This is such a difficult post for me to write (literally, I’m typing it on my phone!) but I thought it was really important to share…so here we are! My laptop was stolen in Annapolis while I was there to mentor a fellow photographer and photograph an engagement session yesterday afternoon. I only have (had?) one computer and that one was something that meant a lot to me…it was more than just an essential business tool!
Iphone photo from before we got separated:(
Years ago, when I first started building the business, I was working a full time job where I didn’t make very much over minimum wage and barely made it paycheck to paycheck. We shared one car and rarely had a nickel to save like many poor 22 year olds. I remember actually spending my last two dollars til payday once on a croissant BLT at Sonic and then freaking out because I didn’t realize we were also out of cat food and cried because I had to feed Lucy temptations treats instead of actual, nutritious cat food because that was all we really had. It was tough! But Lucy was a trooper and we were really lucky to have our health and to have each other.
Back in those days, I felt like being a photographer at ALL was out of my reach, much less doing it full time. Photography is not an inexpensive hobby or business. I saved for weeks to put together enough money to buy a $200 Rebel XT off of a nice lady on Craigslist and couldn’t imagine how I could afford the gear I saw my favorite photographers using. Their cameras cost more than ten times what my first DSLR did! I once looked up the gear a photographer I admired said they owned on Amazon and did the math on how much it would cost me to own that same gear. I still remember the sinking feeling when I realized how many paychecks it would take to save that up (basically, imagine the biggest number you can think of) and felt so discouraged, like I’d never be able to do this.
Why am I telling you guys this? I mean, it’s kind of embarassing to admit to the world that we struggled so hard. I would have never wanted anyone to know what we were going through back then! I also believe that it’s good manners to keep financial stuff pretty private…I would never ask someone else how much they make or volunteer that information of my own without a really good reason. But I’m telling you guys this because of the lesson I learned when I discovered my computer was gone yesterday! Which, I swear I’m getting to.
When I finally got my MacBook early last year, it was such a surreal moment. I’ve been wanting to own one for YEARS. And years! It was one of the final pieces of equipment that I really wanted to add to our “family” and when it came, I had a moment where I finally felt like I had arrived. It was so incredible that the business let me own something like that. It was a tangible representation of all the hard work, all the literal blood, sweat and tears shed building something with my own two hands from nothing.
After I noticed the computer was gone last night, I started thinking about what I would need to do if it was really, really gone. As John called the parking garage we just left to ask if someone turned in a computer, I realized that it would be fine. My work was all backed up elsewhere and I have business insurance and savings to replace it quickly so as not to inconvenience the rest of this year’s clients. Though there was a time in our lives when I couldn’t have afforded even ONE MacBook and many months during the duration of running the business full time when I couldn’t have replaced it, I actually did have some money saved for emergencies that I could put towards a new computer! That was such an incredible realization! Instead of feeling really bad about it (and let’s be real, it’s easy to go there and feel just awful about it), I really just felt thankful for how far my business has come and that I actually didn’t spend all my money and saved some for a rainy day like my mom always tried to teach me to!
I thought this was important enough to share (and even open up a little about what it was like being poor..ON THE INTERNET OF ALL PLACES!) for two reasons.
1. I talked to my new photog buddy at her mentoring session Sunday afternoon about how I look at my business a certain way because it really is necessary to sustain a life for me and John. Not everyone relies on their photography business to support them because of their other jobs, their husband’s job, parents’ help, etc but we do rely on that income and it frames every decision I make as a business owner and my approach to things in general. I feel that you have to be every bit as much a savvy business person as you do a creative artist to be a success as a wedding photographer. I also felt like sharing about my struggle to fund my budding business back in the day because I want to encourage anybody out there who’s pinching their pennies to afford a shot at their dream. You can seriously make it happen. And it will feel damn good when you do!
2. It’s November and even though we should be thankful every day, I feel like this month is a really great excuse to be much more conscious and intentional with our gratitude. There is something to be grateful for in every situation you find yourself in and there’s always another way to look at things! I’m so grateful that this happened at a time when I can handle it financially. Having a computer is essential to my business so not being able to replace it would be catastrophic! Luckily, that’s not something I have to face right now (knock on wood), so I’m glad for that. I also am really hoping that whoever did find *cough* (take?) my computer really needed it or that they really needed the money they make from it. I can’t judge this person and hope that it helps them in some way.
To close this post (because my thumbs are killing me right now!) I want to ask you guys who have read this to please take what you read here today and remember to be grateful. And not just in good times! The next time a challenge gets put in front of you, find specific reasons that you are thankful and choose to focus on those instead of negative energy.
(Ps, thank you for reading and bearing with my phone writing skills!)