I grew up a very independent child. I never read instruction manuals when putting things together (still don’t). I get great pleasure out of figuring things out for myself. I never got in a lick of trouble outside of an overdue library book, but I didn’t like being told what to do, when to eat, what to wear or how to do things at summer camp. I did like the abundant supply of arts and crafty things, ice cream socials, and singing hymns on Sunday morning in an outdoor “chapel” of trees, but I made a lot of excuses to try to come home.



Naturally, in retrospect, I am thankful that my parents weaned me off home and made me experience life a la bunkbed. I never ever thought I’d relish solitude, travel and adventure, but all my journeys as a young girl helped mold me into the Delta SkyMiles Queen I am now. Image below :: Paul Johnson



Life has felt a lot like summer camp lately. I’ve been going through a time of letting myself get schooled, restructured and stretched. Even in college when summer camp days were long over, I’d still spend all those hot days doing something productive. From structured summer programs to creative endeavors, summer has always been a time of learning and transformation for me. This summer, I am by myself a lot during the week. Ari has had a big board exam to study for and is now in DC for the next month doing a rotation at Walter Reed. Yes… a month. The last time Ari went away for an extended period of time, I started Southern Weddings. I get a little stir crazy when he is gone, so I’ve deemed this time “Camp Lara”. I’m planning activities for myself, getting in some pool time, taking field trips, and tackling the proverbial ropes course or two. There’s a lot going on.

I remember writing letters home to my Mom and Dad, telling them all that was happening during those steamy summer days. So today, my friends, a collection of random highlights from my steamy summer days at Camp Lara:

Cue soundtrack



Thanks to a great conversation on the beach at Engage10, I collaborated on a little something with Jasmine Star and Calder Clark. Feel free to leave a question for me in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer.



You asked, I delivered. My first-ever live online intensive, Live with Lara, is on Tuesday, August 24 from 1 pm to 2pm EST. At this point, there are only a handful of seats left. If you’re a creative professional in the wedding industry and you want to take your brand to the next level and learn my top keys to getting published, get registered.



Katharine is getting married very soon. She has been detailing her wedding planning on the SW Blog and it is my favorite post every week. A few highlights: we took a trip to Kleinfeld so she could say yes to her dress… and guess who is doing her wedding flowers?!



I am [finally after much prodding and teeth pulling] creating a video that will give you a peek into my life, what goes on around here and some behind-the-scenes fun. I’ll be filming the rest of the summer and releasing it in early September. I won’t lie … I am n-e-r-v-o-u-s. The last clip I made was a little short with Rhys Coiro in college where I was a Bride of Frankenstein-esque robot and he brought me to life. Rhys was hilarious… so kind, and pretty much exactly like his character on Entourage (minus the crazy). He used to call me Lara Croft, and to this day that name makes me laugh. It also makes me feel a little spark of fearlessness when faced with stuff like this. Thanks for that, Rhys. Excited. Nervous. Diving in…



I’ve come to realize that the farther I stretch my creativity and do the things I fear, the happier I get. So, I did a photo shoot. I’m doing another one in 11 days to try to get me out of my comfort zone. Brett is awesome and makes me feel really relaxed. You can see the whole shoot on my Facebook.



Ari and I are spending a week here after the summer. I may never return.



I am honored and excited … and again, nervous… to be on Dane Sanders’ show Ask Dane this afternoon at 4pm PST. I really admire Dane and all he has done to help so many careers blossom. I’ve tuned in and been inspired many times and am pinching myself that he reached out to me about doing the show. Tune in just for the mere purpose of putting me at ease, friends! Seriously, live shows scare the crap out of me. Good thing Dane is such a great interviewer… I’m sure I’ll forget this nervousness as soon as we start. But, still pile on the pom poms. I need cheerleaders!



Thanks to Jeremy Cowart, I downloaded this new album. Music to my soul. Thanks, Jeremy, and thank you, Thad Cockrell.



OK, music change. Personal note time. I’ll be very honest here… I’ve had a challenging couple of months dealing with a lot of anger. Yes, anger. Of the rage variety. This was a new emotion for me and, friends, it broke me down. I’d like to thank the following people and things for keeping me from hurling things at my computer and from smashing my new iPhone4 into a million pieces and punching holes in the walls (yeah, it was that bad): Ari for always giving me sage advice and for bringing me spicy tacos at midnight, my unbelievable friends for praying, my staff for being as good as family in their care and vehement support, the gym for letting me punch and kick the crap out of it instead of other things, whoever created the BigNotes app that has allowed me to journal through these feelings daily, AMEX for happily accepting my retail Target therapy, my church for loving Jesus and helping me see that I should forgive, and most of all… God. I have learned so much from experiencing these new feelings and working hard to get them out and let go. Through all of this anger and hurt, I’ve seen a lot of my own shadows. They aren’t pretty. I don’t like angry me. This experience helped me build better boundaries, and get clear, bold, and develop more understanding. It forced me to my knees and for that, I am grateful. A quote I love: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle. – Plato



I had a major life turning point in this yesterday while listening to Tim Keller’s sermon on Patience. Ari and I listened to it on the way to Mount Vernon. I highly recommend downloading this. Tim’s short lesson made the words above very clear and changed my heart in fully understanding them.

