Friday, January 4, 2013


On my list of favorite books are a significant number of memoirs. Memoirs like The Glass Castle, Running with Scissors, and The Happiness Project and, most recently, Wild. I love them because I love a good story, and really love a good true story. It’s inspiring to hear the stories of “ordinary” people who have taken on immense challenges and achieved their goals or gained essential wisdom from the experience. These are the stories that explain the why and how dreams were realized, and they are the hardest questions to answer but the ones we all want to know.

My love of blogs stems from this same desire – to learn how to make dreams come true, as corny as that sounds. Although no one has magic fairy dust that does that, the bloggers I’ve followed religiously through the years are the ones who share their ups and downs on a daily basis and give me a roadmap for writing my own version of a happy ending. So much of my life so far has been a search for what I want to be when I grow up and not knowing how to actually become the answer. I’ve followed these people who have actually realized the same desires that I always told myself were never real possibilities because I didn’t have a background in art or photography or design because they didn’t always have those things either. Many hours I’ve read and reread posts from archives of my favorite bloggers and writers to find their secret sauce to success. Their stories have become my bible, my outline for finding my next steps on the path to being what I truly want to be.

But as I’ve embarked on my own journey, I’ve come to realize that no amount of studying someone else’s adventure will make my experience even remotely the same. We are not the same people, we don’t live in the same places, we’re not from the same families (no matter how much it seems like we are) or backgrounds, and so it is delusional to entertain the idea that we could accomplish exactly the same things exactly the same way. And yet, in some ways, this is the appeal and the draw of this type of story. If I can do it, you can do it. Easy as pie. Unfortunately, it’s not.

And yet…if I didn’t know that it was possible to become a successful photographer without an art degree, would I have tried? Would I have searched for opportunities that would allow me to break free from the belief that I couldn’t make it in a world where someone else wasn’t handing me a steady paycheck and health insurance (nothing wrong with those things, by the way!)?

At the beginning of 2012, I was trying to figure that out. I was hoping I could find a way to break free from my full-time job, and maybe be a full time photographer someday. I had no idea how I would ever make it happen, and I was wrestling with my desire to leave and my need to stay every day. There were promises of promotions that never came and my life was one huge emotional, indecisive roller coaster. But when you want something so much you can taste it, if you don’t find a way, you make one. In June, I found a part time position with another photographer and worked as a studio manager (handling administrative functions for the studio) in addition to doing all of the post processing on their images. Going through upwards of 5,000 images a week from photographers who have been in the game for several years was probably the single thing in the past six months that improved my own work the most. I thought that it would provide an opportunity to learn and grow for several years with more experienced photographers, allowing me to get my feet under me and then eventually, when I had outgrown it, move out on my own (which was at least five years away, I guessed). Then in November, I found myself, ready or not, my own boss for the first time in my life. At first, I was terrified, because this isn’t how the stories I’d read had gone. Until I realized I still have my roadmap, and just like before I will use it as inspiration to make a way to get where I want to be. It took awhile, but now I feel free and at peace with the way everything worked out, and I'm fully embracing having my own business.

Never in my wildest dreams at the beginning of last year would I have guessed that at the beginning of this year I’d own my own business and be working it full time. Nor would I have seen all of the bends in the road that got me to this point. In so many ways, I hope that 2013 is just as bendy. I’m ready and waiting.

So here’s to a fresh start in 2013 and to making dreams a reality. My biggest hope is that if you’re reading this and you have an idea – even one that you’ve convinced yourself would be fun, but impossible for you – that you give it a chance. Find out how other people made it happen and use their examples of perseverance and ambition to fuel your fire. There is no “right” way to become a photographer or anything else you want to be, so just go for it, in whatever way you can, and figure it out along the way. When you start looking for them, you’ll find that opportunities really are around, so make the most of them. And if you need someone to cheer you on, or brainstorm how you can make it happen, well, I’ll be right here.

To new beginnings…and happy endings!

Here's a short list of my favorite blogs, my kindred spirits, the ones that inspired me to make a career out of something I loved, and that I look forward to every. single. day.

1 comment:

  1. LOVE this post! I can tell 2013 is going to be awesome for you lady! Woohoo!!!