This post has been a long time coming. I've had a lot of time to think about what to say since I am back to a predictable, salaried job in the retail world and I am not feeling the pressure to vie for everyone's attention or worry about where I will find my next job. Fact is, I am still a photographer.
Shocked? Don't be. And I know my photographer friends won't be either because once a photographer, always a photographer. Am I right, guys? Am I right?
But I would like to address some things that led me to my decision to go back to working for a large organization as opposed to going it alone. Isn't it odd that most of the posts you read about this subject are the exact opposite scenario: "Why I quit my job to become a freelance photographer"?
The truth is, I no longer have the steam to compete. The market is saturated. Everyone and their mom (okay, MOST MOMS) is a photographer. Anyone who has a decent dSLR is suddenly branding themselves (mostly terribly) and coining themselves a pro. The sad part is that consumers are buying it. Where has the creativity gone? (Come on fellow photogs...you were already dying to ask.)
This isn't to say that I do not find inspiration in the likes of Ryan Muirhead and Shelby Brakken, and experimentalists such as Courtney Martin (who I also consider a good friend) and funny girl blogger and photog (also a friend), Susie Allison (her blog is hilarious) and fairly new talents such as Courtney Irene Marie. My list of favorites goes on. They are all true artists and I respect them for their tenacity and resilience.
These types, however, are few and far between, it seems. I am not the most amazing photographer out there, either! I do believe I have some talent and I still thoroughly enjoy capturing moments for people. But I will be the first to tell you that being a one-woman shop and trying to raise a family became too much for me to balance. Being a photographer and keeping the income coming requires constant self-promotion. I was bending over backwards. I felt like I was forcing it. I felt like I was giving my kids a small percentage of myself and resenting my work. It felt gross.
I had to step back and truly assess what I was trying to accomplish. Did I want fame and fortune? Did I want to improve as an artist? Did I want to keep feeling like I was in a rat race? Perhaps, all of the above.
At a certain point, I feel any business plateaus and has to diversify. Just look at creativeLIVE. What was once a small photography education start up is now an online creative education super power. And not just for photographers. For everyone from photogs to designers to authors to crafters.
I am certainly not comparing myself to creativeLIVE. I am just one person. And that is just it. I am just. one. person. At one point, I attempted to garner the support of other artists and tried to find partnership or support in other photographers with hopes of building a store front studio and having regular walk-in traffic and all the typical dreams most photographers have but never realize.
(By the way, this isn't a sob story. I just want to be super candid because everyone asks me all the time.)
My return to the retail industry was really happenstance. By the end of my time as an actively marketing photographer, I started to think about all of the things I had always dreamed of doing. On the top of my list, believe it or not, was to become a police officer. So I began training.
I trained for two weeks before I took the written and physical test for the first time. I passed the written and then passed 3 out of the 4 events required in order to pass the physical. So I kept training. I came back a few months later and finished the physical events in the upper echelons. When I walked into the Loft Outlet Store out here in the valley, my intent was to get a job so I could get a good discount on a suit when it came time for my oral boards for the department. I never thought my previous experience in the retail industry would skyrocket me forward in a company that embraces a genuine connection with clients, creativity in merchandising and a true focus on all things fashion. All things that have been a part of me since I was 15 when I got my first job at Old Navy.
I guess the story is kind of bitter sweet. Would I still love to get that call from the department to schedule an oral board? Of course. But the fact is, passing those tests at all is good enough for me. I proved to myself that if I truly wanted to pursue that path, I could. It's really difficult to justify diving head first into a dangerous career with a family. The thought of subjecting them to the stress of me in harm's way regularly is terrifying.
Anyway...I am settling into more work/life balance than I have ever had before. I go to work, I come home and I don't have work looming over my head. (Well, not much. ;) ) I don't feel like I have to be constantly investing time and energy into finding my next gig. Truth be told, I don't even have to work. I am truly blessed to have a husband with a successful career and no pressure from him to bring in additional income. But working is something that I have always done and even as a stay-at-home-mom, I had to occupy myself with "work" and pursuits outside of diaper changes, playdates and snack time.
And the big question, does this mean if I am asked to do a session that I will not? Absolutely not. I would like to make that very clear. Like I said, I am still a photographer. I will be much more calculated about scheduling shoots, though. Perhaps even selective. And I would love to put out there that perhaps, the company I work for will provide me with some new adventures and opportunities to share my photographic talents! I just don't know where my path will lead.
For right now, I am content. My children are happy and healthy and I am married to my best friend and I enjoy my work when I am there. Life goes on and we hope that it's sunny tomorrow.
With that I leave you with this precious detail...