11.21.11 Photography

Both Sides of My Mouth

L
ast week I received an email from a loyal blog reader...and friend. Her words hit me hard because, maybe, I hadn't done the best at explaining my approach to life...and then I felt like I was speaking from both sides of my mouth. Which is so not a good look for me. In light of this (and with her permission), I'm responding to her email publicly to clarify any miscommunication...

Quitting and following your dreams is so romantic...it's so perfect that I find myself asking, "am I happy?" over and over again. I entertain the idea of quitting because what you say resonates somewhere deep inside me...but today you did the opposite. You said the journey is long....its hard....but give it one more try before you throw in the towel. So now I wonder...why didn't you keep going in law school? Why didn't you go back and give it one more try?
Clarification: I didn't go back to law school because I, instead, chose to pursue the dream of becoming a professional photographer. If things didn't work out becoming a wedding photographer, I might have gone back to law school and given it one more chance, but--thankfully--the wheels of my dream started moving.

Was law school never really a dream of yours?
To be honest, I was in love with the idea of what being a lawyer would mean...to me, to my family. I'm a first-generation Hispanic, so I held tightly to the notion that education and a healthy paycheck meant freedom...but when I got to law school, I realized I couldn't be free if I was shackled to the unhappiness of an unfulfilled life.

Were you ever confused as to what your "dreams" were?
YES! When I left law school, I felt totally and completely lost. Everything for which I worked so hard now meant so little and I clung to this harebrained idea I could pick up a camera and make it work. To be honest, my dreams--then and now--are in a constant state of recalibration, but it was just as important to know what I did not want to do. Whether I could bring myself to say I dreamt of being a photographer isn't the point...it's knowing I didn't want to be a lawyer. Knowing this, I had to make decisions to move me away from the direction I was headed.

I've heard you say...you gave yourself a year and if it didn't work out you would go back to law school...but what was your measure of "working out"? What was your milestone?
Everyone has their own measure of success/milestone/"working out" and what worked for me may not apply to anyone else. When I made the decision to not return to law school, I worked part-time three days a week. My goal in 2007 was to book 10 weddings as the lead photographer...I figured that this would be a nice jump for my first year and something I could handle. Luckily, I booked 38 weddings and I was able to pursue photography full-time, but if I hadn't set a goal, I wouldn't have anything to measure my first year success.

How do you decide whether its just a rough patch and you should battle through...or if you wave your white flag?
Every day was a rough patch in law school (here's a reminder), so I battled the best I could. When I received news of my mother's relapse with brain cancer, I held up a white flag in full surrender because I couldn't do it anymore. "It" being the ability to go through the rough patch. Sure, not everyone gets a distinct wake up call, but when I did, I left and didn't look back.

I'm just confused because you say quit. Now keep going...
Clarification One:
In the past ten months, every ounce of me was put to the test publishing EXPOSED Magazine. In addition to travel, wedding photography, at-home work, speaking engagements, and life, I was pulled in every direction. I quit working on the magazine because I was overwhelmed, not because I didn't want to pursue it. Essentially, I sold myself short. This is completely different than when I quit law school because I knew that at the end of the day, I didn't really want to be a lawyer.
Clarification Two:
QUIT what you don't love and don't want to spend the rest of your life doing (of course, taking proper steps to protect you and your family from financial distress). And, more than anything, quitting can be a frame of mind as much as an action. You can quit believing you're destined for a cubicle for the rest of your life, quit thinking you'll never make third quarter sales projections, and quit doubting your ability to be enough.
KEEP GOING when you believe your path is what you were called to do (even if this is part-time or full-time or you're simply pursuing a passion) or simply for the reason you can look back on your life and know you gave it your all.


