“My mission in life is not merely to survive,
but to thrive; and to do so with
some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
– Maya Angelou
I'll be honest, moving my business to Birmingham was not what I expected.
By the time I'd move to Birmingham I'd already grown a thriving business in the Bay Area, where I lived, a great client base in New York, shot in several other states and out of the country, and was making more than what I would have made if I was still an architect. How hard would it be to grow another base in another city? Pretty freakin difficult if that city is Birmingham. Culturally and financially and stylistically there's overlap between New York and California. I found clients in New York who could relate to me and appreciate my style, and most importantly, find value in my pricing. Here in Birmingham it's a whole other market. It seems pretty obvious as I'm typing it, but I really had no idea. I can't seem to navigate the wedding industry here where couples are paying tens of thousands of dollars on their weddings but only willing to pay two thousand dollars for their photographer. I don't know how to navigate through a city where everything is word of mouth, but most of my friends are married. I'm constantly wondering if people are not booking me because I'm not white.
I had pretty good success my first year here booking shoots and weddings, mostly by the grace of God and dumb luck, but my sophomore Birmingham year was a huge struggle. I learned a whole lot about hustle. I'm having to rebuild my business, trying to remember all the things that worked for me eight years ago when I first started it. There are definitely moments I feel like a failure. I'll find myself in the middle of conversations with people about my business, and I'm too embarrassed to really elaborate on how my business has had to shift from shooting to editing. Or how I'm only making a fraction of what I used to make when I was living in California.
Recently as I was reflecting on 2016, all this "failure" started to hit me to a point where I actually started talking about that shame and failure I was feeling, and it felt like a turning point. I'd always been open about giving credit to God for my success. (He truly is the reason I'm where I am today.) My old adage was that the plans God has for me are far greater than any I could ever imagine for myself. But those words were just a cloak to mask the fear I was actually feeling. I wasn't truly holding onto those words I'd live by in years past or really trusting God fully with my business. Would I find more work? Would I survive? All those insecurities were building up behind the happy face I was putting on. So that was it. I needed to make a change. I needed to be open with my fears. I needed to shine some light on the struggle I was living with. I'm at a place now where I'm trying to remember that God really is in control, and all I have to do is trust in Him and move forward, to take one step at a time as He leads.
Who knows why God is leading me down this path. But now at least I'm reminded, that whatever that path is, it's part of His plans for my life, and that's a good place to be. I don't need to walk this path alone; I'm surrounded by friends and family who've supported me from the beginning and will continue to do so. So please keep me in your prayers as I try to put my trust fully in God and navigate this new frontier.
Like the quote above, I don't want to just be surviving. I want to be thriving.
Samford University, Birmingham, AL. 2016 | Canon Rebel XSN. film developed by Indie Film Lab