marketing photographer

What's really going on in Oklahoma City?

The humidity was slowly subsiding as we reached the beginning of America's desert lands, but the sun was pounding down, hot as ever. The asphalt blended with the horizon, sizzling hot for the last hour of the flat drive, watching the skyline of Oklahoma City slowly getting bigger and bigger in the distance. We pulled up onto a dusty road with a few gas stations and restaurants and checked into our apartment hotel room. We sat on the bed and looked at each other and laugh-cried; Home sweet home.

We found a beautiful park in Norman, Oklahoma this summer.

We found a beautiful park in Norman, Oklahoma this summer.

I guess we're used to it. Moving so often has taught us to roll with the tide more than against it. Our professional future, starting July 5th, seemed to be in the hands of the Federal Aviation Administration, but we knew God was at the wheel. We signed up for four months in middle America, Oklahoma City where my husband would study to become an Air Traffic Controller. As I write this, in three weeks the journey will send us somewhere new, again. So from the start we had to build up the thick skin to be vulnerable and make friends, but also give our full attention to where was leading next. It has been the hardest balance.

So, I’m here to tell you what’s ‘really’ going on, right? Well, I’m panicked and frustrated and feeling like I missed the mark on so many milestones during these past 15 months of transition. I wanted to be a marketing photographer or photojournalist and have the credentials to prove it, but I couldn’t wait for the perfect job so I took another, and another, and now I feel light years away from that path. Many friends from each stage of life have moved away or enter new stages and are unable to stay connected. I look at myself in the mirror often and feel uninteresting and invaluable. Even after 4 months of what I thought would be a good break I find myself incredibly lonely, disconnected, and incapable. So in summary: If you’r reading this, thank you.

But…the positives, right? There’s got to be a silver lining!

In the first few weeks we got connected to an old friend of my husband; Isaac Elder and his wife Riley. They introduced us to Henderson Hills Baptist where we have been able to hear and live out christ-centered teaching. The Elders also taught us through their own unique path that there is no normal story to this life. God has a grander plan and he’s not about making our lives easier; he’s about making us the best tools for his glory. The Elders also introduced us to the Heard on Hurd festival in downtown Edmond, Oklahoma. I got to experience some delicious pizza and snap a few photos of them.

Riley and Isaac Elder at the Heard or Hurd monthly festival in Downtown, Edmond Oklahoma

Riley and Isaac Elder at the Heard or Hurd monthly festival in Downtown, Edmond Oklahoma

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“God has a grander plan and he’s not about making our lives easier; he’s about making us the best tools for his glory.”

About a month into our stay I found a job at a Dog Daycare facility here that truly loves and takes care of their clients and dogs. It has not always been easy learning new jobs, but I will say that I am proud of myself. I pushed through a lot of anxiety and disappointment, and had to come to terms with ‘just getting a job.’ I learned a lot and had meaningful conversations with people that were truly different than me, and God used that in my life to understand how deep his love is for every person.

Within two months we found a few good restaurants like Waffle Champion in Midtown Oklahoma City, and Louie’s Bar and Grill right across the street. We enjoyed mini golf, Hurts Donuts, and $1 ice cream cones from Braums. I got to explore coffee shops like I did on our road trip across America and talk to strangers. I got to even met an old friend and Liberty University Alumni, Hannah, at a delicious Mexican restaurant on Automobile Alley.

The beautiful street art and murals along Automobile Alley in downtown Oklahoma City

The beautiful street art and murals along Automobile Alley in downtown Oklahoma City

Waffle Champion, in Midtown Oklahoma City.

Waffle Champion, in Midtown Oklahoma City.

In four months I have developed great exercises habits and discipline with medicines that I take. Even if I don’t make the progress I want to see, I know I’ve made some great changes. I have learned to cook in a very small hotel kitchen that only stocks two of everything; two knives, two spoons, two plates, two glasses. I have learned to move to a new city for the second time this year, and it has shown me how to adapt and change as I prepare for another new city in November.

In September we mourned the death of our only pet, and our best friend, Amelia. It was very difficult, but we have learned to shed want we want, and work towards what God wants. We often don’t understand his plan, and even right now I have no idea what will happen to me in the next months of my life in New City, but I know he will bless my socks off if I open up my eyes to see it.

“[GOD] HAS ANSWERED WITH HIS DIFFERENT AND ALWAYS BETTER SOLUTIONS.”

Josiah, my husband, who is graduating Air Traffic Control school in just a few short weeks.

Josiah, my husband, who is graduating Air Traffic Control school in just a few short weeks.

