Cindy Harper Photography | What have I done?

What have I done?

January 08, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

What am I doing?  

I wrote this a LONG while back and just never hit publish.  I'm always hesitant to give people too many details...I'm a pretty super extreme private person. But here goes..


So... this thing we call life.. has sort of taken over...and this "time" thingy just keeps flying forward like we're all riding on a rocket/spaceship/whatever.  I mean... the world seems to move slowly as we look out our window at all these beautiful moments and then we turn around and we have blindly traveled millions of miles.. You know.. like THAT. (finger snap)  


Everyone tells you when you have kids to "slow down" and "enjoy it."  "It goes so fast" they say.  "You're going to miss this" they tell me.  Yes.  Yes, I will.  I KNOW how much I am going to miss this.  It makes me sick when I think about it. 


Guys.. I have been missing it.  


Big time.


harper_6443 copy2harper_6443 copy2


Sometimes you have to get slapped in the face with a "reality" check/job offer.  You have to open your eyes and really take a hard look at what you are doing and WHERE you ARE and if THIS is really what you intended to happen..??  Is this what you wanted?


Ever done that?


Well I sort of had an “Aha” moment.  I worked more hours last year (actually fall 2015) than I thought was humanly possible and I got really, REALLY tired and really, REALLY burned out.  I worked part-time at the school every day and still continued full-time in my photo biz...I took more clients than EVER last year... everyone thought I was nuts and I did too.  I'm pretty sure my kids thought I was a zombie. MAYBE I WAS.  Hey...Time marches on... Well.. it just about got me totally down


I mean DOWN.  


The really crazy thing is..


I decided to go back to teaching... full time.  


WAIT ...what?




Well...I hadn't planned on it.  This photo thing is my dream job right?  














Is it?

Oh man..




Let me tell you something.  It hit me one day when I came home from (part time)  teaching and I looked at the pile (PILE) of work that I had ahead of me (you know the highly misunderstood crazy work that photographers do that people just don't seem to understand so I quit explaining it) I walked past my laundry and housework (as always) and started working on my load of work "stuff" and I cried.  I cried like a BIG FAT baby because I realized that the job I loved so much was the job that drained every fiber of my being.  My creative cup was totally empty.  I pour SO much heart and soul into it every single day. I worked WAY more hours than I got paid for. You know what? I will NEVER catch up.  SO much TIME involved in this.  Sometimes I forget I am still working.  Whoops...  My child fell asleep next to my computer... again….  Pack child to bed.  Whoops.. We didn’t eat supper AGAIN.  It is a "LIFE COST" and it's very real... An unspoken truth of running a business. Yes, I'm in control of my calendar is now in charge of me? There's only so many hours in the day.  I miss family and major events ALL the TIME.


Guys I miss it... ALL the time!  




I don't even have recent photos of my kids.. these are from last year.

Running this business means I eat, sleep and breathe it. It consumes me. I don't take days off. I don't take weekends and holidays off. I work weird hours. I am the last person to get paid!!  


There is a struggle between overbooking and keeping a roof over your head-- 


When things slowed down over the winter months last winter and the dust settled on "crazy"... I started to realize that I actually didn't mind going to my normal job so much.. it was the deadlines hanging over my head from my own business that kept me stressed out and crazy. It was me overbooking my session days and paying for it all week. It was the mounds of boxes sitting in my house.  You know...Like everyday is Christmas. The frames stacked on my dining room table.  The computer malfunctions, equipment upkeep. The full "inbox".  The bills.  The juggle. The struggle.  The unknown future.  Where is this headed?  I left for work when my kids came home.  I was waking up every Saturday and Sunday and working all day and night of the weekend.  Who can find a babysitter for 15 hours a day?  What?  Is that even real?  It was an "aha". It really was.  I kind of got used to the hustle and kept my nose in my work and forgot to notice that although I love what I do I am sacrificing far too many LIFE moments.  


