A Guest Blog Post by Amanda Kraft
As creative professionals, finding a balance between career success and personal life is near impossible. Photographer and Holistic Health Coach Amanda Kraft, of Amanda Kraft Photography, knows the struggle well. Kraft hit a creative road block and health "rock bottom" seven years after opening her photography business. Luckily, she was able to pick up the pieces, positively transform her photography business and regain a healthy lifestyle by actively making decisions and changes for the better. Amanda now splits her time between photography and holistic health coaching through her initiative "Stop Editing and Start Living." Continue reading to learn more about Amanda's transformation and gain some tips for balancing a photography business while also putting yourself back on your "To Do" list.
Traveling an average of 20-plus weekends a year and running a boutique-style photography business as a one-woman show eventually took its toll—seven years after it all started to be exact! Like most wedding photographers, my weekdays were filled with client relations and editing while weekends were reserved for documenting weddings and/or portrait shoots (aka my source of exercise).
As a little girl, I wanted nothing more than to become a photographer and spent the vast majority of my teenage years in our home’s makeshift darkroom or attending photography classes. In college, my one and only objective was to become a fashion and food photographer.
Like most college kids, I ate a little too much pizza, relied on too much caffeine, and traded workouts for parties. Before I knew it I experienced the “freshman 15” and then some. Sadly, I didn’t take notice for seven years. After graduating from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, I returned home. My intent was a brief stop in Lancaster, Pennsylvania before heading off to live my dream as a fashion photographer in New York City. The universe would have other plans for me.
Shortly, after graduation I found myself sitting in my parent’s home building my photography business out of a tiny office. My dream of becoming a fashion photographer in NYC quickly disappeared when I met my boyfriend (now husband). After a few months of this new relationship my thoughts of NYC started to become a fading memory. Thanks to my mother, all I had was a loose business plan and a single booked wedding photography gig—something I had no experience and little interest in at the time. A few weeks after my first wedding shoot, I found myself working in the corporate world to pay for equipment upgrades, sample albums, business cards, and a website. All of my hard work paid off and within a year my business was booming, my relationship was solid and my waistline… well, it had expanded!
Between sitting all day at my desk job, editing at night, and traveling every weekend I was oblivious to my weight gain. Deep down inside I knew that I wasn’t living a healthy lifestyle, but I just kept telling myself that I was doing the best that I could. Two and a half years into managing a full-time job and a business, I made the decision to leave the corporate world and become my own boss.
In doing so, my business continued to expand, as did my body. The success of my business overshadowed my health and wellness. Workouts and healthy eating weren’t on the top of my to-do list, in fact, neither even made the list.
My boyfriend was now my husband and sadly, six months later, we suffered devastating losses in both of our families. Two family members passed away within one day of each other and our lives spun out of control. Over the course of the next three years we would mourn the loss of another family member. After throwing myself into business and the comfort of food, my health was in major trouble. I was working non-stop with little to no social life, taking on every project that came my way, and steadily becoming a workaholic. My survival rate was quickly fading and the sleepless nights, carb-loaded diet, and lack of movement suddenly caught up with me.
I was facing two options: 1) continue on this path and become far more lost, disconnected, and unhappy or 2) do something about it.
After enough lackluster, do-it-yourself attempts, I finally mustered up enough courage to walk into a local gym and commit to a 12-week clean eating program. I was 55+ lbs overweight and by week twelve I had lost 20 lbs and plenty of inches.
I thought that my physical appearance would be the only noticeable difference, but internally my mindset shifted. I put myself back on my to-do list for the first time in years, my marriage improved, and oddly enough, my business didn’t crash and burn. In fact, it vastly improved.
My inner circle of creatives began to take notice of the drastic changes in my life and sought out my advice to help them do the same. Each of us desired to be happier and healthier while running a business we loved. After providing a bit of inspiration, motivation, and accountability to my dear friends, I felt a need to learn more about health and wellness coaching. The universe came back into the picture once again and connected me with a potential client who had recently become a certified holistic health coach. She shared her story with me and a few short weeks later, I was enrolled in a yearlong holistic health coaching program.
By the summer of 2013, I completed my coaching training, lost an additional 30 lbs and began to start building my coaching career in addition to running my photography business. At a crossroads once again in the fall of 2014, I made the decision to reduce the number of portrait commissions I took yearly to focus on health and wellness coaching full-time.
Never in a million years did I think that the business I had dreamed of from the time I was a little girl would lead me down this path, but I am so thankful it did. My goal is to help other creatives reclaim their lives while running a business of which they've always dreamed. I never want to see another creative struggle in the ways that I have. In short, this is what I like to call "Stop Editing, Start Living". Because at the end of the day, we can’t serve clients, family, and friends if we are burnt out, lost, and creatively drained.
I understand this may come off easier said than done, but I can assure you that you will grow both personally and professionally by having the courage to regain control of your life and business. Don’t fall out of love with your photography or business like I did. Reach out and ask for help before you find yourself with an expanded waistline and a multi-paged to-do list. If you are struggling with where to begin, I invite you to reach out to me. I’d love to help you create a plan for regaining control of your business, health, and wellness.