Photography used to be my entire life.
I ran a portrait business, I spent all my free time reading tutorials and shooting artistic work. I spent countless hours showing my work online, designing my website, entering contests, and reaching out to publishers of magazines.
My camera was my best friend and Photoshop was my drug.
Then something changed. I had been published in art magazines. I won an international contest and went all the way to New York to see my photo in a gallery among other beautiful works of art. I was booked solid for a whole year of portraits. I was getting big numbers of views and favorites on Flickr. Everything was falling into place exactly the way I wanted it and yet, I wasn’t happy. I was stressed, I was insecure and I was going crazy. I was pushing myself to compete with others for recognition, but when I acquired it, it didn’t boost me up or make me feel better. It all felt empty.
Eventually I quit the business and I stopped competing. I started photographing my life in a more simplistic manner. I started my personal blog as a quiet, peaceful, anonymous place to share my work and for the most part I walked away from creative portraiture. Photography really was my life and I had no other hobbies outside of it. So I changed that. I learned to sew, knit, crochet, paint, and juggle. I joined clubs and started volunteering. I started flying and I realized that I desperately want to be a pilot. I found other avenues to happiness….and I think that is part of the problem.
When it comes to photography now, I feel a little lost. It’s like there are two people fighting inside of me. There is the photographer that worked hard and built up a name (albeit a small one) and then there is the happy young woman who has created a life outside of the camera. I am so torn between the two. Part of me wants to jump back into creative work and find my voice again, but every time I try I feel as though I’ve lost my edge and I’ve fallen behind. Then there is the other side of me which says, “who cares?” because I have found a fulfilling life without the stress, the emotional turmoil, and the constant judgement of being an artist.
I really do enjoy my life now. I am happier than I ever have been and I enjoy my photography even though it is not what it used to be. I have hope that in time I will find a way to balance these two voices inside of me, but perhaps right now I am meant to be doing other things. As I look back on my older work, I struggle to not feel as though something is missing from my life, but as I look forward and to the present, I realize just how many wonderful new things I’ve gained by stepping away from who I thought I had to be.