When I look back over the last few years, I’ve spent most of them in a constant state of hyperactivity and stress. While not all of it was stuff I brought on myself (certain health issues kinda just happen), a whole lot of it was. At this time last year, I was in the middle of a two-month period of sleep deprivation brought on by chigger bites and overscheduling photo sessions that turned me into a raving disaster. My exhaustion sent me rocketing back home from a dragonfly conference I’d been looking forward to for almost a year.
This year, I’m happy to say, has been different. I knew back in December when I made the decision to increase my photography prices that it would send me along one of two paths: either I’d continue to have clients and would be making enough to consider supporting myself as a full-time photographer, or my business would totally dry up and I’d have a little something I hadn’t seen in years: free time. I was so worn out that I decided that whatever direction this process took, I was going to go with it and make the most of that path.
You can probably tell that option #2 is where I’ve found myself. Don’t get me wrong–I’ve still been shooting for friends and family, and I don’t think I will ever want to let that go as long as they’ll have me. But it’s been so manageable. Shooting less, and not spending every weekend tied to my computer screen, has made pretty much everything in my life more enjoyable. I can say yes when someone wants to hang out. I can go watch birds and bugs. I just got back from a butterfly conference in Chattanooga, and I never once entertained the idea of leaving early. I’ve had the time to spend with my mom while she’s been completing the back half of her chemo regimen.
Plus, things have been what I would generously call insane at my regular job (you may have heard of a little thing called parking on the grass). Had I been trying to work a shuttle launch (no, not the space kind–I’m not that cool), run a media relations campaign, AND shoot 2-3 times a week, I’d probably just be spending every waking moment sobbing. I needed to take a step back. It stings a little bit to move on from this era of my life, because I poured so much into it, but the writing was on the wall. I’m a fatally poor businessperson, I enjoy portrait photography more when I’m doing it as a hobby, and I’m in love with the conservation field and really want to continue in it. I don’t find myself in a situation where I have to shoot portraits or I’m completely lost. I’m lucky enough to have a lot of things that interest me. Happily, one of those things hands me a paycheck without my having to ask for it, which is why it probably makes long-term sense for me to stick with that. I’ll save for another day my melancholy ruminations about how we photographers are initially so desperate for clients that we price ourselves too low for too long, ensuring that most of us will burn out just as soon as we get really good at it. (And that people will expect a custom service to cost very little.) There will always be another generation ready to take our place for a few years, and so it will go. I’m not bitter or upset about it at all, because I know I brought it on myself 100%. But I bet if I did it all over again, I’d make a lot of the same mistakes anyway. Because I’m a ninny, and ninnies may just be more content working for The Man. Or in my case, The Environment. 😉
(Welcome to my thirties. One of these days, I’ll do a Project 365 post that doesn’t involve philosophical rumination on career and life choices. I’m sure there’s a more entertaining way to fill space! Thank you if you are reading this for some reason. Ha.)
As far as highlights from this quarter go, I’m going to urge you to read the caption entitled “Fire Ant” for one of the weirdest-ever culminations of “What a cool camera–will you take our picture?” I veer into some epic tangents, including the full expression of my rage at the “How I Met Your Mother” finale. (An argument for “bail when something starts to suck” if ever there was one.) I pay a brief tribute to country-western artist Moe Bandy. And the final photo in the slideshow is captioned entirely with content from my all-time favorite Twitter account, which is a parody account by the “employees” of the truly terrible Kroger grocery in the neighborhood where I work. It contains the phrase “due to cheese problems,” and if those four words strung together don’t amuse you, well. I don’t know what to do with you.
Here’s hoping you’re getting through the day without cheese problems, friends.
(Don’t see any images below? Click on the title of this post!)