Ready for a long post?
TL;DR version first. I will still take weddings where my couples want 2-6 hours of coverage, and I'll refer inquiries for longer days to my lovely photographer friends.
There's some backstory required...so I'll start there.
I'll also say...this is a personal post about my health. For a couple of reasons. I want to share in case someone else needs to read it. Maybe they're going through a similar struggle. And...because I'm a badass and I want to toot my horn a bit about it. Aaand...because I have waffled so much about photography over the past two years and I want my friends/clients to know why. Because I love you. And I was going through some stuff. Spoiler, in case you're nervous...its so much better now.
We moved back to New Mexico from Montana in June of 2018. We bought a fixer upper in Corrales and it needed some immediate attention to be livable so I didn't immediately jump into getting my photo business rolling. (I promise to post about the house at some point, because it's a wild ride)
I still had a few weddings left in Montana and I traveled back and forth a little in 2019. I also had some weddings here already and I was pretty happy with the first year back in business..
But, I noticed that year that I was more than sore after a wedding. My feet would KILL me and I wasn't just tired, I was completely wasted after. And it started happening halfway through weddings. I was sore for days after. I couldn't find shoes that would help. It was my first clue something was wrong but I had no idea.
In 2020, everything shut down and weddings weren't happening. Photographers were having to move dates again and again. I wasn't because I wasn't completely established when the pandemic hit, so I was a little bit thankful I didn't have the rescheduling nightmare my friends were dealing with.
My body went bonkers around March or April of 2020. An ankle swelled up and hurt like I twisted it. A finger randomly looked like it was broken. My knee swelled up and I stopped being able to walk very well. Joints were just swelling for no reason at random. My arms and legs became weak feeling. I had a hard time getting off the couch or out of bed. I hurt everywhere. All the time. And I was exhausted and grumpy. I was pretty scared because I didn't know what was happening to my body and OMG don't ever Google symptoms for things because Google tells you you're probably dying. I did read somewhere that covid can trigger autoimmune diseases you didn't know you might have...like flipping on a switch. Not sure if that's true at all. I got sick in March of that year, and I'm pretty sure, looking back, that it was covid. Anyway, my body went nuts and my primary doc sent me for labs, where we found markers for autoimmune stuff. I probably already had it before and it was just getting worse.
I went to a rheumatologist and was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. The only skin symptom I had was some stuff I thought was eczema at the back of my neck.
So I got some meds. I started seeing an acupuncturist. I made some huge changes to my diet to eat anti-inflammatory foods and stop eating gluten and most dairy (except cheese because cheese, y'all. I still do it less.) I cut a lot of sugar out. My meds make it so I shouldn't really drink often, so I barely drink. Though a beer or two is fine occasionally. Meditation. Self-healing. A whole lot of woo stuff.
This is what was going on. Healing my body became a full-time job. Weddings started coming back, but I couldn't market for them because I had nightmares about waking up the day of a wedding and my body not cooperating.
It has been over a year since the diagnosis, meds, and diet changes. I started pushing myself to stretch things and move as soon as I started feeling better and like I could do things because I really don't like sitting around doing nothing. I got climber hand tools to strengthen my hands. I bought weights to get strength back in my hands and arms. I started walking again. At the gym I walk an hour on the treadmill. I can put weight on my hands again and I almost have the full range of motion back in my wrists. (They were the worst...probably from my cameras) I'm back up to almost 10 miles on my bike. I push more every time. Gently, to not re-injure things.
I was basically resigned to the idea of not doing weddings anymore. But at my last doctor's appointment I told my doctor about wedding photography and he said that I'm doing so well, I could probably take weddings again. What a beautiful thing to hear, y'all!
I know first hand how much work weddings are. And I know my limits. I do love weddings though.
We've almost reached the end! haha You're a champ for reading this far.
If I change the service a bit, I can take smaller and shorter weddings now. Actually, I had a four hour wedding (I stayed longer) in November and I was fine. My feet were sore after but that's not abnormal.
I have a 6 hour wedding in October. It will be awesome.
Maybe with a second shooter and/or an assistant, I could take longer ones. Maybe it's already fine, but I will wait until I'm sure.
So there you have it. I was going through some things. And now I'm feeling so much better that I don't have to stop doing this thing I love, even if I am modifying it a bit (for now...because I will keep working on it).
I am pretty proud of myself because healing is hard work and it's not hard at all to feel sorry for yourself (I did some of that too and it's totally ok to be in that place, if you're reading this and there now). I'm annoyingly persistent and sometimes it's a fault, but in this case, it's super helpful.