Unless of course you are:
~not a regular reader of this blog
~are always the last to catch the bus (which I am ALWAYS the last to catch the bus)
I did something this week I haven’t done in 16 years.
I enrolled back in college…
With a brand new major.
Shall I rewind a bit?
Right now I hear my friends going “Wait! What about the photography biz? What about the homeschooling? What about the baby? What about the Thirty-One stuff?”
Ya it’s all still there….except one thing.
I have slowly been putting the photography studio to the side.
For many many many reasons.
Probably more reasons than any one gal could ever write in a blog post. At least in a “good” blog post.
I have loved photography for the last decade.
I will ALWAYS be a photographer. A photographer never really “stops” being a photographer. If you are like me you have the disease and nothing will be able to stop you from shooting every mundane part of you life.
Heck I take on average 10-30 images a day…A DAY…of my own family.
But photography as a business…I have been saying this for the last few years…is a hurting profession.
There I said it. Elephant in the industry room.
I have grown weary.
I am tired of hearing “Well such and such is only $100 for EVERYTHING why aren’t you? You are just gouging your clients!”
Yes, I have heard that. People have lost their basic understanding of how a “business” is actually ran.
See once upon a time photography was considered a legit business/career.
When asked “What do you do for a living?” I could say “I am a professional photographer.”
And they would take me seriously. Try saying that now and the first response is almost alway 2 things:
An eye roll followed with a “Isn’t everyone?”
Or a “OH! My brothers, sisters, monkey’s uncle is one too!”
Once upon a time you could make a real living at this.
A good one even.
Some still do. I have several friends out there hustling and paying their bills.
But they are working their booties off. This career is a 60+ hour a week gig now a days.
Networking, online marketing, more marketing, marketing and then of course marketing some more.
I don’t have 60+ hours a week to spend away from my family these days.
Everyone I know who has continued in this career for more than 1-2 years these days almost always has a few very important things going for them:
- A spouse or significant other who is paying the bills.
- They have a full time job doing something entirely different to pay the bills. Something stable and consistent (smart these days in my opinion)
I can name only a few friends that this is not the case.
Many of my friends have closed their doors this last year…talented, amazing professionals. People I never would have imagined would have to close their doors. It is just the state of things.
This does not in any way mean a photographer is less “professional” if they fall in those categories above.
On the contrary. I think these are just about the only two ways one can really do this gig anymore without always having to worry about where the next gig is going to come from.
Unless of course you have the time to invest.
I do not. This of course is a totally personal choice.
Add to that the fact that I do not really fit in 1 or 2 above. Sure Daryl’s job pays the bills but so has mine. We have grown to need my end of the funds. With photography going the way it is right now I foresee another 5 years max before it is all but impossible to ever be a full time photojournalist in a small town. (And Good Lord I hope I am totally wrong!)
I think that there will always be a spot for studio work but lifestyle/photojournalism (the stuff I live for) is going the way of the dinosaurs in an over saturated marked that is something that makes the optimist I normally am…hit pessimist.
I am not saying there won’t be those that shine and can make it all happen for them…
But for me, at 39 (not getting any younger here), married with 3 kids…
Time to face my future.
Sometimes you just know God is trying to tell you something and for me…this has been it.
Time to listen up.
I am always trying to look ahead at least a few years.
What do I want to be in my next career?
For me….lots of soul searching resulted in a few facts I know about myself for sure:
- I am good at being “the boss”
- I would suck working anywhere that I would have to give up full control and not have a say in resolving issues…putting out fires… basically back to that “boss” thing.
- I have been working for myself for a decade. Being self employed is something I am just used to. Making my own hours around the kids…being able to take them with me if need be…basically having a job that fits the family but pays the bills. Priceless.
- I love working with people and meeting new folks.
- I would wither if I had to sit behind a desk all day looking at a computer. A slow agonizing death for me.
- I have spent a decade doing something I LOVE. How does one ever then go into a career jump and not do something they love?
- When I love what I do…I hyper focus on it and become amazing at it because I LOVE to learn new things. I get some kindof sick and twisted high from learning things I am interested in.
- I need to be outside.
- Can I somehow incorporate my photography into it as well?
So it was clear the next career would need to fit those things. It was basically a no brainer.
This is the part where you regular readers already know what I am going to say I am going to be “when I grow up”
Drumroll please…..(no laughing…or at least not the crazy loud kindof laugh )
An organic farmer.
Yep that’s right. I am heading back to school working towards a horticulture and sustainable living degree.
I sat down with my counselor last week and it was like play time getting to figure out what classes I get to take.
Since I already have 3 years of college under my belt for Liberal Arts/History/teaching I get to pass the boring classes and go straight to the fun stuff…
Well except the “Computer Literacy” class (I think I might get an “A”) which….uhhmmm yeah 16 years ago or so I taught Daryl how to turn a computer on. They were just getting started with this thing called “the internet”. Hope I pass!
This semester though I get to take classes that just sound like fun to me.
I am, of course, still taking on photography assignments and even have a big one coming up this week I can’t wait to tell you about! BUT
I will be cutting back and refocusing on the “what’s next” in my life over the next year.
Time for yet a new chapter.
One that I can’t wait to get started on.
See I don’t believe you are EVER to old to learn new things. I think it is quite the opposite.
I think at 39 I am in a far better place to decide on a career than I was at 17.
On a side note…
20 years ago when I moved to VA I actually enrolled in this very school in the same department.
I listened to my counselors, parents and well everyone…who said “there is no real money in that…why don’t you teach instead?”
So here I am.
20 years later…full circle.
Still growing plants and passionate about digging in the dirt. Enough so that I want to learn more and more and more.
Sponge it all up…who knows…maybe one day I will teach it back.
The future is wide open with possibilities.
Maybe I will add in a ginormous sunflower field one day just perfect for sunset portraits…
Maybe it isn’t so much about starting something new but adding a new trade/skill that will blend well with all of my passions and loves…family, kids, photography, nature, and just plain old watching things grow and spring to life.
I love that in my life I have had what feels like these many little lifetimes…happy little lives.
I wouldn’t change any of them.
I feel like I have been blessed with these opportunities over the years to just say “That looks fantastic! I want to do that!”
and I just go for it…..
Blessed, lucky and oh so happy