I used to love writing; I mean, I really lived for it. I wrote daily. A large part of self-promotion as a photographer comes down to the written word – blogging, clever social media posts, client and potential client interactions, and so on. For the past few years, I found my ideas and words to accompany my images would come in spurts, further and further between as time passed. Writing became a chore, so I didn’t do it as often as I should. I thought, “Maybe you just don’t enjoy it like you used to.” But I knew that was not true. I still had (have) dreams of one day writing a novel. So what was holding me back? Even now, this is the most difficult piece I’ve written in a very long time. I’ve had it drafted in my head for over a month. I just couldn’t sit down and put the words to paper, or keyboard.
Find joy in everything you choose to do. Every job, relationship, home… it’s your responsibility to love it, or change it. – Chuck Palahniuk
A few months ago, I read this quote, and it resonated with me. The truth: I wasn’t loving where my chosen career path has taken me. There was no joy in it. This happens more than you’d think with artists: you take the one hobby or activity that you deeply enjoyed and always participated in it for the feeling it gave YOU, and then you build a career out of it; you monetize it. And whether it takes one year, or eleven years, eventually it becomes distorted. You no longer find the joy, the release, the creative fire in that activity. Sometimes, you even begin to hate it. Or dread it. It transforms into this monster that has hold over you, as you strain to provide for your family, or let go of your-once-high-ideals just to make sure that you can continue in this chosen profession. Photography was a hobby I shared with my father, who was my whole world until his death by suicide nearly fourteen years ago. The camera in my hands was a way to reconnect to him, keep him with me, and I found so much solace and happiness with a camera, I thought, “Why not make a career out of this? I love doing it, and it’s so fulfilling!” The career I built was fulfilling in so many ways, but I could no longer find that safe haven in my camera. In the photography business world, it is often said that you need to run your business like a business, and that means taking emotion and personal feelings out. I see the value in this advice, because if we ran businesses with our hearts only, we would all be bankrupt in a year. However, the whole WHY of photography for me is emotional. The business part had completely wiped out that connection I found to my father through photography.
So it was time to make a very tough decision, and actually, it was made a while ago. I just had difficulty putting it out into the universe because of the finality of “speaking” those words. I’m done. Technically, I prefer the term “semi-retired”, because I fully plan to stay connected to photography, and find my joy in it again. November 18, 2017 was officially my last day as Angela Powell Woulfe, Photographer. I simultaneously grieved the loss of my identity of almost eleven years and breathed a huge sigh of relief. I still plan to occasionally second shoot for my wedding photographer friends, and to work as an outsource editor, because I do really enjoy those things, but in terms of taking on my own clients and projects, things are going to be drastically different. I will be shooting for myself. I plan to work more with my daughter on photo shoots she and I design together. I want to work on developing new skills, and honing the look I always wanted to have for my photography. For too long, I shaped my work in the style of what would sell. No more! I may occasionally take commissions when the client and I share a particularly moving vision for the work, but largely, I want to find the joy again. I can’t do that when I’m focused on marketing, running a business, and how much money is in my bank account.
What happens now? I have a few contracts to fulfill for the spring, and those clients will still receive the same service and finished product I always provided. I’ll slowly be taking this website down to a personal showcase and place to express myself through images, and hopefully through the written word. My social media presence will also revert to a more personal place to share. I’ll occasionally work with my peers, but largely I hope to find my way back to a career in the non-profit sector. I am excited for this next chapter. I’m hurting, too, but mostly looking forward to more room to breathe and create within my own space. And I think my family is excited to have me back as well. I’ll be able to spend weekends with my husband and daughter, and not stress all week long about what needs to be done. I thank them for their years of support, and enduring wedding weekends, never complaining when they didn’t get the time with me that they deserved.
It has been a true pleasure to work with hundreds of families and couples these past eleven years. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I thank each one of them for playing their role in shaping my career, and in many cases, my life. If you have reached out to me recently, or contact me via email, please be patient as I transition. I’m only checking it about once a week, while I focus on my next steps and being present for my family. I will occasionally post here, as I find my personal photographic voice once more. Thank you, all, for the amazing moments you included me in!
Now, a photo of my muse….because without her, I cannot imagine where I might be.