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Jacksonville Senior Photographer // Scarlett Lillian Seniors: Oh how far I've come...

Dec 9, 2009

Oh how far I've come...

From my first wedding on December 9, 2006.
(Shaking my head at the cheezy pose I made them do and over cross-processed look.)

Dear Scarlett 2006,

Wow, today, December 9, you shot your first wedding for photography. Who would have thought that a wedding videographer could have made the jump over to photography? What an exhilarating rush it was to be able to document a special day for the daughter of your dad's friend he grew up with. You are going to learn that you are starting the beginning of an amazing career. This is only the beginning of a bumpy ride. There will be sleepless nights, hard drives that crash, mean people who try to tear you down, and lots of stress, but sooooo many more positives along the way. Your camera will take you to amazing places all over the country and beyond, like Jamaica, Dominican Republic and more. You'll get published in beautiful magazines, get asked to speak, interviewed on podcasts and teach other photographers all the crazy things you've learned on your journey.

One thing, lay off the actions. You'll get annoyed when friends tell you that in the beginning, you've always been stubborn and you want to do things your way. But listen to them, they were right. Find your own style, just lay off the actions. They waste time, and editing in Bridge is soooo much faster.

Second, don't waste your time on print ads. Put that money toward better gear or save it in the bank. I know, you are still going to believe the sales people that it's "great exposure", but I promise you, it's not a great return. Focus your time on taking care of your clients and that will generate great word of mouth.

Third, ignore the critics. Yes, it's going to hurt, but it's the tough times that show you who your true friends are. You're the one who has courage to wear her heart on your sleeve and not hide behind an anonymous comment. Keep praying for them anyway.

Fourth, hug your dad EVERY DAY. Don't ever forget how his hugs feel. Take as many photos of him as possible. You'll understand why in two years.

Fifth, stop reading other people's blogs for a while. You need to take a step back and find YOUR own niche. Yes, it's inspiring, but you only beat yourself up by comparing your work to others. Remember, there is only one Scarlett and you see the world a unique way through your camera.

Sixth, pay it forward. You wouldn't be where you are today without others investing their knowledge in you and answering your dumb questions, don't ever get too good for that. And don't take forever to write back to people's emails, you aren't THAT cool.

Seventh, give thanks for all you have. I know you feel like you don't have a lot and you barely live paycheck to paycheck trying to pay the bills, but God will prosper that one day. Keep tithing anyway and putting Him first in your business.

Eighth, forget MySpace. Go invent something called Facebook or Twitter. If you don't, someone else will. And though you don't get the point of them, you'll give in anyway!

Ninth, BACK EVERYTHING UP including your personal pictures. Stop putting it off. I'm telling you, your harddrives WILL crash.

Tenth, it's better to have loved and lost than never loved at all. Your heart will get broken, you'll break hearts, but keep seeking God's heart and He'll lead you to the right one.

Most importantly... enjoy every moment. Live life to the fullest. Walk through your fears. Be bold. Ask for forgiveness not permission. Use your talents to bless others. Give back. And again, hug your dad every chance you can.

This is the first wedding of the rest of your career and God has AMAZING things in store. Hold on tight!

Scarlett 2009



Anonymous Stephen Knuth said...

Babe, this is so beautiful!! You have come so far and your incredible.

December 9, 2009 at 8:41 PM  
Anonymous Heather Thorne said...

Love it sweet girl! And love YOU!! Can't wait to see what the next three years (and beyond) bring you!


December 9, 2009 at 8:50 PM  
Anonymous Bethany Ann said...

I love it! You inspire so many! Keep it up. I just shot my first wedding in October and I hope to have as many awesome adventures as you've had. Thanks! :)

December 9, 2009 at 8:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about a few more?

1. Don't go to Vegas to stand around and take pictures of yourself with other photographers for your Facebook page while your Dad is dying in hospice?

2. Grass isn't neon green.

3. You suck.

December 9, 2009 at 9:44 PM  
Anonymous Stephen Knuth said...

1. Why in the freaking world do you spend time writing mean comments to photographers? If YOU think your a photographer, why are you taking the time to wreck scarlett's blog when you should ACTUALLY focused on your clients. How would you feel if I told your brides how you treat people?

2. Grass is actually neon green when you throw miracle grow on it. Believe me. I do it.

3. Let me see your portfolio. I bet your grass is neon too

December 9, 2009 at 9:54 PM  
Blogger Tracy (Serendipity Images) said...

