the sweet & simple | by jamie eilts

 May 2017

May 2017

This is the story of a girl.  A girl who has made mistakes.  A girl who has gone through trials. I’m a true believer that everything happens for a reason.  I believe that while we may not understand why we struggle in the moment, it usually seems to make sense later.  As a woman of faith, I always believe that there is a plan for us and a reason for everything under the sun.  and often, these struggles help shape us.  They become part of us; part of our story; part of our “why”.  Why we pick up our cameras.  Why we continue to strive to get better.  Why we work harder and keep learning.  In order to tell you my story, my journey to now, to this place and this moment, I need to rewind a bit.  I’ll try to keep it brief but bear with me because it’s about to get personal. My past has helped shape who I am today, so it’s important to my story.

I married my college sweetheart in 2007 and we decided to try starting a family right away.  A year later, no baby.  We underwent testing and were diagnosed with “unexplained infertility”.  We were told to “keep trying”, we were “young”, and statistics showed that it was bound to happen for us.  This catapulted me into a baby obsession.  We tried everything.  It was all I could think about.  It seemed like everyone around us was pregnant, and I sank deeper and deeper into my hole with every pregnancy announcement or birth. 

I was depressed.  I had always dreamed of being a mother, and now it felt that was not in the cards for me.  I had my career, but it was unfulfilling. I wanted to be a mother.  We tried fertility treatments, medication, was poked and prodded time and time again.  I gained weight and fell into a deeper depression.  Still no baby.  Every single month, i’d get my hopes up only to be disappointed.  Over and over and over. 

2010 brought amazing news. I was pregnant.  I was ecstatic!! Life was good, until it wasn’t.  We lost the baby.  If you thought I was in a dark place before, let me tell you, I managed to find an even darker one.  I had never experienced more despair than I did in those days following that loss. But we didn’t lose hope. We traveled for a distraction, exploring Paris and London. With me I brought my new canon rebel t2i my husband had bought me a few months earlier for my birthday. And I was in love.

I loved taking pictures; it was therapeutic.  I walked around my house taking pictures of random things, mostly of my cat, but I couldn’t wait to take pictures on our travels. In the meantime, we were still trying to conceive.  Every month we were trying.  I couldn’t stop trying.  It had become a part of who I was.  Giving up definitely was not in my dna.  So we tried again and again and again. 

 The first photo I ever took with a DSLR.  January 2011

The first photo I ever took with a DSLR.  January 2011

While in london, I learned we were pregnant.  Again.  I was excited, but guarded.  Something felt wrong.  “You’re just nervous”, my husband said.  “It’s going to be fine”. But it wasn’t fine, and like the first, I lost the second. I was beyond devastated. I couldn’t stop crying.  Every day, I was crying.  I felt broken.  Damaged.  That’s all I could think about.  Drunk teenagers were getting pregnant left and right, couples getting pregnant on their honeymoon, and I couldn’t do it after years of trying.  My body couldn’t do it.  I was a failure as a woman. But I didn’t give up. I couldn’t give up. Photography was the only thing that seemed to help me rise out of my whole of despair, that made me feel good. So I kept shooting to fuel the good.

 travels to london and paris

travels to london and paris

In the fall of 2011, we received good news, we were pregnant. Again. This time it felt different.  I was still nervous, still guarded, but for some reason, despite all of the failures, I felt at peace.  This was it; this was my baby. 

On july 10, 2012, three weeks before my due date, my water broke.  After 20-hours of labor and a traumatic delivery, my sweet baby Colin was born.  My little miracle.  He was perfect.  I always joke that “he must’ve fixed something while he was in there”, because his sister Josie was conceived naturally while I was still nursing him 9-months later, and his sister Maisie came along just 20-months after Josie.

My life had completely changed in those three-years, and I had three beautiful little loves to capture. I was still very unfamiliar with my camera and I knew nothing about light or composition, and lacked technical training.  Google was a huge resource for me, but I was longing to learn more. To be better. To capture my little loves around me and preserve the sweet and simple things in life. Finding time with three little ones under the age of three was definitely a challenge, but I was determined to grow.

 2012 - Colin

2012 - Colin

2016 was my year of growth.  I couldn’t get my hands on enough photography education.  I received a new camera for my birthday, my trusty Canon 6D.  I took a lightroom and basic photoshop course.  I watched online editing tutorials and Youtube videos and read any photography-related article I could get my hands on.  i felt myself growing, developing a style, a voice. 

By late 2016, with a few new lenses in my bag, I felt like I was at a turning point in my journey and needed something to push me.  A friend recommend Instagram for inspiration.  In December 2016 I made my first post.  And there unraveled a new obsession.  I couldn’t believe the amount of inspiration I found. I scrolled and scrolled for hours just looking at all the pretty images.  I “met” so many kind souls there willing to help me on my way, willing to answer my questions, willing to guide this small fish in this great big sea.  I will forever be grateful to all of those kind ladies who took the time to guide me in those early months and for all of the friendships, relationships, and opportunities that I have made through this little app on my phone.

 February 2017

February 2017

In early 2017 I began taking Clickin Moms breakouts like candy.  I was learning, growing. Figuring out who I wanted to be as an artist. Figuring out what made my heart sing.  I was drawn to the simple moments.  The sweet stories of childhood.  The adventures, the imaginations, the giggles, the memories we were making as a family.  Those were the moments I treasured and wanted to document so I could remember forever.  In those dark years of infertility, I laid awake at night dreaming of those moments.  Wondering if I would ever be able to experience the little things so many people take for granted.  Would I ever rock my own baby to sleep?  Would I ever hear a sweet little voice say, “I love you, Mommy”?  I’ll never take for granted these three little souls who call me Mommy.  This life. These moments. They are my “WHY”.  They’re the reason I pick up my camera. Why I continue to strive to get better at this art.

I feel my “voice” is different from my “style”.  I’m the type of photographer who will continue to  learn, improve, and evolve. My style might change and I’m okay with that.  I don’t limit myself to shooting in certain type of light or only when my kids are wearing certain clothing, and I don’t think I ever will.   My “style” will always look a little messy and all over the map, but that’s true to my life, true to my “voice”.  One thing will always remain the same…the little things, the sweet, simple moments that make childhood the magical time that it is – that’s where my heart is.  Those seemingly mundane moments of motherhood – those are the stories I want to document, the stories I want to tell, the moments I want to remember.  I’m sure that as my children grow and change, my voice and style will evolve as well.  But for now, that’s what makes my heart sing.

 September 2017

September 2017

 February 2018

February 2018

Even after everything I have endured, I still felt something missing from path.  These “stories” of childhood that I love to tell were still missing something.  I absolutely love photography; how a photograph can spark an emotion and tell a story in a still frame.  But, I finally realized I had everything I’d dreamed about right in front of me. I have three beautiful babies who look at me every day and say, “I love you, Mommy”. I needed to dig deeper, I wanted to document more.  I wanted to see their little movements and hear their sweet toddler voices and giggles.  I wanted to see the joy on their little faces at the simplest things. See their imaginations in action.  I needed video. 

In January 2018 I completed my first films course. I’m hooked.  I can’t get enough.  I have since taken an advanced course in adobe premiere pro and advanced color correction.  I’ve immersed myself in the depths of cinematography.  It has opened up a whole new exciting world for me and I can’t wait to see where it leads.

enjoy the little things in life, for one day, you may look back and realize they were the big things

This is my motto. My “why”. My “voice”.  This is my story.  I can’t wait to continue to learn and grow with everyone here at hello storyteller, and I hope that you’ll join us. 

Let’s tell stories together.

Xoxo,  Jamie

@jamieeilts