The title might sound dramatic, but the reality is very true. There are numerous things about being a photographer most people will never know about or understand. And that’s okay. I can go thru and explain the pains and ache’s from the lack of understanding but I find that to be pointless and very condemning. I had a discussion with a teenage girl yesterday about her desire to be a photographer one day. I tried to give her the best advice I could at this stage in her life to work up to the point of it one day becoming a career. It can be so exciting, however, I cannot escape the reality that being a photographer is not easy.
In fact, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with photography a ton. But it is not the art of the crafts fault.
There was a time not too long ago that I felt I had finally reached my breaking point. I was so so close to finally being set at having photography as my only job doing what I love to do. But it became too much and I started to crash. I hate to admit it…but it became personal.
My work got popular. I received so much affirmation for my work on a constant roller coaster that at times I was at a high. But it was a high that I felt I had to constantly work for. It was exhausting. If I was not creating something better than the last social media post, I was failing. It was something I had to keep up with. Photography was no longer being done for me first. It was for an audience and that audience was not Jesus.
My work in Portraits was growing fast and I was receiving emails right and left from potential clients. I even had to form a waiting list because of the demand. I never thought in my life that I would do something like that. But I was not pleased at this point. I can still remember certain people in my life who I had desired and tried to be friends with but it never worked out; the same people all of a sudden started talking to me. I believed that FINALLY these people are beginning to be intentional with me. But it was always for “pictures.” I believed I was forming relationships with these people. Business relationships yes! But personal and friendships that go beyond pictures…it was not happening. And it was something I didn’t catch on to until later when I realized that most of my personal relationships I thought I was having were nothing more than ” we need pictures from Erin.” And that hurt a lot. This was all I was good for. Portraits became my identity and I didn’t even know it was happening and I didn’t know how to get away from it.
I continued to take their Portraits. I am proud of the work I created. I do not regret any of it. But I began to change in my style when I noticed when talking with clients expectations my work was being compared to others with them saying, ” I want pictures like so and so.” I started to form in the art of other photographers that was not me, was not my style, and not the direction I had hoped to continue in. But it is all about pleasing the client which was my number one concern.
Thats when my work became to change and I didn’t enjoy it anymore.
I came to the point in my career where I couldn’t do it anymore and I did quit. I announced I was no longer doing Portraits. The emails were still coming and I had to keep repeating myself that I was no longer in business and recommended potential clients to other photographers. Eventually the emails stopped. I thought that a long break would clear up my heart and help matters.
I was wrong.
Nobody talked to me again. I realized my identity was that I am the camera girl and that’s it. I felt hurt and grew a resentment towards photography. I went thru a period of time when I didn’t touch my camera for months.
It took some time to decide that I am not identified by my camera. The camera did not do this to me. I did this to me. Maybe at times people helped along the way to increase this difficult season, but only because I allowed them to. I had to put Jesus back to being my focus for why I do what I do. And repent of the fact that photography and praise from that became an idol in my life and it wasn’t photography’s fault, it was only mine.
I still have to work at how I approach the art I do. I often felt valued by what I created because that was the only time anybody told me I had value. This is where I was wrong, and is not of God at all. My worth and heart is so much more. At times I questioned, “If I never picked up a camera, would people even like me.” Not gonna lie, that is something I still battle with to this day. And a huge thanks to working at Kanakuk Kamps this past summer in helping me overcome that stupid lie and knowing for myself that “yes there is more to Erin than photography. Surround yourself by people who also believe that and move away from those who don’t.” Most importantly, get your focus back in check that it isn’t about what I receive but who I give my best to: Jesus Christ.