I’ve been wanting to photograph homeschool sessions, now that this lifestyle is so prevalent due to current circumstances. So thankful my dear aunt (or “sister”) Anna Hultin, willingly participated in my first Homeschool Session. If you are homeschooling your kids right now and want a tangible way to cherish these unique moments, please feel welcome to contact me! ❤️
Such a special time getting to "second-shoot" with my dear friend and one of my greatest inspirations Brooke Forwood. Kaja and Ryan have such hearts for Jesus, and it shows in their love for one another and everyone around them.
Gung Gung, my dear grandpa, passed on September 5th, 2020. Noah, the most loving grandchild one could ask for, is compiling a collection of photos and videos with Gung Gung. Though a learning photographer, I deeply regret not taking more photos while I lived with him. So, writing the memories down to the best of my recollection is what I will try to do well… The year of living in the presence of Gung Gung’s love began before I even moved to California. In December 2018, I received a gift still so generous and unfathomable to me: a check for $10,000. My giving grandpa wanted to ensure that the process of leaving college and moving to a new state was financially supported and feasible. Tears flowed the minute I grasped the weight of this gift. The gentle giver. He always was. During the moving process, he was the most welcoming, flexible host – always willing to plan and pay for meal times. I never lacked good food while living with Gung Gung – especially Asian food. I can recall several times when Gung Gung, Popo, and I were deciding where to eat, and Gung Gung would always gently push for the more authentic Asian restaurants. In the food department, Gung Gung was a risk-taker. Wow, what a blessed grandchild I was, tasting all these amazing Asian flavors. He’d take Popo, the Lums, and I for Shabu Shabu every so often and would call one particular restaurant “yuppy,” due to its blaring pop music and twenty-somethings crowd. Restaurant meals with Gung Gung was something I was already accustomed to because I had grown up with this during family vacations. However, cooking for and eating with Gung Gung in the comfort of my own home was a completely new, blessed experience. Sometimes, we would prepare a delicious Popo meal, complete with sticky rice, bok choy, and Chinese sausages. Other times, we would eat one of my delivered, prepped-to-cook meals called Sun Basket. Whenever we would eat a Sun Basket, Gung Gung would warmly chuckle and comment on the “exotic-ness” of the flavors and sauces. Oh, the conversations we would have at dinner. Often, he would let me discuss my day and listen so well. Sometimes, he would enlighten Popo and I with a discovery or a question he had come across in his research project. Other times, he and Popo would share stories of their childhood upbringing or early years together. Most week nights would usually end with Gung Gung declaring, “Well, I think I’ll turn in early tonight.” He always took his bath while dinner was being prepared, and he knew that Popo and I would most likely watch a dramatic “Downton Abbey” or “Anne with an E” episode, which he politely would not watch with us due to the emotional, cinematic content these kinds of shows are known for. As Popo and I relaxed to our show or movie, a small, gentle voice would often enter, asking, “How about a little dessert, Sylvie?” We would pause accordingly and savor some ice cream, cookies, or sometimes rice krispies that Popo and I had made. The topic of food brings up so many memories. Though Gung Gung’s health and energy level were poor for the entirety of my year with him, he never allowed this to get in the way of making his friends and family feel loved and cared for. Just one instance is when I joined him, Popo, and their dear friends Hugh and Norma for a “mini” (if there is such a thing) Chinese banquet luncheon. There was an immediate awareness of the deep care, love, respect, and interest these friends shared for one another. Gung Gung knew just what to ask, just when to listen, and just how to respond. A good meal and conversation (mixed with the perfect listening ear) was always Gung Gung’s love language. Music was another major love language I saw in him. One fond memory I have is watching Gung Gung sing in his church choir concerts. The last concert I attended, he continued to warn me that he would be standing in the “old men” section, due to his wavering health. Gung Gung never complained, but I knew the way he kept mentioning this alluded to his longing for younger times. His devotion to the choir – to brothers and sisters whose hearts yearned to praise their Father – inspired and encouraged Popo and I. Oh, Popo. How she loved Gung Gung. How Gung Gung loved Popo. I have never so personally witnessed a more godly marriage. No matter how much Popo dreamed of travelling or satisfying her own interests, her heart, mind, and body would not leave Gung Gung’s side. In turn, Gung Gung addressed Popo in the purest, most gentle manner. When he wanted something, a strong command was just not in his vocabulary. (Even when