When I was in high school, my family would always (always!) sign me up for those “Who’s Who” listings that would come around. If you aren’t familiar with the Who’s Who listings, they went a little something like this. If you had a certain minimum grade point average and hadn’t, y’know, killed anybody recently, then they would send you this letter saying you had been selected. Awesome. Hey, that’s pretty cool. Look at me go. AND… all you had to do was return this signed letter along with a minimal $150 processing fee and your name would be added to the list. Wait, what?
And while we’re at it, let’s talk about that list. It was more like a book. Like an encyclopedia. Like the physician’s medical desk reference. It was approximately 500 pages thick. And your name? Well your name would be written in approximately 9 point font on one column of one page, along with a couple hundred other people. Times 500 pages. Times $150 each. You see where I’m going with this. As it turned out, the Who’s Who… was kind of a bunch of hooey.
And yet, every time it came around, my family (specifically my grandma) would break out their checkbooks and get to signing until I had an entire encyclopedia collection of these things. Now, please don’t get me wrong. I appreciated it like crazy every time they did it. And I was so, so thankful to have them there believing in me. And I think even back then, I realized that they were only doing it so that I could have one more piece of proof to convince me that I was somebody. That I could go out into this world and be somebody if I wanted to. And if you want me to be really honest, I sometimes wish there was a Who’s Who list like that for life right now.
The photography road has been one of the hardest and most challenging roads I’ve ever gone down. The self-doubt, the comparison, the bench-marking, the artistic angst. This is all unfamiliar, uncharted ground for the left-brained girl who could always track her progress with gold stars and A+’s. Truth be told, when Justin & I first jumped into this business, I had visions of us shooting straight to the top. That we would find ourselves rubbing elbows and air-kissing with the Who’s Who of the wedding industry. Sipping champagne while they looked us in the eye and told us they saw something special in us. And then they would tap us, link to us on their blog or give us a shout out on Twitter, and just like that we would be the next big thing.
That didn’t happen.
And when it didn’t, I secretly wished there was some place that I could still stuff a $150 in an envelope and mail my letter to…so that we could make sure our names were added to the list. Thank goodness such a place doesn’t exist. Because it means that everything that we’ve worked for, we’ve done it ourselves. Everything that has been built, has been built by our four (now six, with Julia) hands. There were no shortcuts. There were no easy streets. And that’s something to be proud of. Earlier this year I had a photographer tell me that because we don’t play the (industry) game, it will hurt us in the short term. That our growth will be a lot slower. I like that. I’ll take it. Because like Justin always reminds me, slow growth equals strong roots.
And maybe after it’s all said and done, it’s not really the Who that matters at all… but the What.
Maybe it’s not Who has the most Facebook followers, but What kind of friend you are in real life.
Maybe it’s not Who has the most Tweets, but What you’ve actually shared with the world.
Maybe it’s not Who looks up to you, but What you can do to lift them up.
Maybe it’s not Who you know… but What you stand for.
Just maybe. And….at least you’ll be $150 richer in the end. :)