**disclaimer: i'm about to get more real right now than i've ever been and it's quite terrifying. i've been spinning sentences around in my head for oh, about 2 weeks now and i've decided that today is the day i'm going to just jump on it and write. i hope that you can identify with some of what i've written and that you don't think less of me for what i have to say. this could get long so please stick around to the end if you'd like. and you really don't want to know how long i just hovered my mouse over the "publish" button before i actually decided to press it.**
a couple of weeks ago, my friend patrice and i headed up to new york city for the day to see the lovely jasmine star teach a workshop called theFIX. the workshop was designed for networking with other photographers and to identify the strengths and weaknesses within your business. the networking didn't really happen too much for me on account of me being too much of a chicken. honestly, groups of loud, bubbly women scare me, a lot. but i did spend time discovering my strengths and weaknesses. and i also discovered something else along the way.
i had lost my vision of my business along this great journey of my business. this happened when patrice and i were sitting in the awesome macaron cafe, drinking tea and eating macaroons with one of patrice's friends. she asked me what my vision was for my business. i sat there for awhile because i couldn't think of it. i had forgotten why i got into the business. she flat out told me that's why my business isn't growing, and it hurt, but i knew it was true.
so what exactly is my vision for my business? i started with the idea that i wanted the teenage girls to know how beautiful and unique they are and to capture that in photos. every girl is bombarded with images of what a beautiful woman is. some won't admit it, but it makes them feel less about themselves. i want them to see that they are created in God's image, whether they believe in Him or not. i want my business to be as much of a business as it is a ministry. i want to be a high school senior photographer. there i said it. i want to be a high school senior portrait photographer. yes, i still like family portraits, and engagements, and weddings are kinda fun too. but working with high schoolers is what makes me come alive. jasmine star said that we don't have to force the things that we're not good at. so you know what, even though i have this fear that if i'm not a wedding photographer, that i'm not a real photographer, i suddenly no longer feel the need to force weddings. working with teenagers is where my heart is.
now the fear part. my good friend sarah wrote a blog post about her fears with her business after seeing jasmine star speak in DC. this encouraged me to be real with my fears in this business. i'm not even being real with them to myself. i don't want to make them real, but they are there floating around in my head and they're getting huge. but thinking through them, i know that they're all lies that i'm allowing myself to believe. and if i think really hard about them, there's truth to combat these lies and i need to talk through these every day or else i might continue to be paralyzed by them.
* I fear that if I'm not a wedding photographer that I'm not a real photographer and that you'll (whoever you might be) will think less of me. But the truth is that there are tons of photographers out there who are making a living photographing high school seniors and families.
* I fear that I'm not going to be able to make this whole business thing work and that I'm going to be stuck with some boring office job. But the truth is that God has given me this passion to be a photographer. It's the only thing that I can see myself doing for the rest of my life. It's pretty much the only thing I'm qualified to really do since I never finished college. Sure I have other visions for my life down the road (which includes owning an antique store), but I know that God has called me to be a photographer for this season in my life.
* I fear that I'm doing my business all wrong and some scary government man is going to come after me. This one, well I have no truth for this one. It really could happen. I think.
* I fear that you're not going to like me. But doesn't every one fear that. But the truth is that Jesus loves me, and yep He even likes me. That should mean enough to me and I'm learning to be satisfied with Him.
* I fear that you'll find out my little secret, so I'm just going to tell you. I have struggled with social anxiety all of my life, but I just didn't know the name of it until last year, and I'm working on conquering it. It's one of the most difficult things I've had to deal with. And it makes a business that's surrounded around people super tough. But like I've said before, this business is something that I feel called to do. With Jesus there is no reason to fear. When I was writing out my list of strengths and weaknesses, I came up with a few of each and then wrote the biggest strength (literally i wrote it quite large) JESUS. This reminds me of two of my favorite verses.
"At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quite focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size- abuse, accidents, oppositions, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become." - 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
"Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am." -Philippians 4:13
Whew, so there you have it. I'm a real person with real fears who's trying to run a photography business. Maybe from now on I'll be more real more often so these posts aren't so long. If you've gotten all the way to here, thank you so much for finishing. It means a lot to me. And on a totally unrelated note, I just realized that I started this blog post not using any capital letters and now I am. oops. and i'm not going to fix it.
Here are some photos that I took while at the Jasmine Star workshop. I didn't take too many while in New York because I was quite overwhelmed with the bigness of it all. It was technically my first real trip to the city. So yes, I was very much overwhelmed. Patrice and I sat in the second row (which made it pretty easy to take some pictures), since we got there a half hour too early. Who would have ever thought that either of us would ever be that early for something. And unlike most of the other people there, I didn't get a picture with Jasmine. It's because I wasn't excited to see her, because I certainly was. But the idea of standing in line just to say "hi" to someone with a whole bunch of other people behind you just does not thrill me. The introvert in me hates small talk. I much prefer one-on-one times where a real connection can be made. So Jasmine since I didn't get to meet you in person, thank you so much for taking time to travel around the country teaching other photographers about how to be real. And thank you for all of the encouragement that you've poured out through your blog. And thank you for spending the time to talk to piles of other photographers waiting in line to say "hi". I know you say your an introvert and that can be one of the toughest thing to do. I hope to one day to be able to have a meaningful conversation with you.
Gotta love weird reflections on a window when trying to take a picture of things outside.