why (and how) I became a photographer
To all the emerging photographers out there … If I could tell you one thing, it would be that I know exactly what it feels like to be in your shoes.
In the spring of 2009, I was not in a good place, both emotionally and professionally. I was not fulfilled by my work. I did not wake up in the morning eager and ready to start my day. I knew something was missing, and I was desperate to find it. I needed a creative outlet. Something that would literally stir my soul.
Around that time, two of our dear friends in Atlanta were planning a wedding in Ohio. They asked my husband to do the ceremony, and I was more than happy to tag along for the day. I had just purchased my first camera (a Canon XS slr!) and I was anxious to put all the things I had been reading online to good use. So I volunteered to take some picture, thinking it would be a good excuse to finally use that expensive piece of equipment I’d bought!
Let me be clear – I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Not really. But I remember a very specific moment from that day that has always stuck with me. I was in the bride’s hotel room, capturing some shots of her getting ready. I felt such a sense of excitement and anticipation in the air. And I remember feeling how amazing it was that I was capturing this emotion in my camera. I was taking that fleeting moment, and making it last forever. When I left the room, I could have floated through the air. I had never felt anything like that and I knew I wanted more.
The only problem was, I had absolutely no idea how to make that happen. The whole idea of starting my own photography business felt daunting and scary. Would it work? Who would hire me? How could I possibly compete with the tens of thousands of other wedding photographers, already established and working with clients?
But this insatiable desire I had stuck me with me and I was determined to make it happen. I knew, from somewhere deep within me, that this was something I was made to do.
So I began studying everything I could get my hands on about photography, wedding photography, business, etc. I contacted countless other wedding photographers until I found some who were willing to take me under their wing and help me get started. And I am forever indebted to them for their generosity and wisdom.
I won’t lie – this was not an easy process. There were many moments I still felt such a strong fear of failure and inadequacy. There seemed to be a lot more questions than answers. What do I do about a website? Logo? Where do I find clients? How do I price my services? But I pushed through, and as I did, wonderful things began to happen. I began to feel so excited each day about it’s beginning. I felt like I was literally creating a new life for myself. I started to trust my instincts – creatively, professionally and personally. And as I found people who believed in me enough to let me capture their big day, I found that I started to believe in me a lot more too.
And as hard as things were that spring, I can’t tell you how good life is now. How passionate I am about what I do. How thrilling it is to be in control of my business. How excited I still feel every time I shoot a wedding. Life is really, really good. There are still hard days, of course, but they are surrounded by such a deep sense of joy and fulfillment. And I want that for you.
If you are starting out, let me say that I know it’s scary to be where you are. I know it feels overwhelming. And I also know what it feels like to want this so bad that it hurts. I want you to know this – you can absolutely make this happen. If I can, you can.
Some people may think it’s crazy that I would want to help other photographers start their own businesses. Aren’t I just creating competition for myself? That’s one way to look at it, I guess. But it’s not the way I see it. I am the only photographer who can be monica B. Just like you are the only photographer who can be you. Not all clients are a good fit for me, and not all clients will be a good fit for you. I really believe that the pie is big enough for us all to have a piece. But also, there were some really amazing people who helped me on my journey. It’s time for me to pay it forward and help you on yours.
As I look back, the only thing I would do differently is start earlier. I wish I hadn’t waited one single moment to begin this journey. Please don’t hesitate either. Make 2011 your year, so that in 2012, you can write about how your life is different. About how it’s so much better and more amazing than you dreamed possible.
Later this month, I’ll be offering a workshop to help you make this happen. You can find out about it here. I’ve tried to keep the class very affordable, because I don’t want anyone to miss out. If this class isn’t for you, that’s great too. Maybe there is another photographer you can learn from. All I care about is that you take the steps to make this happen.
Let go of the past and go for the future. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined. Henry David Thoreau
Here’s wishing you your best year ever.
(Just for fun, here are some photos from that first wedding, with my very first watermark, because I didn’t have a logo!)