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Paris through My Eyes...

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Near the point of burn out and exhaustion earlier this summer I boarded a plane from JFK to meet two of my sisters in Paris for our second annual Sister's Trip.  Because so many hours of my days are filled with emails, social media, editing, and endless to-do lists I chose to leave my camera at home, turn my phone off, and be present.  Instead I borrowed an old Nikon 35mm film camera from a friend (which I had no idea how to use until about 1 day before the trip), and decided just to take pictures as I was inspired as opposed to the feeling of "I have to" or "getting the shot".

The trip began, and almost instantaneously when I shut the phone off, my soul took a huge sigh of relief.  What transpired was a space of presence.  I wasn't worried about "catching that shot" for social media, or obsessing with my camera settings to "nail' the shot.  I was present, and the craziest thing happened.  I became at such peace.  I didn't realize how much my life was wrapped around getting the shot until I gave myself permission to 'not get the shot', but to just be.

Instead of doing, I was being.

Instead of looking to create a manufactured moment, I was living real life in the moment.  My senses were alive to the smell of street crepes, the taste of salted carmel ice cream, the touch of the slightly itchy grass beneath us as we picnicked at sunset at the Eiffel Tower, the sight of rows and rows of Gardens at Versailles, my heart enraptured in beautiful conversations with my sisters, and with it all life unfolded all around me.  The tightness in my chest and the stress from my day to day life disappeared the moment my phone was shut off.

My soul was actually relieved to be.  And from this space I took pictures.  For weeks now I've had my film back, and yet I haven't shared anything until today.  There's something so personal to me about these images.  They're not perfect, in fact technically there's a lot of imperfections, but to me the reflect a soul at peace and at ease.  A soul connected to God, self, loved ones, and the world around her.

Here are some of my favorite moments.

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Good Friday

Happy Friday Friends! Well actually Happy Good Friday.

Today my hope for you is that you are present, thankful, gracious, at rest on the inside, peaceful.

I hope you laugh.

I even hope there's an extra sparkle and glitter in your day.

Love you,

Kat

Mr. J David | Kiss and Tell

 

I feel honored to have friends like James David in my life.

He's the type of person that when you're talking with him always has a smile on his face.  Like always.

What I love about James David is that he is not merely talking about his dreams, he is sprinting after them.  Boldly.  Without shame.  When he sings I really think time does actually slow down a little.

James I am so thankful for you, and so so proud of you!  Check out his new single KISS + TELL here!

Caroline

It wasn't until the fall after I graduated college that we became really close.

I had always loved her, but it was that fall that she became one of my best friends.  I had just finished my time at Invisible Children, traveled to Uganda and through Europe, and was back in Dallas coaching tennis and working the opening shift at my drive thru Starbucks.  All the while I was applying for any and every job I could find in Southern California.  For the life of me I couldn't even get a callback.

That fall was a dark and lonely season.  Everyday on my way to work at 4:00a.m. I would listen to Bon Iver The Wolves, and try and figure out what in the world I was doing with my life.  It seemed my friends had dispersed--as I was quite fun to be around at this time--and I felt so lost.

Caroline was in her sophomore year of college, and had a group of girlfriends that would dance through the movie theaters to all the choreography to High School Musical 3, they would go on adventures, and cook baked yumminess late at night.  I was so envious of what they had.  Without a second thought though they began inviting me (the sad depressed girl) everywhere, coming over to my house, endless car rides listening to the Jonas Brothers and Broadway show tunes, and taking me to see High School Musical 3 for the 50th time.  I soon found myself waiting and hoping that Caroline would call me to hang out.

It was in those months that I knew I not only loved Caroline because she was my sister, but because she was one of my best most loyal friends.

I am so blessed to call this amazing girl my sister and friend.  Love you!

Sneak Peak | My Baby Sister

My little baby sister Caroline is all grown up now.  It's her last semester in college, and she's spending it in Spain student teaching.  Next fall she's going to be working with inner city kids with Teach For America. There is no way I could be more proud of her.  I say this all the time about my siblings, and I believe it with all my heart:  if we weren't related we'd still be the best of friends.  Caroline is impacting culture and shaping the lives of our next generation.  Here's a sneak of our little Senior Shoot we did over Christmas...more to come:)

I love you Cee Cee Dee!

Home is Where My Heart Is...

They're never long enough.  My trips home. It's weird that we're at a point in our lives when the only time that all 9 of us are in the same city is once a year.  That seems like how it is on the movies, but not in real life...or not in my life.  Yet, the last time we were all together was last Christmas.

At home Caroline and I and sometimes Laura share the king bed upstairs.  Some of my favorite moments are when we're going to bed, and we just talk and giggle.  We pretend like we're the sisters from Pride and Prejudice.  I always want to be Jo:)

My poor brother has 5 sisters, he gets quite outnumbered.  But, he's a trooper and just wants to hang with us even when all we want to do is learn the dance to Beyonce's Move Your Body.

