It’s clearly defined in their family mission statement: a desire to see others succeed – clients in their marriages and photographers in their work. Spend a day with them and you will see, it isn’t just their motto but infused into their very being.

In addition to their jam-packed wedding schedule, Zach and Jody travel the country teaching and mentoring other photographers. Last week, I had the opportunity to spend three days attending their workshop, IN-CAMERA, hosted in their hometown of Nashville, TN.

Their philosophy is simple, it doesn’t matter what kind of lighting situation you find yourself in – if you know how manipulate it or, if you have your own light and you know how to use it, you can shoot anywhere and in any lighting condition.

Day One, SHOOTING & POST, was all about natural light – how to find it, diffuse it, bounce it – so you can get a perfectly exposed image in-camera. every time. saving you from spending hours in Photoshop covering up for your mistakes.

(all of the following images are straight from camera with little to no retouching or color correcting)

You can see the harsh lighting in both demonstrations. By simply working with the light, diffusing or bouncing it, you can get a wonderfully lit image.

Day two, LIGHT – with a one-light setup, Zach, Jody and their assistant Matt, demystified off-camera lighting.

This image is my all-time favorite! Here we learned how to create Glamour Lighting, or as Zach likes to call it, the clam.
**If you look closely in Lindsey’s sunglasses, you can see the soft box (top) – creating the lighting effect, and the reflector (bottom) – adding a little fill light in.

My favorite part of the day was getting to set up a shot based on the type of lighting style I wanted.
This one was mine!

Another favorite from later in the day.

Day Three, BUSINESS AND MARKETING – Learning to execute the dream.

I went back and forth on attending this session – should I.. shouldn’t I.. I don’t know.. should I.. – I drove Shelvie crazy with my inability to commit. In the end, I decided to go – day three, for me, had the greatest impact.

“We are not in the coffee business serving people, but in the people business, serving coffee”
– Howard Schultz, Pioneer and Chairman of Starbucks

We spent the day learning what this meant: through our brand, how we market and the way we sell. They introduced us to their ground zero, their family mission statement, their litmus test.. is it working? This, for me, was profound (I have one for business but never thought to have one for our family). We talked about value, for our clients and in our profession. We then ended with a great discussion about the ever fleeting, work-life balance.

Thank you Zach and Jody, for opening your home and your hearts in the spirit of seeing others succeed!

Special Thanks to the Models! We couldn’t have done it without you three!!
Elly Jones
Lindsey Carpenter Kirkendall
Beverly Blair Hendrich


There was no magic recipe or process to take to ultimate success. It’s nothing you don’t already know – sometimes, you just need the confirmation in order to make it viable in your life. Attending Making Things Happen helped me figure out who I was, because ultimately, that’s what my business will be.

So, for those of you who stuck with me and read about my Making Things Happen journey, thank you! If you missed it, and would like to read about it, you can begin here. (part 2, part 3)

If you’re anything like me, you like when things are spelled out – below is a recap of the action steps I was able to take away. These steps have helped me find clarity, get organized and create the most success in my life and business.

1. Create a mentor action list

* Decide on five people who you would like to connect with and reach out.

// Think of something that will set you apart: what can you do for them to make their job easier? What can you offer that they can’t do themselves or hire someone else to do?

// Don’t ask them for coffee, that’s just a round about way of saying you are going to waste an hour+ of their time picking their brain. Prove it’s an investment for them too.

// Be in a good head space because it can be discouraging if they don’t immediately email you back. Keep in mind they are busy, if they weren’t you wouldn’t find them valuable. Respect their time and cut them a break. They may have gotten to your email then got distracted by everything else they need to do. If they haven’t returned your email, try emailing again, gently reminding them that you would like to connect.


2.     Download and create an action list

* Go out and buy yourself a fancy new notebook, preferably something that sparkles 🙂 Then take some time to free write and get it all out.

// I create sections for myself: personal, business, etc. I then broke those down:

=> personal: declutter – drawers, closets

drawers: (action list)

– pull out all clothing

– go through and donate all clothes no longer my style

– pack away all the likes, but not right now (I love doing this! As trends come and go it’s fun to have the keepers around = less shopping later <= totally wishing I knew this back then and kept some of my hippie garb now that long skirts are making a come back, haha!)

– group clothing by type, season, etc.

– refold and store according to type and color.

– store off season in bins.

=> business: Jessica Lee Media, Jessica Lee Photography

Jessica Lee Photography: (action list)

– find a mentor

– get lessons

– buy equipment

• think of ways to make money so you can buy equipment

– practice

•  set up a practice guide

– buy domain name

• set up email

–  set up a fan page

– set up blog

– post

• organize list of things to talk about

… you get the idea.


