Have you ever loved doing something so much, you literally find yourself doing it day and night? I mean you wake up in the morning, twiddle with it, throughout your day you find yourself buried in projects and tasks dedicated to that one love, and when you sleep at night, you dream that you’re still working through those projects. You’re so consumed with this one thing, it’s become a burning desire deep inside you, taking over your life, and bringing you an immense amount of joy and satisfaction.
This is how I feel about my photography.
But I allowed myself to drift away from my work, from the only ‘job’ I have ever been able to imagine myself doing for the rest of my life. In June of 2015, I took a full-time position as a communications coordinator. The job description seemed to fit me, I would practically be doing all that I love doing for TeAirra Mitchell Photography, just for someone else. And in the beginning, I didn’t mind it at all, I actually quite enjoyed working there. But slowly, I started to feel like something was…off.
At first, I was still working on my photography, obviously with only a limited amount of time since I now had a full-time job. My mornings shifted from coffee and breakfast with my daughter, to rushing out the door to get her to daycare and me to the office. My days were now filled with many, many, many, emails (so many emails), from people who couldn’t quite come to a decision on what I felt were simple manners. But I stayed cool, well, not really. I tried to anyway.
Eventually, I became overwhelmed by the inconsistency in the office, feeling trapped in my little cubicle and sneaking off to do photography work here and there. I became so overwhelmed, I just sorta felt numb to the routine: get up, take the M&M to daycare, go to work, come home, prepare for dinner and bed, sleep, repeat. Never realizing how much of me was missing from that routine. Little by little, I started posting to social media less, I became inconsistent with getting my photography work completed, and eventually fell into depression.
I was no longer doing creative projects for photography throughout the day. I wasn’t editing galleries nearly as much as I would like, I definitely wasn’t booking sessions, I mean I was barely on social media anymore. And the dreams had stopped. The daydreams, the night dreams, the random inspirations that would hit me as I drove past a nice meadow, all gone. It had all just stopped. My world became dark, and that immense feeling of joy was replaced with a deep sadness.
One day, I was sitting at my prison cell (read as “cubicle”), purposely avoiding my work by scrolling through Instagram, and I noticed someone had sent me a direct message requesting information to book a maternity session. At first, I panicked; I hadn’t finished all of the many things building on my to-do list like prep guides, pricing guides, you know, the essentials. But when I read her message, something sparked in me, that little flame of joy began to burn, and I got right to work, praying I could book her session.
The session was booked, the images turned out beautifully, she loved them, and I realized why I had been depressed.
I had stop doing the one thing I really, truly loved: my photography.
Photography isn’t just taking photos and editing them for me, there’s an entire creative process involved, and I love to get lost in my imagination. I so missed filling my sketchbook up with ideas for a shoot, bugging my sisters to model for me, staying up late figuring out new editing techniques– I missed it all so much. And the dreams! Oh, how I miss dreaming of posing little newborns, going into the water for a photoshoot, or jumping from a plane to get the perfect shot (my dreams get real lol).
That little cubicle distracted me from my real calling, and I had forgotten why I had taken the desk job. The communications coordinator position was to only be a stepping stone in my professional and personal development so that I could give my clients an even greater experience. Instead, I allowed it to be the reason I neglected my clients, and just let TMP fall by the wayside. Once I reminded myself of this, I could feel the dark cloud of depression lift away, and I got back into doing what I really loved.
I haven’t looked back since.
Don’t give up on your dreams, they come to us for a reason. They are little videos of what our life could be, and they are there to guide us into a greater purpose. For me, a portrait business is just the foundation of an even greater vision. I want to change the way people see themselves so that they love themselves more, and then pass that love to those around them. I want to share my joy with others so that they can be inspired to follow their dreams. It’s way more than photography to me, but I can’t lose sight, I can never again allow anything to steal my joy.