What's weird about going home is how no matter how long I've been away; it is still home.  Walking in the back door to the kitchen with my luggage there's a wave of familiarity that is so comforting.  It just feels right.

Sometimes I wonder if I will regret being out in California and being away from my family.  Like in 20 years, will this have been worth it?  That questions plagues me.  I go back and forth, feeling guilty for being away (I'm the only one not in Texas), but then feeling at peace that I'm on this journey that has for now taken me away.

I know California is where I'm supposed to be now, but home is always where my heart will be.

Looking at this first picture just makes me laugh; it's like a band pic.  They're all three just doing their own thing, and all three figuring out the snow in their own ways.  I think Paul is just embarrassed by the rest of us.

Grace and Me.  You must know that Snow on Christmas in Dallas Texas is almost as rare as snow on Christmas in LA.  You can't see it, but we're wearing like 50 sweaters.

Kate Spade our dog is probably the most favorite person in our family.

This is Laura's first fall at school.  She's at UT, and she surprised us by coming home a day early.  I love this sweet moment of Grace seeing her for the first time.

Dad LOVVEEES his new shirt!

And this about sums it up!  Happy 2013 folks!

Just a Moment...

Sometimes I just need a moment. Of quiet.

Of stillness.

Of perspective.

Sometimes I need to physically remove myself from the chaos that I allow  to overtake my days.

My conviction is so easily swayed by day-to-day tasks.  In an instant I become overwhelmed with emails, editing, paying bills, the blog, my website, social media.  When my strongest relationship starts becoming my computer and my facebook  friends, I know something is way off.

Instead of being present in my life, I am locked away in my room telling everyone online about the life that I am sort of living.

My friend told me last week that my instagram posts were making her jealous of my life.  Whoa.  Wait.  Slow down. Stop.  Aren't all our live a little more glamorous, I take that back, ALOT more glamorous online than they are in real life?

So this morning, I just need a moment.  A moment to be alive in the life that God has given me today.  A moment to remember that a life well lived is one that is lived in the present, away from my phone, away from tasks, away from emails and twitter.

God I need your help:  to be right here, right now, fully present.

 

Dreaming of New York City

For quite some time now, one of my dreams has been to photograph New York Fashion Week. This is a dream that was fun to think about, but the reality of it seemed so far from my grasp.  At the beginning of 2012 I decided that this was the year I was going to shoot New York Fashion Week. (If I'm being honest though, I more or less didn't really think it was ever going to happen).

However...a week and a half ago, I found myself on a plane to New York City with my suitcase, camera, and high hopes in tow to attend Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York City.  Me.  Kat Harris, Texas Girl...on my way to shoot runway shows??  What is my life?

So many emotions were going through me as I made my way to the city.  I was giddy because we all know how much I luhveee NYC, excited for adventures, scared that things wouldn't go as I hoped, nervous to meet new people and to weasel my way into very competitive photographers pits, but really I felt vulnerable.

Vulnerable to chase this dream.  When something is just a dream it's nice and pretty and untainted.  When you actually try for it, there is risk.  Risk of failure, disappointment, rejection.  What if I mess up?  What if I have no idea what I'm doing?  What if I look dumb??

But then I remembered that a life without risk is really no life at all, and how some of the most beautiful stories come from taking a step into the unknown.  Leaving the safety net of what I know to a space where I don't know if I will be caught.  I believe a life fully lived is one that continually involves risk.

My goal for New York was to shoot as many shows as I could, meet new people, get my feet a little more wet in the fashion industry, but most of all really be present to the journey God had for me.  I realized I had so many expectations going into this trip, but felt like no matter how things turned out I wanted to open to the story God was writing for me in it all.

Over the past few years I've had the privilege to work in New York quite a bit, and this trip was probably one of my most difficult (but growing) trips.  The next two weeks I'll be blogging everyday about my journey to The Big Apple.  My ups and downs, lefts and rights, adventures, and mishaps.

To kick it off, here is my trip via Instagram...stay tuned as I unfold the rest of my journey over the next two weeks!

Dear Summer

Dear Summer, I'm not ready for you to leave.

I'm not ready for shorter days, sweaters, and falling leaves.

On Saturday, I experienced a summer day of all summer days.  I never wanted it to end.  It's not just that it was summer, it was all the nostalgic emotions that come with it. It was that mutual feeling with friends that we can stay out a little later, swim longer in the ocean, linger for just a few moments more at brunch, all because of summer.

We woke up and hiked on the beach, and then ran into the ocean and swam the better part of the afternoon away.  We drove up the coast through Malibu to a winery to snack on cheese, crackers, and cabernet sauvignon.  We moved slowly, without rush, telling stories, singing in the car, and stopping on the side of the road to take pictures just because.  The plan was that there was no plan as long as we were together.