Hi Scarlett! I just have to tell you that I loved this post. I love seeing photographers grow, and it's just so amazing at how quickly a photographer's career can bloom. I get amazed at how far I've come since I shot my first wedding 10 months ago, and I can't wait to look back at "Tracy 2009" in a few years. Forget the anonymous jerks, you rock girl! :)

December 9, 2009 at 10:48 PM  
Blogger Rene Williams said...

Dear Scarlett,

I have been your biggest fan since the moment you were born on Christmas Day 1980. I did not have the foggiest idea what to do with you. There were no instruction books for Moms.

I had not even figured out myself yet then. But I knew one thing. I loved you with all my heart. And your Daddy adored you with every fiber of his being.

We made a pact while I was pregnant. We did not know if you would be a boy or a girl. I refused to do a sonogram. I wanted to be surprised and I did not want to harm you with radiation. I have always had your best interest in life. That is also why I breast fed you before it was cool.

Our pact that Daddy and I made was this. Whatever way we saw you going in your talents and interests, we would support you and stand behind you. Our greatest wish was that you would maximize your greatest potential.

We wanted you to go all the way to the top. You have far exceeded our greatest expectations which is a result of endless hours of hard work, talent, commitment, dedication,perseverance, ambition and being true to your higher self - that where God resides.

You have come such a long way through much sacrifice and trust in God to see you through. I am very proud of you as your Mother.

I know I have always told you to ignore cowards who criticize you and are too scared to tell you who they are after they hurl their own hurts at you. I have told you they are unhappy people who do not have the courage to do what it takes to become the success you have become.

But I confess it still hurts me every time I see you attacked unfairly. It hurts even more when they bring your Father into it. They obviously never had the kind of relationship with their own Father that you were blessed to have. They don't know that the only reason you went to Vegas is because Daddy insisted you go. He knew it was your moment to shine. He waited for you to come back.

They must have never had a Father that said "I believe in you. I am proud of you. How can I help you achieve your dreams?" They must have never had a Mother that put a NEON poster over their bed that read "If God had showed me all the little girls in the world before you were born and told me to choose , I still would have chose YOU"

As I told you when you were in middle school - the bullies are all unhappy people. Happy people do not treat each other mean. Misery loves company.

And so as I look above to the mean comment someone left you - I want to tell them that I have added them to my prayer list and I will pray for them every day for the rest of my life. I do not know their name but GOD does. No one is hopeless.

Meanwhile - keep doing what you are doing my little "boo" because you do it so well. You are God's girl with a heart to serve Him and you touch so many lives with your goodness. You are so much more than the pictures you take.

You capture love. You capture beauty. You capture moments in time that are eternal..........

December 9, 2009 at 11:16 PM  
Blogger Rene Williams said...

.....And for the record - grass is green - grass is blue - grass is all colors of the rainbow. Grass - like life - is whatever color you want it to be. We each determine our own destiny. Where you are today is a result of the decisions you have made.

If you keep on doing what you are doing you will keep on getting what you are getting. I advise Mr. (or Ms) Anonymous to take a look in the mirror and ask:
1. Am I happy?

2. Have i achieved my wildest dreams?

3. Am I true to myself?

4. Is God proud of me?

5. Would my parents be proud of that last comment I left on Scarlett's blog?

6. Why do I continue to read Scarlett's blog?

7. Could I possibly learn something from Scarlett?

I have seen and heard and read the thousands of accolades from brides, bridegrooms, mothers and fathers and friends and strangers who all found you through your blog and your unbelievable talent.

Jacksonville, Florida has chosen you the best wedding photographer in the region in the latest Jacksonville magazine. You have received national acclaim in magazines, podcasts, speaking engagements, newspapers, workshops, photography forums and groups. People spend a fortune just to spend one day with you and pick your brain.

And yet - you give God the glory for every step along the way. You lift people up with His word and your testimony. Too bad Mr. or Ms Anonymous can never make their own "claim to fame." Why didn't they make it?

I guess they were too busy .......being mean.


December 9, 2009 at 11:16 PM  
Anonymous Marissa Rodriguez said...

I don't think I've ever commented on your blog, but I love your work! This post is beautiful! Congratulations on coming so far! I hope one day I can look back and realize that I've come far also...right now I'm in the Scarlet 2006 stage and it's tough as you know. But photographers like you help show me that I have to keep going because it gets better. Seriously though, thank you for this post!!!

