Ten years ago today I walked into the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, where I was a staff photographer, and gave my notice. As I stood next to the filing cabinets in the digital dark room, my boss looked at me and said, “You’re f*$king kidding me… this is a joke, right?”
I didn’t really know where I was going with my career, I just knew that I had a kid on the way and working weekends wasn’t how I wanted to raise a family. So I quit, became a mom and started to work on building my own photography business. I had a 5-year goal: To build my business to where I was working full-time by the time he started kindergarten. That was a great goal until life got in the way, everything changed and I found my self on the flip-side of a divorce and scrambling to build a business in a matter of months, not years. I try to be a positive person, so I turned my lemons into lemonade… and here I am celebrating 10 years of owning my own photography business.
One of my first connections was with the Associated Press, my first assignment was shooting the Wal-Mart Shareholder’s annual meeting. I was very fortunate to have made connections during my time with the ADG, and it worked out that they needed another stringer in Northwest Arkansas. I stayed close to my journalism roots and shot for various newspapers that needed photos from Arkansas, but I also took any job that was thrown my way. Think events, weddings, families, babies, engagements, etc. Then I met Wesley Hitt, a sports and commercial photographer, and my world as a photographer flipped after he said these simple words, “What do you want to shoot?”
I thought, what do you mean what do I want to shoot? I’m a photographer, I shoot anything, right?
Since he said those words nearly 7 years ago, I have worked at narrowing what I shoot. I’ve set goals, and I am slowly accomplishing them. I’m working toward shooting the things I enjoy and working away from the things I don’t. I understand my strengths and I am no longer afraid to recommend someone else for a job where I don’t feel qualified, or I am not interested. My confidence has grown, along with my skill set.
My biggest area of growth over the last decade has been the business side of things, and I work every day at becoming a better business woman. I could be the best photographer in the world, but if I can’t sell myself, read a contract or manage money I would be in trouble.
I work, I read, I listen, I ask questions, I smile… and I am thankful each day when I go to work that I love my job.