So this is a personal post.
I am always someone that thinks far ahead. I’m a perfectionist, so it is a legit worry of mine to make a choice now that will negatively affect my family’s life in ten years…yet I’m also impulsive and adventurous, so it becomes quite the inner struggle. Because of this (and John’s also adventurous desire to jump in and make big decisions and take risks) we developed the notion of the five year plan. Basically taking time once a year or so to map out where we want our life to go, what choices we can make to better our children’s lives and to benefit our lives in the long run.
When I came up with the concept of Gatherhaus and started forming what it would be with Danielle, we wrote a guideline of how we try to live our lives with purpose and intent and titled it our Life Values…and John and I revisit that when we talk about life, always thinking forward but being purposeful about living in the moment, dreaming big but being practical about our choices, making sure that the lifestyle we choose to have fits with what we are currently doing, trying to make smart choices that will positively affect our future.
So it is of no surprise that I am thinking about life after kids and retirement even at the ripe old age of 36. And as I think about retirement, I have to think about photography and its future as a viable income. And NO, we aren’t closing the studio!!! I’m just setting the ground work for an announcement.
I have been soul searching for a good year on what would be next in my life. After really stepping back from the wedding industry, it was pretty clear to me that photography is a transition career. It is a career that solidly lets you make a living for a decade or so, but then needs to morph to stay profitable. We chose this profession at the beginning because we wanted one of us to have a flexible schedule for kids and so we could work together in an art related field. And we have been doing that for sixteen years so far! But I started to see the writing on the wall that we’d need to move to a more sales heavy approach, more portraits, renting a studio, etc to keep a solid revenue stream, or I would have to enter the lecture circuit, or raise our prices more and really have to start schmoozing for business. And none of these things fit the guidelines of how I want to live my life. The stress, the not being able to be myself, the sales end of the business, the extra risk of opening a studio are all things I don’t want for myself or my family.
With the kids in school, weekends holidays and evenings are more and more valuable to us…and those are the times when most of my photography happens. And now that we are working on our happy place, the farm, those weekends are even more important. Owning some land, teaching our kids to work hard and see results, letting our kids free range and experience nature, those are our core values right now and ones we want to emphasize in our lives.
So, in this soul searching, I realized that I really like the idea of not being my own boss down the road, and that I should contribute more into our retirement, and how I can move away from summer and fall (my favorite time of year) being super stressful. Photography has given us amazing gifts, we have been able to see the world, meet AMAZING people from all walks of life, it is a tool where we can give back to the community and tell stories, and it also gave me the gift of going into a field I never thought I would in a million years but really feel called to do…
I’m going back to school to become a midwife.
I’m a right brainer! I don’t do science and math. Ambiguous numbers make me to want to throw things. I boycotted dissecting anything in high school. I haven’t been in science related classes for almost twenty years!
But I’m doing it. Birth photography has been one of the most rewarding parts of my career. And it opened up this world to me (pun intended), and let me see how much I want to be a part of that experience all the time. To guide a mother through one of the most scary yet rewarding things they’ll ever do just makes my heart sing. All the things I love about photography I still would get to go as a midwife. Meet new people, help the community, share experiences, be a solid support system, and I can also incorporate the sides of me that are passionate about education, feminism, advocacy and a balance of natural and western medicine. I have the right temperament and know how to read people well and can make confident decisions in stressful moments (all training that I’ve gleaned from the hundreds of weddings we’ve been a part of).
In order to keep this next career fit in with our life goals, I chose to become a certified nurse midwife. This means I have to become a nurse first (more school) but also that I’ll have a ton of flexibility with the degree once I’m done. So this is SIX YEARS of school. A lot. And I’m diving right in. I did an accelerated intro to Chemistry class (learning a chapter a day!) in July, and this semester am taking Chemistry II, Human Anatomy and Medical Bioethics. So a full school schedule on top of being a mother of three, with a new puppy, a husband getting his doctorate (he starts his dissertation this fall), working on the farm, keeping up Gatherhaus, and running the photography business full time. But the hustle will be worth it.
We will ALWAYS do photography, and I’ll still be full time running this business and photographing all the fantastic couples and families as we always have. I’m not stepping back, we aren’t slowing down. And I don’t think we’ll ever fully close the business, but once I have my masters in midwifery I see us going the boutique route of only shooting 10 weddings a year and outsourcing the editing (music to my ears!) and album design. Just moving to a different type of business.
And again, this is years down the road, but I wanted to explain it all and share the journey, because it is a big one! And who wouldn’t make big changes to spend more time with these amazing souls!?!?!?!?
I feel very vulnerable sharing this, I have all the thoughts going through my head of what people will think and how it might affect our business, but I have always worn my heart on my sleeve and truly wanted to share this with all of you. It is a huge change, a big journey, a struggle, but we’re ready to take it on and love that you’re here at the ground level with us.
And now, your moment of zen in my happy place. I might just print this baby up huge so I can stare at it when I’m supposed to be writing a paper about simple squamous epithelium.
I love it! I think you will be a wonderful midwife! Best of Luck in your studies. The deliberate manner in which you approach life is seriously a breath of fresh air!
thank you, sweet friend =)
I remember the day you came bouncing into my studio, looking to form a partnership with my business. I was ever so happy to do so, and happily referred many brides to you. And as you so eloquently stated, our businesses have morphed into a new level more suited to our lives situations and personal goals. I respect and admire your decision and choice, knowing it comes from a place of deep thought, serious consideration, and joint sacrifice. I will support you in any way you ask, and know you both/all have my enduring faith and trust.
oh my dear, what sweet sweet words! thank you!!!! you have always been there and I appreciate that so much! I hope to see you soon!
Travis Johansen says
Congratulations and exciting to become a midwife! You’re spot on about photography and this year is my first year fully out of weddings simply because family time IS valuable and deserves you more than work.
Kyleigh is in an accelerated nursing program to become a midwife as well! #smallworld
that is REALLY awesome, Travis!
Amazing. As soon as I saw your picture I knew what you were going to say- well the main points at least. You can totally still do the birthing photos, I’ve read about women that do both…just a thought. This is great and scary and awesome and even just trying it is a type of success. Own it. You’ll be amazing.
my angle will be quite different as a midwife 😉 but yeah, totally doable. I will do my best to own this decision and push through.
Tracie Anderson says
One of the many things that will make you really special in this field is your amazing ability to help people feel supported and cared about and celebrated.
Patty Omerza says
I think your plan is FANTASTIC! Good for you!
I applaud your courage and foresight.I agree that we must make choices to have the life we desire, it doesn’t just fall in our lap. I too am preparing for the future and am getting a second masters degree to move into the library and work with kids without having to grade them! Here’s to us…women raising children, working more than full time, caring for a home and family, and going to school full time!