December 9, 2009 at 11:19 PM  
Anonymous Jessika Feltz said...

Scarlett, what a beautiful letter to yourself! I truly wish I could write letters like this to myself and send them back in time.

Keep on being Scarlett!

<3 Jessika Feltz

December 9, 2009 at 11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Scarlett,

You don't know me very well, but we went to highschool together. I was a freshman when you were a senior and I always thought that you were the most amazingly beautiful person... Inside and out! In school, I always strived to be like you because I thought you were so talented and kind. Needless to say, everyone agreed...and still does!!!

I always love to see Gods love shine through your work and through your personality! And even though my hobby isn't photography, I love to look at your pictures and read your thoughts (it just reminds me of the great love that God shows people who make him #1). You don't deserve the negativity and my hope is that for every negative comment that some miserable person leaves, there will be 1,000 great ones.



You are AMAZING!!!!

December 9, 2009 at 11:55 PM  
Anonymous jen harris said...

Oh sweetie, I don't have to tell you that you are loved beyond measure. You have a beautiful heart, and are so talented. hugs xoxoxo

December 10, 2009 at 12:21 AM  
Blogger Brenda said...

Beautiful post Scarlett, thanks for sharing with us.
Sorry you are so unhappy with your own life to Anonymous above.

December 10, 2009 at 1:11 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth Carol said...

Thank you so much for sharing Scarlett! Such a gift God has given you!

December 10, 2009 at 1:34 AM  
Blogger Gwendolyn Tundermann Photography said...

Awesome post with some great advice to that newbie photographer you once were. We all learn the hard way, don't we?

Pretty amazing that someone who supposedly thinks that you "suck" takes the time to still follow your blog. What a coward they are to stay anonymous!

You know what, it's art and it is subjective. Thank GOD everyone's work doesn't look the same. What a boring industry it would be if it did! Kudos to you for standing out and finding your unique style!

December 10, 2009 at 2:59 AM  
Anonymous Stephen Knuth said...

Your mom is AMAZING!!! You are loved by SO many!;-)

December 10, 2009 at 4:32 AM  
Blogger bnjohnson34 said...

Love this post, you rock Scarlett!

December 10, 2009 at 9:36 AM  
Anonymous syreena b said...

Everyone could use just one more...YOU ARE AMAZING.... this is exactly what I needed to hear...please don't ever change!!!

December 10, 2009 at 9:44 AM  
Blogger Farrar Four said...

3 Cheers for you Scarlett! I can't wait to see how many more fabulous weddings\events you shoot in the future!!!! You are amazing! You're talent is truly a gift from God and you are using it just as He would have you do! Congrats on being true to YOU and doing what YOU love!!!!


December 10, 2009 at 9:46 AM  
Anonymous Katrina Wheeler said...

Hey Scarlett,

Your post made me laugh and cry, like always! It touches me so close to my heart, due to the complications I sometimes deal with with my father and our relationship. I wish I could hug him every day, but we do not live close enough to do so! I think that person who wrote what they said was a coward for not showing their name and obviously wasting there time, and your mom, how amazing is she! She made me cry the hardest, she reminded me of my own mother and my mother in law combined. What a blessing to have such a wonderful mommy behind you! :) I wish I was meeting you in the cruise coming up, but It just wasn't financially possible! Maybe some day Ill get to meet you and say thanks for inspiring me! :)

December 10, 2009 at 11:17 AM  
Blogger Scarlett Lillian said...

I can't tell you how touched I feel waking up this morning and reading all your kind words. Please know, I am sooooo thankful for each of your friendship, here on the blog, and all the Facebook comments you all left. Your support as brothers and sisters in Christ means the world to me. I'll be praying for you this morning that God will bless your life in return with the kindness.

To Tristen, wow, thank you so much for your comment in particular. It's crazy to hear that you were a freshman who thought I was "cool" when I was a senior because my senior year was one of the hardest times in my life. I was a mess of insecurities, I was a brat to others b/c I was hurt by my parents going through a messy divorce (but praise God they got remarried again!), I definitely wasn't close to God at the time trying to do life my way, and I look back and hate my chopped blonde hair! LOL! But I can't tell you how much it means that in a time when I felt like my world was falling apart and I felt like the biggest dork, that somehow God was able to use me in your life, and that His beauty could still somehow be reflected. So thank you for taking the time to reach out and share with me what you did. It amazes me the things God does behind the scenes that sometimes we have no clue about, even in times in our lives when we pull away from His heart. Are you still in Jacksonville? I would love to meet you for lunch sometime! Email me! :-)

(((VIRTUAL HUG to all of you!!)))