It didn't matter really what it was, just as long as we were together.  These are the summer days that I hope not to forget, and that I'm not ready to say good bye to.

Summer, please please stay just a little while longer.

Love,

Me.

Summer Days

Summer seems to be slipping through my fingers. I want to hold onto it as long as I can, but August is here which means before we know it fall will be upon us.

Let's make memories today, and do something we can't do in the winter.

What do you say?

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”  F.Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

 

Quietly Approaching

I'm scared. I'm scared that I will just dream and not do.

When will my ideals become my realities?  When will I feel like I'm arriving somewhere, and not in constant transit?

I don't just want to talk, I want to do.  I don't just want to be eagerly awaiting the arrival, I want to embrace the seemingly endless transitions of life.

Last week I was in St.  Maarten shooting, and was without my phone, texts, and almost no internet for five days.  It's interesting what happens when all the noise in your life is quieted for a few days.  Things started happening as I was lying in bed, eating breakfast by myself, or just simply sitting on the beach.  My mind drifted, it rested, it dreamt, it called forth many things which I am able to ignore when I can go from:  text-to-instagram-to-twitter-to-tumblr-to-facebook-to-email-to-...

In the quiet I realized I am scared to dream--scared to death--because what if I fail.  What if my dreams are dumb, or really outlandish, and impossible?  What if I cannot live up to my own expectations, or the expectations of others?  What if, what if, what if...

Yet, as I quietly approach my dreams, my life, my relationships, I realize I am not alone.

I feel God's presence with me.

He reminds me that I am apart of a bigger purpose and story than I could even ever imagine.  That his plan for my life is a good one, that life is fleeting and each moment is an arrival of sorts, that my ideals are actually becoming my realities quietly over time.

"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever, and ever. Amen".

Ephesians 3:20-21

 

Daddy's Girl

It doesn't matter how much time I have to get ready, in the end I am always racing around like a mad woman hopping around with one shoe on, making my bed and brushing my teeth at the same time, all the while trying to put my shirt on.  This scenario was going on when my door bell rang.  I wasn't ready for him to be here.  Hair in a pony tail, jammies on I took a deep breath and answered the door.  Deep down I knew he wouldn't care though if everything wasn't just 'so' or I didn't look perfect, because he has loved me through years of mismatched socks, braces, and many many many adventures. After being in SoCal for four years, my dad drove his motorcycle all the way from Texas to see me.  Let me tell you it was well worth the wait.

I can honestly say that I would be so blessed to marry a man like my dad.  He loves God, loves people, and lives such a beautiful and meaningful story.  For nearly 6 days we spent all day and night together trapsing all over LA to San Diego:  hiking, drinking coffee, eating long dinners with friends, going to the beach, driving down the PCH on his motorcycle.  It seemed like we blinked our eyes and his trip was over.  He headed north to San Francisco to volunteer at some homeless shelters in San Francisco.

I'm so proud of him, and am so proud to walk down the street with him, introduce him to my friends, and have him in my world.

Daddy, I cannot wait until the next time you visit me.  You are a blessing to everyone who comes across your path!  I love you so much!

And Here We Are...

It's weird how things turn out.  If you asked me what I wanted to be when I was a little girl my response was:  Gloria Estefan, Amy Grant, or a professional tennis player.  I think my mom was a little worried that I didn't have much to "fall back on". Go big or go home right? One thing that I love about time is that really you never know how things are going to turn out.

I look back on my life, and there have been so many things that have turned out differently than I expected.  Three years ago when photography was more of a figment of my imagination I never would have guessed I would be launching my own business.  In fact, if you would have told me that at the time, most likely I would have laughed in your face.

But time has an interesting way of surprising us.

Here we are, and here I am taking a step into something unknown, and scary, and exciting all at the same time.  I feel like a little girl again as I say I want to be a photographer when I grow up.  Beyond what words can express I am overwhelmed with how my family and community have responded with a unified "Go for it".  They have pushed, challenged, asked the tough questions, and supported me through my dream chasing, and for that I am so grateful.

Without going further I must specifically thank Mike and Julie Colón for inviting me into their lives, family, and business for the last three years. Thank you both for investing your time and talent into me, and for believing in me.  Mike you took a chance on me, and you opened up to me  a whole new world of art and creativity.  God has used you both in my life in such powerful ways, and I am so so thankful for you both (and your rad kids) in my life!

I am excited for new adventures.  I am eager to get to know you and your story, and I am beyond honored to get to photograph people on one of the most precious days of their lives.

What it really feels like is that I am living a dream, and it is such a gift.

Welcome to this journey with me.

Photo Credit:  Angi Welsch