I took a step back middle to end of summer. I needed to. I felt like I was on this hamster wheel, literally - spinning and running and never going ANYWHERE - and I lost all passion for creating. Photography was no longer bringing me joy because I was so consumed by this fear that because I wasn't making x amount of dollars or bringing in serious income I was a failure. I was watching so many photographers be "successful" (posting session after session after session). I questioned my worth, questioned my skill, and for a minute questioned if I even wanted to sell my equipment.
I started taking pictures of my plants. Many of you know I have an inexcusable amount of succulents, cacti, and "snek" plants. My plants sparked something else in me this summer (I might post on that later) and taking pictures of them was helpful. I felt like "Emily" and didn't feel like "BETWEEN THE CANYONS PHOTOGRAPHER HIRE ME FOR ALL YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY NEEDS *car salesman wink and finger guns*". I took candids at a couple birthday parties and a family bbq this summer. The ember in my soul was sparking.
And then came the text message. It was a normal "we want pictures" text message. I hadn't gotten one of them in a hot minute and it struck my eye because they said one of my few repeat customers had referred them. My first reaction was to almost ignore it. I had an incredible amount of anxiety thinking about responding. I typed out, erased, retyped, erased again, turned my phone off, turned it back on, typed, and repeated this cycle far too many times than I'm proud of admitting. My near final text said, "I'm not currently accepting clients" but typing that out and staring at it felt wrong. And I stared at those words a long time until I finally had the thought, "you have always known you wanted to do this. You either start moving towards it again or you go find something else do with the fire in your soul".
So I responded. I went to the session. All the negative feelings, the questions, the doubt, it melted away as I laughed and interacted with the most amazing and gracious family. The little ember that was laying in my soul sparked and caught fire once more. And suddenly I wanted to create again. I wanted to tell people's stories through my lens. I wanted to meet and hear people's hearts. To capture their moments and tell their story. It's a really scary thing to create art. I feel very vulnerable when I share my pictures. I'm hoping that what I am seeing, that what I am trying to convey, is coming across. I want the people who trust me with their time and moments feel that respect I hold. I don't take lightly that I have this very unique opportunity to turn something that is very temporary into something that can truly last generations.
My other realization was that it's okay to value myself. I am worth compensation. My art is valuable. I'll give you a really personal admission - I struggle with feeling as if it is not okay to occupy the space and breath I do. That's a whole box of issues that I don't want to unpack but that mindset definitely spills over into my art and processes. This end of the summer I finally decided that I was going to remind myself - daily, hourly, by the MINUTE if I needed to - that I was worth it. In every aspect and I was no longer going to allow myself to make myself less just so others would accept me. Just so I could convince myself to accept me for who I actually was. And that was a very freeing and mind changing decision. I don't feel like I need to run and find people to validate my art or myself and that was the issue that caused my spiral I believe. I refuse to look at my camera or my piano or my journal anymore and tell myself that I need to do XYZ because this other artist is "ahead". I refuse to look anywhere else but in my own journey for comparison because it has been continually robbing me of joy. I have incredible things to share and I finally feel in a place where I can say I WANT to share them. Not out of obligation. Not out of "I have to use this for marketing". But out of a place of "this is making me so excited, this is driving my soul right now".
Thank you for coming on this journey with me. Thank you for looking at my moments I've gotten to witness. Thank you for encouraging me, letting me spam your inboxes, not asking me to shut up when I've gotten overly excited about sessions. It means a lot that so many of you believe in me and want to support me. I think you are wonderful, beautiful, and life changing. Until next time!