Friday, April 28, 2017

It has been an honor...

Oh my. This morning I opened up Safari and for some reason the cursor hovered over the shortcut to our Blog. I knew our website expired a couple months ago, but some part of me felt okay letting it slip away because I knew the blog was still here. I clicked the link this morning and it was like I was punched in the gut... I completely forgot that I hosted all the blog images on the website. So all that's left is my countless silly words, thousands of little blue question marks where photos were, and the memories of all those years in business. We've vanished into internet dust.

It also made me realize that I never really explained why we disappeared off the face of the earth. So for the three of you that probably still subscribe to this blog and for the ten of you that will click this link from the Facebook post I'm sure I'll do, here are a few answers for you...

Why did we close? It's complicated, but the short version is economics + influx of new "photographers" + the stress of self employment all took their toll over the last couple years of business. Things began to slow and our savings were disappearing at an alarming rate so I rejoined the workforce. Steady paychecks and health insurance have a way of making you forget about all the positives of self employment. Then Danielle got a job. And then I got a promotion. And then we just sort of... stopped. The Hopes may have been good at photography, but we struggled with maintaining the business side. And if you didn't realize it, owning your own photography business is about 5% shooting and 95% business. Take note all you kids out there that think this is easy peasy.

Do we miss it? Huge parts of it, yes! I have countless happy memories of capturing beautiful moments for our wonderful couples and endless fun sessions chasing kids with cameras (that sounds weird... you know what I mean). We were witnesses to so many powerful emotions and truly feel blessed to have been a part of every single wedding and to be allowed into so many families lives.

And there's something to be said about the freedom of being self employed. Open schedules, vacations, being able to take a break from work to play with the girls, knowing that every drop of sweat my body produced went to benefit my family and not some corporation... I could ramble for hours.

The sad truth is that we're not alone. We've seen several friends in the business across the country go through similar trials the last five years. It's shocking, and slightly comforting, to realize that some of the "big names" we looked up to and tried to model our business after have closed their doors as well. The photography industry just isn't what it used to be.

A brief side note about that... don't forget that I have been a photographer pretty much my entire adult life. I had carried around a little black box since college and had made my living with lenses for over 15 years. I started out shooting film and now have been known to carry nothing but my iPhone when we travel. Times they are a-changin' for sure. While I still feel that we, as a society, put great value in beautiful photography, I also feel that we are inundated with so many images throughout our day, thanks in large part to the proliferation of Instagram, Snap, Facebook, etc. Millions of photographs are taken and shared every single day. Just think about the watering down effect that has on photography as art and business. Add that to a camera industry where there are new models that are getting better and cheaper every week and it doesn't leave much hope for the old school. I've been wrestling with that the last couple weeks and really exploring the idea of "what does photography mean to me." Maybe I'll write up something about it. Maybe I won't. I'll probably get sidetracked by the latest viral video of a talking dog.

Lastly, what have the Hopes been up to? I know a lot of you really enjoyed the personal side that we shared on here, so when I think how we simply dropped off the planet, it stings a little knowing that I've left you hanging or speculating. I'm managing a grocery store (go figure) and Danielle is currently a teaching assistant in the STEM program at a local elementary school. The girls are both amazing. It's scary and unbelievable how fast they're growing. They're intelligent, beautiful, funny, and drive us crazy most days. Maddie is even more serious about soccer and has joined a competitive Knoxville team that will hopefully help her on the path to play in college and beyond as she dreams it will. Millie is as precocious as ever and is into everything... gymnastics, running, soccer, choir, bugs, and Girl Scouts (hit us up if you need some crack, er, Thin Mints). We're just your typical middle class, Tennessee family.

If you're interested in keeping up with us or seeing just about the only photographs we shoot nowadays, slide over to Instagram and say hello:

And I'll leave you with this thought... It honestly was an honor being a part of your lives over the last several years. Whether we were there the moment you were buttoned into your dress and it hit you that "holy crap! I'm getting married!!", or the split second your dad shed a tear realizing his little girl wasn't so little any more, or the instant the music swelled and the doors opened and you saw the love of your life walking down the aisle to you, or that first kiss, that first dance, that first everything as a new husband and wife (well, not EVERYthing), or with you at you home your first few days as a parent, all nervous and exhausted, as we gently posed your brand-spanking new kiddo and laughed as they peed all over our prop baskets, or as we crawled over rocks and played peak-a-boo with your toddler in the park trying our best to get them to pause for 1/500th of second so we could focus, or getting excited over cool light, cool reflections, cool backgrounds, or saying, "just one more...[click] just one more... [click] turn that way... [click] just one more... [click], or watching your face light up when we delivered your album or your giant canvases and knowing that we've given you something you'll cherish for a long time...

I say it again because it's not something I take lightly; it has been an HONOR. We love you all and are thankful you invited us in.

I'll leave you with this image of our girls that I shot a few months ago. Maybe I still know how to press that button after all.

All the best,
Wes Hope


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