The journey to get to the Loom house last week on Whidbey Island included slipping across dark water, driving through golden fields interspersed with tall evergreen trees, and finally arriving on a beach full of smooth driftwood. Through it all, we were surrounded by purple hills that faded into layers in the background of the Sound. It was the kind of place built to focus your thoughts on the natural world and forget–if even for a few days–the thoughts that build up in your mind like a dam and keep you from living.
My first assignment from Ginny was to forage clamshells on the beach. I came back with a large handful of the white things stiffly pried open, my favorites laced with delicate barnacles. I rinsed them clean in the sink and let them dry on the picnic table outside on a dish with a linen napkin. My second assignment was to order pizza for everyone.
Our night ended as we rehearsed the scene Ginny wanted to unfold around the attendees on the beach at sunrise the next morning. Again and again, holding a blanket around me in the cold and listening to music from the speaker in Ginny’s hand, I watched Tess walk lightly across driftwood logs, her arms floating as she held a soft lantern that got brighter and brighter in the dusk.
My first life-changing takeaway took root in my mind the next day and only got stronger as Loom continued:
It was a question Ginny asked us after telling us about one of her former wedding clients who hired a photographer she only had the budget to be there for 5 hours. As the years have gone by, this client has been more and more disappointed that the photographer spent 3 of those 5 hours (at the client’s request) shooting the details of the wedding instead of capturing more of the interactions of her and her guests. How beautiful wedding photos we see on blogs and Pinterest (and I know I myself am always looking to create these kinds of photos) might be great marketing, but the details are nothing without the story and relationship behind the photos (which I know the best photogs are able to capture both. But they have to have the time they need).
Our discussion shifted to all of the more normal days of life outside of the wedding day, and that’s when I felt tears come to my eyes.
Maybe it’s because I’ve realized how quickly Arthur changes every few months, or maybe I’ve realized how my relationship with Michael has changed even over the past few years, but when Ginny said that it’s possible to capture a day for how it really feels (like really), it would be a completely different experience to look back on those instead of a posed family portrait where most of what we would do would be to comment about how each of us looked. The thought made me have to hold back tears. I imagined myself pulling out printed photos and looking through them with Arthur the teenager or looking through them by myself when Arthur has his own family. I would remember the way he laughed so easily. The way it felt when he hugged me with his little arms and kissed me with his tiny soft lips. The way he loved scrunching down under the covers to cuddle next to me. The way he peeks into my office when the door is open to try and get me to come out and give him a hug. The way he walks around like he owns the place when it’s time to go somewhere and tells me that I need to get dressed, brush my teeth, put makeup on, and put my shoes.
It’s difficult to think of anything more valuable to be photographed than that.
Maybe it was because we watched beautiful scenes unfold of real couples with real interactions together. Maybe it was because staying up too late and waking up too early together makes you connect on a physical level somehow. Maybe it was because we asked the difficult questions about what matters most in our industry together. Maybe it was because we ate tapas and delicious cake in the backyard of an old captain’s home that overlooked the Sound below and talked about our kids, our travels, and our dreams together. Or maybe because we all ate popcorn together near the fire after everyone ran into the freezing water without any clothes on under the light of the moon.
But I appreciate and care about each person so much more than when I only knew them as an Instagram account. It’s so easy for me to get wrapped up in sharing and consuming through a screen that to remember what it’s really like to watch someone laugh, smile, and furrow their brow and think as they talk, to share and respond in a real conversation instead of feeling stilted by time and space online. I believe everything people say about real connections being more important than online ones every time. But I’m still struggling with the fact that I would not have met any of the people at Loom without it. I’m still learning to balance.
When Ginny started talking about how using Loom is amazing for marketing, the energy in the room changed. Everyone leaned forward a little more. There were more hands in the air. The room stayed quiet when we had lunch because a few people had asked Ginny some follow-up questions about Loom for marketing. I looked around at what were (almost all) wedding professionals. So much talent. So many gifted artists. So many thousands of dollars invested into mastering their crafts. So many generous and giving mentors. So many hours spent carefully creating networks, learning how to collaborate, learning how to work well with clients. All of them with such beautiful visions for how the world could be with relationships at the center. And to be honest? Pretty much all of them underpaid and overworked for the level of skills they have. Too many hours chasing clients when they should be the sought-after ones. I couldn’t help but see the potential and possibilities in the room. So much of what these pros could do in the world outside of the wedding industry. But that at the heart, it’s such a great training ground and a really compassionate community to build network and skill. I have so many ideas about it but I know I’ll just start rambling so I’ll leave it there.
In a (slightly dramatic) word, Loom was life-changing. And I’m excited for what more I have to give because of it.
Emma Natter is a business coach and writer. Her work intersects entrepreneurial strategies with the creative process so career hopefuls can find success, impact, fulfillment, and confidence in going their own way.
I’m Emma Natter, a path-to-success paver and art-trained business coach who first shattered her own career expectations by selling out of handmade styling goods from her little NYC apartment. Now as a strategist to thousands of creatives, I teach you to harness your passion so you can do the same.
A weekly newsletter delivered straight to your inbox from the EN | School of Creative Entrepreneurship to promote scholarship and creativity within the business arts.