Keeping It Real

Kate Oakley_Adorned Photography_Blog.JPG

I have a story and so do you. Many of us choose not to ever share our stories with others...and for some time now I have been one of those people. I get it. Sharing your journey through life + business can sometimes be intimidating. We all want to paint this “perfect” picture on social media…successful, happy, strong, confident, healthy, flawless, motivated…the list goes on. Why do we do this? Why do we care so much what others think of us? Can’t we just be OURSELVES and attract the people and clients into our lives that are meant to be?

Let me paint a picture for you real quick…I’m sitting here on my couch with laundry strewn across my dining room table, dog toys all over the place, dirty dishes in my sink, and a crusty used coffee mug from this morning still sits on my end table. I have a headache, my makeup looks like shit, I’m tired, I’m debating whether or not I like my website (which took my hourssss to build by the way), and trying to figure out how I will pay all my bills next month and still afford to invest in a new camera body, which apparently I need more than food right now. There, it’s out there. That is what my life looks like, today – a hot mess. But that’s OK. I’m OK with that. Why? Because I’m human. I have ups and downs every single day and I’m no longer afraid to show that. It’s what makes me real…it’s what makes me relate-able.

Over the past few months I have learned the power of transparency, honesty, and authenticity. Not just in my businesses, but in my life. The more straight-up, raw and real I am, the more people are attracted to me. Wait, really? Yes, that means the more YOU, you truly are, the better off. Now ladies, I’m not saying to jump on Facebook and post about how you forgot to shave your legs and wore a dress to work (yes, I have done that…and so have you). We all still need to exude a level of class no matter how REAL we decide to get.

I could tell you all about my daily struggles and successes but I would like to go ahead and take this time to tell you, my story; my WHY for starting a business I knew absolutely nothing about just a few years ago. So here it goes…

I have not always had a love for photography. I don’t have one of those stories where as a child I started taking pictures with my parent’s camera since the time I could walk. In fact, my story is quite different. I have a degree in hospitality management. I worked in hotels for years, switched to PR, then bounced over to private yachts. Pretty eclectic right? I then found myself working from home for my boyfriend’s company helping with social media, website design, and billing. I was only 25. Working from home at 25 probably sounds pretty amazing to some of you. Well, it sucked. Yes it was nice to be on my own schedule and work in my yoga pants all day but it caused me a ton of confusion and unfortunately, a ton of anxiety.

I felt sheltered, alone, and lost. What would I do the rest of my life? What kind of career did I want? Would I ever be successful? Would I ever find my passion? Would I ever GET MY SHIT TOGETHER!? This is not exactly the vision I had in mind of what my post graduate life would be like. The anxiety began to heavily affect me until I had my first panic attack. That was fun! Said no one ever. I was afraid to go out as I was petrified of the feelings of panic taking over my body and people possibly noticing something was wrong with me. I felt trapped. I felt defeated. What the fuck was wrong with me!? I was usually a confident, happy, fun-loving girl and all of a sudden I felt like my life was spinning out of control. That’s when I started taking pictures.

My boyfriend had given me a beautiful Nikon DSLR for Christmas and I hadn’t even taken it out of the box yet. One day I decided I wanted to snap some photos. Well, if any of you have ever tried using a DSLR, as a beginner, it is almost impossible to take a photo without learning how to use the camera first. So I found a local photography professional to tutor me and met with him 3 hours a day, 3-4 times a week. We met consistently for about 6 months. I was determined and frankly, I wasn’t sure why. Staying consistent with something made me feel normal again, it gave me purpose, it felt good. Photography began as a distraction method for me. A way to consume my time and take my mind off of the panic and anxiety I was experiencing. In no way did I think it would ever become my career, or even my passion, but something along the way happened.  I began to fall in love with my creative side.

When I realized people liked my work, I realized I could maybe take on a few clients and make a couple extra bucks. I pretty much worked for free my first 20-30 clients. Who am I to charge someone? Was I even good? Did they know I would edit their pictures on my couch while watching Greys Anatomy and drinking red wine? My photography was clearly a hobby. Or was it?

As I started to look for a full-time 9-5 job again something just didn’t feel right (and it wasn’t my empty wallet). I knew in my heart that taking a job for the sake of a pay check was just not for me. I knew I was destined for greatness in my own way and was on a mission to find my true purpose in life. Something inside of me told me to keep pushing forward. So that is exactly what I did and still do to this very day.

People always ask me, why did you start your business? What is it that drives you? And there is really only one way to explain it. When I am behind the camera working with a client, I am in my own world. I am truly in “the zone”. As I precisely frame each shot I wait for the perfect moment…a certain look, a tilt of the head, an unplanned smile, a glimmer of natural light. My adrenalin rushes as I capture beautiful moments in time that can never be duplicated. Seeing the look on my client’s faces when I give them their finished images is what this is all about for me. Making others feel beautiful and creating memories that will last them a life time.

So I guess I did it? I found my passion…that thing I had been seeking out for so long. The future holds so many opportunities and I am just now scratching the surface. I am so grateful for the progress I have made both personally and professionally over the past couple of years. The support I have had along the way from friends, family, and fellow entrepreneurs has been overwhelmingly amazing. The struggle is real sometimes. I am not perfect and I am certainly not the best, but I would rather tell it like it is and keep it real, then hide behind a made-up version of myself.

I strongly encourage you to do the same.

>> Would love to hear how you are keeping it real. Feel free to leave me a comment below.