I have sat down to write this post about ten times over the past month. Although it’s taken all of those tries, and then some, to get it done, I will confess that I feel a sense of relief in finally thrashing it out in print. So here goes nothing….
Over the past four years I have had the privilege of photographing over 50 amazing families. I have become friends with many of you, gotten to know your children, and watched them grow. I have had the immense honor of photographing many of you not just once but two, three, and four times over these past four years that Kathryn Shores Photography has been in business. It has been, without a doubt, my pleasure.
After this past fall’s busy season, however, I was left with a strong sense of wrongness. Something about this business, about the way the business interacted with the rest of my life, just wasn’t right. When the 2013 shooting season was over I was left drained. I had successfully juggled another busy portrait season along with my “real” job as an attorney, my two boys, and my husband. I had created portraits that I was more proud of than ever before. I had confronted my goals to use light more purposely and capture more interactive images. But, despite all that, I had a nagging feeling that no one was getting the best of me. Not my clients. Not my family. Not my job. Not me.
I passed off this feeling for a while, knowing that after every fall I am drained; that is just the nature of fall portrait season. Fall portrait season is why God made winter: so photographers can use the snow and cold as an excuse to rest their brains and their souls and gear up for another year of making beautiful art again in the spring. But even as winter progressed and spring crept up on us (oh sooooo slooowly), I wasn’t feeling recharged and ready to tackle another portrait year. I wasn’t spending my nights updating my website and working on my SEO. I wasn’t creating my spring marketing materials and brainstorming new location ideas. I watched as fellow photographers (and friends) in the area did these things, but I couldn’t find the desire. Instead, I found myself reveling in things I had not done in a long time. Watching TV. Playing in the yard with my boys. Reading books. Doing projects around our new house with my husband. All of these things that, ordinarily, I would have put off because I needed to edit pictures or update my pricing materials or do some other unseen chore that comes with running a photography business. I was doing these things instead, and loving them. My computer went untouched for a week or more. My camera was pulled out only to capture muddy hands and breakfast dates.
“Do I not want to do this anymore?,” I began to wonder? No. Certainly not. I love being a photographer. I love creating these beautiful images of sweet faces and new life and families loving on one another. I love having this outlet where I imagine something in my brain and then see those imaginings come to life in my camera and on my computer and in print. I love that moment when a session hits its high point, its nirvana; when I know that every single image being captured during those fleeting three or four seconds will be my absolute favorites ever. Until the next session when they are usurped by new absolute favorites ever. I love the rush that comes with editing those first two or three select shots from a session, and then sharing them with others to see whether the images fly or flop. And then the giddy relief when they fly. I love seeing my work in real life in the form of prints and canvases and albums and cards. I love all these things about being a photographer. I do. I really do. So what gives then?
At this point you can just assume there was a lot of thought and prayer and discussion and soul searching and chocolate and also wine. And what came out on the other side of all that (wine)? This:
I love being a photographer but I need to take a break from being a photographer in business.
AGGHHH!!!! THERE. I SAID IT.
Are you judging? (Because I am now one of those photographers who couldn’t cut it in the biz for the long haul?)
Do you hate me? (Because you’re a client and now you’re going to have to go searching for a new photographer?)
Are you disappointed? (Because now you know that, in fact, I can’t do it all?)
I am ALL of those things. All of them at the same time. And I am also relieved and hopeful and happy and sad and conflicted and resolute and tired and rejuvenated. And, apparently, schizophrenic.
But the bottom line is that as much as I have loved being Kathryn Shores Photography over the past four years, I need to step back and take some time to just be Kathryn Shores, photographer. I’ll still be shooting. I’m looking for new challenges. I want to shoot film. I want to capture better lifestyle images of my boys. I want to find joy in photographing something other than people, like landscapes or sports. And I’d love to share these things with you, if you’d like, either through this blog or my facebook page. I hope some of you will stick around to see.
But to my dear clients: I am sorry. I realize now that I delayed making this decision for so long because I didn’t want to disappoint you. I have reveled in your kind words and praise over the last four years. I have taken such pride in seeing your photos displayed in your homes. I have felt incredible satisfaction knowing that you chose me year after year (after year). Thank you for all of that. But I am not the only photographer in the world. Not even close. There are so many wonderful photographers out there—some of them friends of mine—and I know that they will take great care of you and your families. A few of my favorites locally are Jessica Weinstock Photography and Stephanie Kelley Photography and Bella Jackson Originals. Check them out. Book them now while they still have space. You won’t regret it.
And I’m not saying this is absolutely the absolute forever and always the end. I will be honoring all auction sessions purchased in 2014, so if you have one of those hanging out there, please feel free to contact me to book your session. In addition, if you are a former client and want to order prints or files from your past session, you can still do so through the end of this year. I also have a little something up my sleeve for a special set of mini-sessions in the Sunshine State this year. And who knows, once I’ve taken some time off to recharge my batteries and my perspective, I might be back at it sometime. Because I can’t just let it go entirely. Could you? ;-)
Here’s a little looksie at some of what I’ve been up to these past few months when I haven’t been running a business.