I spent most of my summer really thinking about where I want to see myself in 5 or 10 years, career wise. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be able to stay at home with the kids and supplement our income with photography, but next fall I will have both boys in school full time and need to decide where I’m going with my life. I’ve pondered this ‘what do I want to do with my life?’ question most of my adulthood. In high school, when it seemed like everyone else just ‘knew’ what they wanted to do, I had no idea. I’ve only ever thought of myself as a photographer and it’s really the only thing I’ve ever dreamt of doing. Photography is the one thing I’ve always loved and have kept by my side my whole life, it feel like the core of who I am. But now there comes that time when I have to decide if I’m willing to make it a full time stable income, or find another path to follow.
Here’s the thing.. the photography industry has evolved into something so different than I could have imagined. It’s an incredibly hard industry to be in and I honestly think it takes a special kind of person to make it far. Technical photography skills are no longer as important as sales and business skills. The best will hopefully have all of those skills, but there are plenty of photographers with little to no photography skills who are great at marketing cheap sessions and getting their name out there. There are a lot of amazingly talented photographers who just can’t market to the people who value their talent. I will always be an introvert who doesn’t participate in local events or get togethers. I don’t hand my card to random people or bring up that I’m a photographer with new people I meet. I’m the person who loves to create a beautiful website, beautiful photography, simple clean branding and marketing materials, tons of awesome swag, and all these nerdy behind the scenes things that don’t actually bring in the clients. I sit back and hope people will come to me, that people will once again be willing to pay for quality photography and choose me because I offer high quality timeless photography. I’m realizing that I’m just not going to be the person that makes photography a full-time retirement funding career. I admire those who are amazing at it all, push through the struggles of the industry, and won’t let anything stand in their way. Those are the ones who make it far!
If I’m being totally honest with myself, I’m happy and fulfilled with photography being a part time income. I could never see myself giving it up completely, it’s a big part of who I am and so much of everything I love is centered around photography, but I don’t feel like I’m meant to do it as a full time living. I absolutely hate the business side of things as I’m sure many photographers agree on! I’m not good at pushing through the business challenges and I’m content where I’m at; I don’t *want* to be a full time career photographer! I also don’t want to put myself in this place where I’m almost 70 years old and can’t afford to ‘retire’ because I wasn’t responsible and didn’t save enough money to survive on. And as much as I love the freedom of working for myself, I’m also longing to have an out-of-home job, one that I can ‘make a difference’ doing.
This decision has weighed on my a lot of the past year. I’m kind of a multipreneur. I have so many things I love doing and side projects I’ve dabbled in, but none of them are a stable full time income. I’ve done hand stamped jewelry, I design and cut decals for windows and shirts, I help fellow businesses with design work, I create natural balms with essential oils, and I’m always finding ways to be involved with the birthing community. All these things I dabble in take up a lot of my time, but mostly amount to expensive hobbies. Lots of busy work.
One thing you may not know about me, is that I LOVE emergencies. I don’t shy away from death or bereavement either. When some people go into shock or shut down, I go in to, “lets pull ourselves together and get stuff done” mode. My optimal career path would be a paramedic, but practically speaking it’s low paying for crazy hours that wouldn’t be conducive to our family. I’ve contemplated nursing school so I could ultimately work with birthing moms or in the NICU, but I really don’t think I’d be fully happy with nursing unless I planned to keep going and become a CNM, and I don’t feel ready for that commitment either. I have it narrowed down to the medical field though! Long story short… I narrowed my interests down, researched different medical career options, and decided on Radiography Technologist. Yeah, I’m going to be a bone photographer to go with being a ‘baby being born’ photographer.
Let me tell you, I never would have guessed I’d be picking a career and going back to school in my 30’s! I’ve always thought that I would just *know* what I wanted to do with my life, and that people SHOULD know or have some life passion in something. So many people talk about their careers and they say things like, “I always knew I wanted to be a…” or “from a young child I loved…”, but there’s so many who don’t have those beginnings and that’s OKAY!
So here’s my story: “I always saw myself as a photographer and nothing else, until I decided I wanted something more; something different. That’s when I decided to search for something that I was interested in and could see myself doing for the next 20+ years. It may not have been my lifelong passion, or something I always knew I wanted to do, but it turn into become something that I love and am good at.”
And I jumped all in! The college Rad Tech program only starts once a year in fall, so I am attempting to apply for next year’s program. It’s a 6 semester (24 month) program which includes summers. The *only* way I can even apply to the program for next fall is if I complete the science requirements and test out of the math requirement. Because I was a month into this semester when I inquired about the program, it was too late to sign up for any A&P courses. I will have to take Human Anatomy and Human Physiology next semester as 2 stand alone classes. Four nights a week I’ll travel an hour each way for a 3 hour class, wish me luck! My bachelor’s degree and other college credits fulfill all of the extra general elective requirements though, so if I get accepted I will only have radiology specific classes to take. Today I started Medical Terminology (a requirement but not a pre-requirement for the program) and a Wyoming government class (state law requirement for graduation).
This is a big step for me. I tend to let my fear of failure get in the way of success. I’m hoping that being older will be an advantage! So here’s to my new normal. I plan to finish school and work part time while doing photography part time too. I will balance the 2 according to what feels right at the time and what’s bring me the most happiness. Having a technical career will put me in a place where I could support the family on my own if I needed to, where photography may not ever give me that option.
I will be cutting down on my portrait sessions a lot while I’m in school, but will be still be taking Fresh48 sessions and Placenta Encapsulation clients to help cover the costs of schooling!
Whoops, I guess I got sidetracked by these cute dogs playing in the living room!