I feel like everywhere I look I’m seeing perfect business owners running perfect businesses and I’m over here thinking I’ll never make it. I feel like I’m just not cut out for this because around every corner seems to be another mistake just waiting for me to make it. Have you ever felt this way? Have you ever wanted to throw in the towel? PLEASE just tell me I’m not alone and that you weren’t perfect because right now I need a little dash of light and reassurance to know that I can make it in this crazy industry.
Feeling Like a Failure
Oh, my sweet, sweet friend. Here I am pushing away feelings that I just want to throw up because as I read where you’re at, it takes me right back to a few very pivotal moments in my business (and trust me, they aren’t moments I like to dig back up to the surface.) So here’s what I first want you to know: no one likes to talk about their failures. Chances are, you won’t scroll through Facebook or Instagram and see people airing out their garbage or the moments in life that make them feel like a giant loser. Why? Because it sucks. There are moments in everyone’s lives where we would rather just stay in bed with the covers over our head that focus the things that life throws at us.
So let me tell you a little story about a girl in 2011 who had just left her corporate job to pursue this crazy dream (a dream that included a gig as a wedding photographer, something she had ZERO professional training in.) It was a beautiful fall day, I was spending it with one of my all time favorite couples on the planet. They had just finished their beautiful ceremony and we were heading out to a cornfield to get photos of them with their wedding party at sunset! The light was perfect, the group was beautiful, the stars were aligned. Everything was PERFECT.
Later that night they were dancing and my memory card flashed it was full, no biggie, I quick ran to my bag, grabbed another one, formatted it and shot away. That night I got home and was backing up my cards when I realized I was missing a chunk of the day. I freaked, went card by card, double checking but somehow those sunset images and portraits were no where to be found. I figured I had lost the card so I called the venue, called the maid of honor, called the limousine driver… tears in my eyes, a lump in my throat. The next day Drew and I went to the venue and scoured every inch from the parking lot to the nooks and crannies in the floor – nothing.
It took me a full week to realize my mistake: I had reformatted over the wrong card and had shot over all of those portraits. Yes, I lost a few hundred precious, unrepeatable images. I was devastated, I threw up, I told myself I would never, ever shoot another wedding. I was so, so afraid of disappointing my clients. I knew in that moment I wasn’t cut out for this – the stress was too much.
I drafted an email the next day (I would sob if I even tried to talk about it.) I shared the images I had (which included every single hour of the day except the one!) I cried, I promised them photos for life, I begged for forgiveness, and guess what? They gave it to me. By the grace of God my clients understood. Sure, they were disappointed, I’m sure a little mad, but they truly showed me the meaning of grace in a way that I still can’t comprehend. Since this incident, I’ve gotten to photograph them three more times, even meeting them on a beach in the Outer Banks last year to meet their sweet baby girl. That failure?
I still think of it often but it taught me three incredibly important things (if not a million more!)
1.) Work with people who see the best in you, who believe you, who extend grace.
2.) Label your cards and NEVER, ever format a card on a wedding day or at a shoot.
3.) Have a second shooter, have a camera that has two card slots, and protect them with your life.
Just thinking of that time in my business hurts my heart but here I am, five years later, still shooting, still working with incredible couples. I’ve never publicly shared this story because I always feared that clients would see this and get nervous (trust me, y’all, I’ve come a LONG way since I started in 2011!) But what I do know is that when we share life: the success, the failures, we become more human, more real. Wherever you are at today, whatever failures you’ve encountered: they do not define. You need not live IN your story, you can live on top of it. I believe in you and as those failures come and go, so will the successes. It’s all a part of the journey and this journey is not always easy, but it is always worth it – always.
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