2. years. ?!

For this I am thankful!
2 years in review...
Wow I can't believe it's been just two years since I officially started the biz. At the same time I can't believe it's only been 2 years!  And this is where I get all sappy ;)

A constant question I'm asked is "how long have you been doing this?" And "How did you get into photography?" So here ya go....How it all started: When I was in high school I took my first photojournalism class and I liked it, but it wasn't until my second year in college that I had the thought to really pursue the idea of photography, and from my first day in the darkroom I was enamored with the ability to expose my preferred pearl paper, dip it into the chemicals and see my image come to life, just to throw it away because it wasn't yet perfect.

I photographed my first wedding when I was 20. For the next 6 years I worked with, and tagged along with, any photographer who would have me. From commercial, fashion, portrait, and wedding photographers I learned so much about my craft. But it wasn't until starting my own business by chance two years ago that I really learned about myself.

The story of how the business began is close to my heart and not a plan I had in mind at the time. Jim and I were living in MI when we felt a clear calling from the Lord to move to TX. This was a huge shock to me because I thought I would never live in TX again. (One day I'll have to share the whole story in detail because it's pretty crazy!) We moved by faith alone, and what a blessing it has been that we trusted that God would provide. We had no money to move, no home, no jobs, and no urgent reason to move back here. Our dear friends Jim and Shirley Hollars invited us to live with them until we could find a place of our own. I placed an ad on Craigslist for portraits, had a couple of friends interested in me photographing their family, and there ya go, Heather Essian Portrait Arts was official. We moved into our own townhouse four weeks later. I honestly thought that once Christmas portraits were over business would be dead and I would be unable to continue working for myself, but somehow I just steadily started to grow. It was clear that God had a plan, and because of the way it all started I now trust in Him with this business because I know it was His to begin with. My constant prayer is that I would be a good steward of what I've been gifted with.

Owning your own business is one of the most vulnerable things I think one can do. This is a place where I have learned what I'm really made of. I've placed my heart and soul into my art - into my business. One thing I've learned is that business can quickly take over a passion, and since I learned that harsh reality I've been working to balance my passion and my business very carefully. This journey has showed me my gifts, but more importantly my weaknesses. I've always been a person who strives to be the best they can be, never settling for just good enough...of course unless we're talking about anything that has to do with numbers (right mom!?)

I remember thinking the way I would run a business, the kind of leader I would be, while watching fellow less-then-perfect-leaders lead me.  Foolish me for assuming that I knew what it was like owning my own business! The respect I have now for those who persevere, break the mold, and start their own identity in a business is beyond anything I could express in words. Even as I write out the last years to share with you I struggle to put to words just what I feel. One thing I know I feel is incredibly blessed. Blessed to have the opportunity to express myself through my work. Blessed by each and every one of you who have encouraged me and believed in me when I've continually doubted myself. Blessed that perfect does not exist; it's taken me a long time to accept the understanding that there is no perfect, and for me to recognize this does not mean that I'm not trying hard enough.  I've learned how to properly communicate expectations which surprisingly can be difficult at times.  I've always known that I wanted to feel a connection with each client.  Growing too quickly can easily create a disconnect because with vast change comes less time to connect and for me that's one of my favorite things about this business - the relationships I build. I've realized no matter how hard I try, no matter how much effort I put in, I'm just one person and I simply cannot handle an infinite work load.  Booking your life a year out poses a huge problem because it can take some serious time to catch up.

I know that I've just scraped the surface of the things I have left to learn, but the most important thing to me is that I do learn, and my character and ability to lead a business continues to grow. I praise God everyday for this walk. It's joyful, painful, and incredibly fulfilling and an experience I know I would not have if I was the average clock in and clock out working gal, although it's tempting at times :). Thank you all for allowing me to share my heart with you. I hope to continue to show you this passion I have for photography, and more importantly my passion for the relationships I build with all of you. I hope that I will continue to show you in a deeper way just how important your relationship is to me. Thank you for choosing me as your photographer, and I cannot begin to tell you how much your encouraging words keep me going! Thank you thank you for allowing me to do what I love!!

If you've ever considered starting your own business...do it! But know that a good leader of any sorts is one whom approaches all things with humility and tenacity.


Mandy Hank said...

What a powerful and motivating post! Congrats on your success and good for you to know you still have more to do! It's so nice to see your faith and appreciation in God -Love your work! :)

Arden Prucha said...

Heather - I am so glad you are fortunate to have your talent and business skills. I know it's hard, but it's yours and yours alone! Congrats and I am so proud of you!

Heather said...

Thank you Mandy! I sat on this post for a while ;)

Oh Ardie....:) You always have the perfect words!

Hayley said...

I hope you realize the impact YOU make on the people you come in contact with! I had no idea the friendship I had in store that day I met with you in your townhouse. I feel lucky to have been there from the start!

Amanda Harrison said...

What an inspiring post Heather!
And thank YOU for allowing me to tag along and be a small part of this amazing business you've created! I can't tell you how much I learn from watching and observing...hopefully one day I can have that business of mine and make beautiful art such as you do, and I'll have you to thank! Love ya girl & Congrats!!

Heather said...
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Heather said...

Hayley, You're just the type of client I feel so blessed to have! I'm so thankful for our friendship.

Amanda, you keep up your hard work and drive and no doubt you will be successful. Thank you for all the help you are to me!

zana31 said...

Congratulations Heather; I can't believe it's been 2 years. You deserve it. Your work and personality are amazing. It was a blessing to have had the opportunity to have you as my photographer. The emotions of my special day will never be forgotten because I can always looks at my amazing photos and see the true emotion behind every one of them.

Karen (Mikols) Bonar said...

Heather, you have NO idea how much I needed to read this post today .... it's been about 2 years for me, too, and I"m feeling awfully discouraged right now. Thank you for your openness and candor.

Heather said...

Ana- you are too kind. Thank you so much for your encouraging words! I'm equally thankful to have been a part of your wedding day!

Karen-I'm glad you found some encouragement from my post. Hang in there...it's the tough times that make us so joyful and appreciative when the good times come!

ksenija said...

um, looove this post, love you, love the comments -- DITTO to everything mentioned above!

CONGRATS on two successFULL, heartFULL, wonderFULL years!

ps. also, love your new avatar pics -- you are such a beauty Heather!

Karyn said...

Wow, what an inspiring post. I'm just at the beginning of all of this photography business stuff and my head is spinning. Your work is beautiful and your words give me hope. Thank you!