Yesterday, The Heartful Magazine released the Spring 2024 issue of their publication that is overflowing with awe inspiring images from family photographers around the world. I was fortunate enough to have one of my all time favorite images featured in a spread, and I am so grateful. It’s a privilege to be among so many talented photographers who value their clients and have a passion for documenting authenticity. I pride myself in being a Dallas photographer who connects with clients, and I know the company I am in does the same.

When Brooke Shultz created this publication just last year, I began following along and knew that having my work chosen would be a memorable milestone in my photography career.

dallas photographer who connects with clients

As a child, I was driven by success and achieving “the best”.  I prided myself on winning, and the gratification and admiration that came from it. As I grew in age and maturity, I learned that those things alone aren’t as fulfilling as they are portrayed to be in the world we live in. However, as you probably know, kicking habits (let alone mindsets) is challenging.  This became most evident to me in college when I was finally faced with a decision that felt pivotal. 

I entered my freshman year at The University of Tennessee determined to make it to medical school. I loved Grey’s Anatomy (lol), had always had the grades in high school, a strong work ethic, and the status and prestige that came with the title of MD felt like a beacon in the night.

 As I pushed through the newness and overwhelm of freshman year, I had the sinking feeling that the track I was on wasn’t going to provide the satisfaction that I once assumed it would. The Lord quickly reminded me that the identity I had created in high school (and all the years prior) was built on fleeting things that would one day not matter. I distinctly remember sitting in my cinderblock dorm room (RIP Humes Hall) crying and wondering what in the world this new feeling of uncertainty was. I quickly found myself on my best friend’s couch soaking in the comforting feeling of being known and loved – by the people in my life and by my Heavenly Father. 

Dallas photographer who connects with clients
Dallas photographer who connects with clients
black and white image of dad giving butterfly kisses to newborn and mom smiling at daughter

The Lord used that night and my first ever C in chemistry to show me that maybe medical school wasn’t going to be the route for me. He reminded me of the way he designed my heart and the desires that he had placed there throughout my life. On a personal level, I realized that a big one was children of my own. Being a planner by nature, I already knew that pursuing a medical career most likely meant that the standard rhythm of family probably wouldn’t start until later in life. The more I thought about that and prayed about it, I knew that He was leading me a different direction. 

I contemplated options, I daydreamed about the life I could create with different careers, and I still hoped for all the worldly accolades that came along with them. I finally ended up landing on a major in marketing. It felt creative enough, but still had the potential of “success”. In retrospect, this was just me holding onto the dream of “success” and gratification. It took a few more years and the Lord’s faithful hand to help me realize this. 

The summer before my senior year I found myself across the world completing an internship in London. To make a long story short, it was miserable. The fact that I was temporarily living in a different city was incredible, but everything else was just plain hard and uncomfortable. Once again, I was grounded by God’s love for me and the love of my circle of family and friends. I landed back in the states with a new goal at hand: pursuing full time ministry.

mother snuggling her newborn baby and gazing contently into camera

Even that did not pan out like I expected. What I thought was a dead end, turned out to be a new beginning. After graduation, a wedding, and a new last name I landed outside of Nashville working for a church that would end up being such a huge part of my story. While we were not there very long, the Lord taught us invaluable lessons. He used some incredible people to help me untangle lies that I had always believed, encouraged me to trust who God designed me to be, and to lean into community. In His kindness, He even urged me to be pick up my camera and unknowingly begin this business that I now call mine.

Looking back now, it’s clear to me that the Lord had been orchestrating this for me all along. He continually used people to pull me back to him and to give me clarity and comfort. He gently showed me that ministry would always be a part of my story, in one way or another. From passion to profession, He used people over and over to teach me how to be a Dallas photographer who connects with clients. And arguably most importantly, He taught me that success should never be solely based on money, merit, and worldly gratification. 

So as I sit here today reflecting on having one of my images featured in this publication I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Gratitude for God’s faithful hand in my life and for His undeniable grace and mercy. I am thankful for his little gifts that I sometimes don’t even notice. However, I can’t let this one go unnoticed. Being acknowledged and recognized for something that I love to do and has purpose and meaning is such a gift. It’s a reminder that I am where I need to be. In a season of uncertainty and questioning, I find comfort in the little things like this. 

xxx, Lakin

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