I’m on this wild adventure, and its absolutely nothing like what I have expected in my life. I spend so much time fighting my circumstances instead of embracing them, and I forget that God has given me so much more than I ever dreamed. We prayed to be used outside of our college town and God gave me many homes and states to live in. We prayed for two years that Josiah would get into Air Traffic Control School and now he’s about to graduate in 3 weeks. We prayed for a good church to remind us of our mission and we’ve had three! We prayed that God would strengthen our marriage and he has refined us raw and then built us back again. We prayed that God would grow our family with children, and he has given us countless friends and mentors in so many states and countries. God is not here to answer my specific requests and prayers. But, he has answered them with his different, and always better solutions.  

Sincerely,

Kaitlyn Becker

 

 

 

 

The Newbie Guide to Memphis, TN {Part One}

I have been here two months. Whoa.

Shelby Farms' FedEx Forum attached to Kimbal Musk's The Kitchen.

Shelby Farms' FedEx Forum attached to Kimbal Musk's The Kitchen.

As someone who loves cities, tourism, coffee, food, festivals, and meeting people, everyone in my life expected me to "do just fine" in Memphis. I'm a natural people person who likes to be an open book and invite people in, even when I have no place to invite people to. But, there is also a real thing called sickness, depression, and time, and some real obstacles have pushed me to change my big dreams of exploring, to tentative driving and occasional adventurous meals. I'm not in Lynchburg. I don't know the culture, where to park, or how to interact. I'm a conservative 20-something with the dreams of a passionate vivacious networking personality and the actual guts and bravery of a timid kitten. But don't count me out, my bravery will come.

Germantown Fest

This was a great "welcome to Memphis" starter festival for me and Josiah. We had my sister and brother-in-law as guides to the part of town nestled in between Collierville and the millennial-havens of Midtown and East Memphis. This was just outdoorsy enough to be a festival, and just organized enough to be an arts bizarre.

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Booths were filled with "Happy Fall Y'all" metal pumpkins, organic honey, booths of fresh apples from Whole Foods, and a scattered few LulaRoe booths. Hidden behind the hundreds of booths in the wider open space, was the Festival part of Germantown Fest. Corndogs literally brushed with gobs of ketchup and  mustard, called Party Dogs, along with local Mem Pops, organic pizzas next to local beer brews. 

The line of cars to get into  the festival was truly the only barrier. The sheer numbers of people getting out on a nice hot end-of-summer September Saturday was impressive. Heat doesn't keep Memphians away from a reason to celebrate.

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These are "Party Dogs" in Memphis!

These are "Party Dogs" in Memphis!

Cooper Young Festival

Cooper-Young was the festival that we were 'warned' about.

Co-workers around my age told me to get there early and then just hangout in a restaurant or bar for the afternoon to watch the game and stay out of the crowds. People in the generation or two above us told us to just avoid it all together; or at least wear fanny packs, bring water bottles, and bathe in sunscreen. We took most of this "Warning: Prepare or Die!" advice, and did some research. We decided to bike to the festival and park a mile or two away. We had heard there were bike racks in the heart of the revelry that we could park, and we were right. So far so good. Except for the part where I opened up my backpack to realize I only brought my Instax camera and forgot my newly charged Sony A6000 back at home. I guess I had only 4 film shots to really capture the day. #HereWeGo

My 4 Instax camera moments from the day. 

My 4 Instax camera moments from the day. 

Just a few seconds in, and it became obvious that we weren't in Kansa- ....Germantown Fest anymore.  The steel pan booth was the first booth we visited, quickly proceeded by the organic cleaning product booth where I bought the citrus orange all-purpose cleaner. It was a hot day, and I immediately downed my one water bottle and searched for the booths that gave out paper fans to passerby. But once we found a good (but overpriced! sigh.) quesadilla and strawberry lemonade to share, and sat down in front of a talented Flamenco guitarist, the heat subsided. 

We bought local Memphis t-shirts, and I grabbed stickers at the Choose 901 Memphis booth. This is the festival to go to if you want to dive in to what Memphis is all about. I even spun the wheel at the Opera Memphis booth to see if I could get free tickets and ended up singing a poorly composed version of Happy Birthday to them. Oh well.  It was still an amazing experience, where I got to meet local artisans and makers in the Tuesdays Together Memphis group, and eat delicious food.

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Overall, this festival is not as "crazy" as others made it seem. We arrived around 11Am and left at 2PM (the cool part of the day....) and walking was fairly easy, lines were reasonably short, and food was plentiful. I totally recommend attending the festival and going in the evenings if you can for the local music, something we didn't get to do.

Enough about festivals- now on to the local attractions and foods around Memphis! 

