This post is mostly personal, although business related. And I hesitate to write it, but at the same time, I have a deep desire, perhaps- need- to write it. I am not one to usually put my feelings out on the interwebs, especially not in the form of my business. But, like I said, this time I want to…..So, here it goes:
I am going to give you a backstory just incase you didn’t know. I graduated from SIUC in 2008, I was on the five year plan. My degree was in studio arts, and I had no real plan. I went to Carbondale with a deep desire to be an Architect. That ended after a year with my even stronger desire to not do hard math. (this was not regular strength math as you could imagine). So, I went the only route I had ever known, and that was to major in Art. I was nervous because I knew getting a degree in studio art would never lead to a direct career, so at one point I decided I would be an art teacher. Sign me up…..
Once again, that stuck for about a year, and then I realized my heart was not in it. I could do art, I could maybe teach art, but I could not deal with the politics of the school system. My last year at Carbondale I went to talk to my advisor about majoring in photography. I always wanted to be a photographer, I remember getting to take the digital camera home for an art project in high school, and I wanted to photograph everything, I even won first place in a photo competition at the county fair when I was about 10. The problem is, I was naive- at one point in my life I wanted to be a a dog-walking-real-estate agent-artist-photographer. Anyway, I never acted on the latter end of that until my last year of college. And as expected, my advisor had harsh news. At SIUC, photography is in the school of journalism, I was in the school of art and design. I would basically have to start from scratch, and taking just one class was out of the question, because it would still set me back a semester for graduation. Ok…fine, just let me graduate.
My mom and dad then got me my first DSLR for a graduation gift. I was elated, I felt like I held my all my future dreams in my hands…I had no idea how to use it. So I read, and I read and I reeeaaaddd. At this point in time I was working as a banquet event planner for a hotel, and I was engaged and getting married soon. A few friends let me take pictures of their kids, or some engagement photos, but this was by no means about to pay the bills.
After we got married, we moved to Decatur for Brandon’s job and I continued to work in the hospitality industry. I kept hearing commercials for Millikin’s PACE program- a fast, intensive course for getting select bachelor degrees. Teaching was one of them…and I was missing my outlet for creativity. Sitting behind a desk was not doing it for me, and I regretted not getting my teaching certificate before. Lets do this.
I believe in fate, and i believe everything happens for a reason. I think God has a path for us, and we are meant to follow it. The problem is we are walking that path backwards, we have to trust God to lead us, and sometimes, we think our plan is better than Gods, or we just can’t see his path. At the time, I wasn’t even looking for his path. I NEEDED a “real job” a needed some accreditation in my life. I was getting my teaching certificate so I could teach art. I promised myself I would follow through and not give up. No MATTER WHAT. literally I said that.
Let me tell you, those words ended up being the most difficult promise I have ever made. ANYTHING and everything that could get in my way did. your degree didn’t transfer. we are no longer including art education in this program. oops, you’ll have to do 4 years instead of 3 semesters. oops we dropped you from your classes mid semester, did we forget to tell you that? …And then when I was about ready to give up, I changed my mind and went back to clear everything up, and do you know what happened? A natural disaster! The building caught on fire or had a gas leak, something, the place was full of fire trucks and the advisory office was closed.
Alas, I kept my promise to myself, I got my teaching certificate, and then, I got a job. I need to have a plan, I always want to have a plan (I don’t always actually have a plan). But I got a job with an amazing district, with amazing co-workers and great students. The summer before I started teaching, my photography business started picking up….I had upgraded cameras, a few times. I had new knowledge, new clients, and for sure a new love.
The school year started and like all jobs, there were good days and bad. But, one thing was clear. Something I had never experienced in my whole life. I found my insides. That sounds silly, but its the best way I could describe it. I literally would eat, sleep, and breathe photography. Planning sessions when I was half asleep, reading every single blog, book, and tutorial I could find. Attending workshops, spending money I wasn’t making on more workshops. Being better, getting better, getting more confident and fighting, fighting, for something I believed in. Something that was part of me. Feeling prouder, and happier than I have ever felt in my life.
I felt like I was having an affair on teaching, because my mind would wonder to techniques, and session ideas, or marketing ideas.
My teaching job was only guaranteed for one year. I got notice in March that the previous teacher would be returning from sabbatical next school year. I cried, I loved my students and my school, and having a plan. But then, I realized doors were opening, that I never would have opened myself.
I sit here typing this, like any other teacher on summer break, but I feel alive, and excited. My business is in a place I only dreamed it could be, and I am starting my first day as a full time photographer, and I don’t know what the future is going to hold. I will continue to apply for teaching jobs, because I think we need the extra income. But deep down, I don’t think I started taking photos for it to be a part time thing. Because believe me, coming home from a full day of teaching, to spend the next 5 hours editing pictures is not the most enjoyable of days. I can’t even imagine how many hours I was actually working between lesson planning, session planning, shoot time, and editing, in addition to research and workshops. Am I complaining? Absolutely not. I am identifying a love, and burning, raging desire and dedication to something I didn’t know I even had in me.
The problem? I’m scared. Oh boy am I scared…. I know how judgmental people can be, and I know some people (some whom I am very close to) will not understand. I know that currently everyone and their grandma are “photographers” and I am just another dime a dozen, I know this isn’t an easy journey, but its one I am willing to fight for. I will still be applying for the right teaching job. And if this is only for the summer? Than I am so thankful to have this summer to focus on photography. But if this is a lifetime thing? Then…..well….thats a dream come true. And you should always follow your dreams, right?
|Here’s to no alarm clocks, and peaceful mornings.|
This is long, and wordy, and If you are still reading it, then I applaud you, but I also want to thank all the people who have stuck with me and trusted me to capture some of their most important memories. I wasn’t so great when I started, and I have a long ways to go, but I am SO thankful for those who have stuck with me, and I am so, so excited for this new chapter, if only temporary. I am going to spend my morning with my big cup of tea, editing pictures of sleepy babies, smiling kids, model worthy seniors and picture perfect families, and thank God for this amazing opportunity.