Who am I, now? 2017 is going to be a year of healing and rebirth
Life has given me many ups and downs. 2013-until the end of 2016 I was immersed in the crem-de-la-crem of socieity. All the richest in the Carolina's knew my name. That I did photos and no matter what I was on their call list for the gala's the group photos, the family shots, all the weddings,and anything you could imagine. Nascar Races, NFL games, MBA games all their gala's and big fundraisers. I was working for upwards of 250 non-profits on a rotating door. If I couldn't shoot there were two other photographers that we bounced the work between us. Life was going great. Making hourly $ for shoots is awesome - a great business, especially when you can give back to the community with your imagery to help get others out to donate. In 2015 I won an award for my non-profit work and over a years time I helped businesses meet and raise money. Combined in that year I helped to raise 1.8 Million dollars. Let me let that set in again I raised for 1.8million dollars for charity myself. It was a great accolade to collect under my belt and I didn't so much as make a shout about it anywhere on social media and now that we are in 2017 I feel fine talking about it. I didnt want congrats for getting people help. No, I didn't get any of the money and I wouldn't have wanted to. To help donate presents to sick children on their birthdays. To walk with Miss North Carolina to help kids donate blood, to walk with Cam Newton while he served Turkey to hundreds of family. To dine with Luke Kuechly on mass favorite Tira-mi-su and get a congratulatory text message from him when he saw the donations coming in, in my name for the foundation we were both out working for. These moments I tucked away so I could pull on them for times like this.
I have time now because of two factors. They are both heartbreaking in some ranks.
1) The magazines I worked for (ALL OF THEM!) in some way shape or form have changed focuses. Most went under even though they were so wonderful the ones who ran them became complacent. One of the owners left to focus on her family and stop bleeding money. I loved her she was the magazine. Her heart was what made it beat and she blossomed a passion within me for non-profits and giving back to the community. One of the kindest people I've met that had more money than God and you'd never know. The other was someone who worked for decades as a publisher with USA today and he had the taste of money on his tongue. When she left he killed it. He tried charging people for things that shouldn't be charged. Billing people triple my fee to send me out to have me even show up. Then no one else was allowed to cover the same event if we were there ONLY exclusive coverage. This is bogus and blacklists ya, and honestly the reception when they started this thing NO one finally was hiring them out, thus me out... and every-time I was at events I was getting people getting short with me, until they realized IIIIIII did not own that magazine. Though somehow as I was the face of said magazine because I was at 5-6 events A DAY, 6 days a week. It was a rough turn around for people to realize I was not the devil... even though they were so disappointed in the magazine going under they got it.
Best part of #1 - It had people offering to just throw money at my photo partner and I to start a new magazine of our own. I even had 2 $15k ads sold and we hadn't even put a mockmag in front of them. Hello? What happened there. Still too busy and I'm honestly in the midst of seeing this is the route to go. It's been a bit but there has been no on else doing this again.
Other magazines, and newspapers working for in this sector have discontinued their sections for non-profits, philanthropy, giving back and even on the scene parties as they are happening. All the socialites are scouring for coverage of their events and now only get exclusve EXCLUSIVE EXCLUSIVE. before there were 4-6 photographers at every event. Now when I'm hired out when I can make it, it's almost always just me in a room with 300+ to get their photos. Daunting. I've been told it comes in waves, but in that time I was out of work going from working 90 hour weeks to 10-15 hour weeks put a huge hurting on my bank account, my confidence, my routine of almost three years... I can still get into the events but overall with no many places to put it I do not feel a reason for now. I want to change this but moving on to ......
2) My health is declining - in small ways at least. Pain, is the awful. I had a huge flare up with my Fibro and could not move without scream crying. Joe could not touch or hug or even give me a kiss. My body was a huge nerve for almost a month. No amount of pain meds or muscle relaxers could stop it. They talked of hospitalizing me and just knocking me out a few days to figure what was causing such a flare. Soon answered by finding out the arm that had felt funny for a long time 8+ months was really frozen shoulder. Now come to find frozen shoulder was caused by an invasive tumor like the one I have in my foot made of arteries and veins only (internal hemangeoma). Surgery was scheduled but upon further investigation it's found they want to do radiation to shrink it before trying to remove as they fear I'll lose function of my arm and shoulder permanently. Between not being allowed to go to the gym. Usually when injured I would just walk to stay active or do the pool. Both hurt like hell. My hips lock up after a block (I broke my entire pelvis when 12 falling down 3 flights of stairs). Swimming I can't take the pain afterward it's not just sore. It's my body is glass and I fell off the roof and shattered on the concrete. I swam for 15 minutes and ended up scream crying for 2.5 days straight. I never knew that fibro could be this painful. I never knew the chronic illness could be this bad. I'm now in the Lupus protocol findings. Most markers say yes but I have to meet all criteria. Seeing if I'm suffering from the same illness that ultimately caused my mom to have to retire early and most of my life I took care of her due to it. I'm scared, angry, hurt, saddened, and hopeful all in one. It's a ton to take in. But for this update I'm reflecting on my career life not my family -- because if I go there I will for sure break down typing this again. I'm getting asked to do shoots and I can't even stand more than a few moment without needing to sit down. I can't wear most of my outfits due to how they touch my body. I can't even wear a bra due to the "frozen/shoulder/tumor thing" the way any even a sports bra touch it, it's unbelievable pain. Pain that lends me to throwing up if I wear a bra more than an hour. My cameras sit on the shoulder that is affected as well I need my other hand to write the names and notes down. Awful circumstances. If I was not the person suffering through this I might think someone was exaggerating until I spent any amount of time with them. The no bra thing is so annoying due to the fact I have DD size breasts. I can't just free-bra it all the time. On top of fibro and pain my Celiac medicine stopped working well.
I can't even photograph a concert - I can't take the VIBRATIONS they hurt my body so badly I suffered through the last event I shot only because it was Bon Jovi and I left as soon as the first 3 songs was done though we could shoot from the floor (not photopit) but rest of venue and I couldn't make it through another song with the reverb hitting my nerves like I was being stabbed all over my body. Bon freaking Jovi y'all. I'm a 90s gal from NJ transplanted to NC and it was awful to have to leave.
Today was the first day in almost a month I could grocery shop, drive, and clean some of the house without it taking a week to get through one chore. I'm trying to stay positive. I'm hoping they find an answer, find a med, or an exercise that will help or that it will magically turn back time. Somehow.
I miss my career - while it lasted (in the field expert event photographer and philanthropist) I still love doing Shutter. But Shutter does not pay. Being unable to work has caused much financial stress in our family. I'm having a really low time in life, again looking up. Focusing on Shutter, I can't be in the pit but I definitely have a talented team to get out there. I can work from my computer on some form. My art has always saved me. Through cancer and surgeries, and remission, and down times. I pour myself into that. It helps me. Anytime not spent with my family will be spent with my website making it grow and grow and art just flourishing.
At least to any that have just understood, helped, and stuck by me during this time. You dont have to be my best friend but you can't be a complete asshole because I had to reschedule an appointment or a show - stuff happens and I am really trying to get back to me. More later, I'm exhausted and it's time for another round of meds and dinner.
Life is weird - time to conquer it.