So…. I just realized this will be the second school year that will begin without me teaching, and I can’t believe how fast time has flown by. I truly can’t believe that things happened so swiftly. My old blog from my “momtographer” days just expired, and I am ok with that. And, because I am such a huge believer in forward mobility, (and because the photos are all stored elsewhere), I didn’t even back up any of the old content there….except this blog entry below.
As I re-read this blog post today, I realized that all of my hard work, all of the late nights, all of the heartache and guilt and stress…it was actually all worth it. I thought I would never escape that grueling period of transition, but here I am. I emerged on the other side, happier, more fulfilled, more…me.
Because this blog really captures the reality of my journey into photography in the past few years, and because I feel so amazed that somehow I made it from there to here, I thought it only right to republish this on my current website. I couldn’t let this go into the internet abyss with the rest. This blog…these words…this is the heart of who I was and who I am and who I want to be. So here it is…
(Below is a blog entry published in the spring of 2014…which now feels like a lifetime ago…)
On a muggy spring evening a few years ago, I was traipsing around in the backyard with my brother-and sister-in-law, and my niece and nephew. I had an entry level DSLR and a nifty fifty lens (mom-togs, I highly recommend it!) My mind was racing. I had a list of pose ideas (lol, yep seriously) and I was nervously checking and rechecking my settings. I was thinking about how to add a post to my newly-minted blog and facebook page, and how I would need to figure out how to add a watermark. Oh, and how to create/design a watermark, too! I was worried about using lightroom effectively, uploading, downloading, importing, exporting, and organizing files. I was worried about disappointing my in-laws. I was asking myself am I good enough? and am I any good at all? and am I crazy?? I had spent 36 hours straight the past weekend muddling through designing a simple blog/website. I had spent money I didn’t have on rudimentary upgrades to my meager equipment. Through all of this, I was asking am I really ready for this?!?
At that point, this meant simply taking family photos for friends and family over the summer for a little extra money. As it turned out, I was as ready as I would ever be.
Fast forward to now. Now I sit here asking myself the same question: am I ready for this?? But today, this means shooting a wedding, leading an assistant, working with lighting equipment, two camera bodies, six lenses….organizing a timeline, organizing a lot of people…capturing someone’s mostimportantdayoftheirlife. No pressure. Today this means taking a leap of faith, having confidence in myself, my skills and abilities, knowing my equipment. And, today, when I ask that question, I ask myself am I ready for a complete career change. So, I just want you to know, in case you were wondering: the answer is yes. Yes, I am ready. Yes I am ready (on June 16th) to stop calling myself a teacher. Although I will always be a teacher at heart, and perhaps sometime in the distant future I will be a teacher again, for now, I am a professional photographer. Yes, that’s right I said it. I am proud to say I feel I have earned that title through hard work, investment in myself, education, and dedication.
The Talking Heads song Once in A Lifetime comes to mind when I think about how I got from there to here in the past year. “And I ask myself, well, how did I get here??” How did I get from working on earning a little extra money to a complete life overhaul? And when I ask myself that, I realize, it was somehow in me all along: I may have told myself I wasn’t good enough a thousand times, or laid in bed at night listing all the reasons it wouldn’t work, but once I was done that, I would always pick myself up and cross off another ten things on the list of things I needed to learn/do/find/buy/understand. In the past year, I have dedicated almost every moment I wasn’t teaching full-time or taking care of my son, to learning, growing, practicing, investing, shadowing, marketing, networking, branding, building, and asking lots and LOTS of questions. Oh, and googling….a lot. So when I think about how I came from there to here, I know that even when I never admitted it to myself, I had this goal in mind. I had this big, scary dream in my head: to be a photographer.
Another reason that I was able to come so far is because I had (have) a LOT of people on my side. I had people who helped me with the photography and business end of things: friends who supported me by having me take their photos, family who helped me manage two jobs and a three year old on three hours sleep. And old friends who built me up when I needed it, listened to me cry, and reminded me I was doing the right thing, or at least I was doing the very best that I could. I had photographer friends that were willing to teach, guide, share, and offer a critical eye.