Phew! OK, back to the energetic let’s do this! music…



My new It List of top images is up. Vote on your favorites.



I did an interview last week. And another yesterday.



This is what’s in my pantry. Random, but people ask me that all the time. Technically, I am still a certified personal trainer. I’ve kept it up for my own personal knowledge in the gym. OK, OK … I also like the thought that I could still run any guy into the ground with no weights, no jumping around, no running required. Go ahead, accept the challenge.



My mother and I are now Facebook friends. This was her comment on my wall the other day. There is so much wrong with this!! Love you, Mom. So proud of you. Image above :: Rae Leytham



I’ve fallen in love with this blog from my new friend in Australia. It’s my favorite blog to check every day.



We did a fun shoot with Millie Holloman a couple of weeks ago to create a plethora of promo shots for our new site and the print edition. Millie and team pulled out all the stops for a full day of non-stop action in Wilmington. There were at least a dozen sets, all hands on deck, and some gorgeoustastic details from Jennifer at Salt Harbor Designs. iPhone pics above. Millie’s shots will blow your mind.



Want to know where I am at all times? That sounds creepy. Well, here you go.




Things I say all the time to other people and should be said publicly all the time, too: Emily is 7 years my junior, yet she is 100 x more emotionally mature than most women twice my age. Calm under pressure, driven, and always stepping up our collective company game. From the beginning, she has gone after what she wants with heart and grace. Her integrity blows me away. And she has been doing layout like a boss!



Katharine‘s instincts and sense of justice comfort me like no other. When I have an issue, Katharine has an answer. In T-ball, I would have picked her first. OK, she probably would have been the one doing the picking. Among the many things she does to keep us laughing (“that’s what she said” is a staple) she always reminds me that “we know a really good lawyer.” Indeed we do. But, even better is the powerhouse trio we have in the office. I’m a very lucky girl to spend my days with these two.



Okey-dokey… here goes nothin’….

I’d like to have kids soon. [Cue call from my mother/grandmother/Dad/brother/sister/aunt/friends and Mom again.] No really, this shouldn’t be alarming. I’m 30. I think part of this stir crazy feeling I have lately is God telling me it’s time to use that energy for something bigger than me, a magazine and any business venture I can dream of. Only God knows when the time is really right – if ever – so, don’t expect me to be found in Babies-R-Us anytime soon, friends. “I’d like to have kids soon” means I’m ready for whatever God has in store. Preferably in the next 5 years. Ari and I used to be terrified to talk about it. Now we can have an only mildly awkward convo about it. It usually results in me saying I want to adopt first and he says we should have one of our own while I’m still young and my body can bounce back. He knows me too well. Working out keeps me calm, keeps me feeling strong and taking deep breaths. Obviously a baby would be worth time off the Stairmaster, though. OK… getting ahead of myself. I’d like kids someday. There. I said it. Image above of my whole family on Father’s Day :: Paul Johnson



I bought new glasses. Ari and I bought clothes at Macy’s. We ate dinner at 4pm. All in one day. I’m getting old. OK, he is, too. We had a good laugh at our oldness during our early-bird dinner.



This song, found via Jeremy and Ashley Parsons, changed me. Thank you, Andrew Peterson.



As per my last post, the Making Things Happen tour is ON! Most cities are half-full already and the people joining us so far are a-m-a-z-i-n-g. I’ve invited Gina Zeidler to join Emily Ley and I for the journey to document our whole experience. Gina and Emily are First Class alums and two of my favorite women. I’m excited to travel the country with them. San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Houston and Maui are about to get fired up in a BIG WAY! Register here. Yes, there is still time to get in on the scholarship opportunity (ends August 16th) and lock in a payment plan (email Marissa).



Speaking of Marissa…. I’d like to formally introduce my sidekick (I cannot stomach “assistant” for some reason), Marissa Kloess. She keeps a lot of things running around here. I love her. She makes my life better.



We’re gearing up for Volume 3, which arrives on newsstands all over the US on October 5. The issue is looking gorgeous and, I will admit, we have too much great content this time. Not a bad problem to have. If I could, I’d make this issue 1000 pages fat. Very exciting: cover images for V3 have all come in and we’ve made a unanimous decision on our pick! Out of 16 stunning shoots done all over the country, we saw some of the best work I’ve ever seen. I cannot wait to share all of it in print and in some very exciting extended online features on our new site! So. Much. Wedding. Goodness. It’s hard to get me really excited about weddings and shoots, but trust me… prepare for your jaw to drop. We won’t be announcing the cover choice till it hits newsstands, so the only way you’ll get a sneak peek is if you steal my iPhone. It’s my wallpaper. OK, don’t steal my iPhone. And if you want to get in on the action, email Katharine Technically, the deadline to be a part of V3 was Sunday night, but I’m the boss, so I’ll give you another day. : ) You will thank me for being a part of our biggest and best issue yet!



