This Phoenix Family Photographer is finally ready to call Arizona home and feeling inspired to start photographing families in the beautiful, unique landscape that this state has to offer.
To say I’ve been a little reluctant to start my photography business over again here in Phoenix would be a huge understatement. I haven’t just been slow to start or hesitant to get going – I have resisted and I’ve pushed back and I’ve fought it. I have spent a lot of time wondering what else I should do with my life and where I want to go with my professional self; I’ve contemplated returning to teaching, I’ve dreamt of entering the world of interior design, and I’ve even tossed around the idea of selling hair care products to everyone who follows me on social media. Haha.
Here’s the thing. My reluctance isn’t because I don’t want to. My hesitancy has nothing to do with my desire.
It is just so eff-ing scary, y’all.
If I’m being honest (which I try to be, especially when it comes to my opinions and my experiences), I think I have always felt like my business in Denver was based solely on luck. When I first started, I had nice enough friends to hire me and be supportive of me and toot my horn even though I wasn’t sure it deserved tooting. Haha. My friends who trusted me, encouraged me, worked with me, spread my name and relentlessly complimented my work were truly the roots and foundation of my success. And for that, I feel incredibly lucky. Not so much deserving. Just damn lucky.
So starting over is scary.
I mean, what are the chances that I’ll be that lucky again? And it had to have been luck, right? Because it is nearly impossible for me to admit to myself, let alone to anyone else, that I’m good at my craft. That feels SooooooOoOoOOO weird to say. So weird. Weird weird.
But being an artist is a lifelong commitment to being vulnerable.
And photography is personal. Maybe it sounds stupid because at this point, we all have cameras and filters and anyone can take a photo and make it look halfway cool. But to me, this work is art. My goal is to create something beautiful and for my ever-changing clients to find it so beautiful they are moved to tears. Every time I show up for a family photo session, every time I post a sneak peek on social media, every single time I deliver a gallery to my clients, I am saying a little prayer that I’m not actually terrible at what I do. I am constantly putting my heart and soul and art out there for people to like/dismiss/love/hate/judge. It makes me feel exposed and raw and a little twitchy. Cue all the uncomfortable feelings. And pass me a barf bag. Because nerves.
Starting over is scary. It’s terrifying. It’s nerve-wracking. It’s maddening at times – Like, I already DID this, right? I already did the hustle. I already had to prove myself. I already worked my ass off. I already created a successful business in an over-saturated market in an impossible industry. I don’t want to put myself out there again. I don’t want to have to sell myself again.
But then. This.
I meet this beautiful family here in Phoenix. And we hang out in the desert one evening. Just me and my camera and them and their kids (and maybe a few bags of Pirate’s Booty for bribery). And it’s magical and beautiful and perfect and I fall in love. I fall in love with this Phoenix family – like I did with all of my Colorado families too. I fall in love with this Arizona light and landscape. And I remember how much I love this work and this job. And I’m reminded that maybe I am good at this and I feel like okay, I don’t totally suck. And so maybe just maybe I can do it again.
And to top it all off, just when I’m feeling like maybe it’s time to put myself out there again and maybe it’s worth the work and the risk and the vulnerability, I get this comment from the first family I photographed here in Phoenix. “Arizona Peeps! You NEED to have Virginia take your family pics. This was THE BEST family sesh we have ever had. She is amazing!”
And just like that I feel like I have people rooting for me here, and I know I’ve got it in me to start over. To build this business again. To keep putting my heart and soul into the photographs I create and keep finding families that I love and love me and will come back to me year after year and trust me to capture their hearts and their lives in a beautifully real way.
Virginia Stiles is a published, award-winning family photographer located in Phoenix, Arizona. Her business services families in Arcadia, Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, North Scottsdale, Camelback, Central Phoenix, Glendale, Tempe, Sedona, Flagstaff, Tuscon and beyond. She is also still available for limited Colorado mountain family sessions. Inquire here for details!