I’ve hit rock bottom. And it was good. Swimming back up to the surface and taking a deep, life giving breath. I’ve been hiding it. Not wanting to let anyone know. Really, I even kept it from myself. Until I realized that something was fundamentally wrong. And so the ramble begins…
When I started my wedding photography business, I was ready for a straight road to success. You know, when you’re young and inexperienced, you’re also (very – in my case) naive. I thought that within a few years I would be amaaaahzing at everything and that there would never be a bad day in my life. After all I was going to do what I love most. Make people feel beautiful.
You see, that straight road of success turned out to be a windy, rocky, dangerous, six inch trail. No paving, no safety rails, no lights at night. As I’m writing this, I remember our Oregon Trip and the small little paths that would lead to waterfalls. My photography journey turned out to be just like that. Hard. Slow. Difficult. I’m the kinda person that wants to race to the end. I don’t have time to wait around and slowly build success. And by the way, what is success anyways? A certain amount of money? Happiness? A house or a car?
Money has never really played a big role in my life. Yes, you need it to survive, and yes, it’s nice to buy pretty things. But I know I can live off beans and rice as well as organic chicken and ground beef. So what else would measure my success?
So I fell into a hole. In 2014 I had booked double the weddings that I had in 2013 and I was quite happy with myself and the world. Then 2015 came along. I was in for another great year and had a bunch of weddings lined up, but not much happened after Thanksgiving. Almost no inquiries. And the few that came fluttering into my mailbox seemed to be price shoppers. I know my numbers very intimately and I know that I cannot compete with low-end photographers. Nor do I want to. Because I treat my couples like friends, giving them my full attention. So I started to sink into this hole, wondering what I was doing wrong that could be fixed. I tweaked the text of my website here and there, changed the pricing strategy and nothing worked and I sank deeper and deeper. Until I hit rock bottom.
I decided that photography might just not be for me after all. I had fallen out of love with it. With the struggle of survival, not the wonderful couples I got to work with. I was tired and depressed and it all seemed to come straight back to me. I was the reason no-one wanted to book me. I alone. Ouch, that hurt. So much.
Somehow that realization hit me hard. It had become very personal. I cried. Often. I felt like a complete and utter failure. And I felt like quitting right then and there. That’s when this wonderful thing happened. All of a sudden the pressure of outwardly success was gone. All of a sudden I didn’t really care about goals or what people would think of me and my photography. I finally realized that I don’t have to become the next Jose Villa to create art that matters. The pressure was gone. And forth came the real me. The way I love to photograph and tell stories. The way I love to make couples look and feel absolutely gorgeous. That’s my core. And once again this desire to give people this feeling is burning brightly.
The funny thing is, that simultaneously as I was starting to come back up from rock bottom and feeling free and refreshed, people have been making these comments. About the natural romance. Of how the couples look so at home in my images. How perfectly soft and dreamy everything looks. About the brightness and natural light that is captured so beautifully. How magical and fairytale-like the stories are told.
I’m sharing this with you, because I’m so excited to see what the future brings. I’m humbled by this experience and so thankful to all the people that have been in my corner lately. I’m back in love with it all, but on a different level. It’s not about the success, it’s all about making a difference in peoples lives. By creating beautiful photography.
If you’ve made it until here – thanks so much for reading! You have peeked into the deepest depths of my heart. Thanks.
xoxo, Rahel ♥