Overcoming Obstacles: The Summer I Thought My Career Was Over
As many of you know, two days after my birthday I broke my leg (in 3 places).
One minute I was standing in my backyard, letting the dogs out, getting my grocery list together, making sure I had everything I needed for two back to back meetings before suddenly I was struck by my dog and on the ground with a broken leg. To this day the whole scenario is still surreal and when I replay it in my mind it happens in slow motion.
Before this I had never had anything bad happen to me. I had never been to the hospital, I rarely went to the doctor, and it usually took 4 orderlies to hold me down to administer a shot. So there I was in the back of an EMS ride ride that I knew cost a few hundred dollars trying to decide between an IV or a series of pain numbing shots. I decided for the IV since the paramedic assured me this would be a better pain reliever. Next thing I know I'm in a hospital bed hearing the words "surgery" "long recovery" and "2-3 months til weight bearing."
Now while these are things no one wants to hear its definitely not what a wedding photographer who has her first of 8 weddings in a row coming up in under 3 weeks. The only thing I could think was that my career was over. This was supposed to be my defining summer, half of my entire wedding season in 3 months, not to mention the fact that my phone was ringing off the hook from my full time job about all my missed appointments. I was definitely sinking into the black abyss of depression.
For two weeks I was totally unable to see the bright side, the possibility that this could be done and done well. I shot my first wedding with Joanna basically taking my place and my second shooter Sarah. I was equipped with crutches, a wheelchair, and a plethora of cameras and pain pills. If I can give anyone advice on what to do if you have to work 2 weeks post-op - EAT! I definitely had my first bout of "I'm about to pass out"
But I made it - I finished an 8 hour wedding - with stairs - huge distances between shoots - and oh yeah it was in the mountains! But I did it - and I thought it was pretty damn magical.
I was also surprised to find how little information there was online for working as a photographer with a broken leg or really any injury. (For the record when you Google Photographer/Broken Leg all you get is Hitchcock's "Rear Window" ) So I had no real guide of how to do what I was doing, but I knew that I had to do my best and work with what I had if I was going to not only be successful but give my clients top notch photos.
The following weekend I had 2 weddings BACK TO BACK - which allowed me to start gaining a rhythm for how to shoot a wedding effectively while taking care of myself which included having an assistant to help hold my bags, make sure I didn't fall (which I only did once - which Sarah has twice and she has two good legs so I felt like I was doing pretty good), and hand me water.
By the time I was on wedding 4 I was feeling better, my appetite was back, I had been going to physical therapy which had been working wonders for mobility even though I still couldn't walk on my foot, I had now dealt with rain, sand, mountainous terrain, and I was feeling pretty confident about the rest of my wedding season on the broken leg.
One positive about being stuck at home is the fact that I had tons of time to edit - getting full wedding albums to my clients in only a few days. (Which also created an even stronger motivation inside of me to get full time as fast as possible)
Today I'm 7 weeks post break and 1 week away from learning if I can ditch these pesky crutches (although my upper body strength is 100 now) And with 3 weddings to go I'm ready to tackle them head on - even if two are in different states.
While I still have a long road ahead - learning to walk and put pressure on my foot again, build muscle, try to return to my regular routine I can finally see the bright side, and even though I'm anxious to literally hit the ground running, I understand I have to take my time and do things the right way.
Final Note: Breaking a bone, injuring yourself in any way that makes your job harder or almost impossible is not easy, it's tough and it has a lot to do with mental strength than physical to get yourself back up. If it wasn't for dedication and the support of Joanna & Sarah and my other friends I would probably have sold my business and just laid in that bed forever. So if you're in a similar situation and you think it's not possible just know that's normal but you're totally wrong and you can do it! You got this!
As someone who doesn't like asking for help and doing everything myself this has definitely been a learning experience on trust and dependance. But that has just made my relationships stronger with my clients, friends, and co-workers.
If you need any advice on how to overcome a tough situation feel free to leave a comment below or shoot us an email - we'd be happy to help in any way we can.