Permission in Permanent Ink | Guest post by Kristyn Miller / by Annemie Tonken

Let us go together now beyond the first layer of the WHY.

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You know what I mean. As photographers - as artists, humans, explorers, the list goes on - we spend a lot of time with the why. Why we create, why we take pictures, why we insist on picking up the camera at all. It’s an exercise that really does matter as we define the shape of our creative heart, and is often the spark that pushes us through seasons of challenge and moments of doubt.

But go further.

Family Photography Conference

Get a coffee or a cup of tea and be still for a moment. Look at your body of work. Your journals. The little notes you make in the margins of your favorite books. Just for a moment let go of the inevitably ever-ready voices of judgement that we all have. What do you see?

Family photographer conferences

When I showed up in NOLA for the first TFN (2017), I thought I had it all figured out. I knew I photographed families and couples because I loved kids and I loved love and truth be told, I couldn’t imagine a creative life that didn’t include a camera. I knew that my creative skill in the world was to reflect the best of my client’s selves back to them in an image - and I knew that I’d built a successful, growing business around that ethos.

family photographer conferences

Cut to me four days later - with a new tattoo (true story, ask the Boss Ladies), a heart overflowing with contentment and joy, a handful of new old friends, and the mind blowing realization that I take the photographs I take because of what I crave in my own life.

lifestyle photography conference

Maybe this sounds crazy or maybe not. But it changed everything about how I work, and what I gave myself permission to shoot. That pull toward soulful, truthful, intimate moments has been in my heart for a long time (and continues to evolve in my work too), but it wasn’t until I spent those heart-full days in NOLA that I could name it and give it the right kind of space to work its magic.

photography conferences

I believe that when we give ourselves permission to see and name and celebrate the things we crave in our own lives, we align our hearts and our creative work with our greater purpose, and that’s when the good stuff really happens.

boudoir photography conference

Take a walk in the sunshine and then go look at your work again. Look past your edits, past all the shots you still think you “should” have taken at that session, past that bit of crazy anxiety that we all feel when we send our work out into the world. What do you really see? What do you feel? What do you want to feel more of?

family photography conference

I officially give you permission, on behalf of the Boss Ladies and every TFN alum, to go after more of THAT.

And if you want to get a tattoo of that magic, I happen to know a great guy in NOLA.

photo by (fellow TFNer and tattoo adventure-documentarian)  Merritt James

photo by (fellow TFNer and tattoo adventure-documentarian) Merritt James

photo by (fellow TFNer and tattoo adventure-documentarian)  Merritt James

photo by (fellow TFNer and tattoo adventure-documentarian) Merritt James


Huge thanks to Kristyn Miller of Kristyn Miller Photography in Connecticut for her words and photos. She’s been with TFN since the beginning - attending in both 2017 & 2018 - and was kind enough to take a few minutes in the midst of the crazy season to give us her reflections on what TFN meant for her and her business (not to mention her wrist).