he would speak to Google Home, the Google voice would always respond with immense gratitude for Gung Gung’s politeness: “Thank you for asking so nicely. [Previously mentioned request] coming right up.”) What a gift it was to live with a couple who knew what it meant to put Jesus first – before themselves and before each other. Thank you, Lord. Though Trinity is Popo and Gung Gung’s longtime church home, they willingly and joyfully wanted to visit my newfound church home in Santa Ana, Newsong. As soon as service ended and everyone congregated in the courtyard for fellowship, Gung Gung spotted my new friends Tobi and Rachel and immediately approached them with a grin: “You two are the couple that Megan photographed, aren’t you?” It felt so right, affirmed, and natural that my grandpa would befriend newfound hearts I knew would become true, fast friends. Gung Gung always showed such interest in the people I met and the experiences I lived. At Mom365 – though a short-lived job – I found a special friend in my trainer, Elham, a 40-something-year-old Muslim woman who cared more about my well-being than my job status. Gung Gung loved the motherly way she had taken it upon herself to care for me. Later, when I worked at Starbucks, I remember feeling tired, dirty, smelling like old milk (sorry for the vivid image) behind the bar, then suddenly feeling elated and cheerful when I looked out and saw two smiling, wise faces: Popo and Gung Gung. During my break, I was able to sit with them as they sipped their coffee-alternative drinks. We didn’t speak much in that noisy, bustling café, but I remember Gung Gung jusrt taking it all in – chuckling and grinning. These two were not coffee-shop-going folk, so it meant the world to see them visit this hopping, often stressful work environment that must have felt very strange for them. This was Gung Gung’s love: he went out of his way to help me feel home, loved. While I was away visiting my Colorado family during Thanksgiving, my sweet grandparents decided to put up the Christmas lights. At their age and in their condition, it had previously been decided that I would help put the lights up – but Gung Gung wanted to surprise me. Just another act of our Father’s love shining through him. The latest, sweetest memory I have is when Gung Gung and I sat quietly at the table together – a scene that played many times that year, but was especially memorable this ime as it was soon before I moved back to Colorado. Gung Gung had long known and prayed for my heart’s desires, fears, hopes, and obstacles, so what he said in this moment meant the world and more: “You are such a special girl, Megan. Just hang in there […]” Throughout all my time spent with my grandpa/Gung Gung, David Chang, I have known him to be a humble, generous, compassionate, man after Jesus’ own heart. All who have known Gung Gung echo this. I believe what he wants now is for his friends and family to carry on his servant’s heart. Though the wisest, most intelligent man I have ever known, Gung Gung had a childlike faith in his Creator and the plan He had for us. Jesus, help us to follow in your footsteps, just as my grandpa did so beautifully. Thank you for Gung Gung.
Kids are amazing. Ha. As several neighbors and friends have asked me to babysit/nanny their kids during this unusual new season, these past few months have been jam-packed with laughs, tears, complaints, awkward stares, affectionate hugs, and wonder. It’s funny how young kids continue to be a theme in my life since I’ve moved back to Colorado. Whether I’m babysitting, photographing or editing photos of kids, or getting emotional listening to NEEDTOBREATHE’s new song “Child Again,” the message that a child’s heart is incredibly vulnerable yet hopeful continues to appear. God’s shown me so many practical examples of what it means to be like a child at His feet. For one thing, when any of the kids that I babysit fall down, they may cry, sit in silent shock for a few moments, or scream – but then within five minutes, they’re back to playing full-swing. Not a care in the world. No looking back. Resilient. Can I be like this, Jesus? I want to get right back up when I have a hard “fall” in life – to trust that my Father’s got me and to see past hurts as moments when He was present, rather than as circumstantial hindrances that don’t let me move forward. There’s a phrase in the previously mentioned song “Child Again” by NEEDTOBREATHE that goes like this: Yeah, I know too much I think I know my way around Too smart to feel a heartbreak now Too old to let my safeguards down Where'd the wonder go? Trading magic for a measured hope Traded dreaming for a worn out home Tired of being in control Doesn’t that sound all too familiar? Yes, there is a part of me that always wants to be in control, but Jesus also made me a very emotional human. Ha. And that part of me has always felt shame. However, this lyric helped me reconsider: perhaps vulnerability and feeling deeply are qualities He wants me to use to know Him better. When others look into my eyes, I want them to see childlike faith and resilience. Not shame and the need for control. Where’d the wonder go?