To those who have poured out their support online via Twitter and Facebook, THANK YOU...I'm truly blown away by your kindness and encouragement! I can't wait to see what the future holds for you...and us...and our connection to following our dreams!
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Selina Marie Torres - WOW WOW WOW!!! Thank you so much for sharing your heart here. Truly has blessed me more then words can say. When you spoke about the clarifications of Quitting and Keep Going its exactly what im dealing with right now. I lost my job in January 2011 and didnt know what road i wanted to take. I myself am Hispanic and well unlike you my parents didnt care or push to much about education more then working, get a job etc. So i been working since the age of 15 yrs old. Anyhthing i can to do make a $ because how i was raised $ will get you everything dreams wont. So i worked never collected unemployment untill this past year. March I had to make a decision did i wanna spend the last bit of $ i had to buy a camera or did i wanna save it cause i didnt know when the next time i would get $. Well March i bought my Nikon D3100 and i 1st picked it up and didnt know what i was doing shot in automatic and yeah lol crap for photos lol but now just under a year i shoot in Manuel and kinda know a bit about what im doing. Making a lil money here and there did a couple weddings (FOR FREE) cause i didn't know what i was doing lol. My friend spoke about u to me in a bathroom at church and then a teacher mentioned you as well. I had to check you out and i have been hooked on your blog ever since. These past few weeks i have felt like giving up and walking away but its my passion. :/ So i dont want to walk away from Photography, but at times i feel defeated. People tell me my work is AMAZING but eh im my worse critiquer. :/ Thank you for what your doing ITS A BLESSING!! I ordered your Magazine Exposed I can't wait to get it. :) <3  12.21.11 - 7:57am
Jonni - I love how your mom commented here in the comment section. She must be so proud! I just want to tell you how much I love my magazine too Jasmine. Thank you! :)   12.05.11 - 5:48am
Schona Kessler Photography - I love the magazine! Hey look there I am on the top row 3rd one over in bright green! Famous! lol Keep on keepin' on. :)  11.28.11 - 9:30pm
Mom - Loving my magazine Jasmine!! Love, Mom  11.27.11 - 3:00pm
Marc Hunter - Miss J* you have done it again. I have been struggling with the idea of leaving my job to pursue my dream. I have longed to be a creative all my life. I have prayed and waited for answers to prayers and twice now the answers have come from words you have spoken. Thank you for inspiring many of us to be brave and pursue that which we love. May God continue to bless you Jasmine.  11.26.11 - 6:17am
Mireya - Hearing of your struggles and how you were able to reach your dream and continue to reach helps me, more than you can imagine. Everyday I want to let go, say screw it, throw the towel and forget all I dream about. Sometimes I think it isn't meant for me, that they are just hallucinations, but if they are there it is for a reason right?? Thank you for sharing your experiences, for contributing to the few reasons why I still dare to dream. Have a great thanksgiving and reach each and everyday stronger than the day before :)  11.23.11 - 1:44pm
Alicia Allen - I got my copy on Sunday I think the neighbor got it by accident then returned it to me.lol. I was so excited and haven't put it down since. I will read it over and over again for daily encouragement to help me keep on, keeping on!  11.22.11 - 7:55pm
Christina Carter Photography - Thank you so much for this! I needed to hear this because right now I am in the goal setting stage and defining what "being a success" means to me. Thanks J* <3  11.22.11 - 9:07am
kristin Nicole - Thanks for keeping it real  11.22.11 - 7:50am
Karen - I received my copy of your magazine last week, and I'm so glad I bought it. You're such an inspiration.  11.21.11 - 9:01pm
Kaitee Doll - So my 13 year old daughter Chalisse aka ChaCha wanted to say hello and she loves your freckles. You inspire all generations and you are a wonderful friend in a business that is not always so kind.  11.21.11 - 8:33pm
Shannon Rosan - Thank you for never giving up :)  11.21.11 - 5:07pm
Jodie Lemke - Thank you so much for posting this clarification! I always knew what you meant but someohow your words always encourage me. always. I had a really horrible session this weekend with horrible clients and it made me want to throw up my white flag. I am completely discouraged but I'm going to keep going because i need too. because I truly love what I do and the haters can keep hating! ;) Still desperately waiting for my copy of EXPOSED! I bought it the day you launched it.  11.21.11 - 4:18pm
Rachel Marie Photography - So glad you didnt give up on your dream OR this magazine!   11.21.11 - 3:28pm
LYDIA WALKER - First of all, Jasmine....THANK YOU!!!!! For all your inspiration, by putting yourself out there as an open book for anyone to see and learn from. The mag...AWESOME! Your honest insight...refreshing! The thing is, YOU, put it out there with the intent, that if it can help anyone...great! Why? Because you are a person that: CARES and LOVES. And ALWAYS reminding us that YOU do not have ALL the answers. What you share is NOT a GUARANTEE that, if followed, will work for everyone. Mainly, because there is no other Jasmine! It is however, a GUARANTEE, that with, sincere hard work and dedication ANYTHING we set our minds to, can be accomplished...and HAPPINESS or SUCCESS in life is not tied to a degree or career...but to the ties we build in relationships with those we surround our lives with. Our FAMILY, our FRIENDS, our FAITH, and our beloved extended family members, our PETS. <3  11.21.11 - 2:54pm
