On September 17th, James and I celebrated three years as full-time, support ourselves on this business and this business alone, photographers. It is kind of nuts really. Sometimes it feels like this is all we’ve ever known. And sometimes it feels like we just started this crazy ride.
Looking back at my Self-Employment posts from the early days of taking our business full-time, I can feel the anxiety and stress building up within me as I read them. I remember feeling so simultaneously lost and overwhelmed. I had absolutely ZERO balance in my life and was paranoid about paying the bills almost constantly. James and I had some seriously rough patches in our marriage in those early months of working together full-time, and it most definitely was not always pretty.
Fast forward to 3 years later… a crazy amount of work, re-evaluating our systems (& creating new ones), re-prioritizing, discussing our goals/dreams, and lots of growing pains later – has landed us here – and things are decidedly more enjoyable.
We work really hard, but we also know how to manage our ever-growing to-do lists better, and outsource where need be. We’ve learned how to budget better, and make sure we’re saving appropriately for taxes. We know (most of the time, maybe not riiiiight now) how to shut down the work and enjoy dinner out, or a day off. I realized how important fresh air, sunshine, and getting my heart rate up are to my sanity (and simultaneously our marriage). We figured out what days of the week were J’s gym days/errand days, and by connection, which would be my long walks with Chloe and get as much work done as possible days. We have our wedding day mornings down to a science – as specific as what we eat for breakfast (the same thing – every. single. wedding. day.), and how many hours before we leave we have to wake up. (Even Chloe has gotten used to the routine.) And in this past year – we tackled a new challenge, which has been figuring out how this whole commercial photography side of things works! We produced our first shoot last May, and are in the process of producing 3 more in the coming weeks and months, along with our regular load of weddings and shoots.
It absolutely blows my mind when I think about all we have done since the last day I walked out of that law firm in downtown Chicago on September 16, 2011.
I was so excited, so scared, and had NO IDEA what the future held. But the one thing I knew was that whatever it was – we were building it together for US… not for some other boss, or company, but for ourselves and our future family.
Most days I’m pretty hard on myself (and on James) – always striving to do better… to be better… work harder, and work smarter. Because of that, oftentimes I don’t take note of just how much we have managed to figure out (although very messily most of the time) over the last 3 years.
Since we went full-time we’ve documented 91 more couples saying “I do”, and 282 other shoots (including babies, families, Beautiful sessions, engagements, proposals, and commercial shoots). The fact that all those people (some of them more than once) trusted us with documenting their memories – just blows my mind and is so, so humbling.
We’ve attended 2 What If Conferences, WPPI, and hosted 5 workshops in our home.
We’ve traveled a lot more than either of us ever have in our lives (and officially have the travel bug)! While we may not get paid vacation days like people with ‘normal’ jobs – one of my favorite things about being our own bosses is that we don’t need to get approval from anybody before we can plan a trip! Because of that we’ve done lots of traveling – some by car, some by plane, some by boat, some for work, and some for play – to the Dominican Republic (for What If, and a wedding), Arizona (Sedona/The Grand Canyon), Washington DC (for the Inauguration, & for a wedding/family time), Hawaii, and to the Pacific Northwest… with more trips planned to Baltimore/DC, NYC, San Francisco, Puerto Rico, to visit J’s family in South Carolina, and I sincerely hope a trip overseas finally at some point! (All of you posting your travel pics on Instagram have me itching to go everywhere!)
We’ve spent more time with family and friends than we were ever able to when we were working for other people, and have been so so grateful for the opportunity to build a life that reflects our values of living and loving consciously each day. Building a life of quality over a life of quantity…. and building a life of moments over a life of materials.
And when we have our hard days (because ohhhhh do we have our hard days) – I do my best to focus on the positive (after I’ve picked myself up off the floor…. haha). I do my best to remember that we don’t HAVE to do this… we GET to do this.
Each morning I get to wake up next to my love and chase our dreams together. I get to have a dog that loves me and wants to hang out with me so much that she harasses me until we go for an hour long walk in the afternoon. I get to make my own schedule and take trips across the country for work. I get to run errands midday, sleep in without an alarm (usually), and work my butt off for our clients to make our dreams a reality… not someone else’s dreams. We get to see the results of our hard work. We get to see the way the moments we capture for our clients make them feel. We GET to do all of that.
So during this time of year – when it is soooo easy to feel like it is all too much – like I just need a day, a week… anything to myself. I instead am remembering how far we’ve come in the past three years, how blessed we are to GET to do any of this…. and especially how blessed we are to get to do it TOGETHER.
We cannot thank you all enough, from the bottom of our hearts – for following us along this crazy journey, and for always supporting us – especially when we needed it most. Here’s to many more years of chasing down dreams, living a life of gratefulness, and paying it forward.
Cheers, loves. xoxo