Finding Our Way: A Wedding Photographer’s Journey to Balance Work, Marriage, & Travel

Sara Long Photography wedding party group hug

All photos by Sara Long Photography

It’s not hard to spend every weekend of our life “wedding-ing.” It’s not hard because most days, we love what we do. A year ago, Adam, my now-husband, became my co-shooter, making work even more fun and ensuring we don’t have to spend 12 hours apart during shoot days.

I never would’ve envisioned my life looking like this four years ago. I was an “undecided” college student, trying to find my area of interest. As I tested the waters of different majors, I couldn’t see myself pursuing any of them for one reason or another. I was looking for a place where my natural acumen for story-telling and seeing the best in people could evolve—not be buried in statistics and pessimism. As I struggled to stay interested in my classes, life outside of the classroom was blossoming. I’d sit down to study, but more often than not, I wound up distracting myself with photography projects.

Families started asking me to take their photos, and I brought my camera along on adventures of all sorts, taking countless photos of my friends in the process. A few people even asked me to capture their wedding day. It was a huge leap from my hobby days, but I thrived in the face of new challenges and added responsibility. I loved the opportunity to tell a good story. My first wedding was super DIY, gorgeous, and on a budget less than a tenth of my smallest package now. I realized then I had found my lens—sharing stories in an honest way.

It is an honor to have the responsibility of documenting a day that is the result of hard work, sweat, and often tears of wonderful people. I love all aspects of my photography business. It’s nice when I can step away from editing and respond to inquiries; even the financial side isn’t a bother. But since I’m actually quite horrible at balancing work and life, I’ve decided it’s time for a break. 

As much as I love photographing anything and everything, the reality of owning a small business is that it can easily begin to consume a person. A year would look manageable on paper, but when it came to balancing photo and video editing for 25 weddings on top of other shoots while still in school, I honestly never had a day off.

The reality of having your own small business is that is can easily begin to consume a person. A year would look manageable on paper, but I honestly never had a day off.

In a relationship, it’s not uncommon to take a break from those you love. It’s quite natural—a way of knowing if you’re meant to be together. I’m taking a similar approach to my work right now. I need a little time away from being booked, from being responsible. I need to know that I can travel and do things I’ve spent years wanting to do without having lingering deadlines and projects hanging over my head. Owning my own business brings me so much joy, at times not feeling like work at all, but there are also times when I cannot enjoy the present moment. There’s a lot of juggling and odd hours when you’re a small business owner, and I have found it quite hard to just clock out and forget about work.

So, as newlyweds, my husband and I stayed in town for the first two months after our honeymoon to wrap up shooting fall weddings and finish editing summer ones. The rest of the year will be spent on a sabbatical of sorts. We’re going to travel. We’re going to WWOOF. We’re going to chill the fuck out! And we might discover things about ourselves once the rushing and constant creating, publishing, and pushing forward of the business wanes.

Sara Long Photography couple showered in gold confetti

We’ve now been on break for three weeks, road-tripping along the East Coast, and I already miss my camera. But it feels good to miss it.

When my business was in full swing, I never had the chance to miss it, to crave shooting. I began to sort of resent it at times, when I would rather stay in and eat brunch on a slow Saturday than drive to a 10-hour wedding day! 

It’s hard to say “no” to opportunities, to money, to working with people we find genuinely interesting and beautiful. It’s super hard. But I know that for our business to succeed if and when we open our doors again, this formative time for us is going to set the foundation for knowing how to say “no” later, especially when we have a family. We hope to find  a way to strike a balance, whether it’s working three months a year and homesteading the rest, doing photography alongside other work, or something completely and totally different.

Sara Long Photography kiss surrounded by people singing

This article originally appeared in Volume One of Catalyst Wedding Magazine. Order your copy for more great articles.


wedding photographer Rachel Joy baransi with a flower

RACHEL JOY BARANSI

Rachel Joy Baransi is a little late to join the party, but recently discovered she actually really likes cats.