Sioussat <--the French side - I love both sides of your mouth. Probably cause I'm one part French and those people like to give one kiss to both sides. Mwah. Mwah.   11.21.11 - 2:11pm
Jill Samter Photography - Beautiful! Amen! Again, congrats on the amazing work you created and pushed to finish! Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving Jasmine!  11.21.11 - 12:36pm
JoAnna Johnson - Thank you for always being so transparent. I feel that this was exactly the blog post I needed to hear/read today.   11.21.11 - 11:34am
Bianca - Great way to bring clarification!!! Oh yeah, I'm so bummed I didn't take a picture with your magazine :( When I get home I will send one! Heehee ;)  11.21.11 - 11:29am
Paola - 38 weddings in the first year of business... that's just... wow!!! How did you do this? That's just awesome!  11.21.11 - 11:27am
Cy Gilbert - Jasmine, your blog this morning was inspiring, to say the least. I'm in my first year of business as a self-employed photographer (weddings, commercial, landscape), and have a question about those 38 weddings you booked in *your* first year: how on earth did you pull in that many clients? Not to minimize your natural talent behind the camera, but perhaps you have some advice on cutting through the competition and achieving a particular number of bookings. There's a strategy there, that interests me deeply. Your loyal fan, Cy  11.21.11 - 11:26am
Meredith - Love this. You are so inspiring. thanks Jasmine. <3  11.21.11 - 11:15am
Madeline J - I know you hear this all the time but you are truly my inspiration. When I look at what you've accomplished and how you continue to grow and reach new heights I am filled with optimism. You give so much of yourself, the good and the bad and I for one really appreciate it. I've just started this journey and like you I have no formal training, just a whole lot of passion and love. Could tell you my whole sad story but I won't. The truth is that I am blessed beyond means and wealth. I have God, love, and faith. Now I found you...my inspiration. Okay...im going to stop before i cry :)  11.21.11 - 11:12am
kathryn @ atlas and elia - I think life is about constantly making decisions. You wake up and decide: today I am going to work hard to follow my dreams, today I am going to quit my job because it's just not fulfilling to me and I can do better, today I am going to give in to my inner lazy child and just sleep in... each decision puts us on a new path. Sometimes it's not the right path, but the next day we course-correct. It truly is a struggle to find our own path. Jasmine, you are a light to so many of us who are finding our way...thanks, as always!  11.21.11 - 10:13am
Tracie - Aaah, it's killing me! Seeing all these people with their Exposed mags and I still don't have mine! Damn living in New Zealand :)   11.21.11 - 10:01am
Abby Grace - I love that you've posted people's instagram images! That one of the guy with his dog is awesome.  11.21.11 - 9:39am
Jeni Brower - Me, too!  11.21.11 - 9:37am
Suzy G - Honest, true, and completely human. Thank you for being all of these things. It is more of an inspiration than any thing else could be.   11.21.11 - 9:37am
Carrie K - I don't think you were speaking out of both sides of your mouth, but great post nonetheless. Isn't it interesting how crazy a life led by God can look to those who aren't YOU in YOUR shoes? Loved the magazine. I'm excited to anticipate a second volume, but you're right-it probably was like the birth of a child-so cuddle with it for a few months and see how authorship/motherhood feels. I hope it feels really good!  11.21.11 - 9:18am
Susannah - As always, love the life/career advice and encouragement. Thanks!  11.21.11 - 8:58am
Belinda - =)  11.21.11 - 8:54am
chandra ~ oh lovely day - YES! Thank you for this reminder. I've followed your story and blog for a long time, and I've said it before, but I feel like I've been in the same place, except I kept going. I went to law school and worked as a lawyer for 7 years. And I hated it and was totally unfulfilled. But I didn't really know exactly what I did want to do. I've had a wedding blog for a couple of years but couldn't live doing that alone (the money barely buys lunch, much less pays the rent). But sometimes life has a way of doing for you what you were afraid to do yourself. After I had a baby and desperately wanted to stay home with him, I found myself without a job (nice bosses let me go 6 weeks after I returned from maternity leave - classy) and now I love being at home with my son and wedding blogging full time, even if I always wonder how the rent will be paid. But at least I'm not working in a job I hate. The money part will come, I hope. Thanks for the encouragement. And a huge congrats on Exposed! xx  11.21.11 - 8:42am
Andrea Paris - Jasmine, thank you for being so open and sharing so much of yourself. I think a lot of people wind up doing what they're good at (e.g. law school because you are intelligent and worked hard to get there) rather than doing what they love (e.g. photography). Unless you are truly miserable doing what you're good at but don't love, it could be very difficult to see things clearly without hours of introspection and honesty. But you sharing your decisions, turmoil, and successes have made many people reconsider their choices. For that, you should be proud.   11.21.11 - 8:35am
LEOLAK - Jasmine, you are just such a geninue, awesome person - it makes my heart happy to know there are people like you in this world. I'll speak for myself, but I was never confused in your message of quitting law school and pursing your love of photography. I think you share and explain journey quite well and openly and I thank you for that immensely. I like that you helped clarifity for those who had questions - some would probably ignore them, and that just makes you even cooler in my book. Thank you for being such a continued inspiration not only in photography, but also in being just an all-around great person. I can't tell you how long I jumped up and down and squealed when I got the magazine last week. =D xoxoxo  11.21.11 - 8:30am
