Where Have You Been, Beba?

Where Have You Been, Beba?

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It must have appeared like I fell off the face of the photo world. Actually, not exactly. While I haven’t been blogging or staying as up to date with social media, I have been staying busy with my photography business behind the scenes. The majority of my clients are from word of mouth referrals, so my business has been fruitful.

A big change came for me though, after I had my surgery in November 2016. Medical bills began piling up and in order to not drown under their weight, I returned to a full time accounting position during the day and switched to photographing part time.

I questioned God during that time because I knew He had led me to being a full time photographer in the past, but when I was at the height of my career, it seemed like everything with my health snowballed downhill at once. Was He leading me away from photography? Was this not the path He had chosen for me?

I wrestled. A lot. But over time and much prayer, I look back and am thankful that He allowed me to experience what I did. Not only did it make me a stronger person, but it also challenged me to look long and hard at my photography:

Was this how I envisioned it to be when I said I wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Was I doing the things I said I wanted to accomplish?

The answer is no.

I wanted to do more, be more, connect with more people. I realized in my time away while recovering, that the thing I love most about photography is PEOPLE. They are the reason I get excited to pick up my camera. I love helping them to see themselves differently and boost their confidence levels.

I wanted to podcast.

I wanted to blog.

I wanted to speak.

I wanted to expand my Beba Couture brand.

So many dreams and aspirations that I had tucked in my head, but my business model needed some improvement to make those things happen. Because, while I was staying busy with photo work, I wasn’t allowing any room in the margins to pursue my aspirations.

So that brings me to today.

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What is going on and where am I with my photography business?

I’m still photographing. I was swamped during the Fall and Christmas holidays.

But I’m going to be taking another break soon. Not for surgery. This time for something completely celebratory and wonderful!

I’M GETTING MARRIED!!!

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I’ll be getting married this November and in order to enjoy the Bridal process and to focus on prepping for the big day, I’ll be photographing my very last time for 2019 at the end of May. After that, I won’t be picking up my camera again until 2020.

When 2020 comes, I hope to have clearer focus (No 20-20 pun intended!) and allow enough room in the margins for doing as much dream growing as I am actual elbow grease working. This may entail hiring someone for administrative and sales duties while I photograph. It may mean creating content ahead of schedule. It may mean blogging my wedding journey.

I’m not sure yet to be honest! But I do know that I’m not done with photography yet and photography is not done with me. When you drive over a few bumps in the road, you keep going and that’s what I’m doing. I’ll see you afresh and anew (and as a Mrs!) in 2020!

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Resilience

Resilience: “The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.”

One of the greatest lessons I have learned from my photography business is one I was not anticipating to learn when I first ventured to be a photographer almost 7 years ago  : Resilience.

For those of you who don’t know, I went through a bit of a health crisis last year. In a 7 month period, I had a battery of several medical tests, 6 CT scans, surgery to remove an organ, a biopsy and 7 deaths among family, friends and colleagues. The crap definitely hit the fan all at once and it left me staggering under the weight of it all happening at once.

But it was in that moment that I asked myself if I was going to throw in the towel and give up or if I was going to get back up again and keep going.

That’s where resilience came in and became a close friend.

It’s easy to say I’m thankful for life when all is going well.

It’s easy for me to follow my dreams with gusto when it’s smooth sailing.

But what about when the waters are rough?

What about when everything doesn’t play out the way I’m expecting it to?

Do I give up or give it more?

I’ve said a certain quote for a long time because I really believe in it:

“The crap of today is the fertilizer of tomorrow’s dreams.”

Resilience is a by-product of believing that things will get better and that belief propels you forward to keep trying. It’s letting life take it’s punches, but not allowing it to take you down for a full TKO.

When life gets tough, will you give up or will you give it more effort to keep pushing through and keep going and growing?

Because my surgery happened during my busiest time of the photography year, I was not able to photograph for awhile, which was super hard for me because photography and being a photographer is a part of my DNA–it’s almost like life for my soul the way that oxygen is for the lungs.

I learned that a part of being resilient is being flexible. So, I took on a part time temp accounting job to help me through the time that I couldn’t photograph. I was tempted to believe that my business would fall apart while I was recovering and that that was the end. But while I was lying in bed, I allowed my heart to dream and plan. I prayed so hard during that time and asked God to give me a fresh vision for the business He had given me and He did.

