I knew early on I would be surrounded by children and pursued my degree in Early Childhood Education. Being a teacher confirmed my love for children and the innocence and purity they bring to the world.
As I embraced my love of teaching I also began to flicker the spark of my creative side with photographing floral work I did on the weekends for weddings. We all know teachers don’t get paid squat and making a little extra money on the side doing flowers was nice. I began photographing the bouquets and centerpieces and realizing how much I loved all the details I could capture. That moved into photographing my kids and realizing how everyday simple things in life were missed, and how powerful it was to have the chance to stop time in a photograph for them and for me. The details were my muse.
A few years went by and my love of photography moved into a full passion. By then, I found this passion for photography and the moments that could be captured especially in the smallest of humans. I knew my passion had integrated into my life when I was teaching at school during the day, but dreaming about the photographs I wanted to capture more so than the math I wanted to teach!
Suddenly memories from my childhood of collecting and being OBSESSED with Anne Geddes Portraits along with dressing up my animals with props to take pictures with my 110 film camera, began to come back to me. I remembered how alive I felt realizing the magic that was made with babies in buckets and flowers in their hair make me feel.
I used to feel so guilty sometimes leading two lives it felt, teacher by day and photographer by night. I kept each one very separate from each other the best I could. It was like I was having an affair with creativity and it was so strong I knew I had to do something about it. The thought of leaving a full time, stable job with benefits, scared the crap out of me. Not only was it the stability of the job but my fear was lead with the old “am I good enough” mantra. I’m sure most creatives can understand that one.
After 3yrs I had a enough of keeping this creative expression constrained I knew a change had to come. I could no longer devote myself to these two loves separately. My clientele was there, my passion was there, my grit was there. The option of failure wasn’t a question for me anymore. The “am I good enough” mantra began to dissolve and I knew my window of opportunity was opening. My gut was telling me so, and my gut is never wrong.
The first step was to get my big girl panties on and collaborate with my hubby on my idea of leaving teaching to do photography. I would state my case to him, cross my fingers and hope for a “yes.”
I realized later that I wasn’t really asking permission from my husband I was giving myself it first. His support was always unconditional and level headed and with that, a ‘yes‘ was always there for me to snatch up and run with!
So I did.
I gave my teaching resignation.
Packed up my lesson plan book, my art supplies and my handmade desk plate that said, Mrs. Battilana’s Room.
Cried some more.
Received my business license
Cried, then celebrated.
That was 4yrs ago. I still can’t believe I made the jump and even writing this now I feel those butterflies all over again. I’m so glad I trusted my gut feeling.
Now don’t get me wrong, there were challenges and obstacles I had to figure out. My family wasn’t millionaires and we did need my income to support our family. This is where the grit I had inside of me came out and my will to thrive took over. I mentored when I needed to mentor, I watched videos, took notes, sketched out my workflow, learned how to bookkeep, do social media and what really SEO was about.
I made smart business choices and some really dumb ones too. Man , did I make some dumb ones. I learned what my greatness was through my mistakes and moved forward. I was my own boss, I had too. I learned to allow myself to have grace and be nurtured, and this is still a constant work in progress.
After 4years of making the craziest decision to be a full time professional photographer, I never knew that my teaching would somehow find it’s way back into my life again. That’s when you know its meant to be , right? When you let something go and it comes back. I now get to teach other photographers (newborn) all over the world all the while still honing into my craft of newborn & maternity photography. I’ve never been more fulfilled with doing both teaching and photography. Doors have opened where I never knew, forever friends have been made and I’m truly living with my passion all because I finally made a choice.
From one photographer to another:
If you’re struggling to make a choice to jump, don’t struggle, CHOOSE. Trust your gut, you’ll know what’s right. Maybe it’s the timing for you, maybe you need more time, more support whatever it is.
Just make your choice, then make your plan.
2017 is right around the corner and it can be a year with as many possibilities as YOU set up and let in.
Live passionately- Malia B