I've lost count of how many people have told me I'm crazy. Sometimes not telling me directly, only giving me that "say whaaaaat" look (you know the one I'm talking about.) And I know. You guys, I know. It took me 4 years to establish my business in Chicago. To win clients, build a company, establish myself... 4 years of hard hard work. The thought that runs through my mind most often is "Am I throwing all that work away?". Maybe I am. But sometimes, you have to do crazy things. Sometimes staying where you're most comfortable is the absolute most dangerous decision you can make.
New York, 2004. Nothing was crazier than deciding to start a business New York. 1) New York is scary. It's fun and expensive, wild, smelly, invigorating and full of secrets - but that place is also damn scary. And 2) There are approximately 436829 other photographers in that city. And they are good. But I was 18-years-old with an entry level DSLR, a head full of curls and a very determined heart. I worked for free at first. Did shoots in the middle of January when it was 10º outside, sunrise engagement sessions (because Central Park at 6am sounds like a totally good idea right??), and that thing where you make your client stand in the middle of the street because omg the light – meanwhile keeping an eye on the oncoming traffic behind them and running out of the way juuuuust in time. And with every new shoot I found a little more of my confidence, my voice and my heart. City #1, check.
Seattle, 2010. First a moment of silence for how freaking hard it was to go from the heart-racing, sweat-breaking speed of NYC to the rain-loving, granola-eating, amazon-worshiping, socks-with-sandals-wearing town of Seattle. Whoaaaa mama. Establishing a business here was a lot tougher than I thought it would be. Looking back, I see it's because I hadn't adjusted to being in Seattle yet. The pulse of that city was always out of sync with my own. I never felt like I belonged and it took me 10 months to realize that. I could tell myself all day long that I wanted to build a business there, but deep down I knew that I did not and therefore could not. Growth, ya'll.
Chicago, 2011. My heartsong. My people. My city. Christ do I love this town. Chicago and I have been on the same page since day 1. Whatever special kind of magic that makes this city buzz is in my bones. I had clients almost right away. I went from knowing two people on the day I landed to a group of 20+ people that I am honored to call my close, nah, best friends. How many people can say that? The work has been as constant as the fun and my photography has grown beyond anything I could have hoped for. I even found my other half in this beautiful town. Because really, what else besides love could persuade anyone leave a town like Chicago?
Bakersfield, 2015. I find myself dreaming of the possibilities. A new city, a fresh brand, 11 years of failure and success at my back, people who believe in me at my side and the warm comfort of love wrapped all around me. I feel more prepared this time. I'm still just as fearless as that headstrong 18-year-old all those years ago trying to conquer New York City. Some things will never change. And I have no idea what the next few years have in store but I'm sure as hell I'll be able to handle it. Onward.