City Silo Table + Pantry

City Silo landed in my lap by a long train of happy accidents. 

When I first heard I was moving to Memphis, TN I immediately looked up this creative networking group that I had been somewhat a part of back in Lynchburg. If I was going to find other photographers, designers, or creative people this would be where they are and lo and behold- it was. I started following the Instagrams of a few solid businesses in the group and struck up a comment-friendship with dietitian-extraordinaire Alexandra Reed. A few days later I got an email from my website (which is the best thing to get in your inbox...someone used my contact form! YAS. ) asking to meet up and discuss portraits and life together at none other than a beautiful healthy but delicious City Silo.

This little place is not tucked in between two Waco, Texas Magnolia-esque sillos, but in a quaint  shopping strip in the Sanderlin Center. As soon as I got inside it was clear that the creators put a lot of thought into how the brand's "clean and healthy" messaging was placed. The "pantry" aspect lines the far left wall with local coffees and other amazing tidbits that are perfect for stocking stuffers or professional coworker gifts, or just to eat yourself, to be honest.

But let's get to the food. This isn't your run of the mill "farm to table" overly-organic place, but a place that strives to deliver locally grown comfort food that even a fast-food loving, deep-fried-pickle connoisseur would like. I got a Green Goddess smoothie bowl that touted the health benefits of kale, avocado, and other super foods. It tasted delicious and I felt so satisfied that I was barely able to finish. My new friend Alexandra got a mushroom burger that made my mouth water just looking at it. 

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Definitely go here for your casual friend dates, a business meeting, or even those ever-so-awkward online meetings that you want to attend in public places that fall between hit and run coffeeshops and sit down 5 course dinners. This is the place to go to satisfy all sorts of palates, tastes, and allergy needs while not breaking the budget. My dinner was no more than $10.50 with tax. 

Muddy's Bakeshop

This was also a happy accident. Thanks again to expert networker and brave soul Alexandra Reed (Go read her stuff on Girl Boss and on Instagram: www.instagram.com/notafoodcop), she convinced me to grab a tea or cupcake over at this local icon. There is apparently another Muddy's in the heart of Midtown Memphis, but I'm glad I got to get a taste for it at a not-as-busy location during a quiet Thursday evening. 

I grabbed a Mint Grasshopper cupcake, and a bag of locally brewed coffee made specifically for Muddy's (a gift for a friend back in Virginia!)

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Overall, the first few weeks of exploring were fun, and showed us so much about how Memphis has a good time. Most cities have a heartbeat for making life better for its inhabitants, and Memphis has a big one. The city is full of the Memphis Grizzlie's motto "Grit and Grind", and from the neon glow of jazzy Beale Street to the sunshine and party dogs of Germantown, there is some serious Grit and Grind going on. A buzz, a hum of people working behind the scenes to make businesses, create spaces, and invite people in to the adventure this is Memphis.

Sincerely,

Kaitlyn Becker 

 

 

COMMENT BELOW!

I'd love to hear your favorite parts of your favorite city in the comments! Give me more ideas on what to go to next! The farmer's market? The jump trampoline park? A local sports team game? What are your favorite things in your favorite city? 

What's really going on in Memphis, TN?

We moved to Memphis, Tennessee in the middle of Hurricane Harvey on a Thursday. I couldn't see more than  20 feet in front of me, my hazard lights were on, and two tornadoes had touched down in Decatur County.  All I wanted was to be warm and drinking hot chocolate with my friends in Lynchburg, Virginia, and it was 708 miles behind me.

A quick few photos with Dani, one of my best friends and LU Marketing co-worker.

A quick few photos with Dani, one of my best friends and LU Marketing co-worker.

It was too late to turn back now.

Today marks two weeks at my new job at Stash Home in Memphis, Tennessee. The hurricane is gone, my stomach is settled, and I have the brain space to be blogging, so that's good news. But its all so scary and new. Quitting your job and moving across the country may sound exciting at first, but the glamour does wear off after all the goodbye parties and packing is done. You are left in an unfamiliar place with not a lot to go on. It can be discouraging, but I know you, if you're reading this, are cheering me on from a distance! Please keep doing that. Keep texting us, and calling us. We're exploring and learning, but we do still miss all the familiarity of home.

About three months ago we had decided to commit ourselves to pray more for what God had in mind for our skills. We knew that we liked Virginia, and our friends there, and that God was using us. But, we also knew that we were itching to be used in different ways, learn new things, move, and possibly improve our finances in the process. It was time for a big change. 

