Creating After the Pain...

The End of It…

November 12, 2017 was a day that rocked my soul. My world changed. It was the day my mother passed away. Even writing that still hurts. Both of my parents were gone by 36, pretty much 20 years apart. I miss them everyday. Truthfully, I had learned how to live without my father because time does that. But then the clock started again. Death is so violating of a thing. This necessary circle of life is such a throat punch. Keanu Reeves recently said something very profound in an interview with Stephen Colbert on The Late Show.

Colbert asked Reeves “What do you think happens when we die, Keanu Reeves?”. Mr. Reeves takes a moment to think and says “I know the ones who love us will miss us.” The way he said it reached my core. I still feel the waves of grief. They’re not tsunamis as much as small reminders.

On November 12, 2017 another part of me died and that was my like, love, passion, or whatever else for photography. I was over it. While my mother was in her final days, some of my clients weren’t very understanding about my situation. Some were insistent on getting refunds. Imagine standing in an ICU waiting room issuing Square payments refunds while tears fill your eyes. As quick as a Thanos finger snap, my desire to be in business or even touch a camera vanished.

I Tried to Come Back

In 2018 I made an attempt to try to rekindle the love. I had a couple of shoots but no desire. No excitement. I faked it well, but no love was there. If you look at my IG, you can see how dry 2018 was. I learned a valuable lesson throughout that year. I’ll explain it in a minute. Some people use pain to create in art mediums: music, poetry, writers, painters, sculptors, photographers, and etc. Notice I put photographers in there too. But, not me. I even announced a couple of times on Instagram stories “I’m Back”. Then I’d book a shoot and immediately regret it.

Lesson Learned

The lesson I have learned through this process has been multifaceted. Here are a few.

  1. Take time to mourn and grieve. Everyone’s process is different and mental health is of optimal importance. Never let anyone rush you back after a traumatic (emotional or physical) incident. We see how that worked out for Kevin Durant. Grief counseling was a big help. I recommend therapy. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

  2. Business must go on. As a business owner, clients want results. They don’t care if your mother is on her deathbed, they don’t care if you just had surgery, they don’t care if your kids are sick, they want what they paid for. It is important to take the emotion out of business, ALWAYS. Even in a personable business like photography: IT’S STILL BUSINESS. The moment it becomes more than that and you can’t handle that, go on hiatus.

  3. I changed because my life changed dramatically. I decided to see if there was a new passion or interest that wasn’t on my radar when life was normal. I took an interest in real estate investing during this time. It’s been fun and interesting.

  4. I can always come back. I say this with a caveat. Depending on what you create, there will always be new people entering the market. I was becoming a leader in my city as an image maker and my name was coming with a little fame. There are a lot of talented photogs here in Columbus. Now there are many new talented photographers in the pool. I’ve adopted a growth mindset that there is abundance, so I’m not afraid of coming back. Once I made that declaration, I was okay with taking the time off I needed.

  5. Life is short. Do what you like to do. This one is still a work in progress for me. But I am working on doing more of what I like to do.

If you are running a business and life hits you so hard that you can’t even ball your fists up enough to try to punch back. Go get well, relax, and if the love and energy comes back… get back to creating after the pain.

Rance Rob