We all have days where we feel like a failure. We all beat ourselves up sometimes or compare or over analyze. But I think where we sometimes fail as a society is sharing when we feel this way. It’s easy to post glamorous photos on Instagram of daily life and keep the positive vibes going. It’s easy to want to share that, not because we are all being fake but because it’s a form of hope. We want to be encouraging, we want to put what is joyful and beautiful out there. But the truth is that beauty and joy stand out all the brighter because of the darkness. So here’s my feelings of failure and the truth of how I have been feeling.
The same year that I booked the most weddings, traveled internationally for a wedding, and photographed gorgeous weddings in two national parks AND continued to have the best wedding clients ever, I felt that I was failing as a photographer because I was (and am not) a “full time” wedding photographer. I felt like I was not successful.
I felt like I was not achieving this much sought after goal because I still had a part time job for most of that year. Then I recently took a full time job on and those feelings very quietly grew. I drove my car to my full time job, my breath catching in the air of one of the first cold mornings in the South, and asked myself, “Why do I feel this way? Why do I feel like I’m not successful? Why do I feel like a failure when I know I’ve accomplished big things this year?”
Because I was letting myself get sucked into the expectation I had set for myself from someone else’s story. I was comparing what my success should be because of what someone else’s, or even my other photo peers, looked like.
So let’s back it up a second and tell those stories to go fuck themselves. And let’s insert some truth and fact.
I have wanted to be a professional photographer since I was sixteen. Probably before that since I was always carrying around little disposable cameras, but that’s when I really realized it. For the past three years I have been a full time professional photographer. Both my part time and now full time job were as a photographer while also being a wedding photographer. There is rarely a day that I am not taking photos or doing photography of some kind. But we tend to gage success in this area as full time in one genre of photography. I’m here to tell you that those expectations are bullshit. My day is full of variety and pushes me because I am looking at many different objects through my lens. It keeps my photos fresh and challenging. It pushes me to excel in areas that I struggle. No matter what photography looks like for me, I’m not going to stop creating and making and growing.
So let your success be whatever you choose for it to look like. Set goals, crush them. Exceed expectations. But also allow space for your life to look different, and richer, than what the world tells you it should look like.
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Beth Bowman is an intimate wedding, destination, and elopement photographer with a heart for adventure based in Lexington, Virginia. She thrives on awkward, intimate, and authentic moments. Her mission is to document moments of love and light that they may encourage and inspire others during hard times--that love is the only true adventure. Her style is romantic, creative, and genuine. She believes in getting out in the rain, head back laughs, taking risks, and brave love stories.