I’m Retiring as a Wedding Photographer: Pivoting Isn’t Just for Friends
Something has been on my mind the last few months. I always want to be completely open and honest with my readers/followers/friends/clients, and recently I realized something very, very important. I’m about to get uncomfortably vulnerable and literally lay my heart out on the table.
I wanted to make this announcement before I started making changes to my website and social media because I didn’t want y’all to come see me and be like WHOA SISTER, what in the world!?
Deep breathe, here I go.
I’m pivoting, but please don’t yell at me to shut up, shut up, shut upppppp.
Since I started business coaching with my girl Rachel Hollis in January, I’ve done a lot of soul searching, praying and thinking long and hard. 😬
And I realized that my current business is NOT sparking the same kind of joy for me anymore, and if I’m being completely honest with myself – it hasn’t for a very long time. This past December when Randy decided he didn’t want to shoot weddings anymore because he’s burnt out between his day job and the demand of my business… it immediately stopped being fun for me. Randy literally didn’t have a day off for 9 months straight last year and it wasn’t until we flew to Hawaii the day after Thanksgiving to find out my brother in law has terminal brain cancer that Randy had any time “off.”
And that period of time has drastically changed EVERYTHING in my life.
Since then, we have decided to up and move our family from Colorado to Florida (or Georgia), to be closer to my husband’s brother as he battles his cancer (the navy just moved him to central northern Florida), which I 100% support. Yes, we had planned on moving to New Braunfels in Texas and made a big deal about it from December to February … but we decided a few weeks ago that it just wasn’t the right move for us right now. And that’s okay. I’m really excited to be moving to either Georgia or Florida, I’m excited to live near Randy’s family, I’m excited to be closer to the beach.
Despite the fact we don’t know where we’re moving quite yet, we listed and sold our house last weekend after it was on the market for only a couple of hours (!!) at just about asking price, and it’s a cash offer – and we have to move in a week. Our realtor, Amy Martinez with Cutting Edge Realtors, is an incredible realtor if anyone is looking for someone in Colorado Springs. Just sayin’.
My husband works for a nationwide retailer and they’re trying to transfer him, but it’s not technically guaranteed. We put in for anywhere from Savannah, Georgia to Tampa, Florida; but, it’s such a vast area, I’m super spread out in terms of trying to reach brides (and grooms).
I think one of the biggest appeals we had for couples was that we were a husband/wife team and now it’s just me and I can’t help but feel like the brand I worked so hard for has lost its biggest appeal. 🤷🏻♀️I absolutely LOVED working with my husband and now it’s just not as much fun because I feel a bit lost without him there with me.
I’ve spent the last almost 10 years immersed in the wedding industry. I have loved the couples I’ve gotten to work with, I feel honored to have been able to tell their stories and capture images that will be a legacy for their families in the years to come. But in the process, I’ve lost myself.
Ready for some more honesty? I am struggling with some health issues that need to be my first and foremost priority. I am 35 and obese, I am .2 points from being pre-diabetic and my cholesterol is scary high. I also suffer from anxiety and depression, have Hashimotos disease as well as hypothyroidism. I tore the cartilage in my right shoulder from carrying and working with heavy gear, I have nerve and joint damage from the wear and tear of being a photographer. My health quite honestly sucks, and I have spent my entire adult life putting everyone else ahead of me, my physical and mental health.
That said though, it’s TERRIFYING giving up being a professional wedding photographer because it has become such an ingrained part of my identity – I’ve been in business nearly 10 years and it’s been amazing the entire time. But, at the same time, the last couple of years have been tough – shooting 35 weddings a year plus portraits plus traveling across the country while trying to juggle being a mom to four busy kids and managing a household and my health has simply taken a backseat for far too long.
So … what does this mean for me and my business? I’ve got this idea to transition to a lifestyle blogger, sharing my journey from a crazy busy entrepreneur to a healthy, stay at home mom. It’s going to be a bit of a process, so bare with me!
I want to start homesteading, growing my own food and learning how to take care of myself and my family and making THAT my job – even if I don’t get paid for it. But I do want to document what’s going on, and share it with you.
Maybe that means continuing to blog and start vlogging and podcasting and whatever else I can to connect with my people. Maybe it means turning this website, my blog, my brand, my life’s work … not just about being a wedding photographer. But about being a real person – and maybe, just maybe, I can help someone else who feels the same struggles that I do with being overworked, overwhelmed, drowning in life and work – all with a smile on their faces. Who knows where this road is going to lead me, but I do know that I’m excited to be taking the first few steps.
I can’t help but feel like this is the perfect opportunity for me to pivot. Moving to a new area, finishing out what work I’ve got (I have 14 weddings left this year and 1 for early next year) and pivoting to my new role as a lifestyle blogger with a focus on motherhood, marriage and everything else my life involves.
So! That said …
My site and my brand is going to go through a renovation over the next several weeks. My social media is not going to feature photos of other people anymore. My blogs are going to be geared more toward my new audience.
And most importantly, I am no longer taking any new bookings for weddings or portrait sessions, effective immediately. My very last wedding will be in Palm Springs, California next March and I couldn’t have picked a better couple to retire with as a wedding photographer.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
I have been blessed to take this business from North Dakota to Colorado, to California and back to Colorado again. I’ve photographed so many incredible people and moments and my life is forever changed because of my career as a professional photographer.
I really hope you’ll stick around for this next evolution in my life and career!
Follow me @ashleydurhamphotography