We can't honestly say we're doing great. The world's measurements of success are not God's measurement of success, and we have to remind ourselves of that everyday. The process is harder than we thought. We're still searching for a place to live, a job for Josiah, a church, and friends. The basics. All the things that you take for granted when you have them. 

 

Our Gospel Community Small Group August 2017, the week before we moved to Memphis, TN.

Our Gospel Community Small Group August 2017, the week before we moved to Memphis, TN.

I was part of a traveling ministry team, playing electric violin and acting in dramas from September 2010-December 2013. These people were my closest family! That's me at the top....with blonde hair!

I was part of a traveling ministry team, playing electric violin and acting in dramas from September 2010-December 2013. These people were my closest family! That's me at the top....with blonde hair!

Playing Viola, as part of Atlas Rhoads at Christmas Coffeehouse as a student, December 2013.

Playing Viola, as part of Atlas Rhoads at Christmas Coffeehouse as a student, December 2013.

Attending a ReHash designer meet-up cookout with friends from school and my ministry team, Vision Ministries, April 2011.

Attending a ReHash designer meet-up cookout with friends from school and my ministry team, Vision Ministries, April 2011.

We had seven years in Lynchburg, Virginia. 3.5 as students and 3.5 as alumni and employees of Liberty University.  A blessing we didn't expect to have, filled with the most special memories and incredible friends. That's why I've included a lot of college memories in this post. People I roomed with in college dorms, new 'family' I made in my traveling ministry team and at work, and trails I hiked while living in the Shenandoah Valley. The three jobs I had after college at a law firm called Liberty Counsel, Sodexo Hospitality Dining, and as a Liberty University Marketing Photographer.  I wanted to showcase old moments while also showing you what God is doing in our lives. Slowly but surely, we're learning how to live here. 

There are festivals and backroads, and good food and crazy people. There's traffic and accidents, but there's great ministries and friendly neighbors. Its a city that we're living in, and God calls us to meet with people where they are, no matter how ill-equipped or young we feel. (1 Timothy 4:12)

Attending Liberty University convocation with a few of my favorite room mates, Taylor and Ashleigh, Fall/Winter 2012.

Attending Liberty University convocation with a few of my favorite room mates, Taylor and Ashleigh, Fall/Winter 2012.

My roomie, friend, and photography mentor for many years, Carla Miles. (www.carlajanephoto.com)

My roomie, friend, and photography mentor for many years, Carla Miles. (www.carlajanephoto.com)

My staff team at Liberty Marketing Photography, August 2017. Love each of them!

My staff team at Liberty Marketing Photography, August 2017. Love each of them!

So, what really has been going on for two weeks? After all, I haven't really posted on social media except for a post of a park we went to, and some other "stay tuned" announcements. And thats fine. It is really important to me to be present with my sister and brother-in-law, and work on communicating with my non-social-media husband. After being separated by so many states for so many years, being close to my sister Lindsay  is an awesome blessing. We are so thankful to have family here, and our times getting food (and a little ice cream!) together have been great! The rest of our time has been filled with Josiah and I doing all the non-glamorous job searching, house hunting, emailing, driving to apartments to check them out. Not a lot of "vacation-style exploring." 

My job is about a 45 minute commute, made longer by the kind of traffic that would give the most patient person a migraine. My little 2-feet-off-the-ground sedan feels like a little krill about to be eaten by the move-or-die traffic of large whale-like vehicles. Traffic is either moving at 80mph or 10mph. Sometimes I'm parked on the highway. Its confusing. It cuts a lot of time out of my day, and I find myself getting home around 5:45 or 6pm, trying to decompress and make dinner, and then finding its too late to go out and explore, so our evening consist of online house hunting and bedtime. Alarm clock rings at 6:02AM, and I leave around 7AM.  Its not an exciting cycle, but its going to have to do for now before we truly get settled. 

Hiking  McAfee's Knob June 2016 on a three day hiking trip.

Hiking  McAfee's Knob June 2016 on a three day hiking trip.

There is a mysterious force the compels people to try new things. Its the desire to see if you're capable of learning something new in a new place. The desire to see if the grand adventure of leaving comfortable and diving into the unknown is tangible or just a pipe dream. Taking risks, and praying everyday; that's what we're doing. But we need your prayers too. We truly do.

We didn't have this all planned out years or months ago. We didn't see Memphis, TN as a "destination", or even the place we would settle for the rest of our lives. Even today we don't have a such a place in mind. We're learning to be faithful with the skills god has given us as a couple to serve him, and we know God will provide. The bible tells us in the Sermon On The Mount that the beatitudes, a list of qualities that mark good character and faithfulness, is what we need to focus on. If I was focusing on a checklist of my personal accomplishments and dead set on getting there, I would be severely off course of what God has for my life. I am a sinner who needs God's guidance. 

