As a wedding photographer
Forgetting the first set of endless winter months that I fumbled through post-college isn't something that I ever foresee myself doing. No one ever warns you about that; about the endless hours spent in the darkness of the day trying to suppress the unending guilt that won't tire from bubbling up in your gut. I grew up in a family with two parents, one who worked a monday-friday regular-houred job for the entirety of my life growing up and then some, and the other who took on part time work once all of us kids were old enough to be in school. Come to think of it, I'm not sure if there is one person in the close circle of my life of whom I can recall was self-employed or even worked from home on a regular basis; it just wasn't as frequent to see as it is now.
Being out of post-secondary is already a huge adjustment, especially if you're coming out of a college program—much like myself—where your days had plenty of structure, and your class sizes were small. Couple that with delving into the unguided world of self-employment and entrepreneurship, and you're destined for an unbridled pairing. The reality of being self-employed is hard, simply put. It is something that can really cause a lot of turmoil and mental strain on a person. It isn't something that should be romanticized or that you feel coerced into just because everyone else is doing it. It isn't something that you should jump into because you're mentor is nagging on you to pursue your passion. Yes, I believe that being whole-heartedly happy with the days that you are living is crucial to your wellbeing, but I do not believe in jumping into your passion without forethought.
Discovering what it is that we are passionate about in life can already prove to be a challenge, without the overbearing knowing that once it's discovered, we then have to figure out how to breathe life into this dream of ours; and that is simply the very beginning. The harsh reality of self employment—and working as a wedding photographer, more specifically—is that you are going to struggle, each and every day. You, and you alone are responsible for getting things going, you're responsible for keeping things afloat, and you're responsible for helping it grow. If you're not working, neither is your business. There is no one else to do it for you.
Your work will not fall into your lap, as you sit in your pyjama pants and find yourself distracted by the internet yet again.
Your opportunities will not present themselves without you actively searching for them.
Your content isn't going to create itself without you putting everything you have into it.
This takes effort, day in and day out.
It takes coming to terms with the fluctuation between feeling so discouraged that you cry yourself to sleep, and getting the privilege of being awake throughout the best dream you've ever dreamt.
It takes being okay with never knowing how much you're going to make from month to month.
It takes digging deep; holding yourself up in front of ten thousand people who are doing the same thing as you and asking yourself what makes YOU different from the rest.
It takes learning to lean in with the days are slow, and power through when the days are long.
It takes realizing that you're going to work for months and months in the quiet darkness before anyone is interested in what you have to offer.
If you're currently dragging your feet through your first winter months as a self-employed wedding photographer, please know that this will not last forever; the heaviness that you feel, the judgement from others, the questions, the guilt, the unending darkness; it will not last forever.
Keep staying true to your message. Keep posting images and words that are a reflection of who you are, not of who everyone else around you is. Keep going after whatever it is that you set out on to begin with; I promise you that it's worth it. You're going to doubt yourself, you're going to cry, you're going to stumble, you're going to want to give up; but it's so worth it. The journey doesn't get easier; it gets familiar, maybe, but there is always more to learn; I still lose my way off course every single day and find my bare feet tangled in the thicket of vines and branches, far from any familiarity. Sometimes it takes me hours to regain my footing and find my way back, and sometimes it takes me months. Regardless of how long it takes, I've come to learn that it's the getting lost that aids in our growth, it's in the face of fear that we are able to harness our courage.
If you feel as though the weight of these winter months is taking a toll, please reach out to somebody. Take the time to either reach out to someone in your life, or take this chance to reach out to someone new in your city that you've really admired via Instagram. The biggest lesson that I have ever learned while traversing through my darkest days of self-employment, was that we cannot do this alone; we cannot sit in our homes or offices alone every single day of our lives. Make plans to meet someone new, and take a chance on sharing a little bit of your soul with them.
And as always, if you'd like/need to, please know that you can always send me an email; I also love soul conversations. I can't promise that I will be able to answer your email right away, but I can promise that it will get answered.