How My (Blog) Photography Evolved Into Something Else (...That Saved My Family)

BlogHer Original Post

When I first pulled up that blank computer screen back in late 2005, I never imagined that what I was about to do would eventually save my family from financial ruin. I started with a few words, and then returned the next night to add a few more. Weeks went by. More words joined the first ones and then, in a twist of fate, photos were added to the mix.

It was called blogging even then, but it didn’t serve any sort of greater purpose. It existed in my life solely as a way to share life’s stories and photos of my daughter with family. But as the days turned into weeks and then years, blogging became something more. Something bigger.

Blogging led me to numerous relationships with fantastic people. It made me a better mother. It helped me remember the things that matter most. And, it made me realize that I enjoy that photography thing. I might even be sort of good at it.

I am my own worst critic and can spend hours telling you everything that is wrong with every photo I take, but not everybody scrutinizes my photos in the way that I do. In fact, about a year after I first purchased a DSLR, someone asked to give me money in exchange for some photos.

I did it. I loved it, so I did it again. And again. And again. Weekends began to fill with photo shoots. Through the photo shoots, I met some amazing people who made my life better in a lot of ways, but the one who asked the question, “Could you teach me how to use my DSLR?” was key.

That question led me to begin thinking about tying together my day job with my weekend job. During the week, I manage training departments for companies that specialize in complicated technical processes. It’s a job that requires a deep understanding of adult learning theory and the ability to translate complicated technical information into plain English. I’m known professionally as that person to ask if you want to really understand the answer.

If you open up a book about photography, you’ll find many of them are written by photography experts who are extremely knowledgeable, articulate, and who know nothing about adult learning theory. They use too much jargon, not enough real life examples, and they often fail to provide the tools most adults need to learn on their own. I couldn’t criticize the books if I wasn’t willing to prove that there’s a better way, so I put myself to work writing a “plain English” training manual. Once it was complete, I scheduled a photography class entitled “Introduction to DSLRs.”

It went really well. It went so well that I continued to schedule sessions. The sessions consistently sold out thanks to positive word of mouth.

It’s a good thing, too. An unexpected round of layoffs at my day job left me unemployed and without a severance just a few weeks before Christmas 2011. The timing couldn’t have been worse from a financial standpoint. We had gifts to buy, bills to pay, vehicles to maintain, and a family to protect. Unemployment compensation was a huge help, but we ended up falling short eventually. It was then that I turned to photography and began to really depend on it as a way to keep us afloat financially until I was able to secure full-time employment again.

There is lots of chatter online about how blogging is dead, doesn’t matter, and isn’t valuable. It’s all a lie, though. Blogging very literally led me to the path that saved my family from financial ruin.

How has your blog photography changed over the years? Tell us... or show us! Tell us in the comments below or write a post on your own blog and leave a comment in the linky here.

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