I changed the course of my business in December 2019, by making one of the hardest announcements I had ever shared: I was taking a yearlong break and didn’t know if or when I would return back to photography. Earlier in the year, I had to have two surgeries, was constantly sick and so exhausted that I could hardly get through the day without a nap.
My “breaking point” was discovering that another surgery may be in my immediate future that included a two year recovery process where I couldn’t be on my feet… it was just too much for me and I knew I had to make some serious changes in my life and work – this scary prospect changed my business and my mindset. Within a week, I began the process of clearing my calendar, stopped booking any future sessions, closed the door to the studio and not only physically, but mentally, left the building.
The love and support that I received from so many of my clients only confirmed to me that I was doing the right thing and that it would be okay… my health was more important.
So, what has changed, if anything? Well, hello 2020 and coronavirus pandemic. Who would have ever guessed that most of us, including the entire world, would be in quarantine and social distancing, for at least, the first quarter of the year? For me, and I can only speak to my situation, it was one of the best things that could have happened. It forced me to slow down, rest and seriously contemplate what I needed and wanted, otherwise; I think my efforts to fully step away would have been, at best, half-hearted.
I undoubtedly would have started feeling pressure and guilt from myself to perform and to get back at work (thanks, military mindset). It would have all felt like a waste: years of training, insanely working 24/7 building a business and the worst, potentially letting down my family and clients. I know that from somewhere, I would have found the strength and resolve to keep pushing through… but then that’s how I ended up in this place.
Fast forward six months and I am so grateful and relieved that I didn’t have to have this additional surgery. I’ve been able to rest and take advantage of this time at home to heal, not just physically, but mentally, as well. I’ve enjoyed the luxury of totally disconnecting from a business mindset to relish projects that I had long neglected due to time and energy deficits.
Like many of us at home, I’ve been cooking (annnnd eating) a lot at home and trying new recipes (hello, black bean brownies… yum!) but I’ve also rediscovered all of the packed away macrame twine, yarn and paint brushes from long forgotten projects. I’m hoping to complete more of these in the coming weeks (dear family, guess what’s for Christmas this year?!).
Sitting in my office a few weeks ago, my heart began creatively stirring again and I knew it was time to start accessing some tough, avoided business and creativity concerns. I’m a step-by-step kind of girl (love checking off boxes from a to-do list), so the first question, on a long list that I asked myself, was what do I define success in my business as being? Is it money, growth, influence, etc? Actually, it’s none of those things.
Success to me is simply doing what I love to do & doing it for people who value it. Period.
So what does this look like exactly for C. E. Grace & Company? This means being true to my style and embracing my creative strengths and talents:
I adore human connection, authenticity and raw emotion in photographs that tell a story without being posed, forced or fake; I am naturally a lifestyle photographer. I do real…
I believe newborns are perfect and precious on their own and by design which is why I only photograph them in the loving hands or arms of their parents. I want to preserve moments that moms will yearn and live for once these days have passed: when that newborn would curl up in the palms of your hands; the hours spent rocking a baby snuggled on your chest; whispy, baby fine curls or admiring those incredible eyelashes while they slept in your arms. Moments like these are why I don’t use props, costumes or poses.
I no longer offer a studio for sessions. Although many photographers associate studios with success and ability, I found it did not make me a better photographer, in fact, I think it hindered creativity. I greatly prefer the backdrop of a family’s home and the uniqueness, variety and history it offers in visually telling their story. (I’ve written an entire post on the benefits of having a session at home that you might enjoy, “7 Benefits Of Having A Newborn Session At Home.”)
I’ve learned to only say ‘yes’ to the projects that I really want to do and there’s no shame in saying ‘no’. I’m not every family’s cup of tea… and that is okay. This is why my process of working together always starts with a conversation. It is very important to me that families and I are a great fit, it should be a beautiful exchange of service and fulfillment.
I’m excited for 2021 and I believe it is going to be significant year personally and professionally. But in the meantime, I’m going to savor this time with my family and continue to contemplate ideas for improving on the service that I offer for my moms, babies and families while being fulfilled creatively.
If you’re on a journey of pivoting your business or mindset during this unprecedented time in history, I would love to hear from you! You may also enjoy this article about prioritizing self-care. If you are considering an at home maternity or newborn session with me, you can request more info here.
I’m Christi – a lifestyle photographer based in Jackson, Mississippi capturing seasons of motherhood for moms and those she loves most. I thrive within simplicity, seek to encourage others and actively pursue an intentional life grounded in love and gratitude. I’m easily distracted by home DIY videos, fresh french-pressed coffee, thrift stores and puppies. If you share a connection with these heartfelt ramblings, I would love to work with you. You can reach me at: email@example.com.