It’s the last day of August. To me, that has always meant that summer is coming to a close and fall is just around the corner (although, us here in Phoenix probably will experience ‘summer’ for another couple months!). As I sit here back in my home office after a summer full of weddings in Wisconsin, I got to thinking about my photography journey over the past 2 years.
It was June 2009 when I got my first DSLR camera. I remember how I felt when it came in the mail; the feeling of “this is better than Christmas” mixed with “ok…now what?”. I opened the box while sitting on the couch in our front room (my now office) and carefully extracted each piece from the box like a child who had just found a trunk full of treasure. I quieted the butterflies in my stomach that distracted me from giving my full attention to my new found gem. My enthusiasm quickly turned to “what the heck did I get myself into?”. As I flipped through the manual, I got about as far as “set power switch to on” before feeling like I had entered a foreign language 300 level class by accident. It’s amazing how quickly we can become defeated. It takes very little to convince ourselves that we don’t have what it takes. But I was determined to prove myself wrong…
I came to the conclusion that my camera wasn’t going to take pictures for me, I had to do the work. So I got to it! I read blogs that broke down the “techy” stuff into something I could understand and then I practiced what I had learned. I started with inanimate objects like flowers, nicknacks and anything else I could find around the house. Not the most fun things to photograph by any means, but at least they were willing participants! I practiced on Joe whenever I could convince him and eventually was ready to reach out to my friends. In those first 2 months of owning my camera, I was shooting non-stop and taking in as much information as I could.
It was July 2009 (just a month after getting my camera) when I was presented with an opportunity that gave me the extra push I needed. My childhood best friend, who currently lives in Mexico, was going to be coming back to Wisconsin in August. We had not seen each other since the previous summer at my wedding and I was dying to see her. The problem was….we had no money for a flight. We had just paid for a new camera and bought a mac computer and with me only working part-time, funds were tight. Then I came up with an idea: “What if I can book one paid shoot back in Wisconsin? Then that would cover my flight!”. Joe, being the business-minded man that he is, couldn’t argue with that and wished me luck. With nothing but a wish and a prayer, I put myself out there on FB and announced that I was now booking shoots for August 2009 in Wisconsin. Gulp...now all I could do was wait. To my surprise, people started responding. One shoot. Two shoots. Three shoots……when it was all said and done SEVEN PAID SHOOTS. This was about the time that those feelings of “this is better than Christmas” mixed with “ok…now what?” came streaming back in. All at once I had to learn about my camera, how to build a website, proper posing, naming my business, designing a logo, photoshop, blogging, customer service, ahhhhhh! I’ll be totally honest when I say I didn’t know which way was up at that point. I was doingthe best that a 2 months-in photographer could. And while I was making a TON of mistakes along the way, I knew after that summer that this is what I was supposed to be doing.
In a way, the ‘current me’ feels inspired by the ‘2 years ago me’. The ‘2 years ago me’ didn’t have it all figured out (nor does the current me by any means) but her passion outweighed her fear of failure. ‘2 years ago me’ knew so much less about photography than ‘current me’ knows now, but she put herself out there anyway. ‘2 years ago me’ sat on a couch with a product in her hands that she had no clue about and said “I’m going to do something great with this someday“. ‘2 years ago me’ learned that the failures will outnumber the successes but that they can be even more influential. ‘Current me’ doesn’t ever want to forget where I started from. I don’t want to forget that I’ve made it through really tough months and times when I thought I should give up. Sometimes all we can see is where we’re not and we forget to recognize where we are in comparison to where we’ve been. Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves…
Dear Current Me,
You’ve come a long way! Remember when you took that photo of Joe holding a mirror and edited it black and white with his reflection in color? That’s kinda embarrassing! How about your first paid shoot? You were so bummed because you had to deal with spotty light and kids who didn’t want to be photographed and overall, you thought that you failed. They loved the photos though, didn’t they? You’ve come a long way from editing every image in photoshop, using 3-5 actions per image and overusing eye-sharpen! One thing I want you to remember: it’s okay to fail. You’re not above failure. No one is. Don’t forget how blessed you are to be doing what you love and never stop giving glory to the One who gave you the skills and desire to do so. Photography is such a beautiful gift, but your business does not define who you are. Whether the phone is ringing off the hook or not at all, your worth does not change. Your business has been blessed because the Lord has allowed it, so continue to trust Him to do with it what He wills. Keep loving what you do and the people that you meet through photography. Let your motivation always be: to capture beautiful moments that point back to the One who gave us love, laughter, beauty and every good thing. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings!
2 years ago Me