I get nervous before every single wedding. And here comes the weird part; I’m grateful for it.

I get ants in my pants on wedding days and just want to get there. I arrive ridiculously early to each wedding. Sometimes I suggest my second shooter just meet me there so they aren’t subjected to sitting in a parking lot with me or walking the grounds of a venue we’ve shot a million times one more time because today it might look a little different. The beautiful part is that as soon as I get in the dressing room and start taking pictures the nerves are gone. It’s go time. After the third or fourth click of my camera I’m settled in and become absorbed in the happiness that is every wedding. At the end of the day my body might be tired, sandy and sore but taking pictures energizes my spirit and makes me feel alive in ways that nothing else I’ve found does. I get home and am chattier than ever, want to download my cards and look at the pictures right now. It’s exciting. But that nervousness always threw me off.

Early on in my business I Iost sleep the night before a wedding that for reasons I can’t remember now, had me particularly anxious. I started to question if being a wedding photographer was right for me because I shouldn’t feel like that, should I? Shouldn’t it feel easy, the way it seemingly does for everyone else? I always thought that one day I’d get to a skill level where the nerves went away because I was that good. Every wedding pro I met was broadcasting everywhere how they adore their job and everything about it. Everyone was oozing confidence.

What I’ve realized is: regardless of what I imagined other wedding photographers were feeling or what I thought I ought to be feeling, my nerves aren’t, and never were a sign of my inability to be a great wedding photographer. They exist because I am striving to be a truly great wedding photographer.  I’m hard on myself and I challenge myself to be better every single time. I scrutinize each and every set of images I take and figure out what would have taken them to the next level. Then I challenge myself to do it. And that’s a lot of pressure and necessitates finding imperfection and accepting it. But it’s creating a space for me to grow. I’ve grown leaps and bounds since I began this adventure in 2004 but I’ve learned that my craft will always be a work in progress with new challenges and new nerves.

I wish I had found this quote by Jim Rohn a long time ago: “Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.”

Today, I’m grateful for my nerves. And now I know that the day I don’t feel nervous is the day that I should throw in the towel. It will mean I’ve stopped trying to be better.