Somethin’ Honest, Somethin’ True

In Make An Impact, Our Life by Gary16 Comments



Back in 2009 we wrote one of our first “Somethin’ Honest, Somethin’ True” blog posts (you can read it here). Life has changed A LOT since then, but we still think it’d be appropriate to do another manifesto-type-blog-post about where we’re at in this journey called life… what thoughts are running through our heads, vocalizing the things that we dream about and the challenges that we are facing today. So, here it goes… this is where our hearts, souls and minds are at today:

  • Sleep is precious… if you don’t have kids, we strongly encourage you to sleep like crazy. :) Our kids don’t sleep much so we’re planning on catching up on that in 4 or 5 years.
  • Time is flying… it’s moving waaaayyyy faster than we’d like it to right now. (Thank you Julie for the images above and for freeze-framing this moment in our life. We are SO grateful for you and the photography community that surrounds us here in SoCal).
  • Our two little girls (Joelle = 2.9 years, Charlotte = 9 months) are growing up so quickly, it boggles the mind to watch them become walking talking little human beings. We kinda don’t want them to grow up and leave :( At every wedding we shoot we both break down in tears during EVERY father daughter dance… what a hard thing that must be to do. We’re praying for the men that our girls will one day fall in love with and marry. I hope their parents value them and teach them how to be good men.
  • We’ve lived here in California for 2 years now…that’s crazy! It feels like yesterday when we first met in Maui and got married. It’s hard to believe we’ve already spent several years remodeling this old house… it still has plenty of face-lifting to do, but we’re very pleased with where it’s at today. It’s not fancy and there are little red painted hand prints all over our couches and stickers all over our coffee table, but it’s a good house and it feels like a home – lots of laughter and love. Precious memories are being made within the colorful walls of this place and we hope our girls feel safe, loved and secure here…forever.
  • In October we’ll celebrate our 5 year anniversary!!! Marriage is a very beautiful thing. Growing old with someone and raising a family together is the one of the best and also one of the most challenging things in life and we like it that way. We are fortunate to be best friends, business partners and spouses…We are so blessed by our current set-up and the time it allows us to spend together! To celebrate our 5 year together we’re planning on doing a little diving adventure over on Catalina Island to relive our glory days of  dating and diving in Maui.
  • Busyness and balance. You know that carnival ride that spins super fast until you’re stuck to the wall and the bottom drops out and you just hope against hope that someday it’ll stop and your feet will land on solid ground again? Life can feel like that sometimes while raising two small children, running our own business (for which we travel a LOT), and starting a new one. Don’t “they” always say that BALANCE is the key to a happy and successful life? Striking that balance feels impossible some days, and other days I think we nailed it (though, admittedly, the “nailed it” days are fewer and far-between). We are also doing our best to take some moments to slow down and enjoy the ride because in the midst of the craziness, these are some sweet, SWEET times. Joelle won’t play pretend forever, and Charlie won’t want to cuddle or think we’re the best parents forever either. Gotta soak those things up.
  • Re-discovering goals and priorities: Business is good, but also kinda weird. Our business has grown by leaps and bounds each year we’ve been in business (which we’re super GRATEFUL to the LORD for)… but we’re reevaluating whether or not it’s growing in the way we always SAY we want it to. We’ve never really been money-motivated people, but for the last couple years we’ve kinda lived like money was important. Don’t get us wrong, we need money (can’t pay the mortgage without it), but we’re trying harder and harder to be smart with our money and to pick and choose the type of work that means something to us and that brings value to our life… work shouldn’t BE or RUN our life… we work so that we can liveSo what exactly does that look like???? When is ENOUGH WORK enough? What if we decided to make less money this year and live more simply? What if our priorities really were our children and our time together having adventures? And seriously…what does that look like??? (These are not a rhetorical questions people! Input, ideas and advice are being sought here!)
  • We are really coming back to our priority of giving back. In all different ways. We want our children to grow up knowing that THEY can make a difference… that they can truly change the world by giving selflessly of themselves. And we want them to know that faith is the thing that gives all life (and good deeds) meaning. The best way to teach them this is by living it, so we’re going out of our way to do it.
  • We want to help other entrepreneurs and creative folks develop a business that aligns with their priorities and facilitates their values. Not because we have all the answers (’cause seriously…have you been reading this post??? We clearly do NOT), but because we think that by collaborating and encouraging each other we can make it happen.
  • We’ve been learning A LOT about community lately. The last couple years we’ve struggled with being authentic, approachable and helpful to those around us, mostly because we were really trying to find our way in this [photography] industry and were figuring out where we should land. Our sincerest apologies to those who have experienced this from us… we’re trying to get better at being others-focused. So please help us get there… let us know how we can help if you need it. Seriously. Stop by, skype with us, grab coffee with us, slumber party with us :) Anything! Lets just hang out!
  • We don’t know it all or have everything in our life under control… we don’t drive fancy cars or buy expensive toys, we live simply and pride ourselves in dreaming big, and having lots-o-adventures with our little family. We hope you will join us on this journey called life and stay in touch. We hope that we can be encouraging towards your goals in life!

What’s somethin’ honest that’s on your mind right now?

We’d LOVE to hear from you!


