A few days ago I had a mini anxiety attack. Nothing dramatic but it’s only today that I’m realizing where that anxiety comes from.

A friend and neighbour of mine asked me to take a few photographs of a family get together, nothing fancy she said. OK, so here I am facing my friend and my heart is racing and in the span of a fraction of a second; twenty hundred million things (yes, that’s a number) are going through my brain. If you don’t know my journey here is the short version : I decided to stop photographing professionally about 3 years ago and focus on my family. (There are other reasons, but let’s leave it at that for now)

– She’s my friend I have to say yes.
– I don’t want to.
– But she’s my friend.
– I don’t want to do this.
– She’ll be upset
– Breathe
– SMILE.
– Think.
– F#%$@#@k
– I should say yes.
– I have other plans
– I don’t have lightroom anymore
– Damnit
– Just say yes.

It’s been two or three years now that I haven’t taken a contract and honestly I don’t miss it at all. I don’t miss the long hours of post-production or file cataloguing or the 12 hour weddings. And in all honesty, I couldn’t do it anymore, not with what life has dealt me recently. What I do miss however is the creative aspect. There is also that amazing moment when I’d show a client their portrait and their eyes would light up. That’s something very special. But the rest of it… no, I’ve moved on. One day perhaps if things get less chaotic I might dust off my cameras and do a few projects on my own terms, my way.. but definitely not now.

So, you know what ? I said no. It was the most liberating thing I’ve done in such a long time. There was a tinge of guilt thought – why is there always that guilt aspect when saying no? I was honest with her and said that I don’t do photography anymore. She was respectful and very understanding. I did lend her my tripod though and she was delighted about that.

There is a lot of power in saying no and staying true to yourself. Afterwards I spent some time googling “the art of saying no” and came up with a few nice articles, this one in particular struck me Three Ways to Nicely Say No Without Feeling Guilty.

I think all the feelings of anxiety I feel towards photography aren’t really towards actually doing the job but directed towards the unease I feel when I have to turn someone down.  I’m glad I straightened that out in my head.

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