I was recently asked if I always felt that I was meant to be a photographer, or if I took classes and basically stumbled into it.
I LOVE this question, because no one has ever asked me this before, and it made me put into words something that’s only ever existed as a thought in the back of my head.
Did I always know I would pursue photography as a career?
I absolutely had my doubts about what I’d wind up doing, even after I graduated from college. I always knew it was my passion, but was never confident I could make a career out of it. So the answer is really two-fold I guess…because I knew I loved photography, but was never positive that it’s what I was meant to do for a living–despite the pretty obvious clues that it most definitely should be.
Back a mere 4 years ago, I was working at a CONSTRUCTION company…as an administrative assistant. I was desperate, needed the money and took it because it was close to home and paid pretty well. I lasted all of two months there, but looking back I laugh because I still found a way to express my creativity. In fact, it’s what got me through those days.
As we would go around to assess properties that needed repairs, I couldn’t help but snap iPhone pictures of things that caught my eye. I remember several times the construction guys commenting on me squatting down to snap a pic of a rusted teal dumpster, or looking up to snap a cool swirl pattern on the ceiling…because to them, that seemed silly. To me, it’s what came naturally–I just didn’t know how to do it full time.
Rewind even further back to 2012, when I took a job at Norfolk State University as the administrative assistant for the ACCESS department…I made it a fun goal every day to snap a photo of something ordinary to make it extraordinary.
It became a running joke with some of the advisors as to where on campus I had actually taken these photos, since they had never noticed these things before. It’s actually how I got into Instagram and if you scroll far enough back in my feed, you’ll see each post in all its glory.
It was a recurring pattern that in these mundane jobs, I would find joy in capturing life around me as I saw it. I lived for the weekends when I’d work on personal projects or be shooting for my business, the rare times I had bookings. To most, that would seem glaringly obvious that that’s what I was meant to be doing…to others, it probably looked like just a hobby for a very distracted gal! Fortunately, I never gave up on my business and kept chasing new clients. But I’d be lying if I said there weren’t days where I truly doubted I could take photos for a living.
A lot of people don’t know this, but I actually applied for the Photographer position at Dollar Tree three years before I actually got it. In those three years, there was a lot of personal projects and growth as a freelancer that translated into experience that they recognized the second time I applied back in 2014. Now if you’re keeping up with dates, it was the reason I left that construction company.
I literally went from a job where I was completely out of my element, to a job that was practically written for me!
I’ve been Dollar Tree’s photographer for almost 4 years now, along with maintaining and growing my business, and I get to wake up and do what I love…Every. Single. Day! And of course, I still snap tons of iPhone photos along the way 😉
Moral of the story, here:
-Never, ever doubt that you can make it if you truly want to do what you love for a living.
-With enough persistence, dedication and hard work I think you’d surprise yourself with what you can accomplish!
-If at first you don’t succeed, guess what? KEEP. TRYING. I’m sure glad I did!!