Go Big…or Go Home

It’s with both sadness and joy that I bring you this announcement.  Rawsii will no longer be accepting photography clients, effective immediately.  Some of you will be excited to hear, however, that next year I will once again be offering my online classes for beginners!  And, keep an eye out…I’ll be posting information for THE VERY LAST Rawsii session available for purchase through the YWCA auction in May.

I want to write a long and detailed explanation of this announcement, but I’m finding myself struggling with where to start.  It’s been such a long, complicated decision making process with many lines of reasoning and overlapping influences.  Honestly, I have wrestled with it since Jadon was born seven years ago.  That was when I felt that being a mother and being a business owner began to clash.  It’s difficult to give the best of my creativity and energy to the life behind the scenes when the high profile front is all that most people will see.  It’s much more energizing, glamorous and gratifying to work long hours to meet those client deadlines and run off to exotic locations for photo shoots.  My family has survived on my leftover time, and increasingly so as the years have gone on.  Truly, the only way it’s worked at all is that my amazing husband has self-sacrificially picked up the slack for me.  And in spite of frequently coming home from work to a messy house, unfinished school work, dinner not made… he never once asked me to quit.  He encouraged me to follow my dreams, loved me through my low points, and gave me an amazing example of love that he could only have learned directly from Jesus.  He’s the real hero here.  He knew from the beginning that I’m a “Go Big or Go Home” kinda girl and he loved me for it.  But I’ve reached a point where I can’t get any bigger without sacrificing far more than I’m willing to sacrifice.  So it’s time to pack it up and…go home.

People have often asked me “How do you DO it all?!”  And at first I was ashamed to answer.  I thought that if I admitted I wasn’t actually doing it all as well as they thought, I would just look like a failure.  But I realized I was doing women everywhere a huge disservice by allowing them to think I was succeeding at EVERYTHING.  As if it was actually possible to do so.  I’m willing to admit that maybe for some it is possible, but I will no longer assume so when I look at someone who appears to be wildly successful.  We’re human.  We can only do one thing at a time.  That means that when we’re succeeding at one thing, we’re NOT succeeding at something else.  Truth is, balance has been elusive.  Healthy eating has completely gone by the wayside.  Creativity in the classroom has dwindled.  All in the name of fulfilling my artistic visions.  I should have stopped working a long time ago but I was afraid.  Yes, I know, many of you view me as fearless, but I was afraid.  Photography is my way of making personal connections with people.  It introduced me to amazing people I would never have had the opportunity to meet otherwise.  It took me places I would never have gone on my own.  Most of all, it allowed me to love people in a unique and personal way when I felt awkward with any other form of expression.  But to my detriment, it became a crutch.  It became the ONLY way I knew how to love people anymore.  Relationships became more shallow and the more people I met, the more alone I felt.  I was afraid that if I gave up photography, I would be giving up the primary thing people liked about me and I would be a boring person with nothing to offer.  It’s been a couple years since I had that self realization so I’ve been asking God to work on developing other parts of me, to make me a deeper friend, sister, mother, and wife outside of my artwork.  And as He’s begun to accomplish this in my life, a strange thing has happened.  The desire of my heart has begun to change with it.  Yes, I still LOOOOOOVE taking pictures.  I still love being a part of some of the most intimate and important moments in the lives of truly gorgeous people.  And I will miss it.  But I’m not addicted to it anymore.  I’m drawn to my kids and the thought of developing myself as a better mom, a better teacher, a fellow adventurer in this thing we call life, a spiritual guidance counselor for them, and eventually a friend.  I want to be fully engaged, excited to live each day with them.  I want to stop waking up every morning feeling as if I have “one more thing” to do before I can attend to my kids.  I don’t want them to feel like the world revolves around them but I want to take their hands and show them that the world revolves around God.  There is no greater calling for a woman than to raise children who love God with their whole heart.

