by Chris Allen (aka sperm donor to her three beautiful children)

I hate it when my students begin presentations with “I’m not a very good public speaker” or “I don’t think this is very good”. I always respond, “then why are you wasting my time? Have some confidence, trust your research and just let it go.” It is with that same mentality that I am writing this blog post on my wife’s birthday today. So I will try to avoid my student’s errors and not say, “that I don’t really like blogs, I am not a very good writer, struggle to get my feelings across, and feel incredibly uncomfortable sharing personal information with strangers.” I will not say that to you, but know it’s there.

So the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” From this very phrase, my talented wife earns her income from families looking to capture those words with an image. In all honesty, I don’t get it. It might be the fact that I simply don’t enjoy seeing myself in pictures and therefore am constantly being reminded that “my God, I’m bald and kinda short, and holy shit look at those ears”. Or it might be knowing the true story of what was actually happening before that perfect shot was taken (“sit down, shut up and smile or you are all getting spankings!!!!”). It might be that I very rarely sit down and look through the albums of what once was, although I’m told as I age I will not only do that but truly appreciate it. It might be the fact that the camera is always attached to my wife looking to capture a magical moment, where I feel she should be living it. And that’s where our story begins.

My wife is 33 today. She is the kindest, most gracious, most compassionate, most giving, most selfless, and most loving person I know. You have probably witnessed it or seen it in some capacity. However, I did not marry her for those traits. I married her because she is incredibly beautiful with a fun-loving personality, loving and loyal to her core, is secretly pretty funny and had a nice rack. I honestly did not know that my wife was capable to becoming the woman, mother, wife, entrepreneur, church member and friend that she is today. I’m sure you’ve seen that, but what you haven’t seen is her drive. In all fairness, I didn’t know she had it in her. This is a person that has pretty much never finished anything in her life. Whether it be a piece of chicken, a job, or the laundry. Typically, creative and innovative personalities struggle with that. They can start a brilliant project, but often get distracted late in the game, move on to another project and never see it through. But what has transpired over the past few years is as motivational and inspirational of any story that you see movies about. My wife is now a finisher. My wife is now a worker. My wife is now confident. My wife is now a leader (in her industry, in her church, in her home). My wife is now financially responsible. My wife is now the bread winner. My wife is now living her dream at the young age of 33.

However, my wife is still my wife. And while I get to see and admire the good, I know what the sacrifices are. What you don’t see is how she stays up to 1 in the morning (nearly every night) editing your images. How she stresses, worries about whether or not you will appreciate what she has done. Does this location match the clientele? Whether she has priced out the clients that once helped her to become who she is today. How she is her hardest critic and is never satisfied. What you don’t see is the pain and stress that she is under being a single mom during my coaching seasons and running a highly successful and profitable business. What you don’t know is that she is a “people pleaser” down to her core and how a negative comment or reaction to a photo, cripples her for hours at a time. She is not a naturally competitive person, but this business has forced her to compete. This dream has forced her to address and conquer all of her perceived “weaknesses” in order to be successful. Like the Soup Nazi in Seinfeld, “she suffers for her soup!”. Simply put, she has become a warrior.  She has made herself into one of (if not the top) the best photographers in St. Louis. When people talk about role models and who was most influential in their lives, my kids won’t be naming some heroic athlete or even an influential writer, they will be naming their mom. And to be someone’s role model, to be someone’s motivation… I can’t think of a better compliment than that.

So while you often get to see that beautiful smile that lights up a room, and the casual “oh I don’t care” attitude on display, know that she is fighting like hell to give you the memory imprints and perfect photos that you crave. So on her 33rd birthday, I not only wanted to give you a behind the scenes look at who your photographer is but also take this moment to tell my wife (and I guess the rest of the world) how proud I am of you and your accomplishments. My wife shows her love through her work, and essentially through the images that she takes. I’m not so good taking pictures and really don’t have any artistic qualities (I’ll leave that part to her), but maybe, just maybe, my thousand words is worth a picture to you. (P.S. I’ll save you some time counting, this blog is a thousand words).

Happy Birthday, Jod.