It always seems so exciting…so invigorating…to see someone change courses and find something they’re passionate about and run toward it with all their heart.
But being on the side of the one getting ready to change course…let me tell you, it’s terrifying.
I’ve been passionate about taking pictures of the dancing world since my girls started taking ballet (so fall of 2010). I realized it was more than just “fun” like the rest of the pictures I took when I had the opportunity to take pictures of a dance master class. Suddenly I wanted to become a “dance photographer,” which was a term I was pretty sure I’d invented.
I didn’t see it as something that would make money. I just wanted to take pictures of dancers.
I did find a way to earn money doing it: studio work. Photo Days.
I was pretty excited. A way to earn money and be with dancers?! What could be better!
The only problem was, this is an extremely stressful way to earn money. Like, crazy stressful. Seeing tons of dancers who aren’t sure what they want to do, trying to put them at ease while also making sure my backdrops worked (a continual struggle)…every spring I made it through, but every year I was crazy stressed.
I thought it would help to hire a friend to do the actual ordering, since that’s where I always made the most mistakes. It helped, tremendously, but it didn’t make it easy. Or particularly fun. But it was “the way to make money doing what I loved,” so I kept going.
This year I worked for three separate studios. None were large, but it was still separate photo days, separate ordering days, and more dancers than I’d ever worked with.
And something clicked partway through the long evenings shooting.
I realized I wasn’t enjoying myself.
Every year, I’d finish photo days and see just how much more I needed to learn about (and invest in) studio lighting. Every year I spent every penny I earned on more gear so that the next year’s pictures would look better.
And every year I’d still walk away thinking how much better the pictures had looked in my head. Disappointed in my results. Not embarrassed, but not pleased with the results.
What am I doing all this for?
I’m blessed to be able to stay home with my kids and teach them from home. Josh’s job provides for us and he makes sure I don’t ever have to work to make ends meet. So really, bringing in money for pictures just to put it back into new gear is only a reasonable proposition if it’s fun in the meantime.
And it’s not.
So I’m bowing out of what I’ve been doing.
I’m not going to do studio photos anymore.
I do know that I still love capturing dance, but I don’t know what that means.
So starting with this summer break, I’m only taking out my camera when I want to. I’m going to get out and do things I haven’t done in awhile. Maybe that means pictures of flowers…or spending a week shooting only macro…I don’t know.
When I was in college studying music, there were times that my courses were so stressful, deconstructing music to the point that we weren’t enjoying it anymore, that I would turn on Tchaikovsky’s ballet music and just drown in the drama and beauty of his works. Right now I’m going to find out what the photography version of that is, and do it until I’ve completely fallen in love with pictures again. And then I’ll move forward in that path, whatever it is.
If you want to follow me on this journey, either because you’re curious or because this resonates with you, I’ll be blogging as I have things to say, and posting to my @charlaarts Instagram account. There I’m planning to share quotes that are meaningful for what I’m working through, as well as pictures I take while I try things. I want to play with editing techniques, the way light shows up in pictures, and the subjects. And I do suspect I’ll end up staying with dancing because it’s in my heart and I am, in fact, Always A Dancer, I don’t know what that will look like. Who I’ll take pictures of…whether it will be posed or spontaneous…and if it will become something I get paid for again or it will just be for the joy of photography.