book! Knowing how you put your heart and soul into it.


Kate said...

Elizabeth what a blessing you are to me. Seeing all that you have accomplished is such an inspiration. God is ever so faithful and you are a perfect example of the potters hands. Your photography is stunning I never tire looking at your workmanship. Have a beautiful weekend


blessings said...

I got goose bumps reading your post. It's beautiful to see Christ in you and in your work. I agree with you, Christ is the artist that inspires me most... because I was empty and He gave "pressed down, shaken together and running over!" Breathtaking how He creates from nothing, transforms messes and makes something so awe inspiring.

Your photos are, as always, jaw-dropping beautiful. Congratulations on the new book!!

Blessings... Polly

Anonymous said...

That is such a beautiful story! I still haven't told Karri about the book because I want to surprise her with a copy. Autographed, perhaps? I hope I don't have to wait much longer? I'm going crazy with anticipation!

I always knew that God had big plans for you, and I know this is just the beginning of more adventures!

love and miss ya!

Margo said...

"He gives beauty for ashes...." Some see an old falling down house, with God's eyes it turns into so MUCH MORE! Your photos are STUNNING! I am in awe of the first one, the long view of the chairs. And the one of the vintage picture framed. Ab-so-lute-ly PERFECT! I'm so happy for you Elizabeth, and I know the work was probably physically exhausting, but oh, what beauty you created! You and our King of Kings!!! Aren't we the most blessed of people to have Someone so awesome love us SO much?!!!
Hugs my friend!
Margo the Single Girl

Mark Norkaitis said...

Traci from whimsy was telling me about your book! I cant wait to see it... Your photos are great!

Mark from Room363

Elaine said...

I always love to come by here and visit...it makes me smile.
I came by this morning to tell you that I'm making your crepe recipe right now. That makes me smile too!
I'll spend a little time on this lazy Saturday catching up with you...after I get those crepes mixed up and ready to go...
Be blessed, my friend!

Roxanne said...

It's Sunday morning, the breakfast dishes soaking in the sink while my hubby and I spend a lazy morning at the kitchen table, on our lap tops. I just read your post and he's grinning at the expression on my face and wondering why my eyes are brimming with tears. What a beautiful post, pictures, quilts, photographer and story. I was touched by it all...perhaps more importantly by Him. Because I am so grateful for His intimate presence in our daily lives. What could possibly be sweeter than creating under the watchful eye, gentle touch and encouraging words of Jesus Christ?

Elizabeth, thank you for sharing your story...your heart. It is meaningful and imortant. He will use it to draw others into a deeper awareness of His perfect love and goodness. I am smiling again. My heart sends you a hug.

Abundant life.

Anne Marie said...

Elizabeth...your vision is so great

and I'm not just sayin' that...seriously great...you just spurred inside me what I see...so cool

I have been wanting to start quilting, and this book looks like it'll be on my wishlist now...especailly since you did it

great location, even though it was super hot - totally worth it -
peace + blessings,
Anne Marie
(p.s. now I wish I hadn't sold this one chair to Polly Hood!)

Tamra said...

Thank you so much for telling it like it is! Being nervous about the call? Not being able to afford to buy the right lens? Not having the right computer program and not knowing how to run it? We would normally assume that your job would be so glamorous, with assistants setting up your props, staging your lighting and someone standing by with and iced latte as you wisk in ready to shoot! lol Thank you for keepin' it real and letting us know we are all just hard working girls.

This is why you rock!!

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hello Lovely Readers,

I wanted you all to know that I read each and every comment and I am so very touched by them all. I want to visit your sites and visit with you personally, but here, I wanted to let you know how much your comments meant to me.

Thank you again for reading my little blog,
Big hug
Elizabeth :-)

Cynthia Patterson said...

Again, an awesomely inspiring and encourage story....I came back to copy your post to send to my sister...she needs a wee bit of encouraging at the moment....I tried copy and pasting your badge to my blog, but the link did not work (just thought I'd share that...)
be blessed!


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