Why I almost didn't enter the IAPBP Contest this year - Madison, MS Birth Photographer

“True success is not the end of the journey; true success is a journey without an end. So many people relax after achieving something and they forget the undone. They neglect their untapped destiny and they halt their journey of life not reaching their real and true destination. Whilst we have life, we must live life. Whilst we have life, we must give a true meaning to life. Whilst we have life, we must dare to do the undone; though the road is weary; though we may be having a sense of fulfillment, and though we might have done something! Let us awake and pursue with all zeal and tenacity until we get to the real end of our true purpose and destiny, such that long after we are gone, the voice of our footprints will speak to inspire, build and raise a generation of champions !” 
― Ernest Agyemang Yeboah

The quote above says everything. This year I was contemplating whether or not to enter into a major birth photography competition ( IAPBP - International Association of Professional Birth Photographers ). I was on the fence for quite some time for two reasons: Finances and Fear. This move from FL to MS has drained us of everything but we have grown more than I could possibly fathom. I'm going to be open and raw here, because that is my nature.. I am a pretty transparent person and I don't mind sharing my struggles if there is even a chance one person could grow / learn from them.

For the past few weeks I kept telling myself I wasn't going to win this competition ( even more after seeing what other photogs were entering ). I had the honor of attending one birth due to postpartum after Addie and then moving right away, so why throw money at an entry fee? Right there in that one sentence you can see the issues: finances and fear. So, what happened? Why did I change my mind?

Fear: Once I realized the first reason I wasn't wanting to enter I reminded myself the word that I chose for this year: Fearless. In order to be fearless I had to identify and face my fear. What exactly was I afraid of? I was afraid of not being good enough, of not measuring up. Wow, can I just say once I said that out loud I immediately had to remind myself that winning/losing a competition doesn't define me or my business - period. Measure up? The only Judge I need to be concerned with is my Shepherd King and this fear surely was not stemming from Him.. Oh man, I remember last year looking at all of the entries and feeling so bad for the judges, there were so so so many amazing entries! I had a blast entering as I had a plethora of images and births to go through. The competition is meant to be fun, not to become a joy-stealer. That said, I chose to face my fear and throw a little piece of my heart out there to be judged because you know what? Truth: Even if the judges looked at my image and tore it to shreds, I would NEVER want to be the person who let that destroy me. I would want to take that feedback and I would want to use it to make me a stronger person and a better photographer. I never want to be complacent, I always want to grow and that is just one more beauty of competitions - they push you. Furthermore, I have two little girls looking at their mama, who simultaneously works two jobs from home and raises them. I can't - I won't let fear destroy my journey nor steal my joy not only for the sake of myself, but for the sake of these little eyes watching. I just won't have it. So I humbly started going through the images of the one ( beautiful ) birth I was able to attend in all of 2016.

I dare to be undone.

Finances: I happened to stumble upon a thread in FB from the founder of this competition who so eloquently mentioned that entries are so much more than about winning - it was about community and the beautiful awareness that is raised in regard to birth. The post made me re-evaluate my mindset on entering yet again, and suddenly I wasn't just throwing money at the slim possibility of winning, I was also investing, supporting my peers, the industry, the founders who bend over backward every day for the IAPBP to even exist. I will gladly invest in this community - it is such a beautiful one and I am blessed to have met and learned from some of the best in the industry thanks to IAPBP. 

I am so thankful for little seasons like this where much is learned in little time. It isn't easy and it isn't pretty sometimes, but I gladly and humbly share in my struggles because just as my photography is I am - transparent, raw, real. Like the quote above says "voice of our footprints will speak to inspire",

I want the voice of my footprints to speak to inspire.

So, here is encouragement found in the footprints from my life lately.. To the photographer just starting out - don't be scared of what others think of your work, take that feedback and use it as fuel to grow! Keep pressing - you just might surprise yourself. To the business owner going through a hard time with finances - giving and investing is just as important as gaining. Joy in giving isn't just meant for the month of November... To the WAHM trying to grasp at hours in a day to work - have mercy on yourself, be gentle, but be strong and courageous the little eyes watching you watch how you handle situations and how you treat yourself too. 


"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go" Joshua 1:9
 

XO,

Nicole

You may also like: