Although I have always been a creative person, I never imagined I would make a living in a creative industry. I never allowed myself to follow my natural talents when it came to education. A career in the arts never seemed sensible or even possible. But here I sit, with plenty of formal education I do not (and have never directly) used, having thrown myself into the photography industry less than one year ago, and I have to say it has been an exhausting, emotionally draining, and entirely fulfilling journey thus far. I never imagined it would be so difficult to put myself "out there". I don't consider myself an introvert by any means, but as an everyday person and busy mother of three, it's harder than I thought to put my personal self in front of the public as the face of my business. To be vulnerable, to accept criticism from those who do not know me, to exist in the public eye - it's harder than it looks!
Recently I've had my first brush with negative feedback on my work. It's been nothing horrible, in fact it's more a lack of positive feedback when I thought I'd done an outstanding job. But if you rely on the opinions of others to make you feel that your work has value, you of course are bound to get your feelings hurt. (and being new in this business, I've been very sensitive, nearly desperate for others' approval just to feel validated). I have been operating based on fear. My favorite photographer, motivational speaker, and teacher, Sue Bryce, gave this life-changing talk on confronting fear. You can watch it here. Powerful. I will never please everybody 100% of the time, and until I sort out my attitude about my business, I will never go anywhere. Photography is a service industry. I am here to give. I am grateful. And so I spent awhile thinking about gratitude, and how much I have to be thankful for in my business. Instead of feeling deeply hurt that a client didn't love my work, I am full of gratitude for all of those who have supported me and put their faith in me since my husband and I decided to enter this industry.
It really takes a lot to book a new photographer. There is uncertainty in the finished product when there isn't much of a portfolio to reference. I am grateful to those who have hired me when my portfolio was thin and underdeveloped (and it still is, though growing rapidly). I am thankful for the support of my family when I know they wanted to see me utilize the formal education I worked so hard for, and I chose photography instead. I am grateful for the emotional, financial, and technical support of my dear husband and business partner. I never imagined we would be one of those couples that could work together, and it is far from easy, but we are making it happen beautifully. Finally, I wouldn't still be plodding along without the butt-kicking and ugly cry inducing motivation I've received from Sue Bryce by watching her Youtube videos and CreativeLive classes. No matter your career path, you can learn some life lessons from this woman. She is the Oprah of the photography industry, has built a successful business from nothing, but her teachings can be applied anywhere.
Considering all of these things, I am very much fulfilled and ready to move on with my work, putting the sting of rejection aside, and remembering that the only person standing in my way is myself.
Building a business is hard. Putting yourself out there is hard. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. And so we press on. Get out of my way, self.