Thursday, October 25, 2012

Turning on the Light

Have you ever had a moment of true epiphany? I mean, not just a small 'aha' moment, but one that brings you such clarity that you are stunned you never figured it out before?

I just had mine.

Or at least, one of a couple I've had in my life so far. This time though, it's not just an agent of change but one that compliments the track my mind was on anyway.

I've done a few different jobs before. I've done food service, worked as a receptionist at various places for years, been an event planner, admin assistant and project manager. I've chaired meetings and co-chaired committees.

In all the work I've done, there are two things I've come to understand about myself in my life circumstances:

1. I need to work with people.
2. I need to work for myself.

Number two I instinctively understood after I became a stay-at-home mom. Working as I had been before was insanely stressful and not good for my health. And the thought of returning to the office work world was not something I cared for.

Now, as I've been talking about for awhile, I have been working towards making photography a source of income for me, moving from amateur to professional. Being self-taught means it's a long process and sometimes a frustrating one, but I really do love it. I can (and do) spend hours reading and immersing myself in educating myself. Putting it into practice is another thing, and while most of the time I can, equipment limitations mean I simply can't go out and 'try' what I've just learned. Inevitably I'll have to re-read that part again when I do get the equipment, but for now I'm enjoying the learning. It's like being in school without the exams and stress.

At some point, I'll actually pay for my continuing education too. I have my eye not only on some amazing online resources for photography and the business of, but also taking workshops and classes here and there to really get to work on some new skills.

So, we come back to my two points earlier above. What about number two in all of that? Well, as it happens, my epiphany happened earlier this month when a friend asked me to do some photos of her family before they moved back to the States. She would pay me for them.

Insert nervous smile.

Now, I love taking pictures of people. One of my favourites (that don't include my daughter) is one of my one of bosses at a golf tournament. He was chatting with a group of friends and someone said something really funny. He clapped his hands together and threw his head back laughing. 'Click' went my shutter. It was a beautifully candid moment where you really got to see him. I treasure that photo even more now, because I can understand a lot about myself by the mere fact that I not only was aware enough to take the image, but that it meant something to myself and the rest of my colleagues. Because it was of someone we cared about. It moved me.

Now, I always wanted to be able to make photography my career, but it just wasn't the right time. Now however, things are different. I have the freedom to take things as they need to in order to do it right.

Back to people. This portrait session changed my outlook entirely. Before, I eschewed doing portraits, not because I didn't like them, but because I didn't think I could make it work for us given my limitations (no vehicle or plans to get one and hubby's travelling makes booking dates difficult for me since I really can't afford any childcare right now).

This session was last minute. We had originally been planning on the 14th (K's birthday) since hubby was home from his second trip to Chicago, and he could watch K. But weather is fickle here. When you get good weather you better pounce on it! So on the 5th I get a text from my friend. "Can you do Sunday?" Gulp. The weather was supposed to be gorgeous. Hubby was leaving on Saturday.

Now I had another friend who had offered to watch K if something came up ever. So a mad series of texts later and I established that, yes I had someone to watch K and yes I could do Sunday. I had already sent her the pricing list I spent a long time working on (and was happy with).

Everything came together in ways I just hadn't expected and on that day, I was a bit nervous, so I left home early and walked through the park where we would be doing the shoot so I could do some shooting without any pressure and just relax. It worked.

By the time I arrived, they were almost ready and I was cheerful and as prepared as I was going to be. I had done some previous research into poses for families and had a good idea about what I wanted to achieve.

It was amazing! No, it wasn't a flawless shoot. It was a family of four with a 2.5 year old and a 10 month old, so there were tantrums and fidgeting and most 'posing' didn't work. I went with it, never once feeling stressed. I trusted my gut, double checked myself and and did what I had to do. We took breaks when we needed to for the kids and really, having a three year old, I could sympathize.

Best of all was when I was uploading the images. Watching them appear, I was holding my breath and then I had to laugh at myself because they were better than I had imagined! In editing, I instinctively went for a certain style, which means not only do I know what my style is, but I'm being consistent about it. (sort of important for a professional!)

Bu then came the sales session where I got to show them their images. Boy was I nervous. Would they love them? Hate them? They only wanted one image they could give to their families for Christmas. I had a sneaking suspicion (and hope) that it would be a tough choice.

They loved them. One of my favourites was one alone of her. She hates images of herself alone, but I saw this one and said to myself, "She's so pretty!" In the session, I told her as much. "Look how beautiful you are here!" The look on her husband's face told me he agreed!

The next step came ordering prints. After a couple missteps (won't make those mistakes again!), I had prints in my hand to give to her. Yes, I was nervous again. I was doubting myself, because at the end of the day, I am my own worst critic and I critique my images far more harshly than most people will. It was very easy to bring myself down.

Yesterday, I was going through the archives on a photography blog I love, and came across a vlog series on starting a photography business. The final one spoke to me in a real way and made me stop and think about why I was doubting myself and trying to see my work through the eyes of others. When I handed over the prints, my friend really liked them, and once again confirmed they would be ordering more with their families. That's huge!

I keep coming back to that session in my head and realizing that I was absolutely in my element. I have a lot to learn, but this is a part of what I want to do. I know small groups (families, couples etc.) are my niche. I can't, and won't do, weddings for the sheer stress and the fact that my chronic illness would hate me for it.

The details are coming together, and what I've realized is that as much as I desperately want to jump in with both feet, it's not an inexpensive profession! The start up costs are significant (at least for my husband and I who are living on the edge). Baby steps are needed here. It will come together, but I need to be patient.

Though, try telling inspiration to be patient. It's not as easy as it seems.


  1. With any amount of determination, I know you can make it happen...keep positive!

    1. I'm trying! Keeping motivation through each hurdle is my biggest challenge. So easy to get discouraged some days.

  2. Beautiful post... this made me smile! It sounds like a wonderful experience, I'm sure stressful, but wonderful at the same time.

  3. Oh, and I wanted to tell you that your posts on photography inspired me to get off my butt and go to the library for some photography books finally lol. I've been putting it off long enough! So thank you.

    1. That's fantastic! No matter what it is, sometimes we just need a kick in the butt to push us to try that thing we always wanted to. But don't thank me yet, photography is an addictive and expensive hobby! lol. I'm accumulating some wonderful resources online that I'm happy to share. Just message me and let me know. Some great DIY stuff. :)

  4. That's wonderful it went so well! I would admire you so much if you could turn photography into a business - it would be so lovely to use your passion in your everyday work. Keep your dream alive and you can get there eventually - as you said, baby steps!

    1. Realizing more and more how important those small steps are since they give me feedback ad dmotivation to keep going.


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