Well it’s quite a momentous day for me, and for Light and Day photography; a day to take a deep, grounding, knowing breath and share with you a decision which may seem surprising, brave, selfish or reckless, depending on your point of view.
I have decided to leave the business of photography.
Like many business people who grow a hobby into a business, I have struggled with the balance between fulfilling my creative urges and driving, striving, struggling. ‘And eventually ‘I just want to take pictures’ turned into ‘I just don’t want to take pictures’.
It’s hard to measure success as a photographer. As a breed, we never quite ‘get there’. The holy grail morphs and shifts and is ever elusive. We compare our worst work with every others’ best.
We concentrate on the clients that didn’t book, or the order that wasn’t placed. Someone else always charges more, blogs more, shouts more and shoots more. I’m exhausted by it. My success metric is how I feel when I wake up in the morning, and how I feel at the end of the day. Does the blood fizz in my veins? Do I have spring in my step? Am I uplifted? Am I happy? And increasingly, I experienced these positive feelings more through other activities than through running a business. I know from past experience that my health and wellbeing depends on self care and self compassion, and having waded through a few personal challenges in the last few years; two major bereavements, a concussion that set me back by months, a horrendously stressful house move and renovation and a role as a carer that will inevitably increase in the next few years- it’s time to stop balancing, and just live for a bit. For now, for me, and for those I care about.
I don’t feel like I’m quitting, failing or giving-up. In many ways I’m leaving on a high- 2013 was by far my most successful year in business, in terms of the nature and variety of shots, and for the ‘bottom line’. I’ve had some wonderful clients and opportunities.
So why stop now? As Napoleon Hill said, “You might be three feet from gold.” I was within sight of the gold, and I even got to touch it, but it turned out that gold wasn’t what I wanted.
There’s been many times when it would have been easy to throw in the towel. In the early days, when confidence was low; When I didn’t feel worthy of the prices I was charging; When I put my prices up and had to find a new client base; when I had a shoot that felt like everything went wrong; When family challenges meant I felt like I was being pulled in so many directions I thought I’d stretch into nothingness.
But because I have come so far, committed so much, learnt and grown more than I ever dreamt, I kept going. And I was making money, so why stop? And yet the reality kept nipping at my heels.
I love photography but I don’t love running a business.
I love seeing the beauty in this world through my camera.
But I also want to
The last few weeks I’ve been mulling questions like
‘What can I not go a day without doing?’
‘What did I dream of as a child?’
‘What do I do for hours on end that makes me forget to eat, breathe even. Where time just vanishes?’
Just not- what shall I do with my photography business this year? That’s a clue, isn’t it?
What would I have told my best friend in the same situation? Listen to your heart. It was a no brainer. So I’ve been my own best friend and made the decision. And I haven’t had a moment’s doubt since.
That little list above may, or may not turn into my next career. (Hell, life is too short for just one career. Or three, in my case. So far J ) I may write a book, maybe not. I may walk the Camino de Santiago, maybe I won’t. But whatever I do, I’ll be doing it for the right reasons and with wholeheartedness.
I know, I’m lucky. I have the space, support and opportunity to make this decision. But I’m not going to feel guilty. Only if I waste the opportunity to work out what will really make my soul sing, do I deserve to feel guilty.
Since starting to tell people, I’ve had amazing comments from my clients, friends, family, and other cheerleaders. I’ve met an amazing community, made the best of friends, found a confidence I never knew was possible, and produced a body of work that I’m immensely proud of. Nothing is wasted, and I have no regrets.
I’m not giving up, I’m moving on. And it feels great.
Thank you for reading.