September 26 16

I’m lying in bed, in my flannel pj bottoms, decompressing and resting my old lady bones after spending an entire breakless day taking over 2,000 school photos on day 1 of my busiest week ever —

[I know people hate the word busy, but why? When did being busy become a bad thing? I’m not complaining about it (“Look at me, I’m such a martyr, I’m so busy, get me to my Betty Draper fainting couch!“), I’m not saying it as a virtue (“Look at how busy I am, I’m so awesome!” Um, nope) I’m not trying to play the busy olympics; I’m not any busier than you, I’m just saying it. I’m busy. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a thing. It’s a thing that comes with LIFE. It comes with having jobs I love. It comes with having a dog, a spouse, a mortgage. It’s a thing that comes with being a creative person, with having hobbies and passions and desires and dreams and wishes. It comes with the fact that every time one of my children say “I’m so bored!” I cannot even remember what being bored feels like.]

— four days photographing 633 elementary school children, their classes, their teachers, their school staff. It’s the most nervousciting thing I have done, I think.



I slept about a total of 11 minutes last night, which my fitbit is still yelling at me about, due to nervous energy. The variables were too variable, the unknowns were too unknown. Would it rain? Would the kids smile for me? Would I be able to shoot an entire class in under 30 minutes?

It did rain. SIGH. I’ve said before that a huge percentage of being a photographer, I’ve learned, is being able to ADAPT. So, this morning my amazing assistant Chavi and I got through 6 classes — 4th grade, nursery, JKA, JKB, SKA, SKB when the drip, drip, drip started to fall. I had been obsessively refreshing my Weather Channel app for days. At first I was nervous about sun, which was the biggest joke ever, because there was exactly no trace of sun to be found. The rain was inevitable, but on each refresh it got pushed off….rain at 10am, rain at 11:30, rain at 11:45. And it showed up at exactly noon. And then it poured. So in the downpour, I ran home to grab my lighting kit and my backdrop stand and we created a makeshift inside studio and photographed 5 classes inside. It wasn’t ideal — not by a long shot — but it worked. See? adapting. I’m getting good at it.

You know what else I’m getting good at?

Not comparing myself to other people. I believe it was Rob Lowe who said you should never compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.  Look, I don’t know if it actually originated with him, but it’s Rob Lowe so. I also have been particularly drawn to this particular Ralph Waldo Emerson quote:



I’m trying to be the best me. I don’t want to compare myself to other writers, other ex-social media managers for garbage companies, other mothers, other women, other sisters, other hausfraus, other insomniacs, other wannabe runners, other chocolate chip cookie bakers…

…other photographers, especially. I’m spending a lot of time BEING Ali Martell Photography. I don’t want to use other photographers’ business models; I’m working hard to develop my own. I love learning what my clients want and don’t want, and providing the right options for them. I don’t want to use other photographers’ styles — a friend told me recently that a picture I sent her was “such an alimartell photo” and that was probably the best compliment I have ever received. There are so many photographers out there right now doing so many different kinds of photography. I am sortofalmost related to two of the most beautiful photographers whose work is just always drool-worthy. Heck, I’m sure there are dozens of photographers in my neighbourhood alone who do exactly what I do. All it takes it one simple search on pinterest.

But I guess I just love the idea of Insisting on Myself.

And…I love that there’s no rain in tomorrow’s forecast. Please keep all of your extremities crossed.

So decompressing it is.

If you can call *this* decompressing. We are only 22 minutes in and even my nerves are nervous. I do not envy Lester Holt right now, I bet he didn’t sleep last night either.


I probably should turn my attention to Twitter’s newest hashtag. Last week it was the three fictional characters and this week it’s three albums that changed your life. You guys, it’s close to impossible.

“Music, you know, true music, not just rock ‘n’ roll, it chooses you. It lives in your car, or alone, listening to your headphones—you know, with the vast, scenic bridges and angelic choirs in your brain. It is a place apart from the vast, benign lap of America.” – Lester Bangs in Almost Famous.

So many albums have chosen me. Nirvana’s Nevermind. The Garden State Soundtrack. Neutral Milk Hotel’s In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. Hamilton. Indigo Girls’ Indigo Girls. Counting Crows’ August And Everything After. The Beatles’ White Album. Radiohead’s OK Computer. The Avett Brothers’ I And Love And You. Beta Radio’s Seven Sisters. I CAN’T STOP.

I wonder what these two presidential nominees would put on their lists.




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