Are We There Yet? - PPA Today
Are We There Yet?
BY: Mariah Ashley
I did something so unconscionable, so objectionable, so very scandalous that I am trembling as I type this confession. No sense in dragging things out. I'm going to rip this indecent Band-Aid off in one quick tug.
I, Mariah Ashley, wedding photographer being of relatively sound mind and body, do hereby declare that I took two entire weeks off, in July, at the height of my busy season, to take my family on an epic summer vacation adventure.
(Audible gasps heard around the photography community)
There, I said it. I said it and I am not (entirely) ashamed that I did it.
Judge me not ye slaves to Photoshop! Untangle thy chains tethered to editing stations and hear my words...
If you leave it, they will come.
On the last day of Imaging USA in January, Trish and I attended a seminar about creating balance called Life. Photography. Business: How Women Can Balance Them All. I think it was a great talk to end our Imaging experience. We had been hearing so much about faster workflows and generating more business that it was a nice reminder that business is not everything and that taking time to enjoy life is important too. Of course intellectually we all know that, but personally I find it really hard to fit "Enjoy My Life" into my daily schedule.
Trish and I have been full steam ahead since Imaging. We've been plugging away, making changes, keeping expenses low, boosting our web presence and marketing like mad. Basically implementing everything we learned while we were in Atlanta. And I have to say, progress was slow. Painfully slow. Horrifyingly slow. Considered getting a second job slow.
Every email we got, every time the phone rang we'd hold our breath and wait. I was getting so good at holding my breath that my second job could be in professional pearl diving.
Then around June I ran out of steam. I stalled right out on the tracks. I was the little engine that wept. I couldn't stand to ask myself one more time if we'd finally reached a tipping point, if we were on the up-swing, if we'd arrived. Please dear God, are we there yet?
Well, we weren't "there yet," and since we weren't going anywhere fast, I decided I'd go on a vacation. For two weeks. In July.
I had in tow my husband, my two kids and two grown stepchildren. The Brady Bunch version 2013: In Hawaii, saying no to picking up random Tiki statues and incurring a Hawaiian curse, but saying yes to surfing lessons for six. I put a "sorry we're on vacation, we'll get back to you when we get back in town" message on our website, email, and voicemail. Then I did the unthinkable--I removed the email account from my phone so I wouldn't be tempted to peek at the beach.
This is where things get really insane. You might want to sit down. I did not lug along camera, not even a point and shoot. The only means of documenting my trip was my iPhone. Holy Macadamia, that's nuts.
For two weeks I snorkeled, baked my pink skin under a tropical sun, surfed, skateboarded, swam with sea turtles, drank rum punch, laughed, made delicious dinners for my family, explored and slept. After about day two I forgot I even owned a business. By day three I forgot it was day three. I didn't even think about work again until the plane ride home and that's when the dreaded reality set in.
I was leaving Neverland and heading back to Nevergoingtomakemybusinesssuccessful Land. I returned on a Friday and avoided turning my computer on until Monday morning. Monday morning I avoided opening my email until Monday afternoon. Monday afternoon I opened my email and found not cobwebs but 50 friendly messages from excited brides. They said things like, "Hope you are having a great vacation!" and "Can't wait to hear from you when you get back!" I had incurred the opposite of the Brady Hawaiian curse; I had incurred a post-vacation blessing.
We had worked for six months implementing all of the great advice we received at Imaging. We sweated and fretted, and tweaked and planned and then just when I couldn't take another second of hoping to see the results, I left it. Left it alone to percolate. I had been leaving my family alone for six months because even when I was with them physically my mind was on my business. Being with them mentally and physically saved my sanity and allowed my watched pot to finally boil.
Taking that vacation was our tipping point. The calls and emails are flooding in, the calendar for next year is filling in nicely, and I've stopped holding my breath. Now when my inner whiny voice asks "Are we there yet?!" I can say "Almost... almost."
About the author:
Mariah Ashley is co-owner of Snap! Photography in Rhode Island. She is blonde, loves to bake fruit pies, wears flip flops way past the summer season, should have been born in the 50s, paints and writes when the mood strikes her, is mother to Jacques and Vianne, vacations on Block Island, is vegan, never has proper or stylish outerwear, fears frogs and toads but loves turtles, has really skinny legs, personal Style- Bohemian Chic, wants to own a VW van and
learn to surf someday, grew up on a cranberry farm and is happiest when snorkeling is happiest when sipping a rum punch under a palm tree.