This is one of the most vulnerable blog posts that I have ever written. If I’m being honest, there is a part of me that wants to shove these words back into my journal where they probably belong. So here goes nothing…
One week ago, I photographed my last wedding.
The decision to step away from this career was truly one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made. Being a wedding photographer has been one of the greatest joys of my life. Having the opportunity to walk alongside couples on their wedding day, to capture moments that will be shared with children and grandchildren—it’s a legacy that I will always be proud of.
After about six years of building a successful wedding photography business, my life took a turn with the launch of the Rising Tide Society. What started as a spring passion project in Annapolis quickly grew into a massive community around the United States, Canada, and the world. Within a couple of months, we joined forces with HoneyBook and started traveling to San Francisco every few weeks.
It felt like overnight my entire world changed. I started connecting with small business owners around the country and realizing that there was a need for community, support, and education in the booming creative economy. I felt this incredible amount of responsibility to show up everyday and do the very best that I could to move our community forward. Step by step, I started to see where I fit in the larger scheme of things. Essentially, building RTS taught me that I could use my heart, creativity, and mind to impact people in a new way.
So after months of intentional contemplation—I stopped accepting contracts for new couples early last year. I made the decision to stop growing my wedding photography business in this season of my life. This change comes with a lot of emotion, nostalgia, and excited anticipation for the future. It definitely wasn’t easy and there are so many things that I am going to miss about being a wedding photographer.
When thinking about this decision, there were a couple of things that I learned along the way.
It is never too late.
It is never too late to change direction. It is never too late to try something new. It is never too late to become the person you were meant to be.
Do not be afraid of what other people think. Do not run away from living your best life because you worry about the critics, haters, and those who doubt your worth. Do not hold back from following your calling because you are fearful of what people will say and think. Success is not defined by their opinions.
Your definition of success should be yours and yours alone. It shouldn’t hinge on fickle measurements of material worth—it should stem from deep within your heart, build up from your core values, and guide you towards a life and legacy that you’re proud of.
Success is setting aside your fears and insecurities to live a life full of passion and purpose. As time passes, how you define success may change and that is okay. It can be scary to recognize when your priorities are shifting or when it’s time to take a new road forward—don’t let that stop you.
I had a lot of fears about changing direction.
I had placed my identity in being a wedding photographer because that was my job for eight years. I built a business that allowed me to pay my way through college, eliminate my student loans, and start a life with my husband. The lines between business and personal are so easily blurred in small business ownership and it is easy to lose sight of the line between your personal and professional identity.
This change pushed me outside of my comfort zone. I was nervous about what people would think of me. I was scared of saying goodbye to the only world I had ever known. I was anxious about stepping away from something that had claimed my heart for so long. I even wondered… “who am I if not a wedding photographer?”
Looking back, I think the question of identity is the one that I struggled with most. The world wants to put us in a box—to easily categorize who we are and what our contributions will be. When we break that box and step outside of the framework we’ve built for ourselves, it requires us to get uncomfortable and step into the unknown.
This change has forced me to question where we place our value and identity. Do you know what it made me realize? Our value doesn’t live in the number of Instagram followers that we have, money we make, number of clients we’ve booked, or likes we’ve received on our lasted Facebook post. Those metrics are not indicative of the impact that we can and will make on this world.
I realize now that my camera is not my calling. My camera is one tool by which I can live out my calling. There is a distinct difference. Our means to achieving our purpose may shift as our lives change and that is okay.
My calling has not changed—my way of achieving it has.
To those of you in seasons of transition and change, I want you to know that you’re not alone. These moments can be scary, however they are full of immense opportunity and reasons to be grateful.
I am so excited for this next chapter of my life and I can’t wait to share all of our big projects with you.
What’s on the horizon? The road ahead contains a lot of teaching, writing, podcasting, traveling, and storytelling. It takes place in heart of Silicon Valley and involves elevating the voices of extraordinary creatives in the RTS + HoneyBook communities. I will be sharing each day in the coming weeks on a daily video blog and I can’t wait to have you on this journey with me!