While in Vegas for WPPI, I felt that things became especially clear.  I saw a contrast of the paths that lay before me.  It was a bit more black and white than it had ever been before.  I had a truly anointed conversation with a wildly successful Christian photographer whose children are already grown.  His words and life story impacted me deeply.  It was so timely.  But as I look back I can see that EVERY time I have taken a huge step toward professional growth, God has put people in my path that have curbed my appetite for it and brought me back toward Him.  God has been so gentle in His leading.  He and James have both been so patient with me.

Maybe it was the experience in Vegas.  Maybe it’s the new house in the country.  Maybe it is my baby girl growing up and feeling that our family is just not quite complete yet.  Maybe it’s home schooling needing more time and creativity from me.  Maybe it’s how God has answered my prayers and drawn my heart closer to His and further from the world.  Maybe it’s a desire to be healthier.  But more likely, it’s a carefully orchestrated symphony directed by God with more instruments than I’m aware of and timing so complicated I will only understand when I get to heaven.

Now, it’s going to be kind of awwwwwkward because I’m making this grandiose announcement that I’m quitting but I won’t actually be gone for quite awhile.  But such is the life of a wedding photographer.  Life is planned out for me years in advance.  I have commitments through the end of 2014 already!  But I will not be accepting any more work from this point forward.  And next year I plan to teach the online classes again because it’s something I can do without leaving the house, for only a few hours at a time, at any time of day.  And it doesn’t require committing to anything years in advance.

I’ve already received so much affirmation from so many people about this new direction.  I’m encouraged.  Thank you!  It’s easy to be understanding about it when it doesn’t affect you personally though, so please continue with this attitude when I have to say, with tears in my eyes, “No, I’m sorry, I can’t shoot your wedding even though I ADORE you, I just can’t.”  There will be no exceptions.  Not for family, not for friends on any level…none.  If I start making exceptions for some people, it begins a game of justification that would eventually have me photographing everyone and their cousin.  I’m happy to provide you with a list of trusted photographer friends and professionals locally and around the country who are more than capable of filling my shoes.  They’ll LOVE capturing your stories and your beautiful smiles…I know they will because I have.  🙂

13 thoughts on “Go Big…or Go Home

  1. I am sure that all people who love your work will understand your desires to be the best wife and mother that you can be. I am sure we will see the wonderful pictures of your family and friends and can just oogle over them as well. Best wishes to you and I hope that you continue to find peace in your heart with your decision!!!! If it works for you and your family then it is the right decision no matter what anyone else says about it.

  2. Wow… I have so much admiration for you, first for taking the huge step forward in following God’s priority list for your particular life, hard, hard, hard as it must have been. You have an incredible talent that will be missed but certainly well-used in other arenas. Thanks for your honesty in sharing your struggles. In so doing, you’ve convicted me of the idolatry that photography can be, of how it can consume relationships and take over my identity. Hopefully you’ll take the time to post back about the growth you’ll no doubt experience on so many levels as you begin this new chapter of your life. I am, however, thrilled for all the new students who’ll get to learn under you. Taking your DSLR intro class a few years ago really rocked my world. Go forth & shine!

  3. While I am saddened that one of the people I look up to in the world of photography is closing their “client doors” I fully understand where you are coming from. I waited until my children were of an age that they weren’t hainging off my apron strings before seeking such a crazy wonderful career. My only hopes for you, other than that you become more YOU than you think you are now, is that I will see you in the future….again taking on clients and filling the world with your beautiful and amazing art! You are an amazing woman, even if you aren’t perfect 😀 ! I look forward to seeing you in the future and urge you to do a more advanced course for those of us who have the basics but need help in the creativity aspect. Your family is very lucky to have such a wonderful person as their mother and wife. ❤

  4. Oh, Christi, you are such an encouragement! How I hate to hear that you will no longer be sharing your talents with the world through photography.. but how OVERJOYED and encouraged I am to hear that you are totally taking your time and energy to pour into your family! As women, there will always be the struggle of achieving our own personal goals and pouring our life, love, and energy into our family. But, I’m so encouraged, as a wife and mother, from this post as there is no justification needed for leaving your business to put your family first and hearing of the joy you find in taking every precious moment to indulge in family and teaching your children of God and His love. This post was just so transparent- you showing your love, hearing of your heart’s desire, your struggles with balance, and your search for God’s Will in your life over the past few years. As a Christian woman, wife and mother, I thank you for sharing your REAL story of struggle and not the easy, half-true, story that creates unrealistic expectations by making everyone believe that it is possible for one person to conquer it all and still have time and energy for themselves and the ones they love the most. Thank you for being such a positive example of a REAL & TRANSPARENT woman of God… and encouragement for others!

