Well, friends, I've got some pretty big and exciting news. This news is a little bitter-sweet yet it gets me giddy with excitement when I fully think about the new life that I’m stepping into. I am stepping away from one passion to throw my whole heart into documenting couples in love. I am now full-time with my business, Nicole Leanne Photography LLC.
Before I jump into all the details, let's back up a bit to get the full story. I opened my business the first year I started college in 2012. It was a great way for me to live out my passion and make a little extra money in college while I pursued my Art Education degree with Photography. In 2014, I got involved in the wedding industry and fell in love! The pure joy, excitement, and challenges were amazing! However, I was so focused on and dedicated to education that I never imagined I would pursue wedding photography full time.
In 2016, I graduated from college and started my first teaching job as a high school art teacher shortly after. I had the opportunity to teach film photography and graphic design and I absolutely loved it! I was able to combine my passion for photography and my passion for education together! But in 2017, I had my busiest wedding season with three weddings in September! Yes, full-on wedding photography and full-time teaching, it was overwhelming, to say the least.
So, the next year I took a step back to focus on teaching and took on fewer weddings. I was trying to find balance while pursuing both passions. I did not want to give up either one. But a year later in 2019, my heart ached to put all of my passion and energy into weddings and be truly present in life, not just a blur of exhaustion from working full-time days, nights, and weekends. However, the timing just wasn’t right. I was still deeply passionate about helping my students grow and learn. I wasn’t ready to leave the classroom yet and I was discovering new health problems that caused limitations. Fast forward to 2020, I filled up my calendar for the year with weddings and had to turn away couples so that I could find balance and rest. I remember in February looking at my calendar, wondering how I could do it all, especially with my health issues that were exacerbated by stress. Well, obviously 2020 had other plans with reschedules. With the extra time off during “quarantine” to think I realized my business was growing despite the pandemic, I desperately wanted to find balance and wellness, and my heart was leaning towards helping my couples.
Through some soul-searching, I recognized that what I love about education is helping my students and what I love about wedding photography is helping my couples. Helping others is the basis of my passion, it’s that simple. I love helping my couples navigate wedding planning. I love helping my couples be present on their wedding day while feeling comfortable and confident. I love helping my couples feel beautiful and create photographs that withstand time.
I still love education and yes I miss my students deeply. As my husband can attest, there have been many tears shed after leaving my teaching position. I am immensely grateful for him for supporting me through everything, for encouraging my wildest dreams, and for cheering me on through it all. He is the reason I had the strength to walk away from the life I wasn't proud of.
“I hope you live a life you’re proud of. And if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald
I was not proud of being burnt out, running from one thing to the next, being exhausted, giving my all to work, and having nothing left to give to my family or friends. When I was asked how life was my response was ALWAYS, “Good, just busy.” Well, in reality, I wasn’t really “good” because I was jumping from one thing to another and pouring all my energy into two careers. It was my fault and I couldn’t complain about being extremely passionate about two things, so I stayed quiet and kept grinding. I continued to dedicate myself fully to two careers that take so much creative energy.
Truthfully, for a while, I was worried that others would perceive me as weak, not good enough, not strong enough, or not passionate enough if I left my teaching career. But I realized two very important things, one of which is to stop caring about what others think, and secondly is that all of those perceived notions were lies. I’m not weak, I am good enough, I am strong, I am deeply passionate.
So with my burning passion to help my couples, desire to regain balance and health, and goal to live a life that I am truly proud of, I left a job that I once desperately dreamed of. I did not lose my identity. I did not lose a part of myself. I find my value, worth, and identity in Christ alone. And in reality, I did not walk away from my photography classroom. I was asked to teach courses outside of my content area, ones that I was not passionate about. I walked away from online education of classes that I was never supposed to teach.
Today, I am not starting over completely. I am still pursuing my passion for photography and my business looks relatively similar to what it did before. But now I can focus my creative energy, talent, and passion into one area, instead of multiple. I can dedicate more time to helping my couples navigate wedding planning during a pandemic and more time to building a sustainable business that will allow me to live fully. I am happier, kinder, healthier, more present, less stressed, not overwhelmed, and fully at peace with my decision.
And the best part is that I did not say goodbye to education. Teaching is and will always be a part of my life. It just looks a little bit different. I started offering photography education to other professionals and it’s been so life-giving. I have met amazing photographers through my mentorships and shared my knowledge, experience, and creative insight with them to help them grow, learn, and achieve their goals. I plan to continue to offer photography mentorships and other educational opportunities to help others in the industry.
With that huge mouthful, I am excited to officially announce this news and move forward with pursuing my passion for photography and helping my couples. I am looking forward to the challenges, opportunities, and exciting changes of being a full-time entrepreneur. I know it may seem crazy to become a full-time entrepreneur in the midst of a pandemic, but I’ve always been a little crazy! I trust that God is in control and I know that He will lead me in the right direction.
So, if you know a special couple planning their wedding during this pandemic who is looking for a wedding photographer who can help them be confident and comfortable on their wedding day while allowing them to be fully present, send them my way!
All my love,
If you're living the life I used to live, frantic, exhausted, and not present, with the desire to slow down, find peace, and pursue your life fully, check out these two influential books - Present Over Perfect and The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry - they changed my life.
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