I’ve had this post sitting in my blog drafts for going on three months… here goes nothin’…
“What do you do for a living?”
I’ll be honest, I hated being asked that question for years. For me, I had this crazy barrier in my mind that caused to me to shrink back when talking about my business.
I don’t make six figures a year.
There are other photographers that are better than me.
Other photographers don’t look up to me.
I don’t have a degree.
My gear isn’t the “best of the best.”
People will think I’m a joke.
So much comparison. So many lies. So much insecurity. For so long…
Back when I started, I had it stuck in my mind that to call yourself a “professional photographer” you had to be able to pay your mortgage with your profits. I’ve had this idea/concept/lie stuck in my head for over 9 years and it’s not only stressful, but y’all… it’s exhausting.
I’d watched people surpass me in success and I’ve seen others fail. I’ve watched incredible photographers quit for one reason or another. The dynamics of the photography industry have changed so much over the last decade and I often felt left in the dust.
I remember going to one of Vince’s work Christmas parties a few years back. When his boss asked what I did for a living I hesitated but Vince immediately said “she’s a wedding photographer.” I remember the look of intrigue in her eyes and her reply being something along the lines of “that is very cool, what a fun job!” She asked me several follow up questions but all I remember is being so self conscious. Here I was talking to this ultra successful CPA thinking my own success wasn’t that grand because I don’t have an advanced degree… or any degree… and my income tax report looks very different from hers.
But here’s the thing, most of the time when I would gather the nerve to say what I do most people (read: non-photographers) were interested, curious, and impressed. I’d get the – oh photographing weddings must be magical – or – I wish I had the eye for photography – a majority of the time. So to non-photographers my confidence built pretty quickly. I’d even give them my contact information because, I mean, my portfolio is pretty sweeeet.
But around another photographer? One ‘better’, or even ‘worse’ than me?
***watches self worth plummet off a cliff***
Don’t ask for my website, my name, can I just disappear?? I’m a fraud.
These ideas of what defined a professional photographer were made up constraints and limits that I created. It has taken me years to really say with confidence that I am a photographer.
Because here’s thing, once I stopped looking left and right, once I stopped comparing myself to everyone else, once my self worth wasn’t defined by how many followers I have, I was freed. My success is not defined by a dollar sign. My business isn’t defined by how many “likes” I have on social media. My talent is not defined by more successful photographers in the industry.
I am a photographer.
And I say it with a total confidence.
My photography has allowed me to capture countless memories and see new places. I am so grateful for the last 9 years and can’t wait to see what the future holds.
So for those of you struggling, those of your filled with doubts, those of you who feel left behind or left out – YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I promise you. I’m here for you and there are plenty of other creatives out there that feel the same.
I encourage you to look up Rising Tide Society and see if there is a local Tuesdays Together group that meets near you. You will fine encouragement, community, education, and some amazing laughter. I am one of the leaders for the Greenville, SC group and I can promise you if you come I will greet you will lots of enthusiasm and I will be one of your biggest cheerleaders.
Oh and can I get some praise hands for growth and education?! So glad I no longer abuse photo filters and weird angles 😉 And apparently my go-to color for sessions is blue. Whodathunk?