3.     Purge all social media, bookmarks, etc.

* Lara explained to us that we keep these things to distract us from the decisions we need to make. She said to get rid of them! Take them off your browser toolbar. Turn off all pushes on your phone. Make them work to get too.You’ll be surprised that the attitude, ‘oh, let me just check in for five minutes’ – which turns into a total time suck – will become a hassle when you actually have to take the time to dig deep and find that nasty little link, haha!

We all have that one who does nothing but plug themselves, the one we have an unhealthy competition with or that one’s position we covet. This just sucks the creativity right out of you. SO.GET.RID.OF.IT!


4.     Create 5 actionable items

* Each day review your download list and take away five actionable items (things you can do under 30 mins).

// For me, most things take longer than 30 minutes and can have as many 10 steps. I try to give myself a healthy mix with a goal of being completed in one week. Some I knock out right away and some take a little longer. I try and I am realistic, this girl is no superwoman. I have to work full time, which comes with daily fires to put out, laundry to do, a dog to walk, a husband to feed, and I’m having a heck of a time trying to get my 19-year-old butt back – women over 30, can I get an AMEN?! haha!


5.     Evaluate your environment

* Your closet, your car, your office. These things can create that sense of forgetting something, feeling as if things are out of place or simply suffocating under the weight of being out of control.

// For me, it’s all these things and then some. Right now the biggest thing that is looming are my hard drives. Lara taught us that you could continue to put it off if you simply haven’t broken it down enough (which is probably why I haven’t gotten around to it yet <= hello reminder!)


6.     5 things that make you feel whole everyday

* Write those things down! Get them in front of you as a constant reminder. Take care of yourself! You deserve it!

// mine are:

work out/physical activity

walk Alice


at least three bottles of water a day

encourage someone in their business

encourage my husband to chase his dream

**Have you attended the Making Things Happen experience? I would love to hear what you took away from it and how it helped you grow!**



Because this experience has helped me grow so much I want to give back!!! I’m offering anyone who wants to make things happen in their business 50% off my identity and/or web design packages. Spots are limited to 8 people (confirmed with a retainer). Feel free to email me for all the details at



When we ended that day I felt raw and exposed but hopeful, alive, with a pinch of clarity. I also took with me a new skill set. I was satisfied. Money well spent.

Two days later, I created my video recap. I tried to avoid this but my OCD would not allow me to not complete ALL the steps, as if the whole process would be void if I didn’t. What was only supposed to be a ten-minute recap, to get it done and over with, turned into a thirty-five minute roller-coaster of emotions.  I could have gone on forever but I needed to practice some self-restraint. (although I hate to see myself that vulnerable, it’s a great reminder of the power released in me that day.)

The process was now complete. I was now ready for the transformation to happen. The big sha-bang. I waited. and waited. and waited. Two weeks later, life was still the same struggle. Disappointment and resentment started to creep in.

commence meltdown.

That’s when Ms Lara Casey stepped in, gently but firmly reminding us it’s a work in progress.  We have to walk through the junk, get out of overwhelmed and break it down. It’s never perfect but worth working hard for. AHHHH… TRUTH well spoken. She also launched ‘the challenge’, a great recap of the work we did (for those of you who couldn’t attend) and a fantastic tune-up (for those that did).


I won the t-shirt, by the way. whoop. whoop!!

Here’s what I wrote:

I walked away from MTH 2011 (NY) with the skills I needed to create momentum in my life. As time passed, and life got in the way, this [these, TUMBLR] challenges helped me maintain areas and reignite in others that fire I so lovingly cultivated that day.

I decided not to post everyday/week but wanted to post at the end of the month – two fold, so I can see the overview of my effort in this challenge and to see where I had movement and which areas need more tilling.

Here’s my breakdown…


I keep a dedicated pad on my desk and I do this 2-3 times a day. Once at night for the next day. Once in the am, if needed, to clear my head before work. Sometimes throughout the day…I may be working and something will pop into my head. Instead of saying, oh, I’ll do that later – because, most often I forget – I write it down.

This has helped me in so many ways. I feel more organized now that all my lists are in one notebook. I feel accomplished when I get to check things off or even rip pages out <= that ROCKS!! My brain feels less cluttered and I no longer feel overwhelmed or like I’m missing/forgetting something important. Plus, as time goes on, I get to review my list and decide which things are most important, rather than everything is important and must get done.


I must admit, this area is still lacking.

However, I make it a point to make sure my desk is clear of clutter every evening before I leave. I also make sure my desktop is organized, so client files are easily accessible.

Even though I know there are those things that need to be cut, merged or trashed, keeping a clean desk and desktop make me feel less anxious throughout my day.


