When I first broke out my Nikon d800 from its crisp packaging, it felt like a heavy, expensive hurricane was washing me off my feet. My husband and I talked about our dreams often, and somehow the idea of making money photographing kids and families always found its way into the conversation. I had just finished working my butt off to graduate from a one-year masters program in Secondary Education, so that was obviously my plan. I would be a teacher.
Eventually, I could maybe even photograph on the side.
But when we got settled into our new little apartment, thousands of miles from home on Oahu, Hawaii, and as I unpacked my t-shirts and bathing suits stuffed inside wedding gifts of blenders and vases, I was unsettled. The job offers weren't coming. It was late summer and most positions had been filled, or weren't exactly begging for a fresh-from-college, east coast white girl. Maybe I should give this photography thing a try.
I thought to myself --
I have an eye for good shots. It's always been something I've enjoyed. I have some limited training/experience. People say I'm good at it. I'll just get a starter camera and maybe start reading up a little on marketing, set up a facebook page. Nothing huge. If I can make a few extra bucks at this, that would be good enough.
I now know that that's the attitude of someone who lacks confidence or knowledge. Or both. Like me.
Luckily, while I was a dreamer, my husband was (and is) a doer. He believed if you were going to do something, you should put your all into it and do it right. And he believed in me, too. So we didn't get the starter camera- we got a new, professional model and professional lenses, professional editing software and professional resources. He saw the bigger picture at play. I just needed convincing.
I was amateur at best in my skill. It would take much more than a creative eye to make this work.
But he convinced me that I would never get to a professional platform if I didn't learn the tools and start acting like one. And he was right.
The thing was, back then, I couldn't even fathom the idea of me being a professional photographer. It seemed bizarre, totally impossible, unrealistic. But that's only because I had never given myself the permission to try. He did.
I dove into education and practice like my life depended on it. If nothing else, I at least wanted to make back the initial investment we'd just shelled out into all that gear at the drop of a dime, just months into our marriage.
It was all so advanced. I remember literally pouring over my equipment manuals after dinner and googling the terms to figure out what it was referring to.
If I could at least prove I could use it all, that would be good enough.
I cried a lot at first. Said a lot of things like
"I have no clue what I'm doing"
"This is so beyond me"
"I can't do it"
and "I don't need to know x, just enough to get by."
I was desperate to learn and improve but there was JUST. SO. MUCH. And it was HARD to wrap my mind around the magnitude of this creative art as a career and what it required of me. After all, I had just finished school for a completely different career.
Yet, as we walked the Hawaiian beach at dawn with coffee cups and bare feet, still fiddling with the new jewelry on our left hands, we talk about the possibilities. What creating a career for me would mean. What it would take. I remember having a whole discussion starting with "what if" statements, forcing ourselves to let go of all previous constraints and conceptions of what life was "supposed" to be and instead focussing on the one we wanted to create together.
Those conversations lit a fire in me that I'd never felt before. I loved teaching- it was challenging and fulfilling; I knew I could make a difference. But this excitement was something different. I suddenly realized that the only thing standing in the way of me being a professional photographer was myself.
It sounded crazy.
It would take time. I felt the pressure. The judgement. I would have to make so many mistakes. TAKE RISKS. Make sacrifices. There was doubt. fear. loneliness. uncertainty. So many books and blogs and trial and error and money gained and money lost.
But once I started to see the big picture, I knew there was no turning back. I realized people actually do this.
I could be one of them.
I started to see what my husband saw in me -- that I could be capable of more. That "good enough" was selling myself short. God had a different plan for my life, and had I not listened to those around me encouraging me to listen and see, I'd be in a very different place right now. I wanted to listen to the doubt on my shoulder instead. It was definitely easier. I could have let the voice of fear dictate the level to which I could grow as an artist. I could have allowed my personal limits to create a ceiling for my development as a business owner.
But I decided to push past those voices. To go beyond "good enough."
It was one of the best decisions I've ever made.
Sometimes it takes a leap of faith. Sometimes it takes a voice of reason. Sometimes it takes a lifestyle change. Sometimes it takes all of the above. But no matter what it takes to get you to push past your limits, I believe the action of doing so will always reap rewards.
Whatever it is that is holding you back from the next big thing in life--from the adventure you've always wanted to take to the words you've always wanted to say, the job you've always aspired to have to the person you need to forgive-- kick down the walls and take the step.
You will never regret it.