Creating A LIFE, Not A CAREER (Part2)
Let's pick right back up at the "then comes baby in a baby carriage" part. Any mom can tell you that having a baby is a life altering experience. It takes you by the heart, spins you around, flips you upside down and all the sudden life becomes simple. Yes, you read correctly, life became SIMPLE! In part one I hinted to my slight obsession with planning. A plan for life was so important to me. I needed to know what I wanted and the fastest route to getting it. But when our 2 became 3 I realized the only plan that mattered anymore was for us to be together and to thrive as a family. I was able to take an extended maternity leave and that gave me lots of quality time with my camera and my new favorite model!
(Sometimes it is painful looking back at my early work... from wrinkled backdrops to crazy tacky editing, but it is always good to remember where you came from... maybe I'll throw in one recent photo (below) for an ego boost)
I returned to work after almost 4 months of maternity leave. Dropping him off at daycare felt like a knife to the heart and walking into work for the first time made me feel like I had strapped a 50 pound ball to each leg. I sat in my bosses office for a welcome back meeting and we discussed all that I had missed and then she said it; something I had been working the last year to achieve. She explained that they were ready to place me in the training program and promote me from Senior Team Lead to Assistant Manager. It was exactly the news I had been praying for before starting maternity leave; the type of news that should have completely turned around the rough day I was having, but for some reason it made me feel worse and I started crying. I declined the offer and explained that at the moment I could not imagine taking on more responsibilities and working more hours. The answer was SIMPLE because it did not benefit my one purpose of my family being together. I continued in my role at the store, but it didn't take long for the off hours and the stress of handing my child off to be raised by another to wear on my soul. It took 5 months, many mommy melt downs, and a lot of back and forth and finally we decided that the best choice for our family was for me to go stay at home. It was with out a doubt the best decision we have ever made, but it didn't take long for the struggles of a single income family to start piling up. We were living paycheck to paycheck and making it by is not the same as thriving. I decided to start trying to make money with my camera and I already had a few friends lined up for sessions.
It didn't take many sessions for me to realize that THIS brought me so. much. JOY, but that I wasn't very good at it. People loved the photos I gave them and I heard over and over again "You're a natural," or "you have an eye for it," but I wanted more. It is easy to snap a photo of someones family and have them fall in love with it because they love the subject of that photo. I wanted to feel moved by my images and to do that I needed to learn more!
Thankfully my community is blessed with an amazing camera shop called, precision camera and they have educational courses for photographers at all levels. The first course I took was "becoming a better photographer" with the great Randy Kerr. He is not only one of the most gentle and calm spirits I have ever met, but he was beyond inspirational! He encouraged me to shoot for myself, to make sure that what I put my name on moves my heart strings and others would notice. Now don't get me wrong he taught me an insane amount of fundamentals too, but my biggest take away from him was if you aren't moved by your own work you are doing something wrong.
Taking classes through precision gave me access to a huge pool of incredible photographers willing to share their knowledge and helped me greatly improve my photography, but there was still that whole hurdle of learning to manage a business. Producing awesome pictures fulfilled my heart, but we still needed me to bring in some money to set our family up for success.
It was at PCU 2015 when I got hit by a freight train of inspiration and her name was Tracie Maglosky! One thing she said blew me away and completely changed my perspective. She said "the biggest thing you have to overcome in your photography business is YOU!... you tell yourself you have to charge less because you are not as good as this person or that person, that you can't do blank as well as they do, but show me your work and I will show you someone with a thriving business, making more money than you whose work is not as good as yours." So I took it to google... I looked and looked and looked and SHE WAS RIGHT! Now I can't speak to the success of these peoples businesses, but I did know one thing... they had more balls than I did! They were putting their worth and value out to the world and here I was finally moved by the images I was taking, but not willing to put myself out there.
Tracie has kept me under her wing since we first met and she continues to inspire me to step a little more and a little more out of my comfort zone. I am so grateful and don't know how I will ever be able to repay her kindness, but it has seriously been an enormous blessing on my business and family. My work continues to improve and my business continues to expand.
So to wrap up my journey I have learned many things in the last 3 years:
First: Success isn't a strait line. Its more of a mess of a whole lot of squiggly, really confused lines that continue to push forward despite setbacks and turns.
Second: Surround yourself with people smarter than you. Listen to them and adapt what they did successfully into your business. I have no problem being a copycat as long as I copy the right cats.
and Third: Know what inspires you, cling to it, and never keep it far from reach.
"Don't follow your dreams, CHASE THEM!"