pretty light

Just wanted to share a quick preview of a shoot I did tonight. This picture here is exactly why I do photography. Capturing young love makes my heart all sorts of warm and fuzzy :)

Human Sex Trafficking

I usually try and keep the content around here fairly light and encouraging, but today's going to be a little different! For one of my classes this semester we were asked to describe a contemporary American cultural issue and participate in two forms of activism to then hopefully transform this issue. I decided to use my blog as one avenue for activism since I have 200+ followers. I figure it'll reach a decent crowd, and possibly tug on someone's heart. 

I had never given much thought to contemporary cultural issues happening around me, which is somewhat embarrassing to admit, but it's the truth. I know there's a large homeless community in the area, there's major upheaval over the recent budget cuts to higher-ed, and bullying is at the forefront of news reports at least once every few months. While these are all terrible things, nothing really pulled me in, making me feel as though I should dedicate time and research to it. 

Then, one girl in our class mentioned human trafficking. I immediately thought this was something I could pour a decent amount of study into, especially since California harbors 3 of FBI’s 13 highest child sex trafficking areas in the nation: Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego [source]. This bit of research completely shocked me and I began to feel saddened that these things are happening near home, where people and especially children are supposed to feel safe. There's so many horrific things happening in our world today and it's impossible to be an activist for everything, but something about innocent people being robbed of their lives because some cruel person decided they needed to feel empowered just made me sick. Now I'm not jumping on any bandwagons here and becoming an over night activist, but I do think any opportunity to raise awareness should be taken advantage of.

So with this post, I hope to raise some awareness to a community that may or may not be aware of the horrendous crimes taking place around them everyday. These are silent crimes, but they exist and someone needs to speak on behalf of the innocent individuals who are suffering if this can ever be stopped.

Through research I've found that there are two forms of trafficking. There's both sex trafficking and labor trafficking.

Sex trafficking: the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act , in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person forced to perform such an act is under the age of 18 years [source].

Labor Trafficking: the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery [source].

For the purpose of this project, the majority of my focus will be on sex trafficking.

Most victims are trafficked to the United States from Asia, Central and South America, and Eastern Europe. These victims are subject to force, fraud, and/or coercion in order to get them overseas. One of the most heart breaking factors is that majority of victims can't speak English which in turn means they cannot communicate with law enforcement officials once they come to America. In their greatest time of need, they're at the will of their abductor simply because they can't break the language barrier.

One of the scarier truths I came upon through research is the methods by which traffickers keep their victims here. Some traffickers keep their victims under lock and key. However, the more frequent practice is to use less obvious techniques including:
  • Debt bondage - financial obligations, honor-bound to satisfy debt
  • Isolation from the public - limiting contact with outsiders and making sure that any contact is monitored or superficial in nature
  • Isolation from family members and members of their ethnic and religious community
  • Confiscation of passports, visas and/or identification documents
  • Use or threat of violence toward victims and/or families of victims
  • The threat of shaming victims by exposing circumstances to family
  • Telling victims they will be imprisoned or deported for immigration violations if they contact authorities
  • Control of the victims' money, e.g., holding their money for "safe-keeping" [source].
So I did a little researching and came upon the non-profit, "Not For Sale." I really like what they stand for and if God were to lead me down this path, I would consider partnering with them. On their website they state a few things that will need to change in order to end this slavery. The main thing being awareness. This will come from people acknowledging this hidden crime is present today. It's such a hidden crime right now that less than 1% of victims are ever identified. This needs to change.

"We need to shift to a paradigm that recognizes the possibility of slavery in order to be able to identify it. When the paradigm shifts, a new wave of activists will respond in creative ways" - Not For Sale.

I don't expect that any of you will jump off your couch and become an activist for stopping human sex trafficking, by simply reading this post. I'm not even planning to become a dedicated activist myself because I haven't felt the Lord calling me to at this point in time. But, raising awareness is something I can stand for. I can be reminded of these statistics and support further research. It may seem like there's nothing we can do to stop these things from happening. But there are a few things you and I can both do. Write posts like these to raise awareness. Tweet articles you find using [hashtag]stophumantrafficking. Contact your local church and find out what types of ministries they have to support those trafficked, and if they don't yet have something started maybe you can be the one to encourage it. However, the most important thing we can do is pray. Pray for the victims who are suffering today. Pray for the child whose innocence was taken from them so gruesomely. Pray for the mother who was ripped from her family so unexpectedly. Pray for the man who feels cheated and lost because he must submit to his abductor. These things are happening all around us, and it's easy to forget, but let's remember today. Say a prayer for these victims after you read this post. If that's all you can do, that's okay. There's power in prayer and we need to bring power back to those suffering.

Delight yourself in the Lord

This speaks a thousand words to me. I was browsing through some of my favorite blogs earlier and came across this post from Jenni at Story of My Life, where she shares the same picture because she's on a similar journey of establishing herself as a writer/photographer/business owner. There are so many bloggers who I'm encouraged by, because they're following a little passion that has now turned into a small business. To name a few: Megan @ Across The Pond [shop], Amber @ Goodnight Moon [shop], Maggie @ Gussy Sews [shop], Jennifer @ Jennifer Blair Photography [website], Arielle @ Arielle Elise [website] and Ashlee @ Where my Heart Resides [website]...The list could go on, but lately these are the girls I've admired, a lot. They remind me of how important it is to pursue this dream and enjoy my work, rather than settling for some corporate position in an office. If I want this photography business to happen I need to stick to my goals and remember to work hard. 

