Big Bend National Park | From The Archives


Today I’m going to tell you a personal story. It’s about things I’m not really supposed to admit. But I’m not exactly known for doing what’s expected of me.

Back in March when all my weddings started postponing and cancelling, I found myself sitting at home with nothing much to do for the first time in about ten years… you know, since the last time a recession left me unemployed. Back in 2009 when I lost my job, I got right to work and built this business. I was driven and motivated and all the things you hope you’ll be when you’re confronted with a big chunk of time to fill. This time has been very different though. And it took me a while to figure out why it was different (besides it being the apocalypse and tens of thousands of lives having been lost with no significant action from the people with the authority and resources to help everyone).

Looking back, I finally realized that I’m just exhausted from doing this every ten years, almost like clockwork. When I graduated college, the country was in a recession, so I took a series of crappy jobs and got busy being in my twenties, thinking that it was part of laying the groundwork for the rest of my life. After a couple of years working at some pretty awful jobs, I started my first business. Things were going pretty well for a while. Then came the DotCom bust, and shortly after that 9/11 brought everything in the nation to a standstill. My business fell off significantly since I was a luxury service, but I put my nose to the grindstone and built it back up.

Six years later when I was offered a job with my mentor, I took it, and that turned out to be the smartest move I could have made, because three years later when the recession of 2009 happened I was eligible for unemployment. Those funds allowed us to keep our basic bills paid and not lose the house, and by the time my wife lost her job a few months later I had already started to generate an income from my photography. Together we built the new business into something that could support us for the next several years while the economy recovered, since her industry was devastated by the recession and it was five years before she would have a full time job again. Slowly we put everything back together again.

Now here we are, ten years later in the midst of an even worse economic recession. And for the past few months I’ve felt so much guilt for lacking any interest in being creative. Finally I had the time I’d been wanting for years to draw and paint and process film, and I had no interest in any of it. So instead of making art, I gardened. We grew a large vegetable garden this year, full of tomatoes and peppers and green beans and more. It was satisfying to get up every morning and make a cup of coffee and walk through my garden, tending to things as I went. It was exciting to watch the seedlings go from impossibly delicate to taller than me. It felt victorious to be able to walk outside and gather the ingredients for a salad or a side dish with dinner. We’ve even made enough extra to do some canning.

Last weekend I finally photographed my first wedding of the year. It’s been nine months since I last worked a wedding. For the past week I’ve been home and in my office working on processing the wedding photos. Yesterday afternoon for no particular reason, I opened up my personal photo files and started flipping through these from Big Bend and memories of the trip started flowing. I started working on the photos. Time passed unnoticed and then I realized I was tired. When I looked at the clock, it was 3am. It was good to be in the zone again.

Here’s the results.

Amanda Summerlin

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@theamandasummerlin

Making neat pictures of nice people since 2009. You're not like everybody else, your pictures shouldn't be either.

 

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