Setting myself up for greatness has been the most challenging because it forces me to face all that fear, but I have tried my best to walk right over it and press on! I’m in the process of reorganizing my design business so I can fully concentrate on my photography => buying the appropriate domain name(s), creating a DBA, setting up a blog, getting lessons, teaming up with another photographer to second/third shoot and practicing.practicing.practicing.

I loved this step, because even though I felt the fear, I did it anyway! It’s taught me a lot about myself … what I will and wont do, what I’m made of, recognizing my strengths and my weaknesses and what I will/have to do to FIGHT to make this happen for my life <= MONUMENTAL!!


Also a step that needs some work. I do try and take 15-20 minute breaks to hang out with my husband each day. I try and take one day off a week. Haven’t got to the once a month shebang, haha!

The operative word here is TRY – not perfection. I’m realistic about my situation – I am a one person team, if I don’t do the work it won’t get done. BUT, I am aware this needs to happen more in my life because when it does it’s oh-so-good!!


One leap I made this month was asking to have a third shooter opportunity moved up. Instead of April 30th – I was trying to put a lot of space in between me and that date – I asked to participate April 9th as well.

I no longer want to be the brick wall standing in my way to my success. In doing this, leaping, I’m finding that I’m doing it more often without really thinking about it, just doing it => what was once forced is now becoming an adopted frame of mine.


Something I do on a daily basis.

In doing this, I found that I am the best me when I’m encouraging and lifting up others!


Another one that needs some work but I’m finding, as I work through these steps, I’m defining/learning my own value – in myself and my work – clearly helping me decide what I will and will not do/put up with, etc.

I have had opportunities where I had to say no due to timing (their lack of) and I did not feel bad about it.period!


oh, I do this one very well. SHOPPING ANYONE?


Photography fires me up – I am actively and aggressively seeking it. sleeping it. breathing it. doing it! I am not waiting for it to come to me but knocking on opportunities door – even at night, there is no shame in my game, haha!


I rinse and repeat as needed!!

I really am a better person from my MTH experience and these steps have only helped me solidify what was birthed in me that day. I am forever changed. grateful. happy. loving the new me!!!


This challenge was exactly what I needed to get me back on track. I got proactive about my life. Changed a lot of the old thinking, dug deep and worked hard. I launched Jessica Lee Media, a new business structure, completely authentic to me and something I’m so very proud of. Finalizing that has allowed me to now focus on Jessica Lee Photography (<= a work in progress), my ultimate destination.

Stay with me on this journey (found here on this blog). I’m looking forward to the days of further self-discovery and to the failures that will lead to my ultimate success.

Thank you for sticking with me and reading my story!



Check back on Monday for a MAKING THINGS HAPPEN RECAP!


Because this experience has helped me grow so much I want to give back!!! I’m offering anyone who wants to make things happen in their business 50% off my identity and/or web design packages. Spots are limited to 8 people (confirmed with a retainer). Feel free to email me for all the details at


I refused to jump on the bandwagon. Like a child who will hold their breath when they don’t want to do something. no.ah-ah.not me.I wont do it.hmmph. Like any child though, I peaked. Then opened an eye. Both eyes. Then jumped right on that crazy wagon. First with Twitter, than Facebook.

Through a series of tweets, then posts, I came to learn about the Making Things Happen experience. I signed up and was dumped at 500 E 62nd Street, New York, NY in the middle of a blizzard nineteen inches deep. Twenty-four of us sat in that room that day ready for change.

We wrote down our greatest fears, that “I’m afraid of ____ because of ____” statement. We then evaluated the five people we spend most of our time with. This could include the blogs you read, the business’s you covet and the people you idolize. check. check. and check.

After that we developed a list of five mentors, identified our top ten distractions and learned how to pre-visualize. We then ‘cleared the clutter’ by downloading in our notebooks – the biggest things for me were not having a clean, inspiring work environment, having an overflowing inbox (four of them) and multiple hard drives that were a mess.

We shared what our ideal day would be like, five things that would help us to feel whole each day and ten things that FIRE.ME.UP. Being the overachiever, I had twenty:

  1. God
  2. Helping people get saved
  3. Helping kids to see the power in themselves
  4. My husband for so many reasons
  5. My new church
  6. Getting in shape
  7. Good music
  8. That I am an artist
  9. That I know what I know
  10. That I’m not where I used to be
  11. Photography
  12. Seeing love
  13. Traveling
  14. Music
  15. Fashion
  16. Good, clean design
  17. The smell of jasmine
  18. Snow boarding
  19. Having authentic friendships
  20. A new pair of shoes

After that we wrote in our notebooks, “Life is too short too|not too…” statements.

Life is too short not to surrender completely

Life is too short to always be busy

Life is too short to be shut off

Life is too short to not find success by my definition

and the list goes on for two pages.

