2016 marks the seventh year of having my own business. It blows my mind to even think about it. It seems such a tiny number of years, at the same time it feels like a lifetime.
“I will never do this again!” were the exact words I used when I came home from my first wedding that night in March 2010. Never could I have imagined everything that happened afterwards.
It’s like my life spiraled out of control in the best possible way.
In those early days not many believed in what I was doing. And many felt the need to share their “wisdom” with me (mind you, all people who have never been self-employed):
“This is just a hobby, you can’t make a living from it”
“I don’t think you have enough of a business mind”
“You are not good enough”
“If you make your hobby your job, you will grow to hate it”
“There is no money in wedding photography”
“What will you do with your degree then?”
So I want to thank those who did believe in me. Those who in those exciting, unsure and blurry days saw something in me, those that saw beyond the present. Those who told me, this is what my calling was. Thank you.
And thank you to the ones offering their misguided advice: you pushed me like nothing else, because I so wanted to prove you wrong, you have no idea.
In some ways I could see what others couldn’t. I could see a creative life filled to the brim with inspiration and beauty waiting for me, I could see it all within my reach but I needed faith to take my first steps. Not because of fear. I wasn’t afraid: I had no faith. After all, I had always been the stupid one, the day dreamer, the bad student. I needed to believe that this was actually something I could do. That I could influence and shape the course of my life. I needed to believe I don’t have to repeat a pattern I knew I didn’t want for myself. I needed faith and I didn’t care that nobody backed me up. I was never afraid of standing alone. I knew: this is what I was born to do. Live a creative life.
So many times I get asked why I wasn’t afraid when I started my business. The truth is: I had no reason to be. I didn’t have anything to loose. I had no possessions, no living standard, no responsibilities (other than paying my rent and buying some food now and then) and most of all – I was ignorant. I had very little knowledge about the industry and what it means to run your own business. The less you know, the less afraid you are.
So starting was not the problem for me. Sticking to it sometimes proved to be. The fear came knocking later – when I was already in the game. The many long late nights in front of the computer, googling for answers I needed, the figuring out of the camera, the struggling with finances, the doubts about not being good enough, the times when I just wanted to quit and be a “normal” person. . . yes I had all of those moments and sometimes I still do.
But I also knew that giving up was not an option. I knew there was no other way I wanted to live my life than this: free and creatively.
In these seven years my business has evolved and it has become about more than photography. I realized that it is not about me taking photos. Finding my purpose and living it out loud has been a huge thing for me and something I really needed to keep going. What’s the purpose of being great at something?
I didn’t just want to be great for the sake of being great. In the words of the amazing Jeremy Cowart: Greatness should serve a greater purpose.
I now know why I do what I do and I can honestly and wholeheartedly say that photography is not my passion.
My passion are people. Photography is just the key that gives me access into their lives, their stories, their lessons, their inspiration.
And beside the freedom, the fun, the traveling, the excitement, the livelihood – this is probably the best thing that this business has given me:
Permission for me to be me – and permission to set the same free in others.
Through that permission came access, with that access came endless inspiration. Access into the lives of others, be it through photos or words, in person or online.
A long time ago I decided I would be the woman I needed when I was growing up. For the longest time I thought I was alone. Until I started this journey and found so many like-minded hearts. I know that all I put out there, touches someone’s life in some kind of way.
And that is how I want to spent my life. I will never stop sharing who I am and what I believe in and go through – because I know that there are more like me out there who need to hear it. They need to know that they are not alone, just as I needed to hear it years ago.
To you, who has encouraged me, to you, who loves my work, to you, who has given me a piece of your heart, to you, who supports me in any way: Thank you out there, for your comments, your emails, your messages – you don’t go unseen and you brighten up my soul.
I hope you always leave this place inspired and knowing that you are important and that your story matters. The life you dream of is just within your reach.
Photo credit: Liz Riley