I just got done surprising the MTH2010 Nashville class on Skype during their 6 month reunion. It was so fun to see them and I felt so blessed listening to all they’ve accomplished in these 6 months. Much love, my friends! Keep inspiring and encouraging each other! xo

I’ll leave you with this quote that won’t leave me.



That’s right… no post is complete without a fun giveaway! The fine folks at Fuji have given me another FujiFilm Instax Mini to give away! Ready… set… leave a comment telling me what (a favorite phrase or thing) or who (that one person who encourages you the most) inspires you most to get out of your comfort zone. One random commenter gets this fun little camera for more summer fun!



Signing off from Camp Lara.

xo

lc

P.S. Thank you, Christopher Confero, for this.

P.S.S. Camp care package requests: Luna Bars (of course), one of these so I can be in DC every night, and love notes. That was my favorite thing to get from mom and dad. Leave me a love note below and you’ll be entered in the Instax giveaway too.

Show Comments (97)
  1. Wendy

    Nothing inspires me more than my husband. He makes me go to places my confidence or lack thereof, won’t let me go. He has a knack for prompting those hard to face conversations a couple needs to have. And at the end? He still loves me and I’m stronger. For me, that’s an awesome blessing!

  2. lydia {ever ours}

    it’s so nice to see/hear what’s going on with you and in your stir-crazy mind. can’t wait for v3. i’m sure there shall be plenty of “ack. i die”.

    i want to win of these so badly, Lara! so i’ll share what’s right in front of me on my desk.

    there’s an art piece called “dreamer” : http://twitpic.com/2b5pud

    and that little blue note says this: http://twitpic.com/2b5qfv

    thanks for this giveaway! i hope i win!!

  3. Vania -SimplyBloom Photography, INC

    I love this post, thank you for your sincerity :) you are lovely

  4. Damaris Mia Photography

    God, my husband, my family, especially my brother who is in the Army. For Christmas 2009, I received a very special gift from him while he was overseas, stationed in Egypt. He sent me a brand new (BETTER) camera than what I was using with a little note that said, “Hope this will help you reach your dreams sooner. Love you.” Every time I feel like giving up, I think of the talent I was given by God, the support I get from my husband and family and realize that I shouldn’t be giving up but I should be pushing myself to get better, to get out of my little comfort zone. For that, I am grateful.

  5. Josh

    Lara, in an industry of constant self-promotion and social media, your honesty and transparency is such a breath of fresh air! Thank you for opening your heart and sharing your hopes and fears. I feel like I need to throw in my two cents here and give you some encouragement on one of your topics…no matter what success my career brings or may bring, nothing will ever compare to seeing my beautiful children and hearing them call me Daddy!

  6. kristen

    I have been loving that Andrew Peterson song and the Thad Cockrell album too. Ten years ago this month I spent a few hours driving all over rural orange county (nc) in a borrowed RV with AP trying to find diesel fuel. Happy memories. <3 It’s funny how many of your CH related posts do that for me.

    Your thoughts and musings on MTH have been really influential for me but probably in the opposite way of most people. You have been part of my process of stepping away from my photography business, focusing on my family and myself (!) and trying to discern what I really want to do with my life now that my kids are in school and I am almost 30. (Yes, I started early.) I think I’m headed to seminary :)

  7. Kelly McWilliams

    I dont even need 140 characters.
    Motivating.

  8. Ulmer Studios

    Great post! Thanks for the call in last night! Glad to see you didn’t mind our lil girl joining in on the call! As you can see she’s a lil social butterfly!!

    I think our lil girl…is who is inspiring me right now to get out of my comfort zone. I want so much more! I want to be able to be home with her more…I want to spend more time with her..so it’s causing me to look at things in a different ways think about making some changes that seem really uncomfortable now…to challenge myself in what I spend my time doing.

    I want my daughter to know that I invested my time in her, not in watching tv or spending countless hours just surfing the web…but I want her to know that the things I’m doing are for her!

    -Josh

  9. Lara

    FYI you can download Thad Cockrell’s album for free this week noisetrade.com/thadcockrell. Enjoy!

  10. neal carpenter

    “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Just because it has always been that way is no reason to continue. Make a new path!

  11. shannon kelley

    Lara, thank you for being everything you are. Such an inspiration and joy! I so love everything about this post!

    A quote that inspires me to push against my comfort zone and hangs in my bathroom: Be the change you wish to see in the world.

