Celebrating 2 years and Much Happiness
As I celebrate 2 years to this day of starting my business, I decided to share my journey getting to where I am today. I get asked all the time, “how did you decide to start a photography business”…hmm, that’s a long answer and I love telling my story. I hope you can take a few minutes to read what led me to where I am today and let me know if YOU think I am right!
“Money Can’t Buy you Happiness.”
I must have heard it a thousand times….the saying “Money can’t buy you happiness.”Really? It never made sense to me, that saying…because it seemed all those things my parents paid for made me pretty happy. Unfortunately, as I grew older those things became more expensive (or maybe my taste just became more expensive!) and I was the one paying for them.
I realized early on in my career search that it would be in best interest to pursue a career which could afford the lifestyle I would want to live and ultimately make me happy. I was lucky, I found a great job in New York City right out of college. I was in my 20’s and single, living in New York City. I lived in a nice apartment and made enough money to buy the things I liked and also travel.
Fast forward eleven years… I was married, living in Connecticut, I had a 3 year old and another on the way and still working that same job I had out of college. I had so much to be happy about. However, I was burnt out. I commuted 1 hour, 30 minutes each way to New York City from Connecticut. It was exhausting. I missed my little girl and the time away from her. I was pregnant, sick all the time and just barely keeping my head above water. But I needed this job, we had bought a new house, planned vacations, needed to save for college. All of these aspirations were built on the income from our two salaries. Why was the money I was making and affording us to live a wonderful lifestyle not making me happy?
After the arrival of my second child I was forced to make a decision about my career. Was it worth continuing to be unhappy in a job that was literally draining the life out of me or should we cut back our lifestyle and find a way to live on one salary. Well, circumstances beyond my control made that decision for me. My baby boy was sick and in and out of the hospital two times in the first 10 weeks of life. It was life changing for me, realizing how precious life is and each moment we live. I tried to go back to work and made it 2 weeks. But at the end of the day there was no amount of money worth taking me away from my children and most importantly my baby who needed “me” to be there for him at doctor’s appointments. I was scared…terrified as a matter of fact. I am a “worker”, always was, and fiercely independent. The thought of not having a job and my income scared me to death.
Nine years later, now with 3 children and having taken much needed time away from work I knew I needed to do something. First and foremost, we had given up my income for nine years and we needed a second income again. I knew if I wanted to I could probably go back to my old job and work back to my nice, comfortable salary. But, I also knew in my heart that it was not for me anymore.
I decided if I was going to work again it was going to be doing something I enjoy so it would make me happy. I started to think about things I enjoy and how I could make a career out of them. There were many things I came to love while staying home with my children – cooking, baking, planning parties, taking pictures, making scrapbooks for my kids. I explored many of these options and came to realize it was a career photography which could provide me the opportunity to do something I loved, make my own schedule and still be there for my family.
It’s not been easy starting a company from scratch. As a matter of fact, it has been the hardest thing I have ever done. In your own business it is you and only you. I had to build a brand, website, learn much needed skills, build a studio, client base, market my business and keep it! I have worked more hours in these past 24 months then I ever worked in my life.
I did not become a photographer expecting to make a huge salary. It takes a lot of work and business skills to make a career in photography profitable. Most people start a photography business because it is a passion and because it makes them happy, just like I did, not because it is going to make them a fortune.
If you’ve made it this far, I am sure you are dying to know….so, are you happy Karen? YES…the answer is YES, I could not be happier. My best days are the ones when I have a photo shoot. It “makes” my day when someone stops me in the grocery store and tells me how happy my photos make them. Or when a one year old comes into my studio to celebrate their first birthday and they smile and are excited to see me. When just weeks before I photographed a mom-to-be and then she is in my studio with her new baby for a newborn shoot. I enter people’s lives at some of the happiest times and I know what I do brings them joy.
What I have come to realize through this journey is that happiness cannot be bought. Material things, vacations, etc..provide temporary happiness but it is doing what you love that makes you happy for a lifetime! Yes, I have come to understand the saying “Money Doesn’t buy you Happiness” and it only took me 44 years to figure it out!
Thanks for taking the time to read my story and celebrate with me!