amanda - I relate to your story. A lot. I realized in my 2nd year of my architecture degree that it was not the career for me (only I finished the 5-year program and worked 5 years in the field, lol). I was terrified when I quit the career I hated, and I still am. but I am convinced I did the right thing. I totally agree, you have to know when to quit and when it is worth keeping trying. thanks for being such an inspiration, all the time :)  11.21.11 - 8:17am
Andras - I love this post, and I would also love to have a copy of the Exposed. Any chance to add Hungary to the shipping list? It would be so great!  11.21.11 - 8:08am
Lauren Wakefield - I love the idea that quitting can be a frame of mind. There is obviously a lot to consider when walking out the door of your day job...but having the mindset that this isn't forever is so motivating. Thank you for this post.  11.21.11 - 8:06am
Kyla - Jasmine! You are so cool. I love your insight and your drive. Thank you for sharing. Oh and that person's profile pic of the guy and his dog and your mag, hott!   11.21.11 - 7:57am
Tara - I understood you when you spoke from both sides of your mouth! :) I get it. ;) Well.. ok... I think I do anyway. hehe  11.21.11 - 7:56am
Emily Dobson - I want my magazine! Did they go out already?!  11.21.11 - 7:55am
Rose - I have read your magazine twice now and i'm sure by the time i'm done it will be completely worn and weathered - like a great pair of jeans...You are Fantastic!! I would so subscribe to your magazine if it were something that you decided to print every so often.  11.21.11 - 7:47am
Laura Russo - This post? Made my day!! Great pics of your fans. Questions did come up while I read but like you said, it's not a biography, it's just a story about how you started your business. Thanks for answering the questions publicly about law school. I could think of few things worse than being a lawyer. I think you made the right choice!! The proof is in the pudding.  11.21.11 - 7:44am
cheryl - One more thing.... since we all travel throughlife without a map, I think your trip has been pretty direct! Congratulations on the magazine and thanks for sharing your journey so openly.  11.21.11 - 7:37am
Denise Prichett - This post was so great. In my mind of have been battling the idea in the industry that you have to be a full-time photographer. Your words today made me feel fine to be a cubicle worker and a part-time photographer. I want the best of both worlds. I have friends who did photography full time and it was a JOB. I am unique in that every job that I have had I have happened to make it fun. I like being part of a team and being a cubicle worker.I love seeing people get married and hearing all the details. I love people being in love. The chance to document and capture a moment in life is an amazing gift. there is something magical about capturing your best image an electric feeling when you nailed it. Thanks Jasmine for your words as always. Waiting anxiously for my copy of Exposed to come to PA!!!!  11.21.11 - 7:34am
cheryl - The thing is... life isn't static. It's dynamic and changing all the time. And we are changing all the time so I think we have to tweak our approach to respond to the new situation every time we approach it OR at least fairly often. To my way of thinking, you DIDN'T talk out of both sides of you mouth--instead, you refined your course. Law School was part of your journey, not a mistake but a directional signal just like a stoplight at 4th anld main. If law was your destination, quitting might be the right word but since you were obviously meant to do something else, leaving lawschool was a way of continuing (not quitting) on your journey.   11.21.11 - 7:34am
tardy - such great thoughts. i think this will really resonate with a lot of people. especially artists feeling pulled to pursue their dreams, but then questioning or fearing, what if it doesn't work out. and going back and forth between the two thoughts constantly. it definitely resonates with me  11.21.11 - 7:30am
Penny Wolfe - A great post (especially loved Clarification 2) but you don't have to explain yourself. To anyone. But as someone who has quit. I get it. There's a difference between "being a quitter" and "quitting." 8 years ago, I quit my cubicle job. 5 years of university . 10 years as a designated accountant. Management position. Fortunate to be able to do what makes me happy which is raise a family and capture memories. Can't wait to receive my issue of EXPOSED!!  11.21.11 - 7:28am
Rachel Tatem - Thanks for the explaination! Wow, your goal for your first year was HUGE. I mean as a starting photographer to go from nothing to 10 weddings is a lot... then again you blew it out of the water with 38...  11.21.11 - 6:37am
Allison - Hi Jasmine - I'm usually a stickler for details like this (being a lawyer, myself), but I've never once thought your message was inconsistent. You know why? Because all along you followed your heart. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us; we're all blessed to have you.   11.21.11 - 6:37am
Shannon Wimberly - ...it seems simple, really.... why you did it, no explanation needed..... Law school drained the life out of you, and photography put life in you and everyone that has been inspired by it....it was a Divine suggestion..... You didn't quit Law, you chose a better path.....   11.21.11 - 6:34am
Jamie - Great post!  11.21.11 - 6:12am
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