I’m a few months into my new business name of Chelsey Grace, and it’s been on my heart for a while to share why I made the shift from Chelsey Photography to Chelsey Grace.
When I miscarried my second baby in 2015, I knew I wanted to name her. I couldn’t bear the thought of having a nameless child waiting for me in heaven. We named her Ava Grace. I was able to see her after I lost her and seeing the beginning stages of a human life was breathtaking. It changed everything, including the way I approached newborn photography. Instead of trying to make babies more adorable or perfect than their Creator did, I felt a pull to just focus on the perfection they were all on their own.
The newborn photography industry, though, told me I needed a million props/headbands/poses to “be good” at my job. So I bought all the things and mastered all the poses all while secretly wanting my work to look different…wanting my work to FEEL different.
About a year ago, a very kind woman complimented a cute photo I took of a newborn girl saying, “Oh my gosh, that’s so cute! Where did you get that headband?” UGH. My heart broke. Instead of looking at the miraculous creation of that baby, she was distracted by a dang headband I had put on that perfect, sweet, innocent baby.
The seed of simplicity had been planted with Ava, and over the last few years, moments like that poured water on the soil. But still, I powered through what I thought was my desired style, continuing to create work that I thought everyone wanted to see, only to sit at my desk editing images that were “cute” but didn’t make my soul sing. Images that by most accounts, were just fine and totally adorable. But that’s all I saw when looking at them…a cute photo. And then I’d come across a photo like this that I snuck into a session and be stopped in my tracks and think, “What if my entire sessions looked, and more importantly – FELT – like this moment?
I truly don’t know what finally made me say enough was enough. Maybe it was Marie Kondo. Maybe it was having my third child and having a deep necessity to simplify my home so we didn’t all go crazy. Maybe it was post-partum hormones mourning the loss of my baby girl’s newborn-ness. Maybe it was not working for a few months and feeling the financial strain of spending $35 on a piece of fabric, $20 on a headband and $30 on a newborn bonnet just to keep up with my peers in the industry. I was just over it all.
I knew the seed was about to burst through the soil. And what was blooming was going to be so different than what I had been doing and I wanted to clean break. So, I sold 90% of my props, deleted my entire portfolio from my website and started over.
So, why Chelsey Grace?
It all goes back to Ava.
She changed me. She changed my work. And I wanted a name that reflected the change in my heart that I was finally allowing to break open and show the world.
But that’s all only part one of how I decided on Chelsey Grace…
Confession time? A few years ago, I shot a wedding for a dear friend/client/supporter. She adored me, I adored her, and she trusted me 10000%. I was nursing my second son Oliver at the time, and I had to take a break to pump. While I was on the break, my camera divided up the photos I had taken into folders. When I uploaded the images from the day, I missed a folder. And deleted the images from the cards. And used the cards to shoot new sessions a few days later. When I went to edit the wedding, I realized I was missing a large chunk of photos from the wedding day.
I was mortified.
I sent the cards off, ready to pay thousands on recovering the images, with no luck. I dreaded contacting my client, horrified, embarrassed, and so incredibly sad that I had let her down. I didn’t want to forget anything, so I typed her a novel email explaining what happened, what was lost, and how I was going to make it up to her and asked her to call me after she read the email so we could talk about it. She returned my call and I missed it, and she left a message. I was expecting the worst. Anger. Yelling. Tears. Any of those things would have been valid. But instead, I listened to her voicemail and SOBBED. I still have the voicemail from years ago…
“Hey dear…(insert valid, kind questions)…I’m not mad at you by the way. Because I know you would never EVER mean for something like this to happen. So don’t even worry about me being mad….”
I was shaking. I was sobbing. And I had to call her back. She answered and I didn’t know what to say. She could hear me crying and she comforted ME, saying, “It’s ok. Sh*t happens. I love you, it’s ok.”
WHAT. I just told this girl I lost a portion of her wedding images and she was comforting ME. That my friends, is GRACE. (That bride has since hired me again for multiple life moments and I love her forever and ever.)
Between honoring Ava, and having a deep desire to give out grace the way I had been granted it by God (and by that bride) when I flat out screw up in life, I knew my name was going to be Chelsey Grace. And, it just sounds pretty, right? 😉
So there you have it my friends, the rebirth of Chelsey Photography into Chelsey Grace. Thanks for sticking with me.