Quitting your very safe day job to pursue the unknown is frightening. For weeks during the first quarter of 2014, I had extreme anxiety about the journey I was about to embark upon.
What if I fail? What if I don’t make enough money? What if I can’t pay my bills? What if I’m not a good enough photographer?
I won’t sit here and tell you that I still don’t think these things. That, at least one night a month, I’m not up, awake in the dark, obsessing about whether or not I’ll be able to pay my bills six months out. They say that you should have three years of savings when you quit your job to pursue your dreams. I’m not sure who they are, but they say it all over the internet. I did not listen. They say that you should pay off all your debt before you leave your steady income and pursue your dreams. I did not listen. They say a lot of things. In the end, I listened to me, not them, and so far, I’ve loved every minute of being self-employed as a full time professional photographer as opposed to a full time retail store manager with a side job as a professional photographer.
This is what I thought I’d have when I left my job in the Outdoor Retail Industry: infinite time to do all the things I hadn’t been able to do for three years, like ride my bike ALL THE TIME, go to the beach in the summer, exercise more. I did not have time for any of these things. One of my main goals for 2014 was to return to exercising more, specifically, five days a week. This did not happen, but mostly because as a self employed person who works out of her home, I no longer felt the need to wake up at 6 AM to work out. I do not regret this. You know what’s awesome about being self employed? No alarms and coffee and book reading in bed until you’re ready to get out. That’s what.
Other things you do when you are self employed include, but are not limited to, working from your couch in your pajamas all day. This is both wonderful and horrifying all at the same time. My desire to go to happy hour every afternoon increased considerably with no adult interaction all day long.
I’ve had an extremely rewarding, unbelievably exhausting, but 100% amazing year. I am still a bit shocked at how awesome it’s been.
What I did to in 2014 was hustle. I worked hard. I took a lot of photos. I edited a lot of photos. I gave it my best. I’m positive that if I continue to aim to give my best to myself, my best to my relationship, my best to my clients, my best to my photography education to expand my skills and knowledge, and do my best to look for new and creative ways to see the photo opportunities in front of me, that nothing but the best can come of it.
One of the things I’m looking forward to most for this year is a informally designed and planned Destination Wedding Photographer Retreat with 29 other wedding photographers from around the country in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. A friend and fellow photog, Megan Saul, set it up and I’m honestly a bit overwhelmed and apprehensive about the trip; these folks are so amazingly talented, I feel undeserving to be included. I have a list of things I’m hoping to learn from them and I currently feel as if I have very little to bring to the table. Regardless of my qualms and the fact that these photographer’s talents scare me shitless, I am overwhelmingly excited in anticipation.
I try to visit anew foreign country every year and that has been unsuccessful for the last two years. I try to get on mountain 60 days a year, which has also been an epic fail the last two years, but come on, the snow in Tahoe has been terrible, if not non-existent! I also try to visit a new ski resort each year and thanks to Dawn and Brandon in Boulder, Breckenridge was checked off the list in 2014.
Here’s how my goals for 2014 stacked up and what I’m going to attempt in 2015.
My Goals for 2014
1. Read 20 pages a day. One of my wedding clients started a group on the FB to help keep her accountable for a promise to hike for 30 days straight. It piqued my interest and I decided I would join in on her goal, but instead read 20 pages a day. It’s was such an enjoyable experience, I turned it into a year long goal. This was another added benefit of being self-employed. When I was a child, I was a voracious reader, so much so that my fifth grade teacher wrote on my report card that I was no longer allowed to bring outside reading books to school because I was “reading too much.” After mostly giving up reading for quite some time, I’m proud to say that I read 52 books this year! My favorites were Beautiful Ruins (Jess Walter), The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood), Mr Peanut (Adam Ross), The Son (Philipp Meyer), Behind the Beautiful Forevers (Katherine Boo), My Salinger Year (Joanna Rakoff), The Goldfinch (Donna Tartt), Jamrach’s Menagerie (Carol Birch), and The Chronology of Water (Lidia Yuknavitch).
2. Exercise 5 days a week. I missed my goal by 71 days, or 1.3x per week. 189 days total out of 365. Granted, I generally miss all of the two weeks of SXSW and this year it was actually three thanks to an additional trip to NOLA for Mardi Gras in the week before SXSW.
3. Stop interneting in bed in the morning and after 6 PM. I actually forgot that I had made this a goal, probably about half way through the year. That being said, since starting to read in bed in the morning with coffee, this is no longer a problem.
4. Run another marathon. The Chicago Marathon was absolutely amazing. It was my fourth marathon and definitely my favorite so far thanks to having such great running and travel partners. I’m so proud of Taylor, who I started babysitting for at the age of 12 when she was born. She is now 22 and ran the marathon with me. It was her first one, which is always the hardest! We also raised $3,355 the Les Turner ALS Foundation, who we chose after finding out that a family member of a very close friend was diagnosed with ALS.
5. 24 weddings in 2014. I had 37 weddings on the books this year, but four were canceled, which brought my total weddings shot to 33!
6. Go to Moab with the Purvis-Daniels clan. This may have been the best trip ever. Sadly, I have YET to even look at, much less think about, editing the photos from the Moab part of the trip. I promise I’ll do that soon.
7. Cook more. Boy did I ever. Another benefit of working from home: taking breaks to bake, roast, saute and serve.
My Goals for 2015:
1. Read 52 books in 2015. That’s only two more books than I read last year and one book a week. Caveat: no junk books to just to reach the goal!
2. Focus on my health attempt 2: exercise 4 days a week and return to swimming, at least two days a week. Let’s try this one again. Instead of the lofty goal of 5 days a week, lets go with 4. Now we have a puppy, so I unfortunately have to run him almost every day, which sometimes makes me more reluctant to get out and do other things. I’ve been craving more pool time after not swimming for a year basically (I was a bit burnt out).
3. Attend at least 2 photography conferences, one related to wedding/portrait work and one that is unrelated to weddings in order to further my perspective energize my creativity and motivation.
4. New York City Marathon for 2015! Much like the Chicago Marathon, in order to have a guaranteed entry we’ll raise money for the charity of our choice. I’m hoping to best my personal fundraising from last year as well. It’s a pretty awesome morale booster while running a marathon to think about the folks you raised money for. ALS is such a horrible disease. If their families can be supportive and help the victims of ALS for days on end, I can run for four fucking hours.
5. Devise a solid marketing plan to bring the number of destination weddings I shoot up to 25% of my total weddings. I have an amazing network of destination wedding photographers from which I can crowd-source ideas, help and feedback. I aim to launch the marketing plan by the fourth quarter of 2015 so that I have enough time to get traction before the onslaught of engagements that occur over the holidays each year.
6. Shift and narrow my family portrait portfolio into family photojournalism. Let’s face it: your kids aren’t going to do that quirky thing they do at home when they are sitting on a beach trying to l0ok pretty in front of my camera. It’s not that much fun for them and frankly, it’s not that much fun for me. What I would so much rather do is show up at a normal day at your house and document your lives. As they happen. The moments between the mundane household chores or the chaos that happens when everyone comes home from school. The routines you have that are intimate and maybe you don’t think about: reading to your kids before bed, setting the dinner table, helping with homework. These are the photos I’d rather give people.