I remember the very first time I ever shot a wedding like it was yesterday. I was a second-shooter (basically an assistant photographer) for a well-known wedding photographer in Gainesville, FL back in 2010. I could barely sleep the night before, and I spent the whole wedding day with excited butterflies. I can still picture the room the bride and bridesmaids were getting ready in, because it was the first spot we shot in that day and I couldn't believe I was really there.
(Yep, these are actual photos I took at that very first wedding. And they are printed out because that's how I used to show perspective clients my portfolio during consultations--a photo album of 5"x7" prints. #kickinitoldschool)
And then when it was all over, I spent the drive home on such a natural high that I felt almost dizzy. I called one of my best friends on the way home, shaking with excitement and just wanting to tell someone about it this FEELING I had stumbled upon.
Because it’s the feeling more than the job itself that was life-changing. It was the feeling that finally I had found that thing that I would want to do forever, even if I was never paid a dime. I wanted to chase that feeling of pure elation for as long as possible, and that chase is what drove me to work a full-time job for 6 years while I hustled and grew my photography business on the side.
I won’t sugarcoat it for you—it wasn’t easy, not even a little bit. There were many, many tears (someday I’ll tell you about the “crying square”), not enough sleep, and more anxiety than I thought possible.
But, I kept chasing that feeling, and every wedding I worked as a second-shooter and then eventually photographed as the primary shooter fed my drive to keep fighting to make that feeling my full-time gig.
And now here I am, writing to you as a full-time wedding photographer who has shot almost 100 weddings. #woah
(I took this photo at my last wedding of 2016. Amazing what seven years of experience can do, right?!)
So today I want you to think about the last time you had that feeling. What makes you feel the highest of all natural highs? When do you feel the most like yourself?
And if your answer is that you haven't ever felt like that, THAT’S OK. Because there isn’t a deadline…you just need to do some more exploring.
Interested in a topic that you’ve never fully pursued? Sign up for a course at a community college! Always wanted to try your hand at painting? Grab a girlfriend and go to one of those wine + paint nights! You never know when your “thing” will make itself known, and you may have more than one thing in life that makes you giddy.
o whether you’re already working your dream job or you’re just starting to accept that there’s more to life than the status quo, keep seeking out new experiences, stay curious and never stop learning.