This phase that the author speaks of is true, on so many levels though. I spend hours looking at photography sites and discovering options for branding myself better, the types of images I want to have represent me, and the way I feel a business should be run. But, I don't have a lot of what I need to make these dreams happen at the moment, I'm stuck and have been stuck during what feels like forever. Freedom is 30 days out, and by freedom I mean graduating from college, and then I'll be able to dedicate the time I need to this dream. I know I'll succeed and be proud of my work at some point, it's just going to take a lot of hard work to get there. I'm so ready for it though, I feel like God has given me these talents and they can't go to waist. I have to bring Him glory through them. How awesome is it that God allows you to have passions and dreams that are achievable? He's given us these things so we can pursue them and enjoy our time here on earth. 

Psalm 37:4 says, Delight yourself in the Lord and HE will give you the desires of your heart. 

My heart speaks art, it speaks creativity, and most importantly I long to do what the Lord has for me. It gives me so much joy to know the Lord has given me these talents, desires, and passion so that I might enjoy my time here and bring glory to Him through them. I consider this verse my driving force, so long as I delight myself in Him, He will bless me with the desires my heart so longs for.

I know I'm on this photography kick lately and I probably bore people to death by how much I talk about it, but when you find your niche it's you against the world to make it happen. Rather, you and God against the world...'scuse me :). It's exciting and scary all at the same time and it boils up inside you. I'm at a crossroads (woah..cliche to the max, we all know how much I hate that) but, there's really no better way to describe it. I have this degree almost in hand, but I don't want to use it. How many people really say that? After all this time in school, test after paper after quiz after dreaded group projects and while it may come in handy later on, it'll just sit in a drawer. Maybe I'll frame it..who knows. But the reality here is that I'm on my own now, I have a degree so now it's in my hands to make a living happen. I refuse to work at Starbucks for the rest of my life, could you even imagine? Yikes. 

I know that won't happen, but it's sure easy to get caught up in the easy road, laziness. 1 Corinthians 9:24 reminds us to finish the race we've started. Run with full potential toward that prize. "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." There's competition out there so I have to remember to constantly run back to God, daily asking the Holy Spirit to empower me. Did you know that's why He's here on earth? Empowering us to do the Lord's work. With the help of the Holy Spirit I know I'll run to get this prize. 

I want to get these thoughts out, I journal from time to time..but adding colorful images of my own throughout my thought process is much more appealing to me. I hope whoever reads this will continue to stick with me through this journey of establishing myself as a photographer and business owner. Oh man! I may or may not have had goosebumps just typing out "business owner." That's just the coolest..


Ranunculus :) I couldn't decide which picture and focus I liked better soo I included both of them. Just lovely. So anywho..I've got a bunch of photography thoughts running through my mind lately and I'm in the process of writing that post. So many ideas..nerves..excitement and words to sort through. While I've been sorting through these things I was encouraged to make a list of goals. I'm a visual person and an avid list maker, so why hadn't I thought of making a goals list until now? Nobody knows! But, these are things I want to achieve by the end of the Summer.

  • Get your business license and make it official. 
  • Buy a new camera body and flash. 
  • Learn ins and outs of Lightroom and shoot in raw
  • Do one inspiration shoot each month to maintain creativity and keep your momentum..look forward to these shoots and have fun with them
  • Create a more functional website and work on branding
and last but certainly most important
  • Daily, with out ceasing..give all praise and credit to God, never forget this

I understand that there are some things on this list that will take hard effort and even some investment, but I want to push myself. I want to make this happen and not just see it as a dream somewhere far off. This is what I've been praying for and will continue to pray for. When I graduate in 32 days, it'll be time for me to get serious.

This post is more for me than for entertaining purposes :) But hopefully you all will feel inspired to keep at your dreams and make them happen. Make a list of goals and watch yourself achieve them!

Happy Monday!

Brian: Senior Session

Before all the storms rolled in, I was able to meet up with an old family friend and do his senior session! We had lots of fun, or at least his mom and I did...most senior boys don't really get to into the senior picture thing. He did great though and knew exactly how to pose and what to do. Sorry Brian, but you're kindof a natural so I think we're going to have to take some more pictures again sometime :) This was my first edit using Lightroom and I'm loving it!

and then Mr had a birthday

It's my lover's birthday today and I'm so excited to spend it with him for the first time in two years! We did birthday presents on his birthday eve because today will be filled with lots of other fun things and I just couldn't wait. This year I grabbed him a couple shirts from Target, his favorite movie I Love You Man, and a home-brewing kit. We'll be brewin our own beer, and Mr couldn't be more excited! He's talked about brewing for a little while now and even though our little apartment doesn't allow much room for it, I sacrificed some of my pretty space for a brewin bucket and some other "equipment" :) Good wife? I think so.

Happy Birthday Mr, I'm so glad we're finally able to spend this day together! I'll make it as special as I can, because you deserve it more than anyone I know. Thanks for all you do for me with you back home is the coolest. Thank you for loving me the way you do.

In other news, we have a new family member.
Readers, meet Turbo.
He's every bit as fierce as this picture suggests.