I’m a big fan of Oprah. I watch (well, DVR) the show, read the magazine and am even reading a book called “Follow Your North Star” by magazine contributor Martha Beck. (I SO recommend this book for anyone who wants a life change, career change, family change but is afraid and letting the fear hold you back.) One of my favorite things about Oprah (oh, the irony, since she’s all about favorite things!) is her optimism and goal of helping other people “live their best life.”

I’ve known for a while that I was doing too much. But how do I choose what to give up? My day job is my career, it’s why I went to college, it’s a large part of who I am and it’s important for our family income. But photography has quickly grown into a large part of who I am, too. And I’m part of a family, raising a wonderful 8-year-old with my amazing husband and working to spend time with family and friends  as well. Where is the balance? By the end of the year it was more like WHAT GIVES?!

When I took those Oprah magazine quizzes about “following your dreams and living your best life,” the quizzes told me that my passion was that thing in which I could lose myself for hours. By the end of 2010, I knew that the thing I happily spent hours on voluntarily was photography. It was about that time that a new part-time position opened up on a sister team of mine at work. At the same time, I was hired for a national commercial photo shoot in December. And that shoot triggered a game-changing thought for me. If I am getting this type of work without truly “putting myself out there,” what could happen if I did put myself out there?

Today I am thrilled to tell you that I applied for and recently accepted that part-time position at work. I don’t believe for a minute that it was just by coincidence that that national commercial photo shoot was published in the magazine on the very day I was offered the part time job. 🙂 Oprah-year indeed! This brings a refreshing change to my career responsibilities – brings me back to my more creative roots and challenges me on a new level.

This career path also makes room for more time to nurture the photography business. I’m excited that I will have more time….time! I steadily reached a point last year where what I needed to continue building the photography business was not more equipment or techniques, but time. I now have several days a week to process photos and shoot sessions. I have breathing room again. A schedule that will allow me to enjoy the things and people that I love deeply. And a path that allows me to commit to growing this photography business.

So 2011 will be a good year for Amy Sandoval Photography. I’m sure it will bring challenges and some scary days, too. But when you love what you do, you freak out occasionally and then you get excited about the next opportunity and eventually the fear subsides.

I shot the Polaroid photo below (it’s a scan of the photo) a few months ago just before everything began changing in my life – and just as the leaves were reaching their peak color. I’ve been meaning to blog about this photo and how much I adore shooting photos with my old, beat-up Polaroid camera and expired film, but never got around to making time to post it. Tonight, I am making time. And I hope this is just the beginning of having more time to share my love for photography with you, my clients and anyone who wants to listen. 🙂

Autumn in Chesapeake: Shot with a Polaroid Spectra camera and expired film bought on eBay.