When I was growing up I completed numerous research projects at school. My teachers would provide me with a long list of suggested project ideas, and the last option would be “other.” It was the option that would allow me to design my own project. Without fail, I always chose this option. Why I could not find satisfaction within the confines of a preplanned project was- and is- beyond me. I can still clearly hear my mom’s voice, colored with both exasperation and pride, as she’d explain to someone, “There could be 100 ideas on that list and Jenni will always pick #101, other.” Bless my mom’s heart for the countless hours she stayed up with me helping me finish those personalized projects… I can’t help but smile as I reminisce about one project in particular that involved grinding up moss in the blender to cover a giant Machu Picchu model…
Ticking that “other” box and taking the road less traveled are habits that have continued with me throughout my life, and I am so thankful that Isaac is just as eager to pursue our wild and crazy dreams. Moving abroad to teach in international schools eight years ago was certainly another “other” choice. It was one of the best decisions of our lives, and life abroad has enriched us in ways we never could have imagined when we signed our first teaching contract and prepared to move to Dubai. Isaac and I often sit and dream together. We talk about our goals and the steps necessary to build the kind of life we want, and through these discussions some new ideas and dreams started to bubble to the surface.
When we began to travel we quickly developed a love for photography. We deeply desired to capture the spirit of our adventures, both for ourselves and to share our experiences with others. Our passion for photography has grown steadily, and unexpectedly expanded into a little side business that we have enjoyed immensely. The ability to use our cameras to capture moments and tell stories was wonderfully addictive, and we were eager to continue growing and developing our craft. We began to wonder what life might be like if we pursued photography full time. We never really took our musings and discussions too seriously. Teaching was our passion and it provided us with incredible opportunities to wander and experience the world. Plus it was a safe, sound career decision that allowed us to meet our needs and then some. Why leave something that we loved and that provided us with security?
Then, enter Isla Grace Marshall. The love of our lives, and the catalyst for our big impending life change. After Isla was born we realized that we were torn between two passions, and two very different lifestyles. Finally, we came to the realization that we didn’t have to choose one or the other. Why not just build the kind of life that encompasses everything we want? The kind of life that allows us to enjoy both the comforts of home and experience the wonders of the world. The kind of life that allows Isla to grow up knowing her family and also form friendships with people from all walks of life. The kind of life that allows us to pursue creative passions, spend our days together, and provide opportunities to make connections with others all over the world. And with that realization, we once again decided to tick the #101: other box.
Come June we are shifting from one passion to another, stepping aside from teaching and moving into photography full time. It feels so crazy to say it aloud. We still can’t believe we are making the leap. But we are. The “other” box has been ticked. We are going for it.
We are still finessing the logistics, and we suspect that this will be the kind of career that is fluid and constantly evolving. We plan to base ourselves in Oregon (between Portland and our beach cottage on the central coast) for about half of the year, working as wedding and lifestyle portrait photographers. Then when the holidays are over, we plan to pack our bags and travel internationally for photo jobs for the remaining months of the year. As we get started, we are hoping to rely on our wonderfully gracious international friends to help us secure jobs around the globe (wink, wink). We cannot wait to revisit our favorite places, and explore future favorites! Wayfarer Studio will indeed be a wayfaring studio!
The decision to move on from teaching and into photography brings up so many conflicting emotions: excitement, uncertainty, joy, sadness… The past eight years abroad have been amazing and life-changing. Our hearts ache when we think about bidding farewell to the incredible community that we are apart of in Shanghai. It is hard to express how much we will miss experiencing the joy of working with such incredible children each day. Yet, the thought of spending our days with Isla, working together to create beautiful, meaningful art for others, and the opportunities for our little family to explore the world together is so exciting to us!
We are so excited to finally be able share our big news with you. Ticking the “other” box and taking the leap into this new adventure has been scary at times, but we are thankful to have so many loving, encouraging and supportive friends and family to share our journey with along the way. Who knows where this will take us, but we are excited to continue to build a beautiful, adventurous and fulfilling life for our family.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -H. Jackson Brown, Jr.