Matthew 5: 3-11 says

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

We 'walked' in May 2014 as graduates of the School of Communication. We were married a few shorts months later.

We 'walked' in May 2014 as graduates of the School of Communication. We were married a few shorts months later.

My cousin Elizabeth, who I've had to privilege to live near since she moved to Lynchburg in 2010!

My cousin Elizabeth, who I've had to privilege to live near since she moved to Lynchburg in 2010!

Josiah and I at the basement studio of Joel (my old coworker and boss at LU Photography) and Janine Coleman's house, October 2016.

Josiah and I at the basement studio of Joel (my old coworker and boss at LU Photography) and Janine Coleman's house, October 2016.

So how can you help us, from miles away?

  • Pray for us, please. It is the biggest tool for helping believers in need.
  • Share this blog post with your friends in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi. 
  • Leave a review on Facebook, and leave a comment on this post!
  • Follow @KaitlynBeckerPhoto on Instagram and look at it, or share it with a friend. I just like making friends with people, and yes, I'd love to meet potential customers but first and foremost we are here to meet people and start LOVING Memphis!
  • Send seafood. I miss fresh seafood. Preferably oysters and lobster and scallops. 

 

So here's to all the new things that we're learning. Here's to finding people that love us as much as we want to love others. Here's to good barbeque, Ole Miss, Alabama, and saying "Happy Fall Y'all." Here's to finding what the 25 year-old Kaitlyn and Josiah can do away from the comfort of their first real home. 

 

Here's to Memphis.

 

Sincerely,

Kaitlyn Becker Johnson

Shooting football at Liberty University, Fall 2016.

Shooting football at Liberty University, Fall 2016.

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Things to Know When You Hire Me!

It's pretty amazing that you're here in my little-big corner of the internet. I never for one second forget how blessed I am to have clients and friends that love my work enough to check out my blog, comment on my Instagram, and even hire me. If you're in the market to hire me, you should know a few great things about your decision!

 

1. I am happy to see you, and trust me- you look amazing! 

One of the blessings of working with clients one-on-one while creating images is that I get to pick up on your great vibes, and I get to share some joy-vibes in your life! My goal is to make you see how stunning you really are, and that might include making you laugh. Everyone has a genuine personality that I aim to make known in your photos. So relax, you're with a professional who has years of experience making people look their best. I have a fun but strict... "no negativity!" policy. So what does that mean? It means your time with me is going to be filled with encouragement. Not just compliments, but genuine relationship building where I get to see what fires you up! We're going to talk about how good-looking you are from the inside out! The world doesn't need more photoshop, it needs more graceful and confident people like you!

 

2. I have years of experience. I work with clients everyday!

As my oldest sister always says: "You've been around the horn!" Which means "You've seen it all, and dealt with it!" And yes I have. We can swap crazy stories later, but after 6+ years in the photography industry, I have seen a lot! And one of the things I'm proudest of, is that I have so many happy clients! My goal is to work with you, and educate you about how I do my business so we lower the risk of any miscommunication.

 

3. I hand-edit all of my images, and each one is a piece of art with a lot of hours behind it!

Photography is a lot more than just pressing a button! Professionals make it look easy, but it sure isn't! Let's say a shoot last 30 minutes. After our 30 minutes of shooting, I head home and backup all your images to different drives so nothing gets lost. Then those images are selected and edited in various professional software programs that allow me to change the tone and feel of the image and even take out some distracting elements. Then those images are put through 2 or 3 more rounds of editing and processing until they are uploaded into a high resolution gallery for you to download and share. I love it when my clients appreciate the work and time that goes into their product, and I especially love it when they post and tag me (@KaitlynBeckerPhoto on Instagram or Kaitlyn Becker Photography on Facebook) in those photos! 

 

4. Your opinion matters!

When you work with me, you also get the chance to get the images you've always wanted. If you have a park, a special swing set, or a particular place that you've imagined getting photos at, let me know! Speak up, and let me know what your preferences are, so we can all be involved in the creative process together. You invest in me so I can invest my artistic expertise back into you!

 

5. You actually rock.

Did you know that everyone person you meet knows something you don't know? That's a simple statement- but a profound one. Every time I meet someone I have the chance to get to know a person who is an expert in engineering, motherhood, hair care, oncology or any number of fields! It's exciting, and each person has something amazing to bring to the table. I want you to feel that confidence when you book with me! You're killin' it. 

 

Sincerely,

Kaitlyn Becker