The (not-so) Glamorous Life of a Wedding Photographer

I want to get real with you. Like really real. It’s Friday night, and I just sat back down in front of my computer to edit, plan, write and continue the daily hustle to ‘make sh*t work’.

Two nights ago, I walked back into our humble abode after being in Thailand for two weeks, followed by another ten days in Aruba to host a workshop. And I am barely unpacking my suitcase since I head out on Wednesday to photograph a wedding in Punta Cana.

Sounds pretty damn epic, right? It really kind of is.

I freaking love to travel. It doesn’t matter where exactly I’m going, but hauling my belongings through an airport, settling into my (almost always) window seat on the plane…adventure awaits, and it feels so good.

I might have been a nomad in a past life. I have a perpetual case of fernweh, (that’s German for ‘an ache for distant places; the crave for travel to places yet unknown’).  And this career of mine, it throws all sorts of traveling opportunities my way, which is pretty damn brilliant.

So, I jet off and have all these adventures, and happily post about them on social media. Because swimming with elephants in the Thai jungle IS awesome. Because having a sing-off with Salt ‘N Pepa at a Mexican resort IS insane. Because doing back flips off a pirate ship in the Caribbean Sea IS ridiculously fun.

“Your life is so glamorous. You have it )&%$#! made, dude.” a FB friend posted somewhere once.

My life is pretty kickass, absolutely. But I don’t think I have it quite ‘made’. There are these other parts to my job which don’t get a lot of attention on social. These other, much bigger parts, which occupy a lot more time, effort and emotions than what I share on my Instagram feed.

And they are parts of our jobs which, if you own your own business in the wedding industry, you all know too well are not one bit glamorous. For instance, as a wedding photographer, I spend an insane amount of time in one particular spot. Not on a beach, or on a plane, or at a venue, or even in my studio. I currently spend the largest chunk OF MY LIFE in front of my computer.

Editing.
Emailing.
Blogging.
Obsessing over my work.
Paying bills.
Writing.
Managing my money.
Learning.
Succeeding.
Failing.

For a solid nine to ten hours a day, I sit in a chair (which I’ve been meaning to swap out for a better one for months now because it really should be more comfortable) working. And I can’t NOT be here. Most of my business takes place online, on a screen, through the strokes on a keyboard. I only spend an average of 10-20 hours a week holding a camera and that’s when I’m busy. Obviously, all of this computer time happens while I am in pajamas, eating Frosted Flakes out of the box, empty coffee cups strewn about.

desk time

Owning my own business, the worry is always there. Will I have enough work next month, next season, next year? Will I still be good enough? Will my work still be good enough? Am I putting enough money away for college, for rainy days? Do I host another workshop? Should I write more? Less? Am I doing the right thing? Is any of it ever enough?

So. Many. Questions. Concerns. Doubts.

No matter where I am — even in Thailand — the worry consumes me. I might drive an ATV into the jungle during the day, but when I lay down at night, I am calculating how many mini sessions I need to book to offset the very trip I am on.

And that constant need to keep reinventing myself in an industry which is perpetually evolving is tiring AF. At this moment in my life and career, there is no time to rest on my laurels, sit back and just have all the good things in life find me, instead of me finding them. The struggle and hustle of owning a small business in an ever-changing trade is stressful and occupies a lot of my daily brain power.

There’s also family.

When 4 o’clock rolls around, my kids get off the bus, full of stories and excitement from a day spent at school… If you have kids, you know: they have a lot of stuff going on in their lives. Practices, friends, playdates, homework, social gatherings, chores. They need help with projects, rides to the library, to the gym, and almost always when I am in the middle of something work-related. That’s when another not-so-glam part of my career comes into play: the guilt.

Dude. The guilt is ever-present.
I’m talking about being glued to my computer, rushing to make deadlines, not listening to my son’s story about how well he did on a test, hearing myself say “not now” when my daughter asks to put on a show for me because I have a long list of stuff I am trying to cross off a list. And I’m talking about spending weekends at weddings, leaving the hubs to take them to dance, MMA, birthday parties. And then there’s getting on a plane and flying all over the globe because these amazing opportunities are at my doorstep. All are big trade-offs. The choice to leave the fam behind at times just so I can ‘pursue my dreams’, which is mostly a fancy Instagram way of saying ‘hustling to pay my bills’ is not an easy one. That guilt is always there. And sometimes, I feel like I am failing a bit at this whole raising kids and being a good partner thing, because of the career I chose to pursue. It’s not the best feeling in the world, but occasionally it’s my truth nonetheless.

And the social media.

Social media only shows a glimpse into what being a part of the wedding industry is really like. And while I really do love this job of mine a whole heck of a lot, it isn’t nearly as glamorous as it looks like in my IG feed. You won’t see a lot of my real life out in the open — mostly, because it isn’t all that captivating or fascinating. If you have kids (or a job or a life), you know and probably go through all the same stuff I do on the daily.

And here’s the thing: Save for a ‘blissful’ few, no one lives that Instagram life. And that is totally okay. My life is fantastically amazing but far from glamorous or carefree. That’s par for the course for a whole lot of us in this industry.

Because real living and making it work is messy, sometimes boring, never fully figured out, a little rough around the edges and a complete hot mess every once in a blue moon. 🙂

Cheers,

xo-LDee

 

My loves. ♥

LDEE5475

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