Thoughts on life, business, and The Barriers That Held Me

I’ve had a lot of life/business changes that have kept me away from the journal, which some of you may have noticed completely disappeared from my page. 

This was actually an accident. Reluctantly, I decided to change platforms for my website and to be honest, I'm still not exactly sure that it was the right decision. The move benefited my ability to send photos to my photo clients, but I am still so limited in how I can display and sell handcrafted items. Print on demand is great, but these frames my husband builds, well they’re beautiful and I believe everyone should have one in their home.

Photo: "Higher Purpose" Josh Grace Frame, sapele and maple concoction

Even if I could make the platform work for me in a way that I could display and sell already-made framed photos, I wouldn't be ready. My organization skills are, well, I don't know exactly. I can’t seem to find the time I need to go through all my photos and pick out and package up the good ones. I’ve lost photos I loved dearly and I’ve posted photos I'm “just settling on” simply so I can get something up there. I have multiple Lightroom catalogs that I jump from one to the other, like wormholes in hyperspace. It just never seems like enough and definitely never feels good enough. 

I now realize that a big cause of this emotion is having allowed the speed of social media to dictate the speed at which I was trying to create; this really wore me out. I am working on slowing down, taking my time, giving the images the energy they deserve, and not obsessing over lost followers, likes, or anything else like that (some of this stuff is still hard for me). I've failed at this behavior over most this past year because I have just come to this realization over the past couple of months and as a result of taking on more shoots than what I would have before considered normal. I WISH I could rewind back a couple of months knowing what I know now. Isn't that the meaning of experience? That's why it's worth something, because of the painful lessons sometimes it takes to get there. I am so thankful to all the people who were willing to invest in me so that I can get there.

The need to be validated through social media stems from the fear of not being good enough. The mistake that I made was allowing fear to dictate my actions. My actions then became reactions, which I did by not fully committing to creating a successful business. I knew what to do, but the fear of failure has held me back from trying, like really trying. For years I haven't even allowed myself the dignity of finding out if that fear was valid. I was denying myself opportunities to gain experience and become better, or become..."good enough" or "not good enough." I didn't want to disappoint people or have them judge me based on my lack of experience. It's been a long journey up to the surface, but I am here now. It’s a wonder that I was able to get the calendar out at all. I honestly can't believe it.

Click to Purchase a copy of the 2024 Maine Landscapes Calendar

I have made the decision to push forward even through what seems to be pockets of grief and sadness all around. I have been to more funerals in the last twelve months than I would care to admit and they don’t seem to stop. The shootings here in Lewiston, some of the victims being among my husband’s friends, and other friends close to me suffering tragic losses in their families so tragic that nothing but God's Mercy can soothe their sorrows. Nothing I can do, even though I wish more than anything I could.

When God calls people in a way that feels too soon, it is for purposes that are beyond understanding. The endurance of such grief should not be accomplished alone. We must lean not on our understanding but on His. Our Trust that God does all things for a greater good must be larger than our grief. Our gratitude for having the time we have with the people we love must be greater than the grief we feel when they’re gone. We owe that to them and ourselves. None of this is easy… 

To me (and I wonder if to you too?) these thoughts reveal a real need for love, laughter, family, friends, and community. It shows me how important these family photo sessions can be. That's why I hope to keep offering them as often as I can and as many as I can handle without it affecting my full-time job or family life in a negative way. It’s just something that I feel in my heart is right. 

After a long time of thinking and trying to create a value for people that will be lasting and won't just get swallowed into the digital black hole of BIG DATA, I created a new package that I think, and I hope others will agree, is a good price and an even better value. It gives them something that I KNOW they need, that they may not know they need. It would be something beautiful they can hang in their homes for years, perhaps even generations to come and hand down to their grand children.

My greatest struggle in business is, how can I bring my offering to people who cannot afford professional services? How can I convince the people who don’t see the value that they will understand years after taking the photos how important the photos are? How can I express how important it is and yet still make my money back? How can I do real good in the community? How can I leverage my business to help my friends and loved ones who are suffering greatly?

The only thing I can think to do is keep trying to grow the business more while the time is right so that maybe someday I will be able to help more. Now seems like a good time as I am able to find the time I need, even outside the realm of my full time job. I can do this because it's just a part of my life now. Other things will have to be set at bay. That is the decision that was made. Now is the time to move ahead to the next stage (I don't know exactly what that looks like and I'd be lying if I said otherwise); but, I think it would look something like committing to booking more shoots, offering payment plans, better products and services, more self-work, and a promise to myself and all of you to get MORE marketing out. So... 2024 here I come!

Thank you for reading and happy Thanksgiving to you all. God be with you in tough years and all others remember that every day with our loved ones is a day filled with gifts. Embrace every moment and give thanks often. 

Love you all,

Jen Grace 

"Lonely Reflection" Click here to purchase this print