It is a bittersweet moment for me as I officially announce that I’m stepping down from working as a wedding photographer. Despite my suspenseful blog title, there isn’t as much drama behind my decision as I may have implied! Nonetheless, I feel like sharing my personal story will provide some proper closure as I dogear this chapter for now.
During the 2016 wedding season, I began to realize that wedding photography was maybe not in the cards for me anymore. I guess I should have seen it coming when I found out I was pregnant for the first time back in 2015. But, what’s the fun in that if a new parent is ever prepared for what’s to come??
The realization that I wasn’t able to keep up slowly began to reveal itself last summer as I scurried back to my car during a wedding I was working at to quickly try and pump some breast milk for my newborn Audra. Apologies for how fast that got personal! As a sidenote, all the couples I worked with last season were AMAZINGLY gracious with me and made sure to provide me the time I needed to pump without question. Nonetheless, I found out that the phrase “pumping quickly” isn’t really something that was realistic for me. To be able to sufficiently provide the milk I needed for my daughter, I needed at least a 30 minute chunk of time to set up the whole contraption, get the goods, and then store it safely. 30 minutes is a lot of time on a wedding day! A wedding day is “go-time” and there is a reason wedding photographers have a non-alcohol induced “wedding hangover” come Monday morning. So, even having a very reliable second shooter with me, I couldn’t personally justify taking multiple 30 minute breaks to pump when wedding clients were paying for my time to be at their wedding.
So most wedding days I usually went by with just one pump (all those with experience in this area are saying “ouch!”). Weekend after weekend of attempting to shoot weddings and take pump breaks, I would be left starting out each new week with a dwindling milk supply, confused hormones, and an unsatisfied baby! After seeing lactation consultants and doing what I could to keep up, I ended up losing the battle of milk supply when Audra was 4 months old, which was a significant personal heartbreak for me as I had grown to really enjoy the time spent breastfeeding. I am 100% in agreement that “fed is best”, but I can’t deny that BF’ing was a priority for me. Today, Audra is a thriving formula fed girl and that is OK, and I know it.
As that issue made it’s mind of up for me, I also began to learn about my new “parent and work life” juggling act. It was exciting to be able to lessen my wedding work load to make room for becoming a mother, but also to be able to still hold on to my desire to be creative and have ownership of my work. I really feel an incredible amount of fulfillment in my work as a photographer. I love creating. I love meeting people. I love witnessing human moments. I began a cycle of parenting by day and editing by night. And soon a wedding that would (pre-baby) take me 1-2 weeks to edit was taking me a sleepless month. I quickly dug myself into an editing hole I thought I had been really diligent in not getting myself into. Continuing in wedding photography would mean that I would be continuing in a cycle that I now realize I just can’t sustain.
As I’ve come to this decision, I do understand that others in the same situation as me have gone about finding balance in different ways and have found an avenue to continue working as wedding photographers (props!). It is possible to make it work. But, I believe the process of finding solutions is a big part of what makes each of us unique individuals. We all manage and handle things in ways that make sense to us. And, we find the solutions that will make our lives work based on the dreams and visions we want to live out.
So, in the life I want to create, something’s gotta give. I have to lay aside what worked before because my life has been changed. I need to figure out how to find balance, so I have to consider where I go from here. At this point in my life, I’m definitely in the phase of growing a family. With more children in my future (Lord-willing) comes more breastfeeding (I hope!) more long days and nights, and more days staying closer to home and nurturing a family!
So where am I going from here?
I am excited to begin a new endeavor offering my services exclusively as a portrait photographer in the Kitchener-Waterloo area!
Or, in other words, I am no longer traveling out of my area for work, and I am not photographing weddings anymore.
I see it becoming a better fit for my work-life balance as I will be able to stick closer to home (eliminating the HOURS and HOURS of extra time on the road in the night when summer road construction has me at a stand-still on the 401 just trying to get home. If not that, I will no longer have to approach a police R.I.D.E check in the middle night and have to quickly stop pumping while driving so I don’t get busted for not being hands-free. Yes that really happened!). I will be able to be much more flexible with my short term and long term schedule. The time commitments will come in shorter slots instead of a full wedding day and I will not have to be booking events over a year in advance.
So, with that. I’d love to invite all the local KW area families, pregnant ladies, engagements, and professionals, etc… to come on over my way so we can start making some magic happen!
I’m so thankful for all the marriages I have been able to witness and the relationships I’ve gained through the couples I’ve been able to work for. Many of you I would consider to be friends as I’ve continued to follow along in your journeys as you make your lives together as spouses + families! It is such a rewarding part of my job to be able to see so many thriving, beautiful, sweet relationships. So thank you to all of you for trusting me for the past 5 years! My REAL dream is to return to wedding photography one day in the future, but for now, I’ve got some more new people to meet!
PS. The wedding featured throughout this post was a wedding of a truly sweet couple at the Cambridge Mill. It was among the last weddings I shot as I wrapped up my 2016 season recently. I wanted to have some of my all time favourite photos over the last 5 years to be featured within this post, but that seemed really overwhelming, and ain’t nobody got time for that.
An encouragement for me lately has been:
“Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.”