Well hello old blog :) It has truly been a while:
This past spring I visited my dear friends, The Denton Family, and spent time with my precious God daughters Kate and Jayne. It was a wonderful few days and I am itching to get back and meet baby Drew. While I was in Las Vegas God gave me a fresh word concerning my life and the skeptic in me narrowed my eyes a bit and wondered: we'll see how this pans out. I admittedly, have a narrow view of "blessing" despite understanding and knowing from a Biblical perspective that blessing doesn't translate to what our American Christianity wants it to. A Coach purse, a spouse, or a beautiful home doesn't make you #Blessed, a faith in Jesus and understanding God's character does. But that's not as easy to celebrate, because we are after all-- human.
In August, I attended The Inspired Story, a faith-based photography conference for women. It has single handedly been the best thing I have done for my career. I'm not sure if it was the teaching, encouragement, or the hope that I found there. Either way, I have seen a very real benefit as a result of attending. I have shared more about that time on my photography blog here if you care to take a peek. Today my business feels stronger than ever: my work feels more consistent, I have a deep love for my clients, the prayers have been answered, and after making a few small changes my income has increased. This has enabled me to invest in my business more, purchase some new equipment, pay all my bills, have a bit of spending money (for the first real time in my adult life), and to give more. I believe that God gives and takes away, that my identity isn't tied to my gross income, and that what is built can be lost tomorrow. But let's face it, it feels good to not worry so much about money.
I have always worked a variety of jobs. I have never worked just one job except for a few months when I was at The Magazine and not employed by First Day Photo, but that was a small sliver of about 3-4 months. Recently, I heard a story on MPR about the concept of "universal base income." The idea is that the government provides a small income to citizens and they use that to pay their most basic expenses (rent, health insurance) while getting rid of other programs (welfare). One of the stories centered on the idea that universal basic income will allow artists to focus on their work and not be tied down to jobs that don't reflect their dreams.
Strangely enough about two months before I heard this story I was sharing with a friend that every single job I have ever held has benefitted me personally and professionally. Each job, no matter how far from business ownership/photography, has taught me something powerful:
My daycare job in college and shortly after taught me how to love kids well, communicate with families, and understand young family dynamics. This is a powerful tool that I use today as a mostly family photographer. I have had clients tell me "you are great with kids." When I was stressed to the max in my early twenties, because doing daycare for two-year-olds is hard, I didn't realize how powerful my days and experiences would be to my future.
When I was a front desk person at a law office in Downtown Minneapolis it took me a few weeks to understand the confusing filing system. I had stacks of paperwork to put away correctly despite knowing very little about the law. As a business owner I have tons of paperwork, documents, and un-fun things I have to keep track of, manage correctly, and put in their right place. While I never wanted to stay at that job for a long time despite loving my co-workers, the organizational skills I learned there help me keep on top of all the docs.
Contracting with First Day Photo was pretty fantastic because I got to work under Jessica, someone whom I love dearly and consider a role model in my life. I had to be quick on my feet, make the best of all sorts of lighting, communicate effectively with families, and photograph a newborn session quickly. I know many photographers who despise newborn sessions because babies cry etc... And yes, they often take longer than "regular" sessions, but I love them and because I've photographed so many for FDP.
That's not to say I haven't been envious of other photographers who get to do their work full-time. Especially those who have high-earning husbands. I have always had to purchase my gear piecemeal because I don't believe in putting it on a credit card (thank you Dave Ramsey). But that, too, has had a silver lining: I know my pieces of equipment really, really well because I've only been able to purchase them one at a time and maybe one piece a year. I've had to learn how to make the best of what was often old, outdated lenses and camera bodies. This is a blessing I recognize now, but it's little painful when it's happening.
Three weeks ago, I quit my wonderful church job at Calvary. I have been at Calvary as an employee for almost two years. It has been one of the best and richest work experiences I've ever had. It has taught me to better multitask, love people, have compassion (which is not very natural for me), and work with all sorts of people. I better respect and understand all the workings of what it takes to make a church run. People who don't work at churches, but go to church-- please go tell the pastors and support staff "thank you." It is an intentional, shaping type of work. As a direct result of my Calvary job I have opened a studio and gained new clients. I have implemented ideas members have shared with me about how to grow my business. I have been prayed for and loved very, very well.
In sum: each of these part time jobs has greatly benefitted my small business. Would I have loved to jump in as a full time photographer once I realized that's what I wanted to do (sometime in 2011-2012)? Yes. Have I been able to grow stronger because of these seemingly "pointless" part-time jobs? Even more so. Universal basic income sounds good, and it probably is good, I guess. But I imagine my life today without the richness of my work experiences. I can't imagine my today without them.
Starting January I'll be nannying 1-2 days a week for a client and doing photography and design consultation for the majority of my work. I am so happy and excited to see what this next year holds. Through it all I am ever relying on Jesus and His will for my life.