No: a word from a photographer mom.
This is kind of a break from the norm on my blog here, but hear me out.
This has been a long time coming and heavy in my thoughts this past month...year.
There I said it.
I have trouble with that word. Like kind of a lot. You ask me to do something? Yes. Absolutely. Sure! Let me just find someone to watch the kids, and I am all over that!
But it's not just that day. It's not just the drive time, the photo time, the time preparing for the shoot. It's the time at home, the editing time. It's the promoting and marketing and networking and branding and advertising and emailing and tax and expense keeping time. And it's not just that shoot. It's the shoot before and the one before that and the one before that. It's the mental laundry pile (and the actual real laundry too) that keeps getting taller and taller and more and more overwhelming.
I have always considered myself a stay at home mom. I mean, that's what I am, right? Today, it occurred to me that that might not be true. Not really. I might fall into my own category of some kind of weird mix of working and stay at home mom.
What I have been struggling with lately is the idea of being present when I am home with my kids. Sure I am here. Sure I am making the sandwiches and answering questions and separating fights. But am I really here if my eyes and thoughts are on the computer screen, analyzing colors and thinking about my next step in creating the perfect image....not really. I want to be present while my kids are still here. While they are young. While they are still tugging at my bathrobe and asking me to watch Rescue Bots with them on the couch. While they still fit in my arms and want to be in my arms.
This is what people don't see and don't understand about myself and many other wedding photographers - we aren't just a business. We are moms and dads and we have little people who need us to be present. We take our work seriously. We take our roles as parents more seriously. And because we take pride in and value both, it might take us a little longer than one might think it takes to edit 1000 wedding photos. But we are up and down and in and out of editing and answering questions and changing diapers and cleaning up spills and kissing boo-boos in between brightening exposure and darkening a shadow.
Now I've had a rough year, I mean a really rough year, as a photographer. There were times when I seriously wanted to walk away from it. I lost sleep over clients' complaints and demands and angry emails and disapproval and dissatisfaction with photos that I loved, photos that I spent so much time on, time that I can never get back. I'm not saying I regret it, but I'm saying that for someone not to appreciate the time that I spent not being fully present with my three kids and then to ask me for more time...it frustrates me, and it hurts.
So what's the point? The point is that I LOVE what I do. Seriously so much. I am so amazed by how far I have come in something that I thought would just be a hobby. I am so proud to be where I am. I am so thankful to be here. I'm thankful to God. I thankful for my husband who is proud of me when I can't be proud of myself and who supports me when I need it most. I so so love what I do, and I get so excited every time I get a new email asking about a potential session, BUT I need to learn to say no. I need to turn things down. And I need you, the potential client, to understand why. It's because of the times that my daughter has to say "Mommy" more than once because I am not paying attention to anything but the skin tones in one of thousands of photos on the computer screen. It's because of the times that I have to tell my kids to "hold on" or "I'm almost done" or "please just give me a couple minutes." I don't get those times back. The way my kids were, who they were in those moments, no longer exists. So I am going to say no. Please don't be mad. Please don't think I'm mad at you. Just see me as more than a business. See me as a person.