What it feels like to take a break from shooting for almost an entire month (at least) from taking photographs ...
.... while you run a photostudio as a full-time living & professional photographer.
"Now how does it feel? Taking a break from shooting all the time? Are you happy?" - Jenske from Jane Von Vintage (who a lot of you will probably know as she does a lot of work for me) asked this to me today when I visited the Nyx store for some emergency make-up since I'm going to Elfia this saturday (I havent been to an event or con since 2015 I think; so I need to look fab-u-lous).
The answer came without a though: it felt so freaking amazing.
Seriously. Despite my initial sleepless nights and the stress it gave me to not be in the studio for over a month (for personal work) & with a minimum of clients (I have some from mid april on; but the absolute minimum. Everything is scheduled from may on again); it's one of the best decisions I've made in my entire full-time career.
Now let me break this down first: to understand where I come from is the following schedule with a minimum of at least 3 to 4 shooting days a week. With each shoot specifically having at least 2 sets. So that means in a single week I could easily do 6 to 10 shoots (sets or outfits: including hair & make-up); easily going up to 12 to 15. This was both client work and personal work. In between that I had also full-day commissions, had private classes to teach & of course: a hell lot of editing to do. Some management and administration was never far away and social media was my daily job. My personal life was also dominated from september until end of february with the full-time care of my boyfriend who had a heavy surgery (his spine needed fixing - which was heavily needed but taking care a was a full-time nursing job) & a household to run. So imagine that: that kinda full-time schedule for personal work + a full-time job in photography + full-time health care + a huge household to run. I did this all by myself and ofcourse: nobody is resistant to such a schedule. Looking back I don't know how I got through that half year but I somehow did (we are capable OF A LOT MORE than you think!) . - just re-reading that made me tired already.
Back on track: It was not a fun time but it was a time I am now heavily embracing because it has made me a much better person. It also made me more responsible and conscious, I've lost my wild hairs and I'm taking my own health (personal & professional) first over anyone else. I also got a bit more down to earth with my two feet which is néver a bad thing.
All of that is also why I decided I needed a serious break from shooting. Like: serious. Nothing. I posted it a few times. I'm sure people didn't believe me as I tried that before. But that was before everything happened from 2017. I also quitted collabs for like, 99% . Something people probabyl didn't take that serious either.
I did both things and I'm now mid april; feeling incredibly relaxed. I did more in not even 2 weeks compared to the past 2 months (still got 2 more weeks to go from my break!). I haven't even planned anything yet except some rough concepts and plans that where already there and I'm now giving shape, slowly but steady. Instead, I've been putting time in myself (developing a healthy sleeping pattern, working out daily, even did some shopping today!) but I've also been working long hours for the business: finalising my websites, updating my portfolio, tackling tons of things I didn't do, shipping all kind of boxes, spring cleaning my workspaces, doing the online wardrobe catalogue, administration, emails & messages, finishing clients & commissions, working on my new prices and packages. Next week is a lot more practical (more editing & a lot of planning, marketing and preparing).
In this super fast world; I think it's important to create time. Even if that means "delaying" commissions and shoots. I was in no shape (mentally, physically, professionaly) to continue and my service was severely suffering from it. I wasn't going for a short fix, so I decided to do that incredibly scary thing and just be like: I'm booked full for this month; everything goes to may & up to august. Now is my time to work on the business behind the scenes and myself (because without me; there can be no service and results).
It's a very valuable lesson I learned. I do not recommend doing it this hardcore; but I do think I will make this a permanent solution in my business to create a week every 1,5 month where I just don't take bookings or commissions & I can catch up on everything else related to the business and to recharge my batteries. And that's something I can recommend anyone out there. - For my own future: I don't know when I will be shooting again; to be honest right now: I don't even think I will ever create like I did. I think if I do now 2 or 3 shoots a month it's going to be a lot. I realised there is more to it then posting on social media to "stay relevant" and I rather work for a curated timeline that is the result of a lot of financial, time, energy and research with more attention to detail, technique and finish in camera & post-processing alone.
We shall see. But for now: I am the happiest I've ever been in the past 2 years. And that's all that matters for now. I got an amazing set of clients from may on all the way to august and a lot more is happening so I seriously cannot wait to see how this will all develop now!