What We Stay Alive For

“Medicine, law, business, engineering.. these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life.
But poetry, beauty, romance, love… these are what we stay alive for.”
-Dead Poets Society


Apple totally stole my thunder, you guys.

You might have heard that line in Apple’s newest iPad commercial that aired during Sunday night’s Golden Globes, but I promise I’m not stealing this from the ghost of Steve Jobs. Two weeks ago, as I packed my clothes and stored my things in preparation for a very exciting relocation coming up, I had a hankering for a little Dead Poets Society and decided to put it on in the background. If you haven’t seen the movie, I’m worried that you’ve been unknowingly walking around your entire life with a Dead Poets Society-shaped hole in your heart, and it should be remedied as quickly as possible to prevent any serious medical consequences. It’s a film about living the life you were made to live and finding adventure and being free in yourself and it is a wonderfully inspirational two hours and eight minutes that will both make you cry your eyes out and leave you with some very applicable writing tips. Anyways, my packing pace over those two hours more or less slowed to a halt because let’s be real, Dead Poets Society is not a watch-in-the-background kind of movie.

But as I haphazardly folded another t-shirt onto an already towering pile, I heard the line quoted above with new ears. Robin William’s character speaks it to a classroom full of prep-school boys who have been told their whole lives that they are destined for greatness in the form of PhD’s and business degrees. They’ve spent all this time believing that they have no time to pursue endeavors that won’t put them on the fast track to money, fortune, and notoriety. Beliefs passed down from their fathers and their father’s fathers that say that putting your head down and doing what you’re told and being who the world expects you to be is infinitely wiser than discovering who you are on your own accord, because a person can’t truly know what’s good for themselves when they’re young. But for the first time, someone gives those boys another option. A chance for discovery. A chance to learn who they really are. A chance to see through the generations of fear and into the future that could really wait for them. A chance.

About a year and a half ago, I jumped into this crazy business without much of a clue where it would take me. I had a handful of amazing friends that first summer who trusted a rookie with a camera and a dream to document one of the most special days of their lives. I feel so incredibly indebted to those first seven couples and will never be able to thank them enough for giving me a chance. With plenty of hard work and a healthy dose of professionalism, those chances grew into opportunities and this past year I was able to photograph the weddings of 20 marvelous brides and grooms who’s celebrations took me from the familiar roads of Virginia and Pennsylvania to the fresh, new views of Buffalo, New York and Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I put way more miles on my car than my lease allows for and I tried my best to convince my body that four hours of sleep is absolutely normal. I made time for family and friends and myself and I had a wild adventure or two. I worked a lot. Besides my business, I worked as a graphic designer and marketing assistant at a hotel and conference center, which was so much more of a blessing than the coffee barista or administrative assistant position that I thought I would have held for the last year and a half. At my job I gained incredibly valuable design experience, got my feet wet with marketing, learned a ton about what makes a business work, and most importantly, met some of the most amazing and inspiring co-workers I could have ever. EVER. asked for. But many times this past year, I found myself in the juggling act of jobs and clients and travel and life-life with all of my balls in the air, threatening to plummet right through my hands onto the ground all at once. The things that sustained my life were in a constant tug-of-war with the things that I wanted to stay alive for, and one way or another, something had to give.

And as Robin William’s monologue continued I sat thinking about those chances I’d been given. Thinking about the poetry and beauty and romance and love that is in this world, and knowing that those are the things that I stay alive for. Thinking about the next step that I was going to take, and knowing beyond all doubt that it was the right step, the right direction.

And so it is with much excitement and a few nervous butterflies that I can finally type the following sentence:

I am a full-time wedding photographer. 

And if you, kind internet friend, are reading this, then I owe you the utmost thanks. Thanks for following along on this crazy little blog. Thanks for getting excited for the truly awesome couples who share their most incredible days with you. Thanks for not getting mad at me when life gets a bit crazy and I slack with blogging. Thanks for supporting me. But most of all, thanks for giving me a chance.

There are a lot—a LOT—of other mind-blowingly exciting announcements, additions, and adventures coming to Stephanie Dee Photography in the next month, and you should definitely be thrilled for those, too. But for now, I thought this one really deserved its own little internet moment.

Happy Tuesday, friends. Go out there and find what you stay alive for.



  • January 14, 2014 - 8:13 am

    Bridget - This is the perfect inspiration for a January Tuesday. So proud of you doogs, and SO jealous. You’re living the life I wish I was brave enough (and talented enough!) to even attempt. You’re gonna kill it!ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2014 - 8:25 am

    Beth T. - CONGRATS!!!! This is amazing news! I think we definitely need to celebrate with another coffee sometime! :D There is no doubt 2014 will be an amazing year for you and your business! Enjoy this crazy ride!ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2014 - 10:25 am

    Ali - YOU ARE AMAZING. Congratulations Doogs!!! You are so so so so talented and deserve every last bit of the dream life you’re living. Happy for you!!!ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2014 - 12:57 pm

    Andrea - Yay Steph! I teared up at that post – you are amazing and as always I’m proud to call you my friend :) Congrats!!! I’m excited to hear more!ReplyCancel

  • January 14, 2014 - 10:35 pm

    Sarah - What an inspiration. Congratulations friend I am so excited for your new adventure!ReplyCancel

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