I thought it was everything ELSE that was my problem. I don't think so.  I'm not a superhero.  Well.. except when I wear a mask :)


I realized that in order to support my family with this business I created I was going to have to continue to work every night and weekend and holiday from now to eternity just to make ends meet..(you know, when my kids are HOME)  And then I need to find time to EDIT ALL of THAT...wade through the sales tax quarterly..bla bla bla.. and for what?  My dream? Where is all this headed?  Do we really KNOW?  Photography as a business is changing quickly.  Do I really want to totally rely on it?  Oh, the questions. My thoughts are everywhere. 


It wasn't my plan.  I didn't think it was my plan..But it happened.  


When the waters part... you try to pay attention.  


So, an art teacher I am, once again.


So, I get to work daylight hours like normal people...  Have vacation days and weekends.  I will have holidays off...I get paid AND I can get kids excited about ART!


Guys, I love photography.  I LOVE PHOTOGRAPHY.  Do not misunderstand me.  THAT PART IS AWESOME.  It takes time. It just takes time and loads of money to run an actual honest to goodness photography business. 


I love what I do but when I don't have a day off for 5 months straight that gets very, VERY difficult.    cindyharper_6326cindyharper_6326

So, here we are.  The only way to have more TIME is to work more normal hours (with a paycheck) that ALLOWS me to work LESS weekend hours so I can see my kids more often.  (See them? I love them so much)  I could change my whole business model. I could force people to book weekdays... Or I can work part time.


Guys, I also make more money teaching.  There.  I said it.  It's hard to say it. It's a tough choice but the reality is...It's a business just like any other with lots and lots of expenses. I cannot even tell you how much I have invested in this (on my own by the way). It has taken me YEARS to make a very, very, modest living and one that, after taxes, does not even match my teaching salary. You can't pay your bills with "You are so talented."  For years I made part time-pay on a full-time hours.. hoping I would SOME DAY get there.  Well... I did I guess, but the hours and workload are unbearable... And I'm already the "expensive" photographer. I guess now that I'm here I'm tired.  I'm just plain tired. So, I'm putting my eggs in the basket that feeds my family and I will keep a fabulous part-time business that allows me to be creative with out burning out from extreme over work. At the end of the day it's really hard to say, "I'm just gonna keep trying and see where this goes..."  

Nah.. I have a Master's degree.  I don't need to do that.  


What I have learned: Do not undervalue the privilege and opportunity to earn a paycheck without the struggle and worry that your boss deals with every day. Collecting a paycheck takes a HUGE weight off my shoulders.  Be thankful for a clean paycheck without overhead expenses. 


So, I will have to say “no” sometimes. I will not be available at every moment. No, I will not be working on holidays. No, I will not be available every single weekend.  (Although this fall I booked every weekend for 4 months...whoops it was busy season after all.) I will make fabulous things for those who value my time. I will schedule OFF time. We will slow this ship down a bit and coast in the water.  I can't keep this pace up.  I’m on “drift” guys.  Hit the button with me.. “DRIFT”.  AUTOPILOT...SAVE ME…


I'm not quitting.  I'm slowing down.  So, that I may be present in my own life.  


Slow. Down.


I’m human.  I need retirement, a steady paycheck and insurance. 


Fall appointments were fully booked. December booked also. (Whoops....) 


BUT...We can do this.  It's a new year.  


Keep the dream...slow the pace...


See ya on the flip side.





I'm struggling to find balance.....give me time.  I'm trying to figure out what I can actually handle. I may get it wrong a few times! 




No comments posted.

Hey There Friend,

Welcome to my little corner of the universe.  I photograph babies, children families and seniors.  I am a Chillicothe, Carrolton, Marshall Missouri area photographer.  Clients drive from  Iowa and Illinois and Kansas for a shoot.  My specialty is creating a modern day memory wall in your busy world.  Let's see if I can help you.  I work with awesome people.  I occasionally post information here.  I write about family life, photography, and anything nutty that crosses my mind.  I would love to be very good at this, but, life happens and I don't write as much as I should.  So, if you find some new and interesting stuff to read here.. That's GREAT!  Come on in and stay a while..grab a cup of coffee and hang out.  And please.. call me with any questions you may have. 660.542.4037


January (2) February (1) March (3) April (3) May (1) June July (1) August September (1) October November December
January February March April May (1) June July (1) August (2) September October (2) November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January (1) February March (1) April May June July (1) August September October November December
January February March April May June July August (1) September October November December