But I also had a lot of people helping me through the trenches of being simply a person, a mom, with a goal. I had (have) family and friends supporting me, really knowing me, as a person- never doubting my good intentions, never judging me for things I did or didn’t do in the midst of the craziness of the past year. And in this past year, I haven’t lost the support of even one friend. Even though we haven’t been in touch, when I call, you are all still there, and I that says something about the amazing kinds of friends I have.
One friend in particular that has been there for ALLOFIT is my husband. My best friend. He has been there for the 3 am tears, the 5 am “are you just coming to bed??”s and lots and lots of hugs, even when I didn’t ask, even when I wasn’t very huggable. He was there to OK big purchases without question, showing he believed in me (even when I was freaking out.) He was there to troubleshoot about a thousand technical issues from websites to taxes to…yes, I will admit it, working a tripod (sigh. lol). He went without our evening downtime together for an entire year. No cuddles on the couch during our favorite TV show, and usually if I managed to carve out some time, I was only about 25% present….usually my laptop screen was glowing in my face. He sacrificed time for himself as well, as I ate away at his downtime when he picked up the slack with everything from laundry to Wyatt-time. And when I did have a rare free moment with him, nine times out of ten I fell asleep out of pure exhaustion. Date nights were almost nonexistent, and even hugs were scarce on my end sometimes. So I need to say thank you, to ALL of you, for the sacrifices you made to give me a chance to succeed. Thank you for sticking by me through the hard times (and this year definitely falls in that category.)
Yep, this year was hard. Change is hard. Hard work is hard. I complained A LOT. I cried A LOT. Because I sacrificed A LOT. And by a lot, I don’t mean money, although that would account for thousands of dollars. And I don’t mean sanity, although that would also be true ( just ask my husband haha). When I say I have sacrificed a lot, I mean the important stuff. I mean friendships, relationships, quality time. I can’t count the times I skipped out on the fun stuff to edit. I missed friends birthdays until facebook reminded me. I didn’t speak to- well, anyone- on the phone, unless it was to schedule babysitting for a photo shoot or cancel plans. And even when I did show up for the important stuff, I wasn’t really there. In my head, I was tallying up my to do list, or stressing over a purchase, or in the corner quietly responding to an email on my phone….or a thousand other things. Or, I was just flat out exhausted from 3 hours sleep and 16 hours work. I missed moments I won’t get back. I sacrificed time I didn’t want to give. Time with my friends, time with my family, time with my husband, time with my son.
For those who were part of this initial sacrifice, I can only say how very sorry I am. I apologize for only talking about cameras. I apologize for not really listening. I apologize for being stuck in my head, for being distant, and for feeling sad, jealous, guilty, angry, unsure, frustrated, and exhausted almost all of the time. I apologize for dumping my self-doubt on you constantly and for not being there when you needed me. The past year was a blur, and I am so excited about how far I have come and where I am headed. But, one thing I know for sure: I MISS YOU. I miss my friends. I miss my family. I miss my husband. I miss my son. Although my apologies don’t bring back missed moments, I can only hope the courage you gave me with your support will pay off when I can finally be the friend, sister, daughter, wife, and mom you know I am, but haven’t been this past year. I want to show you that you were right all along when you reminded me for the millionth time that it would all be worth it in the end.
And last but not least, a special message to my little man, Wy. This is for you. I hope you read this one day (when your mom is a successful photographer/business owner!) and realize that ALL the sacrifices I made this year were for you. I wanted a job that would be flexible enough to afford me more quality time with you. I wanted a job where I came home tired, but not out of patience/burned out. I wanted a career that gave me a creative outlet, and made me happy. I wanted to lead by example and show you that sometimes you have to follow your dreams, and doing that isn’t all ideas and inspiration, but that it takes hard work and sacrifice. I hope when you are all grown up and reading this, you will remember all the years spent together, and will have forgotten all the times this year that I fell asleep letting you watch too much TV, because I had stayed up all night editing. I hope you will remember the time that this affords us, the peace it brings our family, and the happy times to come, and that you will forget the times I lost my patience because I had nothing left to give. I hope you will know that this was all for you, and will be proud of your mom. I hope this will inspire you to work hard, take risks, and be you, even when you don’t think you are ready.