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No such thing as multitasking: Mother dissolves photography business to spend more time with children

Let me tell you a little something about myself: I'm an all-or-nothing kinda gal. When I decide I want to do something, I do it. I commit. I put in the time, and I don't let up until it's been nailed to the wall.

This trait led me to serve a full-time, 18-month church mission. It has also furthered my educational pursuits, the training and completion of marathons, and the building up of Almira B. Photography. The last of which has been my obsession for the past several years.

I cannot adequately put into words the incredible satisfaction that comes from envisioning, creating and capturing a beautiful photograph. It is intoxicating to me. It is addictive. And it has become my identity. I stay awake at night, dreaming up vibrant scenes with beautiful light and bright-eyed couples, and then I spend the next day figuring out how to make those visions a reality. It all sounds kind of romantic, eh?

Well, here's where it's about to get a bit heavy folks.

This is a picture I snapped a couple of years ago of my daughter, Wyoming. It was early in the morning. I was leaving for an out-of-town photo shoot, and just before I pulled out of the driveway, my eyes caught a glimpse of my little girl in the rearview mirror, waving and sucking in her bottom lip as she held back tears.

This is a look that has become all too familiar to me over the past couple years, and although I'm sure many of you may think of this as a sweet image, I almost can't stand to look at it because of the intense feelings of guilt it brings up for me.

I've lost count of the hundreds of hours I've spent staring at my computer screen, telling myself if I could just finish this batch of edits, then I'd be able to relax, move on and spend time with my family. I'm saddened when I think of the number of times I've shooed away tiny hands from my keyboard that were only trying to get my attention. And I'm ashamed to recall the moments when my children were made out in my mind to be a distraction or annoyance, simply because they sought the same focus from their mother that they saw so diligently given to other children, families and the glowing screen on my desk.

In some ways, I felt like my photography business was just as much my baby as my two actual children were. It was something I'd built up over the span of 10 years, and I'd invested so much of my time, my energy and myself into it. It was finally becoming what I'd always hoped it would be. I was getting more business than I could handle. I'd just rebranded, had fantastic second shooters on board and was hosting retreats across the country with requests for more in the future. I was at the top of my game.

But then, a few weeks ago, I overheard an interview on the evening news, and though I don't recall much of what was said, I do recall one sentence that literally stopped me in my tracks: "There is no such thing as multitasking."

Now, because I consider myself a fantastic multitasker, surely you can understand why it grabbed my interest. This gentleman, who was some sort of an expert in a suit, proceeded to say, "You might think you're multitasking, but all you're really doing is two things poorly." And there it was, folks. Like a punch to the throat, I realized that I'd be multitasking two of the greatest loves of my life, photography and my children, and I was sucking at it.

And so, in true all-or-nothing form, I have decided to dissolve Almira B. Photography at the end of this year.

It is a decision that has taken months of deliberation, a tremendous amount of back and forth, and overall, an intense sadness about giving up something I sincerely love so much. And yet, at the end of the day, I just can't justify it anymore. I have had this notion running through my brain nonstop for the past three weeks, this idea that I'll never look back on this time in my life and say to myself, "Dang, I should have shot more weddings." But what frankly terrifies me is that I might suddenly realize that I wasn't physically or emotionally present for the majority of my kids' childhood. Because it turns out that being all in doesn't leave much room for anything else.

To all my clients who have given me the privilege of documenting such important moments in their lives, I can't even tell you what a phenomenal experience it has been for me. And as for the 14 weddings I left on my schedule, well, I have one last season ahead of me, and I intend to go out with a bang, photographing the most beautiful weddings and capturing the most meaningful images of my career over the next several months.

I have no doubt that I will continue in my pursuits to capture beautiful imagery, so stay tuned for the next phase of my photographic adventures. But in the meantime, I think giving my all to these two for a bit will be time well spent.

Editor's note: This article by Brinn Willis originally appeared on her blog, Almira B. Photography. It has been reprinted here with the author's permission.