The life of an entrepreneur is not easy, and I work more now than I did at any 9–5, but realizing early on what made me happy and turning it into a business is what allowed me to redefine work as enjoyment, relief, and excitement. My days start at 4 a.m. and don’t stop until the work is done, but ever since I was laid off, I have never worked again.
Sometimes I wonder, where did I get it from. I remember when I was a child and my father used to take me with him to the darkroom to develop film. He loved to take photos and enjoyed his time developing them. I grew up in Western New York, in the suburbs of Buffalo where the photography community was pretty much non-existent. Forget about a community of African American photographers. So I guess it's not surprising that I was never inspired to take up photography.
Trust me when I tell you, I am right there with you. Turn on the news, negativity. Go to social media, negativity. Family, friends, negativity everywhere. So what happens? This eats away at you, eats away at any creativity you may have left in you. It leads you to start questioning everything you believe in. Am I resonating with anyone yet? Or is this just me?
In the end, we are who we are, we love what we love, we do what we do, and that is sufficient. Being female in America is a journey. Embrace the skin, the gender, the size, the role, and everything that makes you, You. This no doubt is what your client initially sought you for. Stay in the fight and continue to reach. Your talent and skill are what others see.
Here is the reality: as I write this almost 30 million Americans are unemployed. Will they get their jobs back? Time will tell, but I'm sure we can agree that 30 million people will not go back to work immediately. Some businesses will never recover. There will be long-term unemployment. That news alone is concerning to any business owner. If your customers are unemployed, how will they afford your products or services? Fair question. So, that leads us right back to the headline. Is professional photography dead?
Not so long ago I was paralyzed by limiting beliefs about my talent, my abilities, and my business as a portrait photographer. I made excuses as to why x photographer was successful, consistently booked, had a greater following, and why I did not. Always finding comfort by filling in the blanks with which obstacles (finances, equipment, knowledge, time restraints, or life circumstances) were holding me back from being the artist, creator, and business owner my heart longed for.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you know the entire world is dealing with Covid-19 and the aftermath of this has yet to be realized. Panic and desperation are challenging small business owners around the world. So much uncertainty. So much still to be realized as every day delivers more bad news. If you are like me, I am just looking for some positive news. Any glimmer of hope that things will return to normal sometime soon.
That was the point when I decided to plan at least one or two creative shoots a month for myself and my soul. When I did that, something changed. I felt more excited. I wanted to run into my studio every morning and just create. After that, I was giving even more to my clients in their sessions and as a whole. I had re-lit that fire I had for photography and creativity. It’s easy to lose ourselves in client work and tell ourselves we don't have the time or energy to shoot anything for ourselves. I’m here to tell you: shoot for yourself. Collaborate, get weird, or just do something outside of your comfort zone.
Us Reality Makers … we know that no one is coming to save us. No one will shower us with money and gear and clients. This life, the ups and downs, is 100 percent our responsibility.
Our society looks at disability so negatively; it’s something to be hidden away, to fear or pity. At the other end of the spectrum, we are characterized as “inspirational” to able-bodied people, “brave” for simply living our lives, or caricatures that make everyone else feel better about themselves. More often than not, we fight to be portrayed just as we are, or how we want to be seen. We deserve the right to decide how we’re represented.