  12. Lynn

    Seriously, my husband inspires me the most. We are so different from each other, but it helps us stay dynamic. Whenever I feel lazy and just want to stay in my mediocre comfort zone, he also pushes me to do better be better no matter how hard it is! I love this post, Lara, you are also an inspiration!

  13. Geomyra

    My grandmother’s wisdom and calm attitude motivates me to be a better person. Whenever I am frustrated, nervous, confused, or just need to hear encouraging words, she prays a simple prayer with me: May God go forward, and all that follows, be right and successful.

  14. Abbie

    I love these run-downs of what’s going on with you and running through your mind. It reminds me that I need to take a step back and think about everything going on with me!

    There is one person that consistently moves me to step out of my comfort zone and take risks… my husband. He’s always been spontaneous, and I’m a planner. If we weren’t together, then I might still be making lists and not actually taking chances. I analyze everything, and he just does. It continuously amazes me. Having kids was a scary thought for me for a long time… but after 8 years together and with his confidence, I know that we’re going to be amazing parents when our baby is born this November. It’s amazing how someone else can make you take chances and believe in yourself… and just MAKE THINGS HAPPEN!!

  15. Jenni Bailey

    Well, I don’t mean to add any fuel to your “I’d like to have kids someday” fire, but I have to say that being a mom has been very inspiring for me. My daughter – and the one on the way – have added another layer of meaning to whatever I do. There’s a sense of responsibility that comes along with being a little girl’s primary role model that makes every decision that much more significant. It brings the big picture into clearer focus.
    Thank you, once again, for being so spectacularly open and for sharing so much with us. I am forever grateful for knowing you, Lara.

  16. T.J.

    most inspiring quote-Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.-Theodore Roosevelt

    Most inspiring person-Brooke (my wife)

  17. Meagan

    My mom inspires me to be calm, cool and collected, and I can’t thank her enough for that!

  18. Dale

    I’m inspired by helping others!

  19. Mary Dunlap

    LOVE this post!!! A quote I live by everyday and in everything I do. “Treat others the way you wish to be treated”. My husband is my best friend. He may not agree with everything I say and do, but he’s there for me, all the time. That is all I need to be inspired and motivated to do my very best.

  20. Kerri

    My husband inspires me to my very core. His faith and how he can make sense of anything for me. He pushes me when I want to give up. More importantly, he’s never too busy to listen. I thank God every day for my soulmate. :)

  21. Chris Hunt

    Don’t just listen to your clients, give a Sh%# about them -Gary V.

  22. Mary Hines

    “What you do is not who you are, but who you are has a tremendous affect on what you do”! Thanks for the “notes” from “Summer Camp”!

  23. Jenny Smith | Alders Photography

    My husband (aka silent business partner) kicks my butt into gear every day. He reminds me to not worry, to trust in the Lord, and to get creative! Thanks, Tyler, for pushing me out of my comfort zone!

  24. Janice Carnevale

    My MTH accountability partner and new BFF (we met at MTH) Kelly Lanza is my most inspiring person. She pushes me to think outside of my box, and exposes me to beautiful images many times a day, that I otherwise would not see. She keeps me young at heart, being 10 years junior. But since she is brilliant and savvy, she keeps me motivated too. Couldn’t imagine life without her.

  25. Nancy Ray

    “Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” – a quote from Henry Van Dyke

    this quote always inspires me.

  26. fawnfable

    My little sister! We are 8 years apart, so she helps me to remember to keep exploring new music, update my look, and try crazy things. We were out together last weekend and we went to a random carnival. I ended up laughing so hard on a ride I would never dare to go on alone. :)

  27. Julie Fioretti

    “You can change no one but yourself.” If you don’t like how things are – change it! Only you can make change happen for yourself. That quote always inspires me. Plus I try to surround myself with honest and ambitious people.

  28. Amber Hammond

    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” {Mark Twain}

  29. Ari

    To my companion in aging: I wish I could sneak across the lake into Camp Lara. But I will settle on seeing you this weekend. Great post and just so I am eligible for the camera, you inspire me most, and you definitely push me out of my comfort zone (especially when you kick me at night…) I love you.

  30. Erin Faye

    My parents and my husband are my biggest supporters. They encourage me to follow my dreams no matter how big they are and are there to stand beside me at every turn in the road!

  31. Leona Morelock

    One of the things that inspires me is a picture that I have of when I was 16 and learning to walk again. I can see the pain in my face, and looking at that picture makes me believe that I can do anything if I persevere.

  32. Mary Saou

    My husband, Mike, definitely draws me out of my comfort zone! Even though I might feel crazy or awkward, I experience more and am later thankful that he yanks me out of my chair and onto the dance floor.

  33. Jacquelyn

    That quote…life begins at the end of your comfort zone…rings true in my life right now. I recently took a big step, and a risk to push me in my craft and my business life. My husband has inspired me. He is the one in our relationship that worries more about taking the “safe” route and not being risky. But he has such faith in me that he encouraged me to go for it..even though it was not his comfort zone to take a detour from the safe route.

