11 years

I stared out the window, took a breath, and pushed back into the chair. Just outside my door, I could hear the office conversations, the phones ringing, the smell of another pot of coffee brewing, but I was mentally away from there. I had lost myself in thoughts into the clouds. While I sat at my day job, I thought about the business I just started and so badly wanted to be behind the camera at the very moment than behind a desk.

Eleven years ago today, I “officially” started my first business, my photography business. It was the day I took hold of passion and drive instead of fear.

It’s been a rollercoaster ever since.

“One thought I struggled with is if I should even continue with my business. Sometimes it just felt like (or should I say from where I stand, it looked like) it wasn’t working, it wasn’t right, things just weren’t working out. Why was I doing this anyway?”

I wrote that two years into my business, but that feeling has stuck with me since, even today. I’ll be honest in that I have high expectations of myself and a lack of patience to match. So, when things don’t happen fast enough, or to the standard I believe they should, I get discouraged…quickly. To be honest, sitting here today, even 11 years later, I fight the battle of if I should even be doing this. Running a business is truly a roller coaster. It never really feels safe or that you can sit back knowing you made it. At least for me. There’s another turn or another dip, and then you’re trying to inch back up to the top again.

I’m honestly frustrated with photography, the industry as a whole. It seems to be more of the same, flooding Instagram over and over. New photographers pop up daily, and it’s easy to get lost in the sea. This isn’t new, it’s happened for the past decade, and at one point, I was one of the newbies, showing up and fighting my way to be seen, too.

F the fight. Seriously.

If I’ve learned anything over the past decade, it’s to show up as yourself, in every true form. The algorithms will change, people will unsubscribe from your emails, clients will decide to choose another photographer, there will be a new social media platform, Google will change its rules again, inquiries will dry up and then flood back in again…so what? All of those things you can’t control or will ever be able to control.

But you. You are the unique ingredient in your business, in your path to do something…whatever that something may be. You are the one piece of the equation you can have some control over. You are also the one thing that no one else can do better.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ve spent 15 years climbing the corporate ladder to reach the top and 11 years of sweat + tears to build a business to get to the point that I understand it’s beyond the awards, goals, money, titles…all of it. It was always about the people—every single time. I worked with and led some amazing teams throughout the years. I’ve also photographed and met some incredible families too. In every single way, it’s been about the people, pouring into them, celebrating with them, crying alongside them, and walking through chapters with them—every single time. But the thing is, that would never be possible if I didn’t show up as I am.

Being able to walk alongside others in different chapters of their lives, that alone makes the past eleven years worth it. To that, I’m truly grateful for that journey. Who knows what the next eleven years will bring. To have made it this far? Damn. That’s something to be thankful for.