December 10, 2009 at 11:19 AM  
Anonymous shain said...

Haha, Scarlett, you ARE that cool!

December 10, 2009 at 11:43 AM  
Blogger d a v i d m o l n a r PHOTOGRAPHY said...

hey anonymous person... remember that time you were a silly insecure person who should focus a bit more on helping others instead of putting them down?

December 10, 2009 at 11:49 AM  
Anonymous Lara Dominguez-Rios said...

First time I write in your blog although we've communicated through email before. What an awesome girl you are. Wise to learn from your mistakes and so loving and giving. The only thing I can tell you about those negative comments from "Anonymous-loser" is that what he sees is only a reflection of himself. He simply can't. Be grateful because the beauty you see is the reflection of who you are. Keep up the great job, you are FABULOUS and a huge source of inspiration for many, me included!

December 10, 2009 at 11:59 AM  
Blogger Corinna Hoffman Photography said...

Dear Scarlett!

YOU GO, GIRL!! Keep rocking :) Awww, I love your 2006 and 2007 images (after all, that's when you did our "trial" engagement shoot and our Las Vegas wedding) ;-D


December 10, 2009 at 12:17 PM  
Anonymous Christine Elizabeth said...

I read this on facebook yesterday and LOVE this letter. I want to take every word to heart!
When I saw the awful comment that 'Anonymous' was too chicken to claim, my brain started trying to put together a perfectly encouraging comment ;) But your amazing Mom said it better than I ever could! I still want to meet her and give her a hug!
I agree we should pray for people who make comments like that. A happy person who is secure in their own abilities doesn't say things like that.
YOU are a rock star! I can't wait to meet you! Thank you for all of your inspiration and how you share your heart with all of us!

Christine Elizabeth (@FandangoChica)

December 10, 2009 at 1:47 PM  
Blogger Scarlett Lillian said...

Thanks for the continued love!! :-)

December 10, 2009 at 6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW, I was going to tell off "Anonymous" myself, but your mother did a SUPERB/FABULOUS job! Man! Preach it sister!! LOLOL Oh, did I mention that you are fabulous, too! Keep up the great work, Scarlett


December 10, 2009 at 7:29 PM  
Anonymous Sarah Tolson said...

Scarlett... I just have to say that your momma is amazing.

Got a bit teared up with the precious words she wrote to you. :) As a momma myself, I would do the same thing for my baby girl... just maybe not as eloquently.. ;)

I hope you come back out to Cali and have another worship night, and prayerfully I will be able to make it this time!! :)

Run the race girl..

December 10, 2009 at 7:53 PM  
Blogger Scarlett Lillian said...

LOL, yeah I didn't say thanks yet to my mom, but I did in person! She is definitely the best and my hero!

Hope to meet you soon Sarah!

December 10, 2009 at 7:56 PM  
Anonymous Beth Morgan said...


The good thing about having haters is that it means you're doing something right!

Let me just say that IF you really knew Scarlett, Anonymous, you would see what I see...
1. She is a beautiful woman inside AND out

2.She is authentic and real

3. In your world, grass may not be neon green BUT that is Scarlett's style and people LOVE it! What's your style? OH, and for that matter, what's your name. At least have the courage to leave a name.

4. She is a person who gives of herself to others and desires to see them succeed.

5. You may could learn a thing or 2 from her if you'd get past yourself and learn to love diversity instead of hating on others.

I'm SO loyal and I love this girl. There's no need to be mean to such an amazing woman!

December 10, 2009 at 8:57 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Scarlett, I've never posted on your blog before, but I've followed it for quite some time. You are such an amazing person, and I look up to you! I love how you incorporate your faith in with your photography. I hope to follow in your footsteps :) I just started a business this past fall, and I can't wait to see my progress in a year...I have SO much to learn! Only being 16, I've got a ways to go :P I also need to take your advice in holding off on reading other photographer's blogs, for it does indeed make you unhappy with your current talent :-)

Many blessings to you, and to Steven...you guys are the cutest :)

December 10, 2009 at 9:41 PM  
Anonymous Danielle said...

Wow - I'm bummed that someone felt the need to talk that way to you on your blog.