When we were asked to share. out loud. A cool sweat settled over me – the kind when you feel cold but your sweating all over. Yeah, not pleasant. I thought I was going to pass out. THREE. TWO. ONE. MY TURN. yeah.this one.the one right here.this one doesn’t talk about that sort of stuff.nope.ah-ah.not me.not gonna do it.hmmph. One generic answer after another was all I offered.

Then I felt God speak into my heart, “I can only show you the door but you have to walk through it”. I was scared. I locked eyes on Ms Gina and put down that heavy backpack (as we liked to call it). That’s when the magic happened!

Each round around the circle I spoke boldly into my life. Finally, a moment of truth…

I will be a photographer. no. I AM A PHOTOGRAPHER!

With that, a decision was made.

Come back for PART III :: THE JOURNEY tomorrow!


Because this experience has helped me grow so much I want to give back!!! I’m offering anyone who wants to make things happen in their business 50% off my identity and/or web design packages. Spots are limited to 8 people (confirmed with a retainer). Feel free to email me for all the details at


GENERAL WARNING: This is a general account, for me, so I never forget the beginning of this journey. It’s to help me remain humble, and ever changing. growing. reaching. dreaming. To feel the fear and walk right over it BECAUSE.I.CAN.

I invite you to stay with this three part series. But, if you get bored, you can always scroll down to the bottom, that’s where the pictures are at ;P


I’m afraid of ____ because of ____.

Is she serious, I’m thinking!! Does she not know that that question makes me entirely too uncomfortable.  I do not talk about my feelings, let alone, right them down! Well, I’ll just write down one-word answers and get through this as fast as possible.

Little did I know that ten hours later, weeks later, I would be an entirely different person. One who could answer that question without reservation, fear or fear of judgment.

Enter Ms Lara Casey, and her sidekicks, Ms Gina Zeidler and Ms Natalie Norton (Ms Emily Ley was getting ready for the arrival of BMan). Enter Making Things Happen 2011, New York.

I was stretched, challenged, turned inside out, then righted again. WOW!

I need to start at the beginning…

I had a business, some of you know, DOSSIE-A. DOSSIE-A was an initiative to keep my mind busy – I had been laid off six months prior and was just about to pull out the very last chunk of hair on my husband’s head (side note: I had already gone through all of mine in the first two weeks) when I had this crazy idea, ‘I’m going to start a wedding invitation business’. Yeah, that’s what I’m going to do. I had done my own wedding invitations – the overly controlling, type-a, graphic designer that I am – how hard can it be?

The first eight months I was busy. Very busy. I put my feelers out there and wham, brides where pouring in. I was over-worked, but loved the immediate affirmation I got with each inquiry.

I would love to go on to tell you how I followed the yellow brick road to success but then there would be no story, right?!

I did not listen to my husband – because, didn’t you know, I know everything. The fact that he had managed two businesses successfully, and owned his own, did not warrant him an expert. Well, I proceeded to make one bad financial decision after another, shocker! I did not charge nearly enough to complete the over-promised wedding suites I contracted. Thus, loosing all of my profit and even, in some cases, having to contribute my own personal money to help the projects come to fruition. I did not do this once, oh no, but seven * SEVEN * times.

After suffering such a set back – no one told me I wouldn’t step right into success – I took two, major steps backwards. I did not solicit any new work, but just shrunk back in defeat.

commence cycle.

I again found myself longing to be creative. My husband somehow convinced me that we should be a husband-wife photography team – and this made sense to me. Sure, neither of us had any training but, YEAH, it could work.  How awesome would it be to work along side my husband? a life-long dream of mine, by the way. From that day on, our Nikon D40 literally became permanently attached to my hand. Every church event, family birthday party, I would whip that baby out. My friends, well, they became desensitized to a camera being in their face all the time, haha!

I was now at a fork in the road of my life. Do I go right ­­­=> pick myself up by my black pyramid belt and continue to invest in my stationery business (I have to add, feelings of inferiority, doubt, fear, and disconnect came along with that package) … or … do I take a left, the road untraveled => starting all over again at a NEW craft, but a no-baggage-carrying adventure.

hmmmm…yeah, it was a no brainer.

Yet, I had this lingering feeling of failure if I left my stationery business – Did I really do everything I could have to make it successful? Did I put enough time into it? I knew what I wanted it to be, but had no idea how to get there. It was very disheartening. Slap on some depression and I had a big, fun ‘ol pity party … yeah, party of one.

When it all became too much, the controlling part of my personality relented and I went before God with it. I prayed. begged. God for a breakthrough.

Enter Twitter.

Come back for PART II :: THE EXPERIENCE tomorrow!


Because this experience has helped me grow so much I want to give back!!! I’m offering anyone who wants to make things happen in their business 50% off my identity and/or web design packages. Spots are limited to 8 people (confirmed with a retainer). Feel free to email me for all the details at