For those who know me, or at least well enough to be my facebook friend, then you know I’ve been going through some vaguely tough times as of late. First I wanted to say how grateful I am to have so many people take the time to send me a message, text, email, or call just to say that I’ve been in your thoughts and prayers. For that I want to say thank you and even if I didn’t get back to you, know that it always put a smile on my face when I needed it most.
A few weeks ago my dad wasn’t feeling well but just so happened to have his annual physical exam for his job scheduled around that time. They ran some bloodwork and discovered that he had some sort of blockage in his gallbladder, and that because of his other symptoms they suspected it might be pancreatic cancer. If there are two words in this world that are more terrifying than anything else, it would be them. The first thoughts that come to my mind are the photos of Patrick Swayze withering away as he fought such a diagnosis.. or the overwhelming number of facebook posts in honor of Steve Jobs after those same two words robbed this world of his creative genius. Or even worse, I think of an Oprah episode where an ill yet optimistic professor gave ‘his last lecture’ before dying of those dreaded two words. A week later tests thankfully showed us that my dad did not have pancreatic cancer and most likely a gallstone was the culprit. I remember that weekend Vasili and I splurged on sushi and went out with friends, and engorged ourselves at the Publican for brunch all in celebration of news that life would remain normal for us. The next week my dad went in to have the suspected gallstone removed and while I was revising my pricing brochures and 2012 contracts for next year, I got a phone call from my mom.
“Just wanted to call and keep you posted on dad’s surgery.”
“Oh yeah? How’d it all go?”
“Well.. um, he…” Although not sure what exactly, I already knew it wasn’t going to be good “… they found cancer of the bile duct.”
“Oh.” I clenched my teeth and put my hand over my face as I fought back the painful, hot feeling rising in my stomach.
“Your dad wanted me to call you and tell you.”
I immediately hung up and started to cry. Vasili came up behind me and put his hand on my shoulders and the first words that came out of my mouth through the tears were, “So….so I was thinking.. next year if we offer $350 for a newborn session and include 50 flat birth announcement cards and a $150 gift credit, tha-that’s better than $200 for just our time right?”
It is amazing to me how quickly we can go from one state of feeling to the next, how it takes all but one moment for life to take a drastic change of direction. The following two days after finding out I laid on the couch in my pajamas and cried. I kept envisioning having to watch my dad go through chemotherapy, or even worse, what would I say at his funeral if he died? I cried picturing myself having to walk down the aisle all alone on my wedding day, about having to take a few minutes of silence to honor his memory. I cried even harder considering the possibility that he would never get to see me become a mother or know my future children. My dad and I haven’t always had the perfect relationship, but I can’t imagine my world without him in it.
On day three I woke up and felt a strange anxiety that none of it was real and that I’d actually have to tell everyone I lied.. everything in my life is totally fine and nothing is wrong after all. On day four I was angry and yelled at my mom because of something stupid that I don’t even remember, and everything from having to take a shower to tying my shoes made me furious. Day five I was back in denial and then on day six I realized I woke up to more crying spells, though thankfully I promised I’d help a friend with a baby shoot and was forced to pull it together.
And then there’s today.
I don’t really know how I feel today, definitely a lot more hopeful. Last night after helping my friend with her shoot I decided to drive out to my parent’s house to hang with my dad. We talked about everything that’s going on and somewhere in between steak and a Clint Eastwood movie, I suddenly realized that it’s now my turn to take the strength that the tough times in my past have given me and use it to help him (and myself) get through this.
After a few more tests we now know that where the tumor is located we have the best odds for beating this type of cancer. My dad is going to get surgery this week hopefully and I intend to be there for him every step of the way through this journey as it wont be an easy one. But regardless of what we face together, I know that we will get through this.
As I always preface my blog posts with, it’s important to appreciate and use every second like it’s your last because let’s face it.. you and I will be born, have lived and then gone in less than an instant. In fact this notion is what my job revolves around. Our time is so valuable that when clients choose to hire a professional to photograph their family, they are essentially paying to have a piece of their own time captured and frozen in the form of a photograph to remember for the rest of their ever. It is one of the ultimate investments and appreciates exponentially over the years.
This notion is also why we’ve put very careful thought into our new pricing brochure for 2012. We are restructuring what is offered in our collections and pricing our products and services in a way that respects the value of our time and expertise. This is good for the growth of our business but more important, this will improve the quality of your experience with us. We’ve realized that in order to make sure we give 110% to our clients that our own cups need to be full and as such, we are reducing the number of sessions we take on to 8-10 per month. By doing this we will increase the amount of energy we’re able to invest in preparing for your session and ultimately ensure the highest quality of our work because one of our business goals has and will always be to act as a low volume, high quality custom photography studio (for additional information on why it costs more to hire a professional photographer to do custom work for you, CLICK HERE to check out this great article shared with me by Amy Boring of A Boring Photo in California).
With all of that being said, thank you so much for allowing me to share what’s going on in my life with you right now from the personal to the professional. If you are a potential client, I am excited to show you first hand what these new changes in our pricing and business structure will mean for you. And if you are a fellow photographer, I hope that this inspires you to think about the value of your time and whether or not the way you run your business respects that.
Because after all, our time is more than valuable. It’s priceless.
And now, for something pretty from a newborn session with Julia yesterday. Thanks Julia for inviting me to out to work with you