Self-Employment: The Fear & Pushing Forward ~ Chicago Wedding Photographer

Whew. I’m sitting here looking at the screen – wondering how on earth to put into words what I’ve been feeling lately. Sometimes it seems I see everyone succeeding around me, and yet here I sit – frozen in fear that somehow all we’ve built will come tumbling down around us. Lately I keep hearing “80% of small businesses fail in the first five years”… over and over in my head. I see business after business closing their doors in Chicago, and start to worry someday we’ll have to do the same. What on earth would we do? Where would I end up working? I can’t imagine our lives without this… I can’t picture it any other way but documenting people’s stories and working together side by side.


What if we don’t book enough for our 2014 season to pay the bills? What if not enough couples find us? What if they don’t love us or our work? What if they don’t think we’re worth it? Who do I think I am to be a part of a retreat helping people when lately I feel like I’m flailing. I used to feel confident going into meetings with potential clients, but lately I don’t feel like myself. I’m in my head, and I’m worried. I’m afraid. I’m overanalyzing. And it is driving me nuts.

It’s a weird contrast – to be insanely busy right now, yet not where I’d like to be for next year’s numbers/bookings. James reminds me over and over that we are only a few behind where we were last year at this time, and that it’ll pick up, and that people are just booking later and slower than last year… and that we’ll be OK.


What if it isn’t?

I remember fighting so hard to get to this point. I remember thinking I finally “made it” when we took our business full-time almost two years ago – and I thought that was IT. That I’d gotten to where I needed to go – and it would be smooth sailing from then on. But over the last couple years I realized it isn’t over when you go full-time – it is only just starting. The “ifs” and the fear flow in and out of my brain, inhabiting way too much of my thoughts… crippling me and my productivity.

We see people and they say… “You guys are so busy! Business is good! I’m so happy for you!” and I smile, and nod and say – “Yeah!!! It’s good!” while in the back of my head thoughts creep in about bookings, and numbers, and longevity, and whether or not we’ll ever be able to support kids and a family doing this… if we’ll ever feel secure, or if there will always be ebbs and flows of worry and joy… paranoia and celebration… disappointment and gratefulness.

It’s funny how people see things from the outside. They see shoots upon shoots, and weddings upon weddings, and bagel sandwiches, and sleepy puppy instagrams. They see dance lessons and lunch breaks at the pool. All the while James is saying, “Christy, snap out of it – just relax … stop worrying so much… What’s the point of taking time out of the office if your brain is still stuck back there?” 

I’m consumed by it. Almost always lately. Last year during busy season I got out of my brain… we were shooting, we were busy, we were booking… life felt… easy? (Or at least easier than the worried days of slow season that I had become accustomed to in the winter…) But this year – that hasn’t happened. I haven’t gotten out of my brain.

And it all came to a culmination as I read through the entries for the Turning Tides seat giveaway. I couldn’t help but see myself in all these women who wrote about their fears… and worries… and comparisons. I couldn’t help but think “Who am I to help them, when I feel like I need this retreat more myself than anybody else here???” 

But as I continued to read and stopped to think about what this retreat is really about…. about what Lauren, Jess and I have spoken of a million times when we decided we wanted to do this. That we wanted all of us to be …






None of us with all the answers, but all able to listen and help each other with our separate experiences. Lessons we’ve learned. Things that helped us push forward through the tough days/months/years. Ways we fought The Fear in our heads.

And I’m slowly realizing that maybe I’m in this space for a reason right now. Maybe I’ll be even more vulnerable and open at the retreat than I would have been if I had felt like I had it all together. Maybe this is where I needed to be in this moment. Maybe I’ll look back on this post in a month, or year, or 5 years … and smile at how far I’ve come.

I hope.


. . . . .

And now… on to the seat giveaway!!!!

Oh you guys… this was seriously one of THE HARDEST decisions we’ve ever had to make. I wish we could give every person who applied a seat to the retreat, but unfortunately we just can’t. 🙁 And for those of you who didn’t get the giveaway – please still consider coming and using your $100 off today! All of you are SO deserving and perfect for this retreat, and we would love to have you! So if you can make it happen – please do!!! We’d love to have you all there!!!

Anyway, without further ado – here is the winner of the Turning Tides Pay It Forward seat giveaway…. Okay, well TWO winners, since we seriously couldn’t narrow this down to just one and we secretly want all of you to come!!!

The Pay It Forward seats go to…. (drum roll please)….

Libby McGowan!

Katie Nesbitt!


Shoot us an email and we’ll iron out the details ladies!! 🙂


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