Happy Four | Erin Joyce Photography

It was a summer evening as I traveled on the PA turnpike home from the city. I was taking a summer course since it wasn't available in my final semester that fall and I sure as hell was ready to graduate after 3 years in that masters program. After my 7th year in college, senioritis isn't even close to describing how ready I was to move onto that next part of my life. That part of no longer being a student, finding my career and really becoming a grown up. As I drove on the highway illuminated in street lights and car lights, I began a full dialect of an interview for a position as a school counselor. I spoke in full sentences answering questions that I'd anticipate could be asked of me in that long awaited interview. I was kicking ass. I'd so hire me. Then... I realized I missed the exit for 476. Friends, this isn't like "get off at the next exit" kind of miss. This is missing the connection to the NE extension. It meant I had to basically drive an additional hour to get back off and on again to hook back up with the right highway. After already driving 190 miles that day, I was so pissed with myself.

That December I finally finished my last class. I continued my part time work through the summer, adding up to full time hours as a mobile therapist while I anxiously awaited to see if the long time rumors of school counseling positions opening up within the district I interned would actually become truth. It did. Two positions. I applied and got an interview. That interview was the most nerve racking of my life. Two full panels. Two schools doing double interviews. I made the cut to round two which lead to another nerve racking experience. One in which I felt confident, but I wanted this job more than anything. A few days later I got the call. "Erin, both schools want you. You get to choose." How in the world did I get to be in this position??

I chose. It was, to say the least, incredibly difficult decision for reasons I won't get into. But I found myself in the 2011-2012 school year in a  dream job. I adored my staff, my principal and my students. I had a fabulous "9-5" routine a new home, security and summers off.

That summer we got pregnant with Hannah. I also started taking photography classes to finally fill my dream and taking on digital photography and picking up my creative bug that I left back in the high school dark room. I entered the school year just as excited as the previous and was ready to have a baby and then get right back into the swing of things.

Mid year, the rug got swept from under my feet. Again, without any need to go into details, work was ugly. I felt sad and stressed. I felt like a number. I felt scared and unsettled. How could this have happened? I was so grateful for the reprieve of having time off with my baby girl. That March, she arrived a few days early and I was completely overwhelmed with love. I soaked up every single day off, taking pictures of her every single day and loving every part of her. I met new mom friends and took pictures of their babies too, and then June 19th came around. I had to head back to work. Only for two weeks, but it was the hardest two weeks of my life. I went back into the mess I left. I sat there in complete shock in my last week to find my union leader in front of me. Without any premeditation, I looked up at her with tears in my eyes and said, "I can't come back. I either need to resign or need a year off." She begged me not to resign and within an hour had a leave approved. This was also a crazy situation... details aren't necessary but it's how shit went down.

A month later, four years ago today, I launched my business. I had no idea what I was in for. I simply knew I needed to create a website and register because people were starting to give me money to take pictures. How crazy was that? I had no intentions or goals or plans. I just loved taking pictures, so it's what I did. I loved every second of the next year off. We got pregnant again that winter and we went on a big family vacation that next June (2014).

On that vacation, I got an e-mail from my union leader. "If you plan to resign for the next school year, we need your resignation letter by 4pm today for the board meeting." Huh. Okay. Now, let me say, this is my side of the story. I adored my staff and all with whom I worked. I also completely understood this e-mail. They needed my resignation approved at that meeting so they would be able to find a new counselor for the next school year without scrambling. It's in the best interest of the students. BUT! Man. It hit me in the gut. Which is what I needed because I happily wrote that letter and immediately hit send.

And that was it. From that moment on, I had to feel comfortable telling people that I was a photographer and a former school counselor. It's truly the best decision I've ever made for myself. I have never felt more myself in my work than I do now. It's incredible.

In the time that has passed from that resignation letter to today, a lot has happened professionally and personally. We moved, I underwent massive back issues, my body had to recoup after being pregnant and/or nursing for 4 years straight and I had to shake away the grogginess of having another baby and moving within 5 days of each other. Seriously, it took like 2 years to shake that off.

But in all of it. In all of that time I had the happy place of this business. It has continued to grow. I've continued to meet new clients and continue to photograph old ones. You have become my friends. I have watched you grow from couples to families of 4. I've watched your babies grow into 4 year olds. We've shared stories of motherhood, and life. You all have become a part of my heart and who I am today. It has been my pride and joy. I absolutely wouldn't be here without all of you. Those of you who have stuck with me the whole way. Those who entrusted me one time, 3 times or 10 times. Those of you who watch me and encourage me even if you've never Those who gave me the honor of documenting their wedding days no matter my experience. Those who cheer me on constantly. My heart is so full.

Thank you. 

Here I am, four years later with my number one fan and love of my life. My happy, happy little babies, and my silly fur babies. They all keep me so busy. They are my biggest teachers. Despite having days that leave me feeling depleted and digging deep, it's with these lessons that I am coming into the most grounded, centered and confident woman thus far.

Cheers to 34!

Erin Joyce Photography

My LifeErin