I've officially made it through my first year of being self employed. It was bizarre. It was terrifying at times, but mostly it was fabulous. I've had some time to reflect on my year. Here's my list of 5 things that sum up my life this last 12 months.
1) The "how's it going?" question.
'Hey Christine, I heard you went out on your own, how's that going?" Always leading me to decipher if the person asking wanted to know if I was succeeding or failing. Then accepting that not everyone wants to see you make it. Or maybe they do, but they assume that because I have chosen photography, I don't have much of a chance. I got to a point when, no matter the intentions of the person asking... I answered "Well I'm not starving", poking fun at the age old "starving artist" adage. The truth is, I am very lucky to have supporters in my corner. My husband thinks I have what it takes, my parents think I'm finally on the right track, I have a mentor helping me along the way and a handful or friends who believe in me.
2) The "fake it till you make it" mantra
I started my year thinking this everyday. Up until last week it was still my motto, but it was a cop out. It was a way for me to take less responsibility. I've realized, I'm not faking anything. I'm working my tail off. I'm emotional when I need to be, and am truly happy with the work I am doing. If I'm faking my way through it, how can I possibly capture true and honest portraits? Sure there are many things about running a business I am learning as I go, but that is true for anyone. The important work, the images and my connections with my clients, there is nothing fake about it.
3) The realization that I like my work.
As my body of work grows and I curate my favorites, I am proud. I am encouraged to keep going. If you had asked me 5 years ago to photograph a newborn baby, I would have probably run the other direction. I had every intention of working towards a boudoir/glamour business. But I am so happy with the direction my clients have taken me. I LOVE working with families, I love seeing them every year and being a apart of their traditions. I think documenting families as they grow is important work and I'm happy I get to be the one to do it.
4) The crippling fear of everything!
So maybe this is just how I am, I can't say this is unique to my being self employed, but it's still very true. Maybe this is just how I operate, but it's (usually) incredibly motivating. Being an artist, having a creative profession, you hear time and time again "you can't compare yourself to others" Well, why the hell not? I'm terrified of failing, so the best way I know to avoid that is looking at images I love, study them, compare myself to them, and then figure out how I fell short and improve upon that! I LOVE looking at others work,it hurts and inspires all at once. I spend more time then I care to admit looking at photographs. Are there days it's discouraging? Obviously. But it's necessary and you can't let it slow you down. Failure, money, marketing, growing a business... yes there are days I don't want to get out of bed, but then I remind myself of item 3) I like my work... and that helps me put everything else away and keep moving forward.
5) The Top Twelve
"Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop"
If it's good enough for Ansel, it's good enough for me. 😉
Here are my 12 favorite images I made this year...