What it takes / by Annemie Tonken

If you've followed my blog over the last few weeks, you know who Chase Jarvis is. I talked about him here, and truly can't say enough about his extraordinary enthusiasm and support for people following their creative dreams. His blog is a fun mix of inspiration, instruction, and advice, and I pop over pretty often to see what he's got to say. Yesterday and today, he wrote a pair of essays entitled "So You Want to be a Professional?"and "There's Nothing Wrong with Being an Amateur". If you've ever dreamed of quitting your day job to try and turn a hobby into a career, they're a thought-provoking read. Raleigh Photographer

As someone who has done - is doing - just that, those posts really touched a nerve with me. This weekend, I'm going to my ten year college reunion. In those ten years, I've changed my mind about what I want to be when I grow up... ummm... five times. I've held five jobs, gotten a second bachelors degree, and started a business. Sometimes I look at that path and am proud to say that I've pursued my passions; other times I wonder if I'm just flaky. Photography, though, feels different. I am consumed by it. I don't just want to take pictures, I want to get lost in them, and often I do - staying up far too late without even noticing the time, editing, reading, exploring. I am most certainly a photographer, but I want more than that: I want to be a professional photographer, and although my business is 100% legit - taxes, insurance, contracts... the works - there are those who would say that because it is not my full-time profession, I am not a true professional.

Raleigh Photographer

Chase says, "If you're wondering if you've got what it takes to go pro, try it. Seriously. Quit what you're doing now and go there. You'll know soon after you've tried to go there whether or not you're in the right spot."

Ouch.

The truth is, I wish I could. If it were just me, I would've done it months ago. But the fact of the matter is that it's not just me - it's me and my husband and our two children and our mortgage and our daycare bills and our student loans. My husband's job is based in New York, and his small firm offers NY-based insurance, which means my job makes our health care thousands of dollars cheaper a year. My job also offers pre-tax money for both day care and health care, which we take full advantage of, as well as life insurance, dental & vision, and a reasonably healthy 401K and pension plan. I'd love to think that I could cover my salary and all the rest of it as a full-time photographer, but the fact of the matter is that if I weren't able to do so - immediately and consistently - we'd be in trouble. I might be willing to put myself in that situation, but I can't do it to my husband, and I certainly can't do it to my kids. I don't want to.

Raleigh Photographer

What happens to a dream deferred?

I'll tell you this: I will not let it dry up. I'll quietly tend this dream, being a true professional to a limited number of clients, growing my business in a way that makes up in quality what it might lack in wild adventure. By the time I'm able to put in two weeks' notice at my day job, though, there will be no question of whether I'm in the right spot. I'll be there.

Thank you all for supporting me on the way.

Raleigh Photographer

xox,

annemie