In the Raw {Special Edition}: Holly Nicole Photography

It’s Time For a Change

Somewhere on this journey I got lost. Thankfully, I think I’ve found my way again. Now that my path is finally clear to me, I’ve decided it’s time for a fresh start. It’s time for a new identity that reflects the newly rediscovered focus in my life.

Let me back up, and tell you why this big change is necessary. I am exhausted. Facebook and this whole photography scene has worn me down. I have created a schedule for myself that includes countless hours editing away and submitting images to various contests and challenges. I have the whole submission process down to a science. It has become habit. Routine. Addiction. Since January 1, I have had 113 individual images featured a total of 226 times. But, in spite of all of the accolades and success both in and outside of the Facebook world, I’m still left feeling empty. It’s even deeper than emptiness. I’m stressed, depressed, and agitated. I feel so much pressure to continue to create images that play well in the community and get featured, that I get physically and mentally effected when I hit a rut or haven’t gotten “the shot.” It’s a constant pressure to keep producing at a certain level so I don’t get forgotten after all the hard work I’ve put into building a following. It’s a constant pressure to get consistent “likes” on my page posts, so as to not feel like I’ve failed. It’s a constant pressure to feel worthy among the so many unbelievably talented artists that I follow.

When I stepped back to figure out these feelings, I realized one thing. I’ve done it all to myself. No one has forced me to let photography and Facebook determine my self worth. No one has forced me to place so much value on other people’s opinions So, what is the point? Why do I keep doing it? Why do I feel this way?

My AH-HA moment came when it dawned on me that many of the images I shoot are not for me or my family… but for an audience of people that I mostly don’t know. Sure, I’ve made many friends in the photography community that appreciate my work and support me- and for them I am so grateful. But the vast majority of the fans I have on my business page don’t interact with me and don’t know me at all. Also, different types of images play better on certain pages and in certain contests than others… so I’ve found myself bending my style to what I feel popular opinion will appreciate, and what each page might feature.

As an example, the images below are some of my favorites from this year. I shot these for me. They were real moments… not set up or staged. These are the moments that make me smile. These are the moments I will want to remember when my girls are grown. These are for US. Some were featured… some weren’t. Some of these I didn’t even share because I didn’t find them “perfect” enough to post. And that is ridiculous because if I loved the moment enough to capture it – that alone makes it perfect to me.

These next images were shot because these types of images do well in contests. They were planned, set up, and staged. I still love them. But they don’t give me that same feeling as the first batch. And to be honest, most of the time my kids had to be bribed and weren’t feeling it. So, while they are pretty to look at, I’ll always remember the grumbles and frowns between the shutter clicks.

A wise man told me not long ago: Photography is just photography. It’s not you. It’s not your family. It’s not a refection of your worth. It’s just photography. In my opinion, the second you start doing it for others and not for yourself, then you begin to lose something. You begin to lose any freshness… or risk. You begin to lose why you got into it in the first place. And you begin to lose yourself. ~ Ken Hoskin, Just a Guy Who’s Into Photography

I agree with Ken 100%. His words made me look in the mirror and realize that what he described was exactly what was happening to me.

In addition to the stress and pressure that Facebook has introduced into my life, I’ve also realized how many REAL moments I’ve missed by being glued to my computer or having my phone in my face. It has to stop. I need to LIVE MY LIFE. I need to be present for my girls and my husband. They shouldn’t feel second fiddle to my hobby or remember a mom who was always distracted. They should know they are my heart and soul, and that I live for them.

TimeKeeper2So where does this leave me? After this epiphany, I’ve decided to stop posting to contest pages and stop letting Facebook likes tell me whether or not I’m talented. I just don’t care anymore. If an image gives ME “that feeling”… then it’s worthy. I’ve also decided to step back from many of the pages I’m involved in because of the time that it takes away from my family.

A few things won’t be changing: I will continue to be involved in my page, By He{Art}, as well as the By He{Art} Let’s do 52 Group, because I do enjoy helping fellow photographers grow. Mentoring and providing support to others brings me a lot of joy. I will also continue to participate in my 10 on 10 and For the Love Blog Circles, because I like to share my work in that format.

However, I’m no longer going to be Holly Nicole Photography. My new name will be “The Timekeeper.” This change may cause me to lose followers… and again – I don’t care. I’m doing what my heart tells me to do. Don’t get me wrong, I love my supporters and hope every one of them stays. But if someone doesn’t like the new direction I’m taking on my photography journey, then I’m OK with losing them as a follower.

My new name serves as a reminder as to why I got into photography in the first place. Not for myself, as my old name somewhat reflected. But for my family… Mike and the girls. My job is to serve as the person who documents our lives together. Who takes that time and freezes it so that we will never forget all the moments and tiny details that have made us laugh and cry. I will be “The Timekeeper” in our crazy game of life. And though it took me a while to be enlightened enough to understand my place in the game… I get it now, and I’m ready to play.

9 thoughts on “In the Raw {Special Edition}: Holly Nicole Photography

  1. A few weeks ago I was actually thinking about you and how often you are featured. Wanting so desperately to have the courage and skills to not only share more regularly but get the accolades when I do. I went to your fb folder that has the featured images and wished I could have such an impressive resumè. My folder would contain three images from the last two years. I stopped myself because I found myself wanting my children to be older so they’d cooperate with poses, or to live near an open field or a ‘better ‘ house.
    Thank you for your honesty in the toll chasing the wins has taken. And how you were pulled from what you feel your heart wanted most.
    Both the sets of images you put in your article were absolutely stunning but I cannot wait to follow The Timekeeper.


    1. Thank you so much for your support and encouragement. It did take a toll. I don’t 100% regret the path I’ve been on because I learned a ton and met some wonderful people. But it’s time for me to move forward on a new path because I just can’t keep up with it anymore.

      I’m so glad you will continue to follow me as The Timekeeper!


  2. holly, I wish I knew that you were feeling this way… I wish we took a second and actually went and got coffee, I wish You would have called me to vent… I wish I would have just stopped over, because I’ve thought of doing that so many times.
    You listened to me loose my mind when it was taking over me.. I felt ever word that you wrote… And what we love should make us happy but it destroyed us..I am so proud of you for finding your way away from your computer and into the arms of your family.. You will find peace with this,
    My shoulders have been lifted.. And my family has their mommy back.
    Now… When are we getting that cup of coffee?!💗💗💗


  3. This is so thoughtfully written and I can totally relate on so many levels. I don’t charge anywhere near enough to make a living and yesterday my daughter said to me “why aren’t you making any money? waving at my calendar – which is full to the brim – and it dawned on me too. Things have to change. well done on being so brave. I for one love your work and will continue to follow. 🙂


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