Today I suddenly realized how much being a photographer and running a business has changed me.
I struggle. I am not a natural career person.
I can be a very successful worker bee, but my natural characteristics make it hard for me get to the top. For instance, I am an introvert. In college a professor told me that INTJ's were the perfect architects because an introvert will work without complaining or socializing, completely focused on work. In the real world I learned that introverts make great workers but are unsuccessful at making progress towards management. I remember working diligently in my cubicle while my coworkers built relationships with each other. At the time I couldn't understand why coworkers, who were "less qualified" than me, were moving up the corporate ladder while I stayed at the bottom. When I became a photographer I found the answer. As important as it is to be good at your job and work hard, in this day and age it's more important to build relationships with people especially networking. Maybe I was qualified in my architectural knowledge, but it was my coworkers who offered the balanced repertoire of skills necessary for success.
Now as a photographer I know that unless I'm social, my business will fail. It's so important to make connections with colleagues and clients; to be successful I believe that it's more about being a people person than the most amazing photographer. I recently went to a wedding photography conference and a friend commented that I knew "everyone" at the conference. It's obviously not true, but it struck me that I did know a good amount of people. Looking back at myself years ago when I started my business, I was a different person. 2008 Meg would have shied away from everyone, perfectly content to be alone and completely unaware of the value of reaching out to people. Now I know the value of a network of people to invest in.
There are plenty of other ways that photography has improved my life, and that's why I'm so grateful for it.