  34. Victoria

    You are so inspiring! You’re honest, successful, and positive. It’s so refreshing. :) My boyfriend is the one who inspires me and pushes me out of my comfort zone. He is my soulmate and where I am weak, he is strong, and vice versa. We are usually pushing each other to do something different. The potential was always there, but now that he’s in my life, I feel strong and that I can do absolutely anything.

  35. bethany

    lara, thank you for such fun blog posts that not only give us a personal look into you but also tons of links to refer to and reference and listen to and such.

    my husband & i LOVE the andrew peterson song — it’s been getting a good amount of press these days, it seems. and tim keller is one of our favorite pastors… we seriously considered moving to new york to be under his teaching before!

    speaking of husband, he is definitely the one that pushes me out of my comfort zone. i think he’s a MTH type of guy, patiently holding my hand as i learn to do the same.

    • Lara

      Such a small world Bethany! Tim Keller is brilliant. I did about 5 hours straight of layout tonight “after work” and only got through it because I listened to 5 Tim Keller sermons in a row. I used to go to Redeemer when I lived in Manhattan. Thanks for your encouraging words!

  36. Daniel Chee

    Lately, teen vampire love stories seem to inspire outside the box for me. Congrats on V3!

  37. Lezie

    Your posts are always so “real” and I love it! Here is my favorite quote…”A spirit in my feet said ‘go’, and I went.” -Matthew Brady, on why he photographed the Civil War. I am blessed to have many who love and encourage me but my Mom encourages me more than she knows. To hear that she is proud of me is one of my greatest joys in life.

  38. Lydia

    I loved this post! A person who encourages me to get out of my comfort zone is my fellow photographer Michele. We not only talk about big ideas, but we sit and make lists together of what needs to be done. Then we keep up with each other, asking how it’s going and keeping the other person accountable. Because of her encouragement, my business has grown so much in the last half year!

  39. Christine

    “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”

    It is a sign sitting in my living room so I see it every day, and it is always so inspiring for me. Once I realized that most failure scenarios that I fear aren’t really that bad, I became so much more brave in everything I do. It constantly motivates me.

  40. Sommer

    Lara!! Loved this post….so much goodness packed into a single blog post. Oh and thanks for the lovely shout out too :)

    What inspires me?

    Love bears all things,
    Love believes all things,
    Love hopes all things,
    Love endures all things.
    Love never fails.

    + plus of course friends, family, creative people like yourself, photographs, movies, sounds, places, faces, spaces, happy thoughts…the list goes on really!

  41. Marletha

    I know I say it all the time, but Lara Casey, you never cease to amaze me! Your ability to teach that “fear is not final” and that fear should not hold someone back from their dreams is one thing. Being able to teach it and live it is quite another. That is what I love and admire about you. No matter how hard it may be, you put in to practice the lessons that you teach. My encourager is my friend Courtney. No matter, what I am going through she is ready with an encouraging scripture to lift my spirits. This week I needed two encouraging scriptures. The first is James 2:26 “Faith without works is dead.” The second is Isaiah 26:3 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee…” Faith and peace… By the way, you and Ari’s “oldness” is cute. Dinner at 4pm?? LOL!

  42. Jennine G-L

    The one person who inspires me the most…my friend Gail. She is living as a missionary in Russia and she is living her dream. I am impressed by this every day.

  43. Visual Inspiration 365 // 143 : Sommer Atkinson

    […] and check her latest blog….you’ll find Visual Inspiration 365 there. […]

  44. Susan

    My grandmother is my insparation! Spending time with her this weekend celebrating 83 years of life!

    My saying that I love is “The WILL of God will never take you where the GRACE of God will not protect you!”

  45. Corinna Hoffman

    EPIC post, Lara! I tuned in to your interview with Dane Sanders, and I can understand why this took you awhile to post–and thank you for sharing this with us :) My mom always inspires me the most because she gave up SO many things for herself to provide what is good for us and my brothers :) I also want to add that one thing that truly inspires me the most is National Geographic magazine! It’s alway been a childhood dream of mine to shoot for them..I love to travel and capturing human emotions and learning about different cultures :) I may not be working for them yet, but God has been good to bless me with another amazing job–wedding photographer :) Thanks for this post, Lara!

  46. Ashley V

    Luckily, the one person who inspires me the most is my husband. He’s simply a genius, and the most generous & giving person I’ve ever known. To know that someone like that loves you, admires you, despite all your insecurities & self-doubt… it’s such a gift! When I doubt myself or my abilities, he’s my biggest cheerleader. He inspires me to succeed. He supported me in the craziest leap of faith ever – leaving my job to make my dreams come true. Seeing myself as he sees me has allowed me to give myself permission to succeed, permission to not just say “I’ll try” but to say “I will. And not only will I succeed, I will ROCK!” If I had one wish for everyone, it would be that they find their own personal cheerleader – be it a friend, a family member (oh how we make excuses for their believing in us, right?), a teacher, or a significant other. In the meantime, be your own personal cheerleader.
    “RA RA RA! Goooooo ME!” :D

  47. emily scott

    i am inspired by the verse in philippians that says we are to shine like stars in this universe. i want to shine.

