When You Feel Like Quitting, and Heidi + Chris’ Sweet and Bashful Ancaster Wedding
Earlier this summer, I had a crisis.
(I don’t usually start wedding posts this way, but bear with me just this once.)
For the first time since starting this career, the idea of quitting came through my mind. Photographer Lindsay Adler once said that you truly love something if you don’t have a plan B for it. I thought of these words over and over as I went through the classic inner identity struggle that seems to be a mandatory occasional occurrence for anyone in a creative field, and they added more to my feelings of failure.
It’s a funny thing, running a business. When you start, you are completely enamored with it. It feels like a ticket out of life as you know it and you are powered by visions of immeasurable success and pride in your work. But once that honeymoon phase ends, and the reality of being the only person responsible for decisions and impressions and deadlines and mistakes sinks in, that’s when the reality of business starts. Your work never ends. You don’t have weekdays and weekends off. If a client is waiting for a product, you cannot put it off, even if it’s Saturday at 1am and you really just want to sleep.
It was not hard work or the business side that sent me into a crisis. I adore running a business and trying to provide the best customer service possible. What sent me into this crisis was several years of seeing what it’s truly like to work as a photographer, the 7-days-a-week-work-and-still-never-done kind of life, and at the same time seeing, hearing and feeling a disdain for the profession coming from others.
Let me make this clear: most people truly appreciate photographers and creative professionals. It’s just that there’s this wonderful human trait we all possess that makes us focus on the few negative people who write articles undermining the work of photographers, claiming that anyone can do it (all you need is a good camera and time on weekends, right?!), accusing photographers of taking advantage of clients by charging thousands for a wedding (here’s a great infographic showing the real breakdown of those photography prices) and an overall sentiment that photographers spend days doing nothing and really only work one day a week.
It wasn’t only that though. I felt like, in the face of dealing with this negativity – which, don’t get me wrong, I know also happens in every profession on the face of the earth – I was trying to join an industry that was simply full. It seemed like everywhere I looked, I saw images that looked identical to mine. I became so disillusioned with the trends and the focus on details that a few months ago I unfollowed everything to do with weddings on social media and decided I’m taking a total break. I’m stopping trying to achieve goals and numbers, stopping caring about visitors to websites, stopping obsessing over whether I’ll meet my quota of bookings. Just stopping everything.
That’s when a change finally came. By not saturating my mind with what other people were doing and taking away the pressure of goals, I started to focus on being different and on the true meaning of the assignments I photograph: that weddings are a historical day in the life of everyone in attendance. We are photographing, above anything else, the history of someone’s life and family. In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter that there are 3 million 30 thousand* (*don’t quote me on that number) photographers taking photos this or that way. All that matters is that we do a heck of an amazing job for the clients that hire us above anyone else and make them damn happy by doing everything we can to get amazing shots. This means training ourselves technically, knowing our gear inside, out, sideways and blindfolded, and keeping up to date with education.
All that said (are you exhausted yet?), I write this from a totally different place than I was in 3 months ago. Sometimes, feeling like a failure is just the bottom you need for things to start going back up. It’s just too bad you don’t know it at the time.
I am thrilled to present my first wedding of 2014, Heidi and Chris, which I second shot with Melissa Miller. This wedding marks the official start to my rebellion against sameness, and I could not be more excited.
The definition of love:
Heidi and Chris are delightfully bashful…
Let me end this post on this eerie photo I happened to capture towards the end of the reception. The DJ had colorful lights on and Heidi went to get a sip of water. It’s amazing what a split second, a determined thirsty look on your face and intense lighting can do!
Thank you for reading!