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When I was in college I went through a pretty nasty break up and had a hard time getting back to a normal life. My dad, being the great hero that he is, enrolled me in local photography classes and bought me my first film camera. It was a Minolta X 500 and I was pretty darn excited. I started first taking basic classes on how to work a camera and develop film, an then later switched to digital and started playing with Photoshop. Since then I’ve taught myself and usually use tutorials and videos online when I want to learn new techniques.
When I took my first photography class, I was using film and developing it myself. It’s an old school method, but when you are in a dark room seeing these pictures come to life in a tray of chemicals, it’s pretty amazing. I have full respect for those still using film and developing pictures. Seeing original works of art without the use of Photoshop, done all in camera is amazing. But I have since learned techniques in Photoshop that have defined my style and enhanced my work digitally and prefer that.
After meeting my husband, getting married, and having kids, life got pretty busy and I put photography on the back burner and concentrated on being a wife and mother. When the girls were very small though, we hit a financial rough patch just before the holidays. We frantically tried to think of ways to earn a little extra money to purchase gifts for the girls Christmas and I came up with the idea to take Christmas card pictures for families. I passed the word around to friends and families and I was off!
I made enough money to get us through Christmas and New Year’s and it opened up a window of opportunity to make a little side business for those who needed family pictures. Every year since then, I have offered fall photo sessions for Christmas cards and gifts and picked up quite a few various sessions with babies and families and high school seniors. I even did a couple low key weddings, though I don’t offer wedding photography. I’ve had so many supportive people help me grow and improve in my art as a small business.
After seven years of picture taking, I’ve learned a lot about myself as a person and an artist. There are so many things I probably should have done differently as a business, but I’m just didn’t understand the business side, only the art side. I wholeheartedly believe that everyone deserves to have nice pictures taken with their loved ones. I understand that some of these pictures will be the only lasting visual when loved ones pass on. Some of the pictures I have done with my own children and my granny will be ones I treasure forever now that she is gone.
Those are the pictures my kids will have to remember their time with her because they were too little to remember her before. And I know it’s hard when you have to pay so much money for pictures and can’t afford them. I’m a sucker and I’d rather give people pictures than to up sell them. That’s the biggest reason I suck at business. I got too emotionally attached to the faces on my screen. I remember what it was like to not be able to afford them and I don’t want people to feel that. Especially when I know that some of these families have a short amount of time left together. I encourage parents to get into the frame with them and not hide behind the camera.
I know our bodies have gotten droopy and fat, and our faces might be round and wrinkly, but I know for a fact that no child ever looks at a picture of their parents and says ” Oh my gosh! My parents are so fat and old and ugly!” They just don’t! Someday that’s all they will have left of you. They love you! GET IN THE PICTURE WITH THEM! I love seeing pictures of me with my mom and dad. I don’t have a lot. And a lot of them are with me AND my brothers. But I cherish the ones I have of just us. It’s somehow more special that they took the time to sit in the frame with only me and I didn’t have to share them for that one moment.
After having my fourth child, I went through an ugly bout of postpartum depression. Even almost three years later, I haven’t been able to shake it. And just over a year ago I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a condition that causes a lot of physical aches and pain in my body. And those stresses have taken a toll on me and killed my passion for portraits. I love my own projects and the ideas I want to do on my own time, but the effort it takes to schedule appointments and work on editing was a lot for me. And I began to dread it.
So I’ve decided to take a step back from the photography world and work on my other interests. I love painting with acrylics and I’ve discovered that I’m pretty good at it. Building DIY projects, home improvement, and re-purposing furniture has become more of my life these days. I love getting messy with my projects and using tools that have such force. And it’s all done as fast or slow as I want, with no deadlines. It has truly been a stress reliever for me.
Will I go back to photography? Maybe someday I will. I plan to do my own photo projects on the side. I plan to write about photography on this blog and hopefully help teach better photography to those who want to learn. I might even do a mentoring job or two for someone. But for now, I want to focus on my mental and physical health, as well as my family’s health and well being. I feel like I owe it to myself to take a break, especially as my kids grow older and require more of my time. They have their set of challenges to face as well and I will always choose being a mom first over any other career. I’m not thinking of it as a “goodbye”, but more of a “see you in a while”. Starting this blog has made me realize that I want to take my photography in a different direction than portrait sessions. People change, lives change, passions change, directions change. And that’s okay. I can’t wait to see the direction I go in from here.