Self-Employment: Month 9 ~ Chicago Wedding Photographer

You know what? 9 months in and I think I’m finally getting somewhat of a hang of having a life balance (at least a little). During busy season this fall right after I went full-time I felt guilty every moment I wasn’t working. I thought if I blogged or facebooked or tweeted about anything non-work related my clients waiting on photos would be thinking, “What is she doing out having margaritas with her family?! She should be getting my photos edited!” (What kind of crazy person was I?!)

Thankfully lately I’ve realized that is the furthest thing from the truth. In case you haven’t noticed it – I have some pretty kick-a** clients. (True story.) And they are unbelievably encouraging and understanding of the fact that this is a 2 person show over here at Christy Tyler Photography. (I’m not sure how much longer that will be the case – but for now – it is what it is.) And they also understand that while I do work for myself and work from home – and that I could work 24/7 if I had to – that I really shouldn’t. They even email me to tell me I need to stop working and spend time away from my desk/email/editing, and they scold me if they see I replied to an email at 1am. haha! 🙂 I don’t know what took me so long to grasp the fact that my clients are amazingly understanding. But they are.

I’ve also learned recently (especially now that busy season is in FULL swing) that the most important things for my sanity and productivity are to:

1. get enough sleep

2. get enough exercise

3. spend time with friends & family outside of photography.

I think realizing these things and implementing them in my weekly schedules – even when I think I can’t possibly take time away from work to have a cookout with friends – has been the best thing for my business and my productivity this busy season! When I’m rested, happy, and balanced – I’m able to focus SO MUCH MORE on actually getting work done when I need to get it done. It’s pretty awesome actually. I can’t believe I didn’t figure this out before!

So here I sit – 9 months in with a little more perspective than I had earlier. I’ve realized that just because I worked 9-5 at my old day job doesn’t mean that’s what I need to do here. Some days I can work longer hours, and other days I can have an afternoon off to go to the gym. Some days I can take a nap if my eyes are no longer staying open, or take Chloe for a walk if my back is aching and I need to get up from this darn uncomfortable desk chair. (Note to self: get new desk chair!) Some days I can be incredibly productive, and other days if I can’t get into the zone – it is okay to step away. I was so accustomed to forcing myself to sit at a desk and work ALL DAY LONG at my old job – even when I wasn’t feeling productive or able to focus – that I was making myself do the same thing here. Which made no sense. I’m better off getting up and doing something else, so when I come back I can knock things out in no time because I am 100% focused.

I think part of what really helped me with productivity and calling it a night at a reasonable time was trying to follow my ideal day timelines that I talked about in last month’s self-employment post. I don’t always follow them to a T, but they certainly have helped me to focus on email for an amount of time, editing for an amount of time, business maintenance, and life balance in general.

So if you’re out there running your own business right now and working yourself into the ground – please stop. You didn’t go into this to be completely overwhelmed and miserable. You got into this because you LOVED it. Make sure you keeping loving it by allowing yourself time away from it now and then – so you and your business can grow in new and exciting ways!

Anyway – I just realized this wasn’t what I initially intended this post to be about – but my brain just took its own way so here it is! haha. I hope it was helpful to anybody out there struggling with feeling overworked or exhausted (and I know you’re out there – because we are definitely in peak season right now)! Make sure to take time for yourself! All of this actually made me think of a reading I heard at one of my weddings recently. But instead of applying it to two people in a relationship – you could apply it to you and your business…


An excerpt from The Prophet by Khalil Gabran:

Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. 
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. 
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, 
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. 
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. 
And stand together yet not too near together: 
For the pillars of the temple stand apart, 
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.


Maybe you think I’m crazy, and that was a stretch to relate that to my business… haha… but it really made me think of that when I heard it! You and your business will not grow or thrive if you don’t allow yourself time away from it. Thank goodness I finally learned this before I totally burned myself out. I can definitely say that I’m am 100% more happy with my life and business than I was back in December at the tail end of fall’s busy season when I wrote this post. (I know I still have things to work on – but this is a definite improvement!) I’m hoping I can keep this perspective throughout busy season so that I keep smiling behind the camera, and away from it! 🙂




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Christy & James are Chicago based but happily travel anywhere in the world that beautiful love stories take them!