Starting my own photography business has always been a dream of mine. It was something I had always been interested in, but would say I would do it "later in life" or "sometime in the future." At the time I didn't say it, or even acknowledge it, but I was scared.
In the art of photography, there is no right way of doing things. Everyone perceives pictures differently. What one person loves, another will hate. For those who know me, I have always been a numbers person. I studied math in college and have always been analytical by nature. In math, there is usually a right and wrong answer. There is one solution, and if you don't reach it, you're wrong. For me, this was my safe place; if I studied enough and approached the problem with the right process, I would get the right answer. But in photography, there is never a right answer. There is no right way to take a picture and there's no right style to use. And this is what held me back from chasing my dream.
Up until a couple weeks ago, I had let these negative thoughts consume my photography. I was ready to release my business online and on Facebook weeks ago, but something was holding me back. I didn't have the courage. Every time I considered publishing pictures, negative questions would run through my mind. What if someone hated the pictures? What if I wasn't good enough? What if people liked other photographers better? These were the questions holding me back. I was scared of the answers.
The day I published my page, I had two paths I could take. The first would be the negative route. I could have been scared of people's reactions and what they would say. I could have been afraid of failure. I could have cared more about the amount of likes I got on Facebook than I cared about pursuing something I was passionate about. And if I had taken this path, I wouldn't be writing this blog today. I would be doing what I've done for years - let my camera collect dust while I waited for the courage to come. But instead, I took the positive route. I changed my mindset. Instead of focusing on all the negativity that could come from being vulnerable, I focused on the positive things to come. With that, I answered the questions I feared most:
What if someone hates the pictures? This is bound to happen. Someone will always dislike a picture; it's inevitable. As humans, we have different styles and tastes, but that doesn't make it right and wrong. Just because someone doesn't like my style of photography doesn't mean everyone else will hate it. What's most important is that I am proud of my photography and my clients like the pictures. These are the only two things that really matter. The negative voices don't have to be the loudest.
What if I'm not good enough? There is no such thing in the arts as being good enough. You are only as good as you believe you are. As I said above, the only things that really matter at the end of the day are that I like my pictures and my clients do too. Naturally, we will always question if we're really good enough at something. There are always more classes we can take and more time we can spend practicing. But what truly helps a photographer grow is putting themselves out there and learning through experience. I'm not saying I will never fail, but until I do, I won't learn from it. I can always learn from more photography courses, but learning from doing will only make me stronger.
What if people like other photographers better? Just like the first question, this will happen. And it all ties back to style. Just because another photographer does things differently doesn't make them inherently better. They might do things differently, but that is what makes us unique. That is what defines our style. And it's ok if other people like another photographer's style better. It's so easy to get caught up in comparing myself to others. But as long as I'm true to my style, that's all I can do.
So after answering all these questions that had been looming over me for years, I finally had the courage to do what I hadn't before- publish my business. And I'm so glad I did! I'm so blessed with the reactions I've gotten from friends, family, and even strangers. My calendar is beginning to be filled with things I'm so excited and passionate about; I've even booked my first wedding! But none of this would be possible if I had taken the negative path of being afraid to fail. Through a positive outlook, I have begun to chase my dreams and I love this journey I'm on.
With all of that said, I couldn't have gotten to this point alone. Thank you to all of my "models" who helped me build my portfolio. Because you believed in me when I had no proof of success, I now have a foundation to my portfolio. I also want to thank all my friends and family who've provided support along the way. Without your support, guidance, and advice, I would surely not have made it this far. Lastly, I want to thank you for taking your time to read this blog and visit my page. To all those who have liked my Facebook page, shared with friends, and passed on a recommendation, I am so grateful! I still have so much to learn, but I'm also so proud of what I've already accomplished!
Lastly, I hope you can take away from this post a feeling of positivity. It's so easy to get caught up in the negative things around us. We can't turn on the TV without hearing about something wrong in the world. But instead of focusing all your energy on what isn't going right, focus on the great things around us. There will always be something to complain about, but that won't open any doors of opportunity. Find something in your life to be grateful for and positive about, and see what doors open up!
Thank you again for taking time to read this and for your positivity along the way! And stay tuned - the best is yet to come :) -Ashley