You have been a huge inspiration to me since I picked up a camera and stumbled across your blog. I'm not a wedding photographer, but I still follow you because even more than being an artistic inspiration, you remind me daily that I need to grow in my walk with God. You're one of the strongest, bravest and coolest people that I have ever met (well even though I never met you). Thanks for sharing your life with the rest of us, you'll only continue to do fabulous things!

December 11, 2009 at 12:00 AM  
Blogger Tracy Henley Photography said...

you are so inspiring and so real. i love that you practice what you preach. i appreciate so much that you share with fellow photographers. Not only do you share your photog tips, but also your heart. you are so blessed for all you give!

December 11, 2009 at 12:29 AM  
Blogger Lois said...

Scarlet, I think that person up there ^ is wishing they were where you are, if grass isn't neon then maybe we should try turning it that color and see if we get in some magazines. God has obviously BLESSED you with what you do, keep praising Him.

December 11, 2009 at 8:31 AM  
Blogger Dixie said...

Dear Scarlett,
Wow, whoever wrote that mean post is really sick. And he or she obviously reads your blog a lot to know these things. Sounds like shes super jealous and is "leveling". Trying to put you down so she'll feel better. Why anyone can look at your work and see how gorgeous it is, and so many love your happy upbeat colorful style.
They are just miserable souls who hide behind thier computer and throw stones.
Gosh their life must really stink for them to do that to you. I bet they were abused as a kid.
Keep being you, you are a beacon of light in a world of darkness and there will always be the "haters". Jealous, petty and miserable souls who have no talent and envy those who do. Pray for her. She really needs it. You know Im your #2 fan, right behind your mom!
Hugs and Kisses!
Love ya, Dixie

December 11, 2009 at 11:17 AM  
Blogger Scarlett Lillian said...

It's funny how I said in the entry before the mean person left a comment "It's the tough times you learn who your true friends are." I almost deleted the nasty comment when I saw it come through, but you all have been amazing in showing you have my back. I am just overwhelmed at the outpouring of love you guys are leaving here on this blog entry. I <3 each of you!

December 11, 2009 at 12:04 PM  
Blogger Dixie said...

Hey Scarlett, I was just talking to a friend of mine, whose husband works in the Internet, website industry, and he told her that he can track anyones Anyomous persons IP address and you can actually press charges on them. Heres the info she sent me. Wait ill send it in a private email. But heres the first part.

Rule 4011 said that plaintiff could seek protective orders for discovery obtained that cause ‘unreasonable annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, burden or expense.'

The two precedents followed by Doe are precisely the leading cases on the issue of ordering ISP to reveal the anymous blogger comments identity in the United States (now, you know what people mean by the phrase: ‘filing a Doe lawsuit.')

The Court can force the ISP to reveal the identity of the comment the Court set a 4-prompt test. According to the Court, in these cases, the plaintiff must follow these steps:

by E-Commerce University in cooperation with the Global E-Commerce Council, Thomas Jefferson School of Law.

You can ake them to court, this is considered harrasment and is punishable by law, and can take them to CIVIL Court and take them for everything they have. This causes mental distress, pain and suffering and lack of sleep, lost income and fear for your safety, etc..!!!! Lets track this trouble maker today! Scott is ready to help!

December 11, 2009 at 12:13 PM  
Blogger Jules said...

I read that nasty comment... My heart sank for you. What an evil evil person to say something like that. I wasn't going to mention it and give it any more recognition but I haven't been able to stop thinking about it! Your mom said it best. You know your heart and your truth and whoever this anonymous coward is has to live with themselves everyday.... imagine the hell that must be. I love ya! ...oh, and yes, I LOVE your neon grass, in fact, MY house is covered with pictures of me smooching in neon grass and everyone that comes through my door automatically oohs and ahhs over them and wishes THEY had neon grass (=

December 11, 2009 at 12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beauitful letter, Scarlett! It's good advice for all of us! Negative comments are a good reminder that many people need prayers for God's grace in their life.
Love, Katie
P.S. I'm so happy to live in a world where the grass can be neon green if we want it to be. That artistic point of view isn't limited by what's always literal in life. Your brides choose you because of your style and how YOU see the world through your camera. They want you to see them that way. It's sad that some people can not give you credit for that. XOXO

December 15, 2009 at 10:23 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Scarlett and Rene,

I'm amazed at the time someone took to say the things they said that are so incorrect. You have both added something meaningful and memorable to my life. Scarlett, you will always use your talents for the good and inspire others. Rene, I can't wait to buy your book one day!


December 15, 2009 at 4:32 PM  

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