As some of you know from following along on Instagram, I am returning from a huge trip to Click Away in Amelia Island, FL. If you’ve never heard of Clickinmoms, it is an online forum geared towards photographers. While not everyone is a mom, or even a woman, the majority of them are. I first joined CM in 2014, after buying my first dslr. I don’t even know how I stumbled across it, but it has been a huge resource for my growth as a photographer. The forum is full of tutorials, picture shares, and women who are so awesome. In addition to the forum, CM offers breakouts and workshops that teach about basic photography skills, creating connection with your own family and with clients, learning flash, and post processing. Last year, when they announced that the Click Away Conference would be located in Amelia Island, a mere 5 1/2 hours from where I live, I just KNEW this was my opportunity to go. I wasn’t sure how, but I WAS GOING. Fast forward to earlier this year when I WON A FREAKING TICKET TO GO!! Though my husband was a little afraid of being alone with the kids for that long, he agreed and we made our plans to attend. I wasn’t sure why I was yearning to go so much, but as I return home and try to process all that I learned and experienced, I think my soul knew that that this experience was something I needed. Below are some things I took away from this amazing trip.
1. Choose Joy
OH MY GOSH. I almost missed the keynote speak and THANK THE LORD I didn’t. If you don’t follow Ruthie Lindsey on IG, GO DO IT RIGHT NOW. Her story was so freaking amazing and she had me in some serious tears. I wilo do my best to summarize her take of overcoming adversity as succinctly as possible. In her early life, she was hit by a car and had to have her spine put together by wires. One of those wires punctured her spine and caused her to have long term chronic pain. She laid in bed, depressed and full of medication for 7 years. After a divorce, she moved home where her brother told her she could choose a different life or she could waste away in bed. That gave her the motivation she needed to change her life. Now, in spite of her daily pain, she chooses joy. She chooses love and to see beauty in her daily life.
The message I received from Ruthie was that, every day, I can choose joy. Every day, I can decide that in spite of my pain, in spite of my sorrow, and in spite of my thoughts, I can be grateful. This isn’t something she experienced in the past and now her life is easy. She faces this chronic pain DAILY. She STILL chooses to chase beauty and joy. The first thing that came to mind was, wow, and my pain is NOTHING compared to hers. That being said, I have to honor the adversity I have faced in my life as well. It’s all relative. The thing she said that struck me so hard was something to the effect of “Pain carves out space in my heart that can be filled with joy”. (That’s not verbatim, but you get the gist). She said that when she sees people that are truly joyful, she understands that they have seen great pain. AAAHHHH cue the tears. Y’all, I needed to hear this so much. I needed to hear that I create my view of the world, and if I want to live a joyful life, I just have to choose it.
2. Value Yourself
The common theme in each workshop was VALUE YOUR TIME. As a creative, setting a pricing structure that is suitable for me to actually make money AND will also attract clients can be difficult. Often times, we just don’t think we’re worth more. But you know what, no matter your business, YOU ARE WORTH IT. Your time, your creativity, your love, is worth it.
I’m going to real with y’all, last year, I made -$400. I’m not sure if you caught the negative. And I saw a lot of clients. It was my first year of business and that’s ok. I only tell you this because as a client, I’m not sure people understand the cost of running a photography business and as a creative, we don’t understand the importance of charging what we’re worth and how that affects our bottom line. I have had a year of client experiences under my belt so I’m about to go through and create a whole new focus and a whole business model simply because, I am worth it.
3. Love Fully
One class I took was called “Creating Unmistakeable Work”. One of things Virginia said was that when she meets her clients, she tries to greet them with an open heart. She says that her goal is to show up and love fully. I LOVED that and felt like it was something I could apply in my life in every scenario. Fear sometimes haunts my mind, keeping me isolated from others with thoughts of not fitting in, not being good enough, being too weird, being unworthy. After spending 3 days meeting women that were so open and friendly, I remembered that I am not an introvert, I LOVE people and I can talk to anyone. So my goal going forward is to love fully, keep my heart open, and let go of fear.
4. Let Go of Fear
This goes with my thought above, so maybe I shouldn’t have put it in another bullet point, but I have to let go of fear and trust that I am exactly where I need to be. I need to put myself out there for the world to see, and even if people don’t like me, love myself anyway. Even if people hate my work, do it anyway. Even if I never get another client, keep doing it anyway. My art is about me and expressing myself creatively. I would love to do this to and support my family because I love it so much, but even if it doesn’t bring me money, I’m going to do it anyway. I am going to keep sharing it anyway. Because I love it.
5. Enjoy the Process
I always want to be at the finish line. I want to do whatever steps are necessary right away so that I can get the end result. It’s like I have this imaginary finish line that once I cross it, I will be happy. If I was just a little bit better, I would be happy. If I was just a little bit thinner, I’d be happy. If I was just a little more enlightened, I would be happy. But the happiness is here today. The lesson is in today. The joy is present today. Each day, I am presented with another opportunity to love, to grow, to show gratitude for the beauty in my life. So be here now, enjoy the learning, and the adversity, and the struggle because THAT’S what life is about.
6. Everyone is different
Each photographer talked about their own business process and it was interesting to see how they all did things differently. It gave me so hope and clarity about my own business.
And isn’t this true about life in general. Most arguments on Facebook are one person trying to convince another person that he/she is right. What if we all just accepted that the solution to our issue might be different, depending in the person and the situation? And also accepted the idea that just because someone says it, doesn’t make it true. Just because it’s true for someone else, doesn’t make it true for me, and finally, just because I think it’s true, doesn’t mean it’s true for someone else. It’s really that simple.
Even if you’re not a photographer, I feel like these are lessons we can bring with us into our daily lives. What a blessing it was to have experienced this amazing event. I am so grateful to have been able to take workshops from these beautiful women, to have met many more, and to have learned these lessons that are necessary to my growth as a person and as a business owner. Thank you Clickinmoms.