This will not be a popular post. I know it. But I felt it was important to share what has been on my mind because it matters, as it doesn't just affect my work, but who I am to the very core.
Stealing time. That is what it has felt like of late. Like I have had to steal time... time to sleep. time to eat regular meals. time to spend with my family. time to be with my husband. And in those instances, I was never far away from being plagued by a sense of guilt. Like I was not allowed to have that time. In my head, there lurked an evil voice that kept whispering to me "you should be sitting at that computer, editing away, replying every email, and looking at all those photos!" and it would come again, and again, and again. I would see families hanging out in parks, laughing and enjoying life together when I would be working, and tiny seeds of envy would grow.
Deep down, I felt it should not have to be this way. Really. I can be the most organized and hard working and right on top of my game, and I honestly do have the best team of people working for me, but at the end of the day, it doesn't change the hard fact that I am working in an industry that does not give allowances for things that are so important - like regular family and rest times when everyone else is resting and having fun together, or attending my friends' weddings, or birthday parties, enjoying long weekend BBQs together, going on spontaneous last minute dates or holidays, grieving time if someone I know has died, celebration time if someone close to me has given birth, being there if someone I know is really unwell or needs my help, or when I get really really sick. We photographers are expected to pick everything up, suck it in, and carry on because our time is never our own.
Still, I love my job and what I do. I don't think that will every change, however over the last year, I have felt like I have lost little pieces of who I am along the way because I have had to sacrifice so much that mattered to me...and I didn't realize just how much so until the last couple of months where several things shook my world down to the ground, and left me shattered. As a result, they have acted as a megaphone to what I have always felt wasn't quite right. And so, it is the reason why I have been so quiet lately. 2010 as amazing as it was on a professional front, the year really left me spent and sitting on the fence looking at the greener grass on the other side.
So I spent much of the end of the year and beginning of the year doing what normal people do, on a daily and regular basis. While the time was never my own, I allowed myself to borrow it back for the time being. And it felt good. I remembered what it felt like to have time with the people that matter in my life, time to prioritize them and show them they mattered, and not just say it with my lips. And it felt very good. Because I knew this was the way things should be... I should not have to feel guilty for sleeping at 1030pm, or being able to sit with my family all night after dinner and just hang out, or spending the weekend enjoying life over some beer and wine, or being able to sit and watch an entire run of 30 rock together...it is what everyone else gets to do and most take it for granted. Me? I cherished it...every last fibre of it.... no one will ever ever ever fully or truly understand the gravity of that, but know that it meant the WORLD to me.
To those photographers out there who are snickering and think I am weak, go ahead and scorn. I know I am being the stronger person here by choosing to say no, or choosing my family and friends over my work when it calls for it.
And don't worry... I am not leaving the industry, or quitting. Far from it.
What it does mean though, is that I am re-prioritizing....because I have always been a firm believer that a happy and enriched person will always make a better photographer... and that means that I need clients who understand that....who grasp that deeply. Who care. Because I need them to understand that when I shoot - I give ALL of my self and more because I care and love my clients THAT much. It is about so much more than just delivering the photos when I am working with a client....And I have realized when I work with clients who 'get' that, the images naturally, and organically turn out better because of that unspoken but magical affinity we share. Because these clients give me what I need to be the best person I can be, what results is that I can be the best photographer I can be :) At the end of 2010, I realized these are the people I want to work for.
I am hoping 2011, will be the start of much more of that, and the start of taking back my life for myself.
I thank all my clients who do fathom and appreciate this about me - it sounds selfish, but you understand that it is a part of me that makes ME better. And as a result, it makes JSP BETTER. And because of that, it makes our photos SO MUCH BETTER. To me? that is a win-win :) Because you understand that, I want to give you nothing but my very very very best. You have been blessings from God because you have given me the allowance, grace, and time for me to really 'see' :)
EDIT: Since this post was published yesterday, in light of this entry, I received ALOT of messages afterwards telling me to hire people to look after my work and stop working alone. I have not been working alone since the first year I started full time, and I am very blessed to have the people that work for me, do what they do. They work very hard to add to JSP and service our clients, so we would appreciate if you could understand that this post is not so much about time management on a day to day basis (as the JSP team is fabulous and I love each member of our team), but more so about the kind of people we would love to work for long term - clients who understand that at times, things happen that are completely out of my control (I dont want them to happen - like, getting very sick, or someone passing away, or someone important to me giving birth, etc), but that if they do, to be generous enough to give us allowances to heal, or cope, and step away from the business for a little while - because in turn, we want to deliver the very best photos possible. Our goals are exactly the same. To those who understand this - thank you from the bottom of my heart. To those who have been scorning and seeing this as a weakness, I am also okay with that and respect our differences. I know where I stand, and I truly believe that I am doing the best thing here for myself and JSP, out of love :)