Back in April – almost 6 months ago now – I wrote a two part article series on Why I Quit Wedding Photography. I wrote this lesson from the depths of my heart, from a place that was really scared and wounded. I had contemplated writing this article for about a year, but I just couldn’t bring myself to go public. My husband implored me to just take a break. My family and friends said I should not throw away my expertise. I really can’t tell you why, but their words fell on deaf ears.
The truth was, in my heart, something changed. My passion – this previously burning energy and desire – was no longer on fire the way it had been. I couldn’t accept clients with that feeling. I knew it would influence my work, and I felt too much responsibility to my clients to allow that to happen. For a year I was torn about this, ripped apart by the decision to stay in, or leave.
I made my choice, but it was a naive one. I announced that I had quit photography and that I was only shooting for friends and family. I thought my choice was sure, but in the back of my mind I really didn’t know how long I would be able to stay out of the Craft.
Six months later, I’m eating some humble pie.
I’ve finally admitted to myself something that I was trying to push away previously: I can’t quit wedding photography. I can’t walk away from this industry at all.
It’s a humbling thing to say. Over a dozen people told me that I shouldn’t quit. But I simply couldn’t believe it on faith. I had to experience it for myself.
So yesterday I watched the Gabby Douglass Movie (I’m a sucker for gymnastics and inspirational movies). Something very interesting took place in Gabby’s life about a year before the Olympics. She actually wanted to quit. In fact, she did quit, very similar to the way that I did. Quite suddenly, her passion became a haunting shadow of what it once was.
Everyone in her life was aghast – appalled even. She had invested everything into her passion. Thousands of hours. Immeasurable amounts of energy. Quite literally, blood, sweat, and tears. And she was prepared to lay it all down and walk away when her dream seemed so near to her grasp.
Now I am not saying that I am the Gabby Douglass of wedding photography because that would be completely absurd. But I will say this: I completely understand what Gabby felt in those months. I experienced it with my passion too. It’s hard to describe to people who are on the outside – to people who haven’t been in the arena the way you have. Sometimes, when you fight intensely for your passion, it becomes so much of your identity that a single failure affects you in more personally than it should.
And like Gabby, I didn’t know how to discern that sometimes, you just need a break from your passion in order to rediscover it.
For six years I spent everything that I had to develop my passion. It was a long, slow, deliberate road. And in the process, I gave up more than I should have. I took on more than I should have. My passion simply couldn’t bear that burden.
This entire season has been a huge learning experience for me. And along the way, I’ve gained some knowledge about Passion that changes everything.
1. Never Give Up Your Passion: When something is your passion, it is a very special piece of you. I’m not saying your passions don’t change. But what I have seen is this: Passions have an ebb and flow. In my life, my passions haven’t died as much as they have expounded. There are certainly times when it has felt like my passions have died (as in this last year for photography), but you always come out of those seasons at just the right time. Be steady. Don’t abandon your passion, because passion is always what saves your love for life.
2. Protect Your Passion with Boundaries: Like so many other photographers, I built my passion into an 80+ hour workweek. Working on my passion was really fun; But I didn’t engage in proper boundaries to protect my passionate work from taking over my life. I have seen this time after time in we photographers. Send an email at a stop light. Edit while the family is watching a movie. Write a blog post instead of going on a run. Developing new marketing strategies instead of having quiet time. We have all been there, but I am here to tell you that after 5 years of this intensity, you just burn out. Your passion needs boundaries, or it will suffer.
3. It’s OK to Take a Break: I am not a vacation person. Let me clarify. I am a workaholic. I like work. I enjoy being productive. Taking a day of rest or two out of the week would find me in a coffee shop reading through blogs or the latest business book. Those things are not bad at all and maybe they give some people rest. My problem was that I never took the time to really invest in things that made me feel refreshed. I now know that coffee dates are life blood to me. Or browsing through paintings for a new artistic inspiration. Or writing in my journal for no ones eyes to ever see but mine. I’ve learned that taking a break from your passion to invest time into other things that make you refresh will only add to your passion in the long run.
4. Passion is Priceless: I truly believe now that passion drives us. For passion, we are willing to overcome the limits of our humanity and pursue things only others could dream of. It’s incredibly sad to me that not everyone lives a passionate life, but its’ true. When you know you have a passion for something – photography, people, quiet time, serving – allow yourself to live in those passions. Passion will change your life in the most dynamic of ways. Just think about this: Have you ever heard anyone say that they wished they had lived their life with less passion? That’s what I thought too.
5. Your Passion Can Be ReDiscovered: It’s true that sometimes you do need to walk away from your passion for a little while. During that time, you can focus on other things that you find enjoyment in. I found that closing the doors on “official business” and photographing only for friends allowed me to set the terms for my own involvement for a little while. Working with friends renewed my excitement. Whenever I picked up my camera, it was like coming home to a safe place that I found nowhere else. Taking this break allowed me to rediscover that photography and visual communication will always be a core part of my life. Of course, the passion may change shape a little bit and grow out from there. Nonetheless, when you are willing to push pause and take a risk, it may be that you find a lot more than you expected. I know that is very true for me.
6.Your passion is a part of you – but it is not all of you: To photographers, our job is, to a degree, a lifestyle. We can’t deny it. The life of an artist drives us, and the beauty that we can capture captivates us. There is a slight problem with this: When our passion becomes our identity – outside of our relationship with God – we can lose focus on the other really important things in life. Friendships. Family. Serving. Health. Passion makes the difference, but Passion isn’t everything.
Over the summer I spent a lot of time re-evaluating my life. I discovered some amazing things including the directions that I believe I need to go. A lot of these directions are influenced by my health limitations. But some are the direct result of me taking the time to walk way from photography for a little while – just long enough to see that it wasn’t my Passion that was the issue. The real issue was that I did not realize how much my Passion needed to grow and expand.
In the next two months there are huge projects in the works that will, quite literally, change everything. I am so thrilled about these things and I wish I could tell you what they are! But we both have to wait for that! I can promise they are big and very cool.
And just in case you think I’m bluffing, let me prove it to you: My new site Designer is the incredible Micah J Murray. My business coach is the fantastic Caitlin Anderson. My Graphic Designer is the sweet and lovely Samantha Egan. My book mentors are Jeff Walker via Product Launch Formula and Neil Rackham via Spin Selling. And two out of ten of my fellow collaborators include Sarah Bradshaw and Erin Wilson Staples. Just to mention a few of many others…
This is what it looks like for me to be back in the ring. It may look slightly different than before. But my Passion is about to boil over in brand new and worthwhile ways.
Oh. And if you want a really quick sneak peek, head over to Facebook and “Like” Business Craft BootCamp!
Have you recently struggled with Passion? How has Passion influenced your life direction?
Know someone in need of some encouragement? Share here!