  5. A beautifully written post that speaks directly to my heart as I’ve made the same decision recently. Your work will be missed tremendously as you have an amazing gift. However, you will be using your gifts and talents in other ways with your family which is critical. I wish you the best!!

  6. Wow, I am totally moved by your transaparency and the clarity of the direction you should go. No apologies needed for a mother to come fully home and be the mom she is needed to be. The tiime at home is so very small in the scheme of things. I respect your decision and appreciate your sharing publicallly your herat.

  7. Christi, I truly admire your obedience and humility above anything else! Although we’ve only met through mutual friends and corresponded on facebook, I have a lot of respect for all that you do, not only as a photographer, but as a wife, mother and teacher to your beautiful three children. You were a great source of encouragement when I was officially launching my business over three years ago, and I think back and am grateful for many of the things that you have shared with me through that time. Although I’m a husband and father – not a wife and a mother – your comments about the sacrifice that James has made to allow your photography business to flourish, really resonated with me. My wife has done much of the same, not only in our marriage, but also in the life of our family. Whether it was leaving for two weeks to shoot a wedding in France or being gone a week in Vegas for WPPI, there’s much more behind someone’s business than most people see. I’m sure the wrestling match of the decision process was tough, but I firmly believe that when we are obedient to God and His direction for our lives, not only are we walking in the truth, but we also experience a freedom that allows us to pursue even greater things than we would have thought of on our own. I’m reminded of the verse in Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it’s the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Thanks for sharing your heart and being such an encouragement through your obedience to Christ!

  8. You brought tears to my eyes..good for you, you will never regret being present in your families life. I know God will bless you for this decision and most definitely He was center in this decision… Congrats and I personally look forward to your classes!!!

  9. Christi,

    I couldn’t be more sad, and excited for you! We all know you as a great photographer. Many of us ONLY know you as that. Of course we get to know you a bit during shoots and see your personality. From family photos we can see your love for your kids, and from status updates i can see your love for God. But as someone who primarily knows you through facebook it seems like you have it all going for you! Reading something like this makes me feel so much less alone! It always feels like everyone else is doing it right and God is blessing them every step they take. I love hearing about your internal conflict, and im sure there have been external ones as well. I can only hope that i have the strength that you have as a wife and mother. You truly are an inspiration. We love your photos Christi, but we all love you more. I’ll be praying for you, and as much as i will miss your photography, i will smile knowing how much more fullfilled you are by following God’s plan for your life. 🙂

  10. Wow!! That was very touching and I’m very proud to say that I know you and I’m very blessed to have a session with you before you retire. God has big plans for you and you will be rewarded for listening to your heart… you are an awesome photographer and mother and wife!! I can tell by the meaningful words you took to heart and decided to share with your fans. I wish you all the best and see you next month!! 🙂
    p.s. I will be signing up for those internet classes too!

  11. Oh my goodness! Good for you, Christi! It sounds like you really have your priorities straight! This took a lot of guts, and I think it’s incredible of you 🙂

    I’m torn between the “Holy crow!!! We booked her JUST in time!!!” feeling, to being a bit guilty for being one of those later 2014 events.

    We love you, and we feel so blessed that you will be such a significant part of our day 🙂
    Heather & Alex
    xxxooo

  12. So sad to see you go but your right in what your doing! Wishing you the best, enjoy your beautiful family Im sure they will enjoy you as well 🙂 Good luck in everything you do hun. Sincerely, your biggest fan 🙂

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