Sinking Ships, Crashing Waves, Lighthouses and Business
Coffee with Courtney Series

Happy Monday, friend!

This past week, as I sat my bags down back home for the last time until June I found myself so completely thankful for such an amazing opportunity to travel around with such boss ladies.

I’m wondering, have you ever been around people who just make you feel like you can do almost anything? I was this week (and the last) and it made me want to really examine my purpose to the others around me– I mean, those people really lifted and empowered me.. Am I doing the same?

In my mind I visualize..
If a business owner was on a ship in the ocean that was overwhelmed from working long hours and had taken a beating against the waves.. What was I to them?

Was my interaction with them just another hard blow in a ocean full of rough waves?
Was my power used to send a ship already in distress closer to the rocks?
Or was I doing everything in my power to be like a lighthouse, whose purpose is to guide ships out of the rough waters?


When I first started my business, it was this overwhelming place of bitterness at every turn. I remember submitting my work to a website whose sole purpose was to try to point out who the fake photographers are. I was happy that I wasn’t considered a “faux-tographer”, yet I can’t help but speculate what happened to the people who were told they were a ‘fake’ right at the start.
I often wonder if that ONE bad interaction gave them a boost in the “right and wrong” direction so that they eventually succeeded, but maybe at the price of becoming a workaholic just to do so? Did they make unhealthy sacrifices with their family at the very start JUST to quiet those voices on the internet? [Spoiler: How I responded to criticism later…] …. Or did they give up on their undeveloped talents because someone made them so unwelcome and judged?

Of course some criticism can be great.. I mean this is a tough industry, filled with hard workers and most can take a critique. Personally, I would actually pay for a critique that was sincere and helpful, without being condescending. I don’t need hand holding, but in this career I expect some decency and professionalism like I would find in any other field.
In my journey through this industry, I also stumbled into the drama-filled photography groups. This was the kind of place where people like me who crave community do anything BUT thrive. We are told we are TOO optimistic, and not cut out for a hard business because we want to be nice. Those voices are even MORE crashing waves to already overwhelmed ships.
Eventually, I removed myself from those types of groups when I realized they were pulling me into being that workaholic that wants to prove everyone wrong. When I would read some of those words on a screen I just wanted to quit, give up… and then after a slump I moved on to feeling desperate and wanting to work 80 hours a week to prove to strangers on the internet that I was legit.

But you know what?

It’s hard to make anything new or different when you are focused on others peoples opinions.

It’s hard to focus on your clients and client relations when you are visualizing those harsh words you saw on the Internet. The people who say those things likely don’t care about you.. They really are a crashing wave and they want nothing more than to watch you sink.

Sometime the bitterness in this industry can be intense and crazy. Which is so odd, because it really doesn’t seem acceptable in most other professional settings to treat peers that way. It’s like somewhere between the shift from film to digital and with the ease of access to a camera (for anyone)… professionalism went out the window in several ways and it became acceptable for bitterness to be openly displayed.

Thankfully, communities are rising up again, and acting superior + mean is not the “cool” thing to do anymore. I am also seeing more active “lighthouses” everywhere I look, and as people make waves of positivity the waters are looking much more fun to head out into as well. This means that even though there are still storms and rough waters occasionally, they are usually pretty isolated, and more and more ships that are on their own journey are available to come to the rescue, and point that ship (or business owner 😉 ) back to a lighthouse.

So yep.. I was a sinking ship, lost out on the rough waves, until someone finally took the time to help me find my bearings again.
Now, when I’m on my own journey I make sure to look out and help other ‘ships’ caught in a storm. And for those times when my ship is docked from a particular journey, I take time to check that there is always a bright light guiding all others on that same path safely to shore.

If you are a photographer, I hope you will join me in creating fun and safe waters for others to travel in the many years to come! If you aren’t, I hope will still cultivate positive change in your own field. Absolutely everyone needs a little bit of rescuing or guidance once in a while!

Already making positive change?
Comment below and share your success story with me!!
I would love to hear about how you are making a difference!
Feeling like you are sinking?
Message me and tell me what I can do to help you!
Let’s get through this thing together… You weren’t made to sink!

Courtney Abernathy


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