Figure skating has always been something I come back to. When I’m feeling a little more lonely or just need to get more energy out than morning runs or yoga can, the answer is skating. Do you ever feel small and inferior? Well, I unfortunately do (more often than I like to admit) – but, when I’m gliding on frozen water, all those feelings wash away – and I am powerful. This week has been one of those times when I needed to get that extra energy out and get in touch with that power. Oh, power. What an interesting, complicated concept. You know how you can either feel small or strong when you care for someone – depending on that person’s reciprocation of care, or lack thereof? I’ve been thinking a lot about how one can become so dependent on another’s thoughts/actions/words for his or her own joy… I’ve been obsessed with Taylor Swift’s Folklore album (yes, you’re probably going to hear me reference her a lot in this blog – I’m very sorry, or you’re welcome, ha). In her song “Cardigan,” she states, “But I knew you’d linger like a tattooed kiss. I knew you’d haunt all of my what-if’s[…]” Though this is probably not the meaning she intended, I interpret the lyric as wanting someone one can’t have. It is all too easy to dwell on this desire – this fondness – and to allow the impossibility of mutual care to instill feelings of inferiority and unworthiness. Those “what-if’s” can kill. These feelings – though deep-rooted lies – are difficult to escape. So, what can one do to at least try to break free? Lean into His truths. Abide. Just last night, I tuned into my previous young adult leader Abe Park’s sermon (from Newsong church in Santa Ana, CA). Abe explains how we don’t need to do anything, know anyone, or be seen in a certain light to be loved by our Father. Jesus loves us as we are – broken, full of unfulfilled longings… sinners. What a revelation. I pray my heart can daily remember and live out this truth that I am adored by the Creator of heaven and earth, just as I am. I pray I can feel the same confidence/acceptance that I feel skating on the ice, when I am just living. I pray this for you, friend. We don’t have to be loved by all – or by that one – to be worthy, confident, alive and eager for more of His wholly satisfying love. I was found Before I was lost I was Yours Before I was not Grace to spare For all my mistakes And that part just wrecks me And I know I don't deserve this kind of love Somehow this kind of love is who You are It's a grace I could never add up To be somebody You still want But somehow You love me as You find me ~ Hillsong UNITED’s “As You Find Me”
Author Ann Voskamp is really growing on me. I didn’t realize until a few years ago that she is not only a fluent, poetic writer of faith but that she is also a photojournalist; so, her writing is very visually oriented – love it. I’ve started to read her devotional One Thousand Gifts, and boy is it convicting, encouraging, and heartening. Though each devotion brings a slightly different message, Voskamp always suggests that a spirit of thankfulness (for the “good” and the “bad”) is how we really bring ourselves to a spirit of satisfaction and joy. Isn’t satisfaction with life what we’re all longing for? This past year has been a whirlwind of moves and trying to find my role. Last year, I lived in Southern California with my mom’s parents. Though such a challenging, yet gratifying year, there wasn’t enough joy to motivate me to stay. Yes, I’m thankful I moved back, but I sure see what my dad meant when he warned me that life was pretty good in Cali. Newsong church in Santa Ana brought about so many wonderful friends and a true community that cared for my relationship with Jesus more than anything else. God blessed me with a family who cares for these same values, but it’s easy to let sin rule emotions, isn't it? I have three incredible younger siblings who double as my best friends: two in college and one just two years younger than me – all young adults. You can imagine the dynamics. Sometimes, it’s bliss. Other times, it’s full of fire. Grace is the name of the game. Readers with sibs – can you relate? All this to say, Voskamp’s devotional (and ultimately God’s Word that births these messages) calls me to look at my current situation and thank our