Dear Kylene of One Year Ago,
It’s been exactly one year, to the day, since you left your marketing job to become an actual full-time photographer. One big fat crazy year. As you bound down the stairs and out the front door (without a proper farewell, it’s reaffirming actually) you are filled with a mix of thrilled excitement (you can sleep in!) and blinding fear (you hate sleeping in, plus money!?) You know nothing about the year ahead so that’s why I’m here. As your future self, I’ve been through it all and I’m here to applaud your bravery and prepare you for some interesting times ahead. There are unbelievable highs and deep, heart sinking lows awaiting you. I’ll just go ahead and ruin the ending and say it’s all going to be okay while offering you some unrequested advice (your favorite kind!) Plus, I’m saving you a well deserved glass of peach champagne, which I’m drinking right now and toasting your guts out. So here goes.
WAIT, HAVE YOU LOST IT? “It” being your responsible mind. You just walked out on an office-with-a-window, real paycheck-earning job and you have all of zero weddings booked for 2013. Z E R O. But the desire to leave was way bigger than any logical plan, I know. Photography is your passion yes, but now is the time to use your past life as a marketer to promote yourself, brave one. Self promotion feels icky and fake like smelly sunless tanner but if you want to be noticed, it’s a necessary evil. Do it now, as humbly as possible. You will book 13 weddings this way and some couples will even book without meeting you first. This proves that blogging works, start doing it more. Google “blogstomp” and then buy it immediately.
Friends and family will be both equally supportive and completely oblivious to your new career. Some will like every photo you post on facebook and others have probably never visited your site yet. Some see your posts and refuse to click the like button because doing so would cause them some chemical reaction making them a little bit nicer. Try not to care. Take the praise you receive from where you can, namely the brides who love their wedding photos. And they will really love them. That’s all that matters. Keep your chin up.
You will meet Jasmine Star. I’ll just ruin that surprise because you won’t believe me anyway. Not only do you meet her once but twice, and you have an actual conversation with her both times. And while you’re talking to her, you almost fumble on your words because in your head you’re seeing yourself talking to her. And you hear “You’re talking to Jasmine Star” on repeat. But that’s what happens when you meet someone you’ve admired for 6+ years. Someone who helped you be brave enough to even consider buying a “real” camera. Oh and the second time you see her she hands you a glass of champagne and I know, this whole last paragraph is ridiculous but trust me, it happened. I have several photos to prove it.
June is your hardest month. I’m not going to tell you why because you need to experience this one firsthand, oh naive one. There is nothing you could have done to protect yourself from it, it was so shocking and unfair, but such is life. You were very kind and supportive and you can be proud of being the better person. Unfortunately, June is also your busiest month, so you’ll need to conquer the 3 weddings, 5 engagement sessions and 2 family sessions without letting on that you no longer have a heart in your chest. It’s your job to record the happiest days of peoples’ lives, and no, wearing sunglasses to hide your somber, tear-soaked eyes, won’t work. You’ll have to fully look through that viewfinder and see that honest love does happen. It’s a miracle you’ll need to see to believe. And hopefully you will find your heart again. Just a suggestion, but start getting more serious about journaling your prayers and reading this, this and this. One day, months later, you will actually hear yourself laugh again, I promise.
Luke, all fourteen furry pounds of him, is a Godsent. He will bark at you when it’s 11:42pm after you’ve been staring at your computer editing all day. Just one short bark to get your attention and then he’ll wait for you to get up and he’ll prance on over to your bed. He’ll look at the bed, then up at you, then back to the bed. He’s telling you enough is enough. He’s right. Go to bed.
Let’s see, what else. At one point you decide to be crazy and get on the other side of the camera. Smile more. Laugh even. Because when you get the photos back, you’ll see exactly how people see your eyes and it’s a reality check. This will also be a learning lesson on how important it is to get your clients to laugh more.
All in all, you have grown a lot. Both as a photographer and a person. There is so much more I could tell you, but this is already too long, so l leave you with this. You survived. You have an amazing job. You love where you live (your address does change!) and you are really thankful for this life. I’m so glad you did it.