Quietly Closing Kate Nesi Photography

Over seven and a half years ago, I started a website and opened up my first business, Kate Nesi Photography. I started out confident in my skills, full of excitement, and open to meeting new people and seeing if I could recoup my investment.

That very first year I invested about $4,500 in camera and computer equipment and vowed to stay open only if I made that money back by the end of the year, 8 months later. I did it in less than six months.



Since then, each year I’ve set goals and reached them time and time again. That felt awesome to be so productive! As I grew from novice photographer and business owner into a professional photographer, editor, and business accountant I started to feel less and less connected to my work. It became about the income and less about the creative process.

Four years into my business, after having my first child, my annual passion projects fizzled down into long questionable winters with many moments of doubt, self-criticism, and fear that I’ve lost any creative energy I had left. I rarely picked up my camera if it wasn’t for a session or wedding.

It became… work.

Alas, I pushed through the dips because I didn’t want to be a quitter. I didn’t want to quit too early before something wonderful might happen.

Alas, I pushed through the dips because I didn’t want to be a quitter. I didn’t want to quit too early before something wonderful might happen.

After I passed seven years this spring, I spent many days thinking about my focus for this business going forward. While owning my own service business started out as a wonderful offshoot of a passion it slowly degraded my creativity and drained my energy. I felt more and more obligated to “get it right” instead of being true to my ideas. I focused on appeasing others and left my own intuition on the back burner.

Seven years is a long time to stick with anything. I stuck it out through many ups and downs, but this year I got the seven-year itch. The more I pondered the future and looked at what I’ve removed from my life to make this business function, it became clear that it was stopping my ability doing other things I once enjoyed as well.

I lost a good portion of who I was in the process:

Writer.

I enjoyed writing thoroughly, but as the years passed I felt more obligated to stay on a message which wasn’t always me. I had an image to upkeep in order to draw more clients and while I tried to be authentic, over time I felt less and less authentic. The words on the page could easily push people away, so I was trying to be careful to craft a relatable personality.

Runner.

I stopped running long distance since starting the business. Back in 2007, I ran a half marathon. I have since wanted to run a marathon and it’s been almost ten years. A few times since then I worked my way back up to half marathon distance only to end up injured and short of my marathon goal.

Oftentimes, I had to skip runs or rearrange my schedule because a long run of 10 miles just didn’t coincide well with a photo session that evening. Or a race I really wanted to run ended up being held on the day of a wedding I had booked far in advance, bummer. It was impossible to do both efficiently and running became nostalgia.

Photographer.

My family knew me as the ever intrusive photographer of the family. I have hundreds of amazing images of family events and time shared together between Chris and I before I started the business. Over time, it’s dwindled. I haven’t brought my nice camera to an event in years. This past year it was a struggle to capture monthly portraits of my Crab because it just felt like work.

Despite investing in better equipment and further lighting education this year, I did not find the motivation I sought to get out there and fully embrace my creativity again. I still felt drained, anxious, and ready to walk away from doing it for pay.

When your business (or insert something here) no longer serves you, what are you to do?

Make the decision.

It took me quite a while to come to this conclusion, and it wasn’t an easy one to decide. I went back and forth up until the very last moment. I was nervous what the future held. I’m still nervous.

You may notice that you haven’t seen a portrait session or wedding posted here in quite some time. It’s not that I haven’t been shooting this year, but I’ve not wanted to garner attention to gain more clients.

Commit to the decision openly and honestly.

I had to muster a lot of courage to tell previous clients I was no longer available for sessions this fall. I had to learn how to say “no” and hope that they understood. It was refreshing to receive their support and well wishes after.

Once past the initial stage of committing to the decision, I felt an immense freedom. While I’m not ready to pick up my camera as much as I used to, I’ve already begun keeping notes on photo project ideas and goals for my learning growth in the coming year.

Find a new focus.

Once this business became draining instead of energizing, I needed to find a new focus for my energy. Something that would take me back to the core of who I am and lead me in a new direction. I desired to return to my running roots, as that has been the best decision of my life.

Without this business draining my time, energy, and ego, I am open to more difficult challenges. While some may think it was my children that tipped the scales on deciding to close the door on this chapter, truly it’s my desire to become a long distance runner and focus more on my health and fitness goals.

While it’s not easy to walk away from something that was as lucrative as photography and that has brought so many new relationships into my life, it has already opened the door to new opportunities. Chris doesn’t believe I’ve shut this door forever on photography and I have to agree with him. For now, if I ever feel like returning, I may do so, but most likely not within the next year at the very least.

What does the future hold?

I plan to chronicle my frugal and fitness journey here for you to follow, and I may be starting a new podcast as well as creating videos and ebooks.

For the legal side of things, my registered and licensed business will actually stay open as I pursue other avenues and revenues. This allows me the opportunity to return in the future without additional paperwork and to explore the unlimited options in entrepreneurship and freelance writing.

The world feels more open since I’ve made this decision; while scary and exciting at the same time. I will miss the additional income, but I will not miss the anxiety and the limiting beliefs I allowed my business to build into me over time. I hope to find I am a stronger person through this choice and I grow tremendously in new directions.

When your business, a relationship, or other activity in your life no longer serves you or drains other parts of your life you wish were still energized: assess the situation and it might just be time to walk away or take a break. I give you permission to do so.

With that said, today marks the first day of my marathon training plan. Happy Halloween!



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