The circumstances were discouraging, but resilience keeps you moving forward. In faith, it believes for the best and that things will get better. Some of my favorite sojourners of resilience that I listened to on Youtube for days (because they helped to keep me encouraged) were (and are) Nick Vujicic, Earl Nightingale and others who have been through difficult trials, but overcame them. Dancers with only one leg. A singer badly burned but not letting her outward appearance diminish her vocal talent. A surfer with only one arm because a shark bit off her other.

I learned that resilience is not about circumstance, but about attitude. 

It’s a conscious effort to make the best of hard situations and grow from them.

I can see crap or I can see fertilizer.

It’s made from the same stuff, but used differently, depending on how I decide to use it.

It appears that I made it through that very difficult time and while I don’t know what the future holds, I am grateful, not so much for the trials themselves, but what I learned from them and how I can now use those things to encourage others in their own trials.

If you’re facing something very hard and feeling alone and asking where God is in all of this, know that this is only a season and that, even though these trials seem unending and extremely difficult, you will come through the other side stronger. By having a positive attitude, the fortitude to keep going and a determination to make something good from these difficult circumstances, you will be even more ready to be strong in this life and you’ll have a greater impact and influence on others.

The crap of today is the fertilizer for tomorrow’s dreams.

Make something beautiful from the not so beautiful.

Don’t give up. Give it more.

 

Validation — The Creative’s Struggle

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Why do many creatives look to others for their validation? It’s not uncommon to hear photographers asking for validation from their fellow photographers, family, friends, sometimes even clients, to ask for their litmus line opinion of whether their work is satisfactory or not.

If the response is positive, elation builds and he/she feels like conquering the world.

If it is negative, discouragement settles in and the thought of never pursuing photography again becomes very tempting.

I know from personal experience, because for a long time, I didn’t want to pursue photography. I reasoned, “What if I am like one of those wannabe contestants on American Idol who only believe that they can sing well, but are truly horrible?”

I found myself constantly asking for validation from everyone I came in contact with. If someone complimented my work, I would say, “Really? Are you sure?” When I first started, I wasn’t secure in myself and I desperately longed to believe that I could be good enough–that I was good enough, but my insecurities prevented me from having such an unshakable, placid confidence.

With photography and any art form, there is always room for growth! 

When I first started my pursuit of photography, I had a lot to learn…A LOT. I hadn’t had formal schooling (unless you count the 3 college classes I took–one of which I failed….funny, because the teacher who failed me is now a fan of my work!), was just entering into this new craft and really didn’t have any idea what I was doing technically.

I felt so uncomfortable with not having any practice or knowledge base and resolved that I either needed to quit photography (because, I surmised, I wasn’t up to par with other photographers) or I had to do something opposite in it’s place.

I chose the latter.

I gave myself grace for the journey.

I thought about how unstable a baby looks when learning to walk for the first time. She pulls her Pamper-clad bottom off the floor and takes a few shaky steps forward before falling back down again.

Yet a baby doesn’t give up. She gets up and keeps going.

I decided that I needed to keep going too, even though I felt very inferior to the skill levels others were at as photographers.

I stopped looking at how other people were doing and started competing against myself. After each photo session I would ask,”Is this the best that I could have done?” If it wasn’t, I tried to dissect what I was doing wrong so I could correct it for next time. If I did do my best, I celebrated and tried to use those techniques in my next session.

I learned that there are always going to be people who are not as skilled as I am and likewise, there are always those that are way more skilled than I am.

Yet, my validation–your validation–doesn’t materialize or disappear when you measure yourself against where others are at in their journies. It comes when you measure yourself against yourself and where you are in your journey.

Instead of asking if you are “good enough” when compared with others, why not ask if you are doing “your best” when it comes to yourself? That is the real test.

The becoming a business and becoming a professional will attract itself to you as you grow and it will take flight on its own.

You won’t have to make it happen. It just will.

Rather than focusing on the outcome and constantly wondering if you are “there” yet, focus on becoming the best that you can be so that it will be attracted to you and it will eventually come.

It will be a by-product rather than the means to an end.

Give yourself time to transform from point A to point B, point C, etc….if you stick with it long enough, you’ll find yourself on point Z like you see other photographers you admire. You’ll no longer look for validation from exterior sources because the validation will come from within.

Give yourself grace for the journey.

Here’s a peek at when I first picked up a digital camera in 2003 and now in 2015. It’s quite a difference because I learned a lot in the process and grew. If I had rated myself against other photographers back when I started, I would have been discouraged and given up because I still had so very much to learn.

Give yourself grace for the journey and push yourself to grow.

“Keep dreaming, keep learning keep growing….and one day you’ll find yourself living your dream.” –Beba

before and after photo