While they aren’t mutually exclusive, income vs. impact has been my perennial question in business. It comes up every year as I decide whether to raise my prices but feels most acute at tax season. There’s a painful reckoning when I account for business expenditures and calculate my hourly rate. It feels like my time is worth so much more…especially as my girls grow and will soon fly the nest. Yet I’m in a position to work from a place of passion, not necessity.
And there’s the rub.
If I had to work to meet our family’s needs, the tug-of-war wouldn’t exist. So do I seek an income that feels commiserate with my sacrifice of time, or do I focus on impact…pricing my services in a way that allows accessibility to the products I believe in so deeply?
I’m still asking the question and grappling with the implications of the answer, but this I know…
One day as time hangs for a moment and I’m staring at my final gallery or film…as I let out a long exhale, hit send, and my business folds up gently…I will be fulfilled. Not because I made a ton of money or the deepest impact, but because I chose to wake up every day ignited by a purpose.
A purpose that’s carved into my mission statement and informs every business decision. It’s the mark my wandering heart recalibrates to every time it’s swept away on a sea of dollar signs, puffy hearts, or bookings. It’s the drive behind the passion projects I gift each year. Purpose is what gets my heart racing when a transcendent moment chooses to unfurl itself right in front of my feeble camera. It’s what will tenderly carry me one day as I close a chapter that has brought me such joy.
Nobody asked me to be a photographer/filmmaker. I’m one because I couldn’t be anything else. It’s my calling. The tug-of-war between income vs. impact might be an interesting question—or maybe it’s just a distraction. If I can rest my head at night knowing that gratitude for each client is at the center of every business decision, maybe it’s okay to drop the rope and stop asking the question.