Learning to fly
“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?”
― Erin Hanson
It’s funny, you expect some of the wisest, most reposted words on the planet to be coming from someone as old and ripe as their meaning_one is so surprised to find out they come from the pen, intellect, and heart of a -currently- 21-year-old girl. Who hasn’t come across them, and how motivational they are, right? And apparently, how many of us have stumbled upon this very universal truth, the fear of letting go of our safety nets!
Turning off the office lights, after a long day’s toil, shooting, editing, brainstorming on endless galleries of workflow, having consumed tons of coffee and terras of bites, finding out it’s practically a few hours before the break of the new day I feel a jolt of recognition: a year ago this day, I was the one who asked the same question.
What if I fall?
At the beginning of our adult lives we are faced with the decision of getting hooked on a job that provides the supersubstantials and a considerable size of safety net, plus the added challenges in excelling.
For 16 years my career had been that of a banker, undisputable filled with excitement at first, progressively mundane towards the turning point, but still rewarding in many aspects.
What happens though, when you wake up one morning to realize the career you have meticulously worked on does not fill your heart’s desire to soar, that you have turned into a person you are not inside? The 8 to 5 routine was not making me happy, not because of the time I spent working but because I wasn’t that person anymore. There was a surge of creativity fluttering inside me, aching to find a way out.
For 3 years I struggled to balance my low spirits by taking up photography, working aside on my projects during evenings and weekends. Aiming to focus (here’s an irony) on two diametrically different jobs, trying to yield good results is -I can assure you- a recipe for producing very little- or worse- not producing. All my evenings and weekends were dedicated to photography, but my commitment was part time, and I got part time results for it. At the end of the day, I’d look at my face in the mirror and see a drained unhappy person.
The heart always knows where its happiness lies, but wasn’t it too late? Would I be able to make it if I ever decided to quit my day job and fully allow photography to move in? What if I fall? I kept asking.
But oh my darling, what if you fly?
You are smart, determined, ambitious … stay true to yourself and your goals and success is the only way for you, said my mother. Take the risk! If your dreams don’t scare you, they not big enough! Odysseas stood by me encouraging me to follow that sharp stab of discovery, to step into this fiery exuberant world, where the flood of desire burnt from the back of my neck to the soles of my feet. I’m here for you.
I set my goal. I carefully prepared to take the leap and the risk too. I quit my bank job. It wasn’t easy. It has been a continuous challenge every single day. Dreams are a hard work and for the past year I was wired to it 24-7. I can’t really remember a whole day throughout during the past 12 months but I’m now happy, working where the flame burns, doing what I love. The dream requires constant action, full commitment and above all, hard-earned personal growth.
Eventually, my friends and past colleagues came to say how lucky I am, but believe me, luck has little to do with it. I still want this! But it is not a fantasy anymore, it’s my life, it’s the daily (and past midnight-ly) struggle to achieve, to learn more, to train harder and to attain every promise I made to myself. I now know that the free-spirit in me was not cut out for the corporate life, no matter how glamorously it can work for others. I now have the freedom of my schedule and the time to be my own boss. Finding joy in each day, no matter how demanding is the way ahead, made me a better person, and I can say for sure that photography is what I was made to do.
And how about the fabulous companions and helpmates, my friends, my mentors and colleagues, the collaborators and critics, the industry miracle workers and those who persist in excelling? To them, I owe so much, the trust and faith they put in me and my art, the good will, the fusion of ideas and endless inspiration, the time and every word of advice they invested. And how about my man, my soul mate and love of my life Odysseas, my greatest fan and all-the-way supporter? According to him, I used to be a caterpillar, now I’m the butterfly with brightly colored wings. That is a true blessing!
Don’t get me wrong, I know doubt when I see one, and having been there, wondering where to start from or how to do things, allow me to share a few tips, with no wish to sound as your perfect advisor, but perhaps to nudge you one bit and let you know you can do anything your heart wants :
- Ask yourself if this is what you really want to do in your life
- Do you love the business side of photography? It’s more than taking pictures believe me! Stress for bookings, unstable income, dealing with finances and paperwork, advertising, networking, taxes, and more…
- Have some money aside, an investment, at least a year of living expenses to make sure your dream begins to evolve on a solid base
- Have a nice portfolio and a professional website
- Have some bookings for next season
- Calculate everything before you take the leap
- Find the perfect timing
- Put aside your worst fear, that you won’t make it. Believe in yourself and you will!
If someone came and told me I would get to travel the world to capture love and people living in love, to meet beautiful souls who trust me to create their memories I would have probably laughed thinking such job doesn’t exist. But it does. Today, I am celebrating a year of growth, a year in having fully embraced to be a photographer, a year of non-stop, non-fading passion and effort to do one thing right: fly !
Wish you all a great new season, and …. Cheers to dreams !