I spent some time recently with someone who I’d vaguely describe as a dark cloud of negativity. I didn’t take their words personally, but the person had obviously no clue about what I do and yet felt entitled to question my path. My experience with this person is almost a cliché for my photographer friends and myself. Which is incredibly sad, really, because photographers are some of the most inspiring, business-savvy people I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with. Contrary to popular belief, being a professional photographer is not easy. The people who actually make it past a year in business are typically observant multi-taskers with an immense drive to succeed. Sure, we get to spend lots of our off season in sweatpants – a la perks of working from home – but the business of being a professional is nothing but hard core.
When I first started shooting, I would getting questions from people that ranged from “won’t you get bored of weddings?” to “you plan on making a living with that?”. Holyyyyy negativity. Those are things that actually come out of people’s mouths. I even recently got told “your photos look professional!” (I mean… that’s what I am… so I would hope so). I used to get pretty upset with questioning comments and backhanded compliments, even if they were coming from a place of kindness. Some people still question what I do when we meet, but now, when I get semi-ignorant comments from people outside of the industry, it doesn’t affect me at all.
Lesson learned: There will always be people who feel like they know better because they are older or have succeeded in their own way. But it’s important to realize that their unsolicited comments and advice are not personal, and whatever they throw at you does not reflect on your abilities or success.
Sure, it would have been much easier to follow a traditional career path where my journey was laid out for me. Sure, it would be nice to have a set salary every year. But that isn’t for everyone, myself included.
And that’s okay.
My job lets me connect with incredible people and capture moments of joy. It lets me travel all over the world. It is contributing something positive and memorable to people’s lives. It encourages my mindfulness and leaves my heart full. It lets me show women that they are beautiful. It is connected to a community of driven, passionate individuals who have leapt over similar professional hurdles. It means I get to be a part of my clients once-in-a-lifetime moments, and witness the things that life is really about.
So I’m letting go of that dark cloud. I’m believing in my strengths, overcoming my weaknesses, and striving to make this wedding season the best yet.