About a year ago I had what you might call a Jerry Maguire moment. I let the world know that I wasn’t going to let my success as a photographer get in the way of being a successful father. Even though I loved my job as a wedding/portrait photographer, I decided to give it up so that I could spend more time with my kids.
I’m not a very subtle guy. I’m usually all or nothing. During the past year I shot the weddings that I had already booked, but I didn’t seek to book more weddings and I blocked out a huge part of my 2013 Summer, almost all of July and August, to take time with my family.
This past year has been great. It has given me a fresh perspective on life, love, family and business. I’ve spent time playing guitar, reading books, practicing archery and riding my bike. I’ve also set Personal Records for dishes washed, kitchens cleaned, diapers changed and running around town with three kids in the back seat. As I reached the end of 2012 I realized something crazy– I spent more time with my family and I made just as much as I did the year before. I also realized an important truth–I can be a good dad and a good photographer.
To put it simply, I’m back. I’m returning to shooting weddings and portraits full time. But this time I have a plan. I have certain weeks blocked off that I won’t take ANY jobs. From this May onward the only job I’ll take on a Saturday is a wedding. I’ll also be limiting the evenings I am available for family portraits. While I know I might lose some clients because of this, I think most people are understanding of a dad trying to balance work and family and will be willing to wait another week or so to fit into the schedule.
As I’ve talked to several friends about my comeback, they all said the same thing, “I knew you’d be back, you love what you do too much.” It’s true. During the last few months I’ve realized not only the importance of being with my family but also how important it is for me to be with who I am as an individual and to spend time with “my people”. My people are the type that see my photos and have an instant connection with what I’m trying to achieve at their wedding. They care more about capturing the joy of their friends and family than the details of the napkins at their reception. They see that the experience is more than making pretty pictures, but really trying to capture an indescribable moment in their lives.
This idea was hammered home when I shot Leah and Todd’s wedding in Sun Valley, Idaho in February. Leah and Todd are filmmakers who travel the world telling compelling stories. (check out their latest film from Rwanda, Finding Hillywood) I had never met Leah and Todd in person but from the moment I stepped off the plane I knew these were “my people”.
What was supposed to be my send off wedding in fact turned into a launching pad. Interacting with Leah, Todd, their friends, and family helped confirm that I can be a creative professional and still have a healthy work/life balance.
As part of my comeback I’m going to be emphasizing more commercial and editorial shoots. I’ve actually done a fair amount of work in these areas but I didn’t think it fit well with my wedding portfolio. So I’ve built a new site to show this work. You can check it out at www.becerramedia.com.
I’ve tried to think of a creative way to end this but I can’t, so let me just leave you a quote from the classic western movie Shane (it’s about a gunslinger who tries to make it as a farmer):
A man has to be what he is. Can’t break the mould. I tried it and it didn’t work for me.
I’ve got to be what I am. A photographer.