So one thing to remember about these posts is that they are for me to remember my journey in photography- not necessarily to tell you this is what you can expect if you choose a similar road. Also, this post is about something I went through the first few months of starting my business... which was the fall semester 2009. Keep that in mind when you read...
I got a remark back then that said something like, "I wish I had the kind of time that you have to take pictures...to learn how to do that" Not an exact quote but essentially what they were saying. I just remember thinking, TIME?! What is that?! Whatever it is, I don't have it. I kinda took it hard... like, "thanks, so all you think I do is sit around and fiddle with my camera? Taking pictures is my sole focus in life, is it? Geez!" Haha. I joke, but there is some truth to the way it made me feel, obviously. I just remember thinking- what about this child I am raising- my church I am so invested in- my husband I spend time with- my fulltime-student-status, piano practicing- or the meals I cook..... I do cook meals.... right?
Sadly I can't say I always did at that time. What was up with that? I'll tell you what's up with it- my priorities were off. Things needed to be sorted through, and I knew that. Before fall semester started, I had a little spare time. I knew I was wanting more kids soon- so, if I wanted to test the waters with photography and see if I was cut out for it, I needed to do it then. My husband was going to school part time, only worked in the summers, and I was raising my almost two year old (but with lots of help, obviously).. oh, and he was at the "easy" stage. Easy compared to the first year, anyway. So, since space opened up in my life, I decided I would do a little something for me. But what ended up happening was that the more I invested time into learning about photography, the more time I had to invest in it- because I realized there was SO much more to it than I thought! Then school started and I found myself wrapped up in piano too- trying to figure out which road to take. Music, photography....what to do, what to do. Suddenly I didn't have as much "free time" as I thought. And I kept getting busier and busier.
My schedule gave me an inch and I took a mile.
I was spending a great deal of time trying to learn everything- I mean, before I even knew jack squat I proclaimed "Connie B Photography" a business! If I was going to have the gall to say I was a "photographer" I had better start learning stuff. I felt a sense of urgency to learn it all RIGHT THEN. Part of that was not wanting sucky pictures and other people to think I sucked- and the other part was that I kinda felt I had to- since I was starting to make money and work with clients. I was trying to sprint a marathon... but like most things in life, you have to take things a step at a time.
I started getting frustrated, tired, & burnt out. Every time I ran into another photographers work, I got a little sad thinking compared to them, I was horrible. THEN I got tired of thinking that way and I realized I needed to stop holding myself to such high standards. I was just starting out and I needed to give myself time to improve. I started feeling mommy guilt for taking time for me as much as I was. Not only was I a full-time student but I was doing lots of photo shoots. And since I was a beginner, and didn't know much about how to manage my work flow, I was spending WAY to much time in the editing/post processing stage. I remember telling Tony once, "I make like a dollar an hour!" It wasn't exaggerating! Then I had music to practice, church calling my name, a husband & kid to tend to, & a social life to attempt.
I felt married to my computer some days. I would search for tutorials, swoon over other photographers work, and google google google. I craved all the help/learning I could get! And the more I searched, the more I realized I just DIDN'T know. That is a stage I am glad is over. My beginning photography class taught me what I needed to know to get by- but it didn't throw me into where I wanted to be. The only thing that got me sorta-there was time, practice, and my own investing. I've sure invested time, that's for sure. I knew I didn't want to be married to my computer. I also knew that my kid being babysat by the Disney channel not only made me feel like a worthless piece of crap, but it was/is wrong. He really wasn't- but sometimes it felt that way. I knew something was out of whack. Some days I would say, "should I even DO THIS anymore!?" I felt like something so fun, that I loved, shouldn't take me away from people I loved more.
Over the last two years I have done a dynamite job at learning to balance my love for photography with my family & home life. I can always do better- like I've said, my goal for the year is to take LESS pictures... but I feel good! Some things aren't my focus anymore, that used to be. I exercise, I cook, I clean (oh shlard do I clean)... but most importantly I play with my kids, I snuggle my husband.
It can be really stressful trying to learn everything, and improve your skill in photography. Trust me, I know! A lot of that is seeing people improve faster than you, or upgrade their equipment right and left. It makes me want to sell plasma and all my hair- just to keep up! But for me, that kind of thinking (however exaggerated) isn't helpful- or sane? For me, making sure I have my priorities straight makes photography rewarding and fun for me. I'm not only working on how to get better; how to make money to buy better stuff. I still do that, but if that's your only focus it will drive you crazy. And now, the best part about looking back on everything is seeing how far I've come- and seeing my hard work pay off. It feels even better knowing that I'm living more balanced.
Over the last two years I found a way to incorporate photography into my life so that it wasn't giving me guilt... and so that I was spending the appropriate amount of time on it. Moderation in all things, ya'll. It really was perfect timing in my life to have started this "journey" when I did. I know that looking back and I knew it then- but I wish that I wasn't so hard on myself. I also wish I had spent a little less time on it. What I know is that I have a job more important that being a photographer and that is being a mom & a wife. I feel like Heavenly Father blessed me to learn something that is important to me at the perfect time for me and my family- but I also know I need to strive to keep my priorities inline with His, and then He'll continue to sustain me- in whatever I do. As much fun as it is, there are things that need to be put first.
*see more of these self portraits in color here. fun fun fun