  1. KatherineMcKern

    When Nick and I first met you in Bend, for-ev-ver ago, I told him I thought you guys were super nice, but a bit unapproachable…maybe because of your insane photog skills and me (Katherine) being a bit jealous? Hmmmm. I used the analogy as you two being the “cool kids in school that everyone wants to be friends with.” =)~ Wait for it…but through out the years we’ve been friends (on FB, holla!) I’ve noticed a difference and have been inspired by your hearts, individually and as a couple doing your biz-nass together! Your heart for GIVING and blessing is contagious and your attitude is one of confidence and leadership. I’m not even a “professional” photographer (yet) …a’thank you! But I’m taking notes. God has blessed your guys with the ability to lead people and to help inspire even the little guys out there! And what I love most about y’all is the true HONESTY and genuine LOVE of the Lord I feel through your photos, your blog posts, your tweets and your lives. There, is that “somethin’ honest that on my mind right now” enough for you?! =)~ xoxo from classy El Paso!

  2. Betsy Tomasello

    YOU two are amazing, and you never cease to continually inspire me (every day) and make me feel like I’m totally “important” to you…even though I’m really totally not. ;-P I love your hearts, cherish your kidlets, and thank the Lord that you are in our lives. From our way-too-busy, photography-immersed, kid-run, God-lovin’, outdoorsy family to yours…THANK YOU! And keep on rockin’ it over at the Christenson PARTAY house! We love you guys! 

  3. Jessica

     I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of attaining a lifestyle of working less and living more. Automation is a huge tool for making that happen as I’ve learned from 4 hour work week by tim ferriss. if you haven’t read that book, i highly recommend it! i’m a long ways away from living my dream but i’m trying to put into practice habits now that will help me reach those goals. maybe i can get some education from you guys eventually from you big deal branding =)

  4. Crystal

    I hear you on so many levels!!! As long as we’re being totally honest….I wish my business made as much as yours. :-)

  5. Josh Solar

    Your honesty is refreshing. I read through EVERY SINGLE POINT and nodded along silently…even to the point of breaking down during father/daughter dances.  You both are inspiring people living inspiring lives and doing great things for the world and the people who live on our mother earth.  I feel we’re kindred spirits.  Thanks for all you do!

  6. Gary & Courtney

    Tim is one smart dude! We use a few of his principles for sure. We would to help you in any way we can Jessica. Just let us know :)

  7. Gary & Courtney

    Crystal, since we’re being honest, our business doesn’t make a crap-ton of money by any means. We’ll happily trade time and freedom for money :) Our goal has always been to have minimal debt and live simply. Thanks for the comment!

  8. Amy Cyphers

    I am always searching for the BALANCE you talk about.  It is what we strive for, and with kids and a business, it is super HARD.  I use to say that I wanted to keep them separate, but now I don’t… Charlotte comes with me on shoots sometimes, and the other day August hung out while I met with some clients at my studio, and my clients LOVE it.  We all do what we have to I think, and I refuse to let the kids and husband take the back seat to my photography because they are worth way more than a little money. Thanks for your honesty.  I am glad you aren’t perfect in every way, it make you guys real people!  Keep living the dream and giving in the ways that you do… God will bless you for that.  

  9. Gary & Courtney

    LOVE IT Amy! Such true words. We have to make priorities or else our business will EASILY overtake our life and family (every time). And yes, finding clients that ‘get it’ and understand your priorities are just the clients we all want and need :) We love our clients and we think they love and respect us back b/c their values closely align with ours (b/c we’re upfront, public and vocal about our goals, dreams and priorities). Those three things filter out a lot of people that aren’t a good fit for our business (‘big picture’ kind of people). Thank you for commenting. Best of luck finding your balance too, God knows it’s a constant struggle for us too!

  10. Nate Strubhar

    You guys are such an inspiration to us (Me & Jenna). I kind of follow your tweets and blog posts religiously for some reason. I think it’s because I get super inspired by what you guys do in business but also in the everyday of life of craziness. I feel ya with raising a family, it is the most crazy and amazingly awesome thing in the world. And you get to go through that adventure with your best friend :) Any who I love what you guys do, I love how you’ve poured so much into our business, but most of all we love you guys and are super stoked to be friends with you guys. Oh yeah and your two daughters are the cutest lil girls ever! Arranged marriage talks should be happening soon my friends. Here’s to naps on the first date @ drake park! 

  11. Happinessisnice

    You guys are aMAZing…love these pics.  Hats off to the Thrive team for capturing y’all….and more hats off to y’all for being y’all (that makes sense where we live…really).  Thrive captured a chemistry…a chemistry that’s already there…at y’alls core. Reading your manifesto (part one and part redux), I see why Thrive captured what they did….y’all are ON IT (yes, the ever-elusive “it”).

    Now…here’s the Question of the Day: Gary, we live states apart so you don’t need to worry about there being two of us in a one horse town…tell me the details on those glasses.  Frame and style, please?  My girl thinks they’d look like “really nice” on me…which is enough to make me hunt them down like a __________ (<– insert clever metaphor that I can't find at this hour).  Comes down to this…if my girl (wife of 14 years) is happy….I'm happy…..x a gabillion :)

  12. Gary & Courtney

    :) THANKS so much for the comment! To answer your question, the frames are Ray Ban (I know, trendy hipster guy, LOL) but they are legit!

Leave a Comment