Father. Voskamp suggests, “What if I woke to now and refused to hurry because I didn’t want to refuse God? What if I didn’t discount this moment but counted it for what it is – God here?” The verse that led to her conclusion is Psalm 102:25-28, “…the heavens are the work of your hands…Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end. The children of your servants will live in your presence…” Often, I try to control time. – What? How selfish and idiotic, Meg. – It is. If the current situation is not what I enjoy or is not leading to my fleeting heart’s desires, I try to distract myself or get through it as quickly as possible. Yet (to quote another inspiration, singer Margot Osborne), “What if there is wonder on the way? All these years in darkness were only just a way to keep me safe[…] but safe ain’t worth the price when trust demands a fall[.] So I’ll jump [,] I’ll risk[,] I’ll feel[,] I’ll fall.” I want to jump, risk, and fall, if it means I get to experience the fullness of Jesus. Lord, help me – help each of us – to risk.
With this time unbound to rigid routine due to “COVID era,” I thought it would be fun (enlightening, maybe?) to start a blog. (Who knows whether this will reach only my eyes or a few others, but I pray that this can be an honest place to explore questions…) I recently re-read my good friend and inspiration Brooke Forwood’s words on the blessing and curse that is “to be a photographer.” Brooke suggests, “One can aim to get the coolest/prettiest/nicest images possible and one can aim to see something new […] What am I choosing to look at? With the camera used as a tool, I can view something that ordinarily I’d rush past in a redeemed light. [...] I can appreciate humanity a little bit more after 5 minutes behind a lens because I’m a little bit more awake to creation. Don’t I want to be a little more awake?” Her words were all too relatable -- I wanted to give her a big old hug and tell her thank you right then. As a new, learning photographer trying to grow a business, I’m constantly reminded of the unspoken expectation to be trendy, to use the latest filters and edits, to hold a steady clientele from week to week, etc. Though these social expectations will always be an inevitable struggle any time I pick up the camera, I can attempt to be intentional about seeing something for what it is – for how our Father created it. Something I’ve become aware of lately is just how crucial it is for my any content I share to accurately reflect my approach to photography. Though I may not grow a huge following like current photographers renowned for specific edits/filters, I wouldn’t feel honest (to myself or the client) posting a photo in a trendy edit and then photographing a client who hired me just because of this latest fad. Not only would I not feel honest, but I wouldn’t be able to provide consistency for clients – these trends are constantly changing, and truthfully, I’m just not that good at producing The Ever-Changing Look. This is not to say that filters or color preferences within images are substandard; on the contrary, I think the photographers who are well known for these preferences beautifully own this specific style. However, maybe just from studying photography under a college professor who acknowledges traditional photo-making and from shadowing photographers who capture natural color and composition, I find myself drawn to this naturalistic, true-to-my-eye approach. Aren’t you glad we live in a world where each pair of eyes sees life differently?
The Weber-Carver family holds a special place in my heart, as I have spent a lot of time this summer nannying their two kids: curious Eden and imaginative Ezra. I've had this idea to start photographing First Year Sessions using Knot Baby hats (cutest things ever inventedddd), and I'm so glad Eden's parents wanted to participate. ~ Random side-note: Do you remember Precious Moments? Well if you do, I always say that Eden looks exactly like a Precious Moments doll -- dewy, teardrop eyes and huge cheeks. Ha. Enjoy!
Lauren found me through dear friends and previous neighbors who had two adorable boys I used to nanny. I'm so thankful she did, because oh my goodness is this family genuine and affectionate. You know that's going to be a lucky baby. 😉