Welcome back to The Short Series – Our Business Story, a series of five blog posts in which I hope to share more in-depth about how our photography business came to be, how its grown, + many of the experiences we’ve had over the past three-ish years. The ultimate goal of this short series is twofold: to help our followers get to know us better, + to help those who are just starting their own businesses (photography or not) as they face many of the same things we did when we first began!
In the inaugural post (that you can find here), I shared how I had committed to spending time overseas after I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, so although I was getting a lot of inquiries for various portrait sessions (family, engagement, newborn, + this is also when Caleb + I shot our first wedding for super good friends of ours!!) in the first few months after I “started” my business, I was soon having to turn people away because I was preparing to move to Turkey! At this point in the story, I still don’t think that starting an official photography business, or doing it fulltime, was really a goal of mine. My mind was set on being a missionary, or working for a church of some sort.
At the end of the summer following my college graduation, I left the comforts of America with one big suitcase + as much stuff as I could cram into my personal item (since they don’t weigh that one), + moved to Adana, Turkey. This was an important step in my life plan because I wanted to see what it was like to really live overseas as I was seriously considering moving to a different country to live + do mission work. I was specifically drawn to the Middle East, which is why I went to Turkey.
Since the purpose of this blog post is not to tell you about my time overseas, I will try to keep this part quick. I lived in what they call a “big village” – about a million people – in a city that is right in the middle of Turkey, on the southern coast. Adana is a unique city in that it is a blending of liberal + conservative Turkish culture. Western Turkey (think Istanbul) borders Europe + has adopted much of the European culture. Eastern Turkey, on the other hand, borders Syria + still holds fast to many Middle Eastern, conservative traditions + practices. Adana, where I was living, had people from both (extreme) spectrums of the country living in it, which was always a really unique aspect of its culture in my opinion. One thing that’s true – without a doubt – about this part of Turkey is that there are little to none when it comes to foreigners living in the city. A white, American, semi-tall female with dirty blonde hair … she stuck out like a sore thumb. This was extremely challenging during my stay in Adana. All in all, my time in Turkey was not at ALL what I expected it would be like (isn’t that how a lot of things in life are)!?! It was, by far, the most difficult season of my life, + yet I am so grateful for it because it truly helped me recognize what I was passionate about + what I wanted to do with this ONE life I have been given.
A woman near-and-dear to my heart helped me to recognize this as I was battling some difficult things during my time in Adana. She started asking me about my previous little side gig – the photography thing – and before I knew it, this was more times than not becoming the topic of our regular conversations. She helped me to see how yes, it was important that I was providing an excellent product + service to my clients, but it was also equally as important that I was happy + feeling fulfilled. This applies to any job! I really do believe that it’s SO important to work with excellence + integrity, however, if you’re not enjoying what you’re doing … like at all … do you think that’s really what you’re supposed to be doing? I just don’t believe that life works like that – but it took someone else to speak such truth into my life in the beginning!
This woman helped me to also recognize that yes, I probably did have a “gift” when it came to photography + yes, I was able to bless people through the images + service I was providing them, but even more importantly, photography was life-giving for ME. It ignited in my heart something that couldn’t be ignored + had to be pursued. So upon my return to the United States, I found myself at a serious crossroads. Was I going to continue the path that I had laid out for my life? Ministry of some sort? Working in a church? Running a non-profit? Or was I going to pursue what, deep down, I knew I was being led to do. You can probably guess the route I chose (HA!), but I’m going to save those details for the next post!!
Food For Thought
For now, I just want to extend a challenge to anyone who is reading this post whose heart has been stirred in some way or another. Maybe you are working a job that you absolutely dread going to every single day. Or maybe you do like your current job, but it’s not what you really, truly, deep-down want to be doing. Or maybe you LOVE your job + this doesn’t really resonate with you in that aspect – I’m glad you got to know me just a little bit better!! : ) No matter where you find yourself, I want you to start thinking about one thing – IS there a “later”? Are you sure you can pursue that passion or that calling later? Do you think it’s every going to ACTUALLY happen unless you start taking steps now? There is never the “perfect” time to do something – however I also think there are “smart” times to do things!! It’s a balance, that’s for sure – but just start mulling over some of these things in your head + heart! Next time, I’ll be sharing all about our REAL first year : )