  48. cara

    (1) I just had to comment on you saying that you & Ari are now at the “mildly awkward” stage re: discussing kids — love it! We’ve just recently (and by “we” I meant “I”) moved past “mildly awkward” somewhat recently — cheers to our progress ;) (2) For moving past my comfort zone… I’d have to name 2 people. First is my husband, who constantly pushes me, no matter how resistant I am, when it’s something that’s good for me but gosh darn, I hate not being secure + not knowing everything about the situation I’m getting into. I’ll just say that childhood taught me I had to be prepared for anything, and if I could think of every angle possible, I knew I would mostly be fine. So now, he’s helping me learn that it’s okay to take that step, even without having thought + planned + reviewed every single option. Not to mention he’s pushed me to learn how to have fun — literally :D The second person would be my friend George — he’s been able to push me, work-wise, into places that I thought I never wanted to go, but has opened tremendous opportunities for me. And, I just recently shared a personal victory with him (oral argument before one court just below the Supreme Court, in my area of the US), but wasn’t relishing the thought of doing this *again* — and he said something that completely gave me the perspective and *excitement* to gear up for the next time :) (3) I’m just now getting to this post as I’m slowly catching up, but I just posted a mass thank you post to my [moral] support team, with one more going up tomorrow :) — I love these appreciation posts, and I’m so glad to read you have a fantastic team behind you, because you are a total powerhouse, and it’s good to know you’ve got people who can help you re-charge :)!

  49. Karen Ard

    St Lucia inspires me! You are right, you will never want to come back! I lived there for two years, shooting weddings, locals, etc. It is heaven on earth! Now that I think about it I’m not sure whyI came back! lol

  50. Janis Veide

    My friends and especially my fiance often inspire me to do things I wouldn’t do on my own.
    I also get motivated by reading blogs of Chase Jarvis, Priscilla Gragg and Lara Casey :D

  51. Astrid and Rene

    Who inspires me? My two little girls. I thought I had a wonderful life before I had them, but after they came into my life, I really learned the meaning of inspiration, dedication, passion and true love!

  52. Jessica Elizabeth

    3024 Ocean Drive constantly inspires me. This is a gorgeous home on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. Every time I want to give up or I don’t want to push toward something better, I go visit and take walk or a jog along the beach. One of the goals I am working towards is owning this home within the next ten years :)

  53. Christy Eriksson

    “All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all the things I have not seen.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

    My husband if for sure my greatest cheerleader. He inspires encourages and pushing me to greater things in my life and with my Savior.

  54. Faith

    I’ll tell you what inspires me most: my creative friends, who are being brave and ‘doing it anyway,’ in spite of the fear. Specifically, my friend Anna, who taught herself (amazing) photography and is now super busy shooting Charlotte weddings every weekend; my friend Jenny, who makes beautiful eco-clothing from gorgeous materials (Julia Roberts is wearing one of her tops in Eat, Pray, Love!); and my friend Michelle, who’s fostering the creative community in North Carolina through an independent designers’ collective, markets, and just basically being awesome.

  55. Deb P

    I have to say my mom inspires me to get out of my comfort zone. She was always afraid to pursue her dreams and she had a lot of regrets in her life. I didn’t want to follow the same path so I try to challenge myself often and have faith that my mom would be proud to see my achievements.

  56. natalie

    My fiance inspires me. He tells me that I don’t have to operate out of fear. I realize that the more he says this, I am inspired to do great things. I know I was created for greatness, and not giving into fear.

  57. Jess V

    Beautiful and refreshing post, Lara. My inspiration comes randomly from certain clients, clients with a huge sense of style and confidence. The moment we connect through the camera, amazing things are created. Good fun!

  58. Becka @Studio222 Photography

    It’s a bit silly but my mantra for the last few years has been “When life hands you lemons, make grape juice. Then sit back and watch the world wonder how you did it.” It’s what helped me build a business out of (what felt like) thin air and it’s what makes me push to continue making things happen.

  59. Calder Clark

    Um- LOVE baby redhead Lara. That pic kills me. Inspirational how you speak with such candor and prowess and still spread Jesus’s love while you’re at it. You = bad a. Have a great weekend!

    • Lara

      Thank you Mrs C. I think the world of you. Maybe I will live in Charleston one day. Xo

  60. Kia Gregory

    Just when I thought I had a lot going on, I read this and you are way busy! Woe! Hope you enjoy St. Lucia. Looks like it’s going to be an amazing getaway.

