I am not even sure what to title this blog. I should be writing about my sessions I had this year. I’ve photographed some amazing families, and while I will highlight what I documented with them, it won’t come today. In light of what coronavirus has done to our world, it doesn’t seem right to not acknowledge that our world isn’t in that carefree place anymore.
I know I have been quiet lately. I tried to take a break from social media this Lent, and that even meant that I stepped back from using social media for my two side gigs: TCJ Design and my Rodan + Fields consultant business. I’ll be honest… the break was initially hard, but then really freeing. Once life started to change mid-March because of coronavirus, I hopped on a bit more, but the amount of time I have spent on Facebook or Instagram has still be very limited. And for that I’m grateful.
Prior to schools closing in Maryland mid-March to start social distancing, hoping to flatten the curve and lower the number of people getting coronavirus, I was home sick. That week, mandates started to go out: if you feel sick, stay home. Flowers and trees were beginning to bloom, and I was pretty sure that I had a sinus infection. My youngest was also not feeling great, and I took that as my final sign from God to stay home. Tuesday, March 10 was the last day I actually taught in a physical classroom.
I knew life was about to change. I made up lesson plans, anticipating that my students would be learning virtually soon. I went to the doctor that Wednesday. My youngest had a stomach flu and had fluid in his lungs, requiring a nebulizer treatment again. By the time I saw my doctor that afternoon, my ears were still really hurting…I was sure this sinus infection turned into an ear infection. I *did* end up having a double ear infection, but to my surprise I had strand A of the flu, too. With everything really starting to heat up on the coronavirus front, my doctor kept me home until that following Monday, when a lot of people in the world started staying home, too. (Side note: I *did* have the flu shot, and strand A was in it… I never had fever and was only a tiny bit achy, which is probably why it didn’t manifest fully. That said, I knew I had a compromised immune system.)
My kids, like everyone else’s in Maryland, were home with me as of March 16. I began my new life—re-prepping lessons at night, teaching my students during the day, and homeschooling my three kids (grades 2, kindergarten, and pre-k3) during my planning periods. My husband was still at work most of that first week and in teleconferences most of the second week, unable to split the duties completely with me. I’m not going to lie. It was exhausting, but we made it work. I took advantage of the three-week clause in my photography contract, as I could only really edit and work on galleries on the weekend.
I survived my two weeks of this life, and then my school honored its two-week spring break. I e-mailed my April clients, a bit unsure of what to say. As we all know, Governor Hogan put a stop to all non-essential businesses, and despite what many other photographers are doing (those who did sessions still during cherry blossoms, those doing “front porch” sessions, and those continuing to do newborn or engagement sessions, I’m looking at you…), PHOTOGRAPHY IS NOT AN ESSENTIAL BUSINESS. It broke my heart to e-mail new client, six returning clients, and the couple whose wedding I am photographing in September to say that I had to postpone their sessions.
Even harder is the discussion about when to reschedule these sessions because honestly, I don’t know when it will be allowed to happen. I don’t know when we can get back to normal. I lost my one new client, an artist who is probably battling her own issues since clients can’t go to galleries to look at her artwork. One of my long-time clients is pregnant with a miracle second child. I don’t know if I can do the maternity session, Fresh 48, or newborn session. Another long-time client and former co-worker just emailed that she’s moving out of state in June… so I may not see her again (or at least for a long time). I re-booked an engagement session with my wedding clients, but I’m worried about them and their wedding. Will they be able to have it even in September? Will they be able to invite everyone they want? Will it be the picture perfect event they wanted? I don’t even know how to reply or what to say besides right now I can’t photograph your family because I am not an essential business, and I don’t want to spread coronavirus.
So, while I’m sure it has not looked good for my business, replies have been a bit slower, and I spent my break catching up on grading (because grading major assignments that came in while I was ill right before didn’t happen either). I have five days left of my spring break after today, and just a tiny bit of grading and prepping left.
Yesterday was the FIRST day I picked up my camera since my last session on March 7. I haven’t wanted to take photos or document this time at home. As I get caught up with my school work, I know I need to get back to those e-mails even though I don’t have the words … I am at a lost for what to say. I know I need to blog my 2020 sessions, but promoting my business to get my SEO in a better spot on Google ranking seems so trivial when so many people don’t have jobs to pay for a luxury like photography. Yet, I know I need the money my photography business brings in. It’s my tuition money for my kids’ school at Cardinal Hickey Academy. It’s how I afford piano and dance lessons. While we have been financially challenged by coronavirus, our struggles seem minuscule compared to the thousands requesting unemployment.
So, I’ll leave you with some photos I’ve taken at sessions while I wait for my clients to show up. They’re all simple, pretty nature photos. And that’s my goal as I think about the new norm: how can I keep my life more simple? how can I see God and goodness in nature and in the four people and two dogs I live with? what am I thankful for during this hard, challenging time for so many people?
I know that my husband and I are lucky. I know he has a great job, still. I am pretty sure that even after this year, I’ll still have a teaching job to come back to, and for right now, I’m getting my normal paychecks outside of photography. No one in my family is sick with coronavirus. My mom has been good and stayed home, alone, in St. Louis. I have been able to workout every day since spring break started, filling every ring on my Apple watch. We have had time to sit down and watch Onward as a family. Slowing down and staying home has brought at lot of good things to my life, yet I struggle knowing that this is not the reality for many.
If you are struggling with life in the wake of coronavirus, I’m praying for you. If we were supposed to have a session together, you are in my thoughts, and I am so sad I can’t document these important moments in your life… YET. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll blog and show you a bit of what I took when I DID pick up my camera yesterday for the first time in a month. Maybe I’ll find a new routine and start blogging my 2020 sessions. To the clients I have not responded to with dates to reschedule yet, I’m sorry. Be patient. I just don’t want to set dates until our political leaders give us more insight into when I can work with you again. Trust me, I want to photograph ALL OF YOU the instant I can.
In the meantime, if you want to look at pretty photos, take a look at the full galleries of my 2020 clients. Help me decide which images to blog by putting hearts o them. Send me an e-mail on my contact page or at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how you are doing with everything going on… or comment on this post. And enjoy some simple beauty…