Going Full-time with Photography

It was a Monday morning in April. I woke up, and something in me decided today was the day. I was going to give my 2-weeks notice at my day job and take the leap to go full-time with my photography business. Keep in mind, I decided that morning. I had been thinking, scheming, and dreaming about quitting my day job for about 3 to 4 years at that point. Way too long, in my opinion. But I woke up that morning, and I knew it was the day. I hadn’t done any other preparing financially or even talked to Brent about going full-time with photography that day. But Brent also knew from endless conversations that I wanted to quit. I woke up, got up, and asked him, “I am going to give me 2-weeks notice today, are you ok with it?” And he said yes.

Now, I am going to back up to why I didn’t quit sooner. Why I should have quit sooner and things I have learned since quitting a corporate job.

There were so many things that kept me from quitting. Health insurance was such a big factor since I was the one providing for Brent and myself. Brent was also working for himself and I knew I had to stick it out to make sure we had a stable income in case his business fell through. I was actually going to quit in 2020, I had my studio going and everything, but then covid hit and I was rendered a non-essential business.

One of the biggest reasons? The way that they made me feel that I was already working at the best possible place. You can’t do much better, or you won’t find anything better. That they were doing you a service by having you employed there. I call it the red kool-aid. It is amazing what that does to you mentally. It makes you think that you aren’t really good enough and that you have found the best possible place even when you are miserable.

Heck, I was even told at one point that there was no possible way I could manage people/get promoted because I had a resting bitch face. Why did I stay after that? I honestly don’t know, I was so completely miserable. Yet, they still made me feel like I was LUCKY to work there. Was I grateful I had a job? Yes, but I have learned that a good supervisor/employer wants to see you succeed and get promoted whether it is under them or somewhere else.

I knew from early on that I wasn’t made for the corporate world. The keeping up with the Jones’s mentality, the rat race, the “if I can’t be happy, no one is happy” attitude from leadership and tearing each other down just to get a step up. Ugh, just thinking about all of that makes me anxious. It just wasn’t for me, I don’t know how people enjoy it. It was literally sucking my soul dry.

Then covid hit. I was going to quit but was things were “uncertain” (If I never hear that word again, I’ll die happy.) So they sent us home to work remotely for the summer. Which was GREAT. I felt like I could work without dealing with all the yucky things I listed above. The summer of 2020 was one of the best summers I had since a child. But then they forced everyone back. Refused to let people work from home and I was back to being absolutely miserable.

I remember sitting in my little cubicle in 2021, looking out the window and watching spring bloom and turn things green. I remember thinking, I can’t sit here another summer and watch summer go by from this cubicle. This hit me hard since I had just spent a summer working from home. I was able to work on my patio, on the porch, and really enjoy summer.

Things at work were already a bit unstable. Leadership was always unhappy, we couldn’t do well enough and they were starting to push the covid vaccines. I have told several people this, but I felt that the marketing department was a train heading towards the edge of a cliff. You know how you can feel the tension in the air? It was like that, I just felt vibes that it was going to end badly and soon. Turns out I was right, the marketing department that I knew and everyone in it, either left or got fired within about 10 months after I left. Talk about feeling vibes.

I knew getting ready that morning, that if I didn’t do it that day, I would lose my nerve and it would probably be another 3 to 4 years and I had already been there for 8 years. No, thank you. I was a ball of anxiety the entire 2 weeks, thinking I royally screwed up. I mean, I just woke up and decided to go. Who does that??

It has been the best decision of my life. I have so much more freedom to do what I want, time to focus on photography projects and creativity. Time to invest in other hobbies and interests. And time with friends and Brent. I was working 40 hours a week and then working photography in the evenings and on the weekends. I had absolutely no time. And now? I think I have become a little lazy. My days are relaxing with editing, I love working with my clients and love all the extra time I have.

I have realized that having a simple life is what makes me the happiest. Is it for everyone? No. But I love waking up in no rush (except when I have a morning session or am judging a photo comp), drinking coffee on the patio, replying to emails, and setting up for the next setup in the studio and editing in between. I get to meet amazing people that really appreciate what I do and celebrate all the joyous important moments with them.

The thing I have learned is that if you are unhappy. Do something about it. No one else is going to do it for you. Especially at a corporate job? They don’t care. If you think they do, you are drinking too much of the Kool-Aid. You work for 40 hours a week. That is a third of your life. You sleep for another third. If you are unhappy for that much of your life, you are not giving your best during the important parts.

I am not saying all corporate jobs are bad. Well, they are for me probably. But if you are miserable and want to do something exciting and maybe a bit scary? You will regret not doing it sooner. Even if you fail, you at least won’t still be sitting there, miserable and still wondering “what if?”. Go get that dream, no one is going to bring it to you.

All the things I was worried about? We figured it all out and it’s all good.

My biggest worry right now? How to keep from booking sessions on the weekends, so I can be out on the lake instead this summer.

Seriously? Living my best life right now, living the dream I was dreaming of for 8 years.

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wedding and portrait photography