  61. Hannah Taylor

    Okay, I just watched your interview with Dane Sanders. yes, just getting to it. :( I just get so much out of what you have to say. I know you’ve heard that before. But it has been so so great for me to find people that I can really relate too (you, bobbiandmike, sarahrhoads, beth jansen..) I have spent a lot of my life feeling like I was/am the only one and to finally find people and an industry where I feel “at home”. I cannot express in words how much peace and comfort it brings. So thanks for putting yourself out there.

  62. kirsten

    inspirational! thank you :)

  63. Jennifer Prince

    Well, of course I would say my husband first :), but I want to take a little time to brag on a friend of mine. Often when making decisions, what is “comfortable” for me is not always the right choice … most often it is the easy choice. My friend (who will remain unnamed! :) ) always encourages me to think about things and takes me in a new, inspiring direction. We both have been through a lot lately and have been very frank with each other. I definitely appreciate the ability to be transparent with her and also her perspective on doing what is best even if it is not the easy or comfortable thing.

  64. Daniel Chee

    Hmm, who inspires me to leave my comfort zone… mostly children, and my best friend who is also my 92-year old grandfather… oh yes, and I’d like to give props to Cookie Monster… because C is for cookie, and that’s good enough for me.

  65. Alison Harshbarger

    My mom definitely is the most inspiring person in my life. No one has encouraged me more to “feel the fear, and do it anyway.”

  66. Jenny

    I am inspired by my aunt Becky. She is fighting breast cancer for the 3rd time, it’s now at stage 4 and she is not giving up. I’ve never heard a harsh word come from her mouth, even though she lost her husband to cancer 6 years ago. She inspired me to go outside of my comfort zone and walk the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer this weekend in Santa Barbara. 39.3 miles!

  67. Kelly Langner Sauer

    Lara, you are a recent discovery – I am LOVING your blog. There is so much good stuff here, it’s gonna take me a week to get through it!

    As far as inspiration? I seriously have to give this one to God, which can sound so canned. I have only recently made a full commitment to what began as a dream with my photography. I’m diving in head first here in Charleston, building a portfolio and beginning to expand my business into something more than a “have camera, will take pictures” hobby. As I’ve been moving forward, I’ve just sensed Him at my side, checking my heart, guiding me in my interactions with others, telling me, “it’s okay that you want to do this, let’s do this together.”

    It’s so much exhilarating alive…

    Thanks for being real here – that’s not easy, but we all wear skin, and I know that anger well. I appreciate your transparency.

  68. christina b.

    one of my favorite quotes from mark twain: “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 sail. explore. dream. discover.” it totally speaks to me (even the sailing references!). i have this printed out and hanging above my desk. love it! thanks for the great post!

  69. Ashley M

    Honestly, the stronger my relationship gets with God the more I feel motivated and find inspiration. I find myself searching for it more and pushing myself further and believing in things that I wouldn’t even have thought of before. I am inspired often by this incredible industry because it is a combination of many women, some men, that operate and thrive as small businesses…that is no small feat especially in this rocky economy. I love and live for that drive and hope I get closer everyday through my faith and others inspirational personal growth and strength, like your very own!

  70. Michael Newman

    This weeks inspiration goes to my in-laws!! I couldn’t have asked for a better family to marry into. When life is tough, unclear, and sometimes overwhelming they have a stability and wisdom that helps me navigate those tough times. I don’t know what my wife and I would do without them.

  71. Rajshelj

    I’ve had a very rocky relationship with my parents. So when I became a mom. My main goal was to surround my children with as much love ad possible. Knowing that they are in my life is what keeps me going each day. I like to use the phrase “you are the light that dispells my darkness” as no matter how bad things get. One unconditional huge from either one or both my children makes it all better

  72. Ashley Smith

    The person that lit that spark to get me motivated is James Sereno. He laid out the plan and made my goals seem much more attainable by breaking it into pieces I can swallow. I’m excited for this new empowerment and where it’ll take me.

  73. Brittany Dawson

    The sun in all it’s beautiful glory inspires me the most – and knowing who put it there.

  74. Jennifer

    I understand why you do what you do…just reading your blogs, I can feel that you have a powerful essence…and the way you utilize it is beautiful. Thank you.

  75. Megan Finger

    The thing that most inspires me to get out of my comfort zone is my desire to be confident. Sounds silly, but becoming comfortable in your own skin is, ironically, uncomfortable sometimes! Treating yourself with grace and allowing yourself to make mistakes is terrifying but rewarding.

  76. Talar

    “Time won’t wait for you…Every second screams, listen to your dreams.” I heard these lyrics in a Jamiroquai song recently and they seriously lit a fire under my behind! Time. will. not. wait. so get going, get out of the comfort zone…nothing changes, if nothing changes!
    :)

  77. Jen O.

    Lovely post. Every kid should have a fun watermelon picture! :) I’m inspired by my children and their zest for life. They encourage me to laugh more and stress less.

