Not that this is uncommon, but I didn’t grow up in an environment where difficult emotions were openly expressed. The easy emotions were the ones that were expressed and let out, like anger and frustration (or by contrast, humor and lightheartedness). These aren’t bad things, but showing anger or being lighthearted all the time isn’t being vulnerable, it’s guarding yourself even more. It’s a line of defense from the true, deep emotions sitting beneath the surface. I just wanted my family of all people to let their guard down around each other.
Being the true empath I am, this was a constant struggle for me. Wearing my heart on my sleeve came SO naturally to me, but it left everyone around me feeling so . . . uncomfortable. No one in my family knew what to say or do. I remember and I quote “I don’t know what to say. I just don’t FEEL things like you do, Maria”. They didn’t know how to react because vulnerability was not an innate skill they had…but that’s all I ever really wanted…to feel like I wasn’t the only human in the room.
I felt (and still feel) things so deeply. All the things. Happiness, sadness, love. I can’t listen to sad music or a sad movie without FEELING & absorbing that human’s emotions myself. The same goes for happiness and joy. I absorb it all and feel it all. It’s just a part of who I am. And instead of suppressing it, I’ve learned to embrace it. And for this, I thank the universe & send gratitude every day, or else I wouldn’t be who I am.
I LOVE being an empath. I love having the natural ability to feel things in a way most never will. I’ve learned to absorb mostly positive emotions, instead of being overwhelmed and bogged down with all of the negative ones that don’t belong to me. I love wearing my heart on my sleeve, and surprising near strangers in conversation with hints of vulnerability and opening up (emotionally. . .not like telling people where I live). I do this not just because that’s who I am, but because I want others to feel OK doing the same. I want others to feel MORE than OK doing the same. I want others to open up and feel all the warmth that floods in when they do.
And this is my “WHY”. There’s a reason I only photograph couples and not headshots or graduation photos. My work is inspired by CONNECTION, AUTHENTICITY, and you guessed it . . . vulnerability. This is WHY I create images. And it’s sure as hell why I create experiences too (hence elopement photographer and GUIDE).
This is all the depth I wanted to feel & receive SO badly when I was a child, and now that I’ve allowed myself to truly be who I am, it’s my life’s purpose to give others the safe space to do so as well. Especially with your partner on your WEDDING DAY, one of the most sacred days of your life. It’s why I believe eloping is the best way to get married. Because it allows for a space where you can open yourself up in beautiful ways and not be fearful of other’s reactions or judgements.
This is why it actually pained me inside each time I saw a couple seize up on their wedding day because of all the pressures and all the guests. It’s why I’m slowly bowing out of big weddings. It’s not because I don’t love my couples, or that their connections are shallow. It’s the OPPOSITE of that. I love my couples so much, and I know their connections are so deep, but it breaks me inside to watch those feelings and connections get lost in the hustle and bustle of a big event. Luckily, I’ve had many couples be able to break through this and have an amazing, emotion filled wedding days surrounded by tons people who love and accept them. But I’ve decided I want this all the time, not just sometimes. I want to be creating work and experiences around my “WHY” all the time. And I finally decided that wasn’t too much to ask.
This is why I moved 2000+ miles away from my small home town on the east coast to sunny Arizona. Because I’m ready to open up and let the light & warmth flood in all the time, not just sometimes.