  78. annie

    my best friend leah encourages and inspires me the most. she has been through so much, but always manages to have a positive attitude and optimistic outlook on life. i am so excited that we are finally going to live in the same state again!

  79. Katrina

    I’m a college student, and one of the groups that I’m actively involved with on campus is Relay For Life. Cancer is a terrible disease that everyone can say they have been affected by at one point or another in their lives. We meet and learn the stories of numerous cancer patients to make a stronger connection between our event and the fundraising we do for it and how our money is put to use and who benefits from it. Those people are the ones who push me to earn that extra dollar, who push me to put up that one more poster. Even when I’m not planning for the upcoming Relay, I’m always thinking about those who are battling cancer currently. If those people can wake up every morning with a bright smile on their faces and forget all of their current, life-changing troubles, why can’t I get over the fact that the coffee machine at work is broken or that I stained my slacks with salad dressing?

    “You have to be wiling to get happy about nothing.” -Andy Warhol

  80. Mary Hines

    Thanks for the transparency in your posts – your blog is inspiration!

    My children inspire me. They are not held back by fear – they are out there enjoying life. I have learned a lot from them and have found life outside my comfort zone. My husband and I experience a divine discontent – stepped out in faith and are experiencing an awesome adventure!

  81. Angela

    My fiance is certainly the person who inspires me most to get out of my comfort zone. He encourages me to meet new people or do something I think is silly. It always turns out just fine – I just need that little push!

  82. Royce Walston

    I find much of my inspiration comes from my facebook and twitter feeds. Seeing excitement from others and their creativity sparks me to get out and accomplish things.

  83. PLGC

    My fiancé challenges me. I have such a tendency to give up on myself but he pushes me to try new things, and try them again when I don’t meet my own expectations. We’d love a new camera to add some fun to our wedding day next month!

  84. Sarah Barber

    What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. -C. S. Lewis

    It’s so simple but so complicated when you are in the middle of turmoil. Just one step at a time. Don’t stop moving. Most of the time I want to curl up in a ball and close my eyes until the complications and tough situations pass me by. Every time I think of this quote I’m reminded that if I do stay still, everything will stay the same. What will change that…is to get up, make a difference, take a stand and KEEP MOVING FORWARD. And in the end…the prize is oh-so-sweet. :]

  85. Katie

    Um, just got teary eyed watching the music video for Dancing in the Minefields. Incredible song. Thanks for sharing!

  86. DeNeitra

    Love inspires me. It’s by far the most miraculous thing any of us will ever experience. And when you really think about it, we’re all surrounded by love on any day, at any time, even in our darkest hours, it’s the one thing that we can never get away from. I fell in love with an amazing man this year, my parents love me in a way that I can’t even fully comprehend, my friends, extended family. The love that surpasses all understanding though, the love that encourages me to get out of bed on days like today when I just want to pull the covers over my head and sulk. . .Gods love, it’s the most amazing kind of love any of us will ever experience. So, here’s the scripture that motivates me, encourages me to move, or, perhaps to just wait on the Lord. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make your paths straight” Proverbs 3:5-6. I know that with God, trials and obstacles are limitless. So, what I choose to do is stand in the center of love. I allow love to encompass every aspect of my day – even showing love to random strangers. . .it’s a beautiful thing.

  87. Christine Meintjes

    “If your dream doesn’t scare you, it’s not big enough!” That quote has stuck by me for years and helps me to go beyond what feels comfortable :)

  88. Mary Dougherty

    those that have confidence in me. there’s nothing like the support of other people to send you on your way to something new!

  89. Mariana Herrera mosli

    Lara, you are such an inspiration, and I thank you for sharing so much of yourself!

    One of my major inspirations, is my 10 year old daughter. She always has the right attitude to view each situation and such a giving, lovely spirit!

    Thanks again Lara, all my best,

    Mariana | Kismis Ink Photography

  90. Erika Tracy

    My husband truly makes me who I am. We’ve just celebrated six years of marriage (and 8 of being each others’ best bud). During our laid-back celebration it was awesome to reflect and realize how much we’d influenced, motivated and challenged one other so far. He decided to start running . . . and has his first half-marathon next month. Now I’m putting fitness at the top of my list too with a huge amount of support from him. Yeah, I love him!

  91. Angela

    I don’t mean to sound like a little brown-noser, but Lara Casey, you are my biggest inspiration right now, not only in my career aspirations but also in my personal life. It is so encouraging and energizing to learn the story of your journey through your tweets and blog posts. It is so commendable how open and honest you are with your readers, who probably for the most part are complete strangers, like me. The way your relationship with the Lord shines through your posts and tweets help me remember that God is the one in control, no matter the situation. Please keep doing what you do!

  92. michael chan

    “And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” – Matthew 7:23